What to Look for in a Merchant Processor

There are a lot of credit card processing services out there, and they would love to have your business. With thousands of options available, how do you choose the one that’s right for you and your company? It can be difficult, especially for new business owners, to know what to look for when choosing a credit card payment processing provider, but we have some suggestions for narrowing down the candidates.

Price is what most business owners compare first when considering credit card processing systems. The rates and fees can be tricky to compare between providers. You have setup fees, monthly fees, and transaction rates to consider, all of which can vary widely. Unfortunately, one of the most common issues in the payment processing industry is hidden fees, which are typically much higher than the usual rates. These fees are typically applied to “non-qualified” transactions. You need to know what the merchant processor considers “non-qualified” in order to know if this is a rate that will affect your particular business. Also, pay attention to the fine print if you’re offered an outstanding rate, because it may come with restrictions and limitations. Find out how long that rate is good for and if it is limited to certain transactions. What does the rate revert to later? Even a small portion of a percentage point can make a big difference in your bottom line, so be thorough.

When you like a processor’s rates, find out what you get in return for payment. Choosing an ecommerce credit card processing service is about more than simply the cards you can accept. How good is their security? Are they PCI-compliant and can they properly process EMV cards? Will the provider’s internet credit card processing solutions work with your online storefront? Can you get support easily when you need it? This is vital if the provider is located in another part of the country or if you have online sales that may occur on any day, at any hour.

If you choose a merchant processor, are you getting a full-service provider or will you have to use others to create a complete payment solution for your business? Can they handle every type of payment you wish to accept, from credit and debit cards to gift cards and checks? If you have brick-and-mortar and virtual storefronts, do they offer solutions and equipment for point-of-sale transactions as well as online and mobile credit card processing?

Who are their clients? Can you talk to others who use them to get a feel for how they do business? Even with recommendations from other merchants, use due diligence and research processors before signing up. Investigate them through such means as checking reviews and examining their Better Business Bureau data.

Look for a low cost credit card processing provider that is upfront about their fees and rates and who offers a full range of solutions to handle all your payment processing needs. Look for a company that has been in business for at least several years and has a proven track record. Finally, when you are ready to go with a merchant payment processor, start with a short-term contract. This gives you flexibility if you’re not completely satisfied with their service. Once you’ve worked with them and are happy with the results, then go for a longer term relationship.