ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

5 Tips for Choosing the Right Merchant Service Provider

Updated on April 22, 2013

This is an article that I originally wrote for

Merchant service providers are an important part of your business, since they bridge the financial gap between you and your customers or clients. Since the wrong provider can burn that bridge, causing you to lose clients and peace of mind, these five tips will help you make the right decision.

Perform a Needs Assessment

Do your homework so you can make a list of the services that you will require. While some services are standard requirements, you may also need recurring billing or credit card storage. Ideally, you want to get all of your services bundled, instead of juggling various providers to piecemeal the services together. Another issue to consider is how quickly will you need the money to be deposited in your account, and this time frame varies depending on the provider.

Evaluate Outsourcing and Exclusivity

Find out if the merchant service provider actually handles your credit card transactions or if they outsource these functions to a third-party. If you use a bank, as a general rule, they always outsource. The disadvantage to outsourcing is the hassle of going through the middleman when complications arise. You also need to ask if the merchant service provider has a exclusive point of sales (POS) software company that they require you to use, or do you have the liberty to choose your own POS software company.

Calculate the Costs

When evaluating the cost of the service, ask a lot of questions to uncover potentially hidden fees and extra charges. For example, ask about installation fees, programming fees and/or an annual fee. Find out if you will have to sign a lease or contract, and if there are cancellation fees. Some providers place a cap on the number of credit card transactions that you can accept each month, and if so, it needs to be a number that you’re sure you’ll never reach. Also, ask about different fees for business cards or international cards. Most reputable providers offer a trial period and a money back guarantee if you are not pleased with the services. Be wary of companies that won’t allow trial periods or provide a guarantee, and want you to sign lengthy contracts. This could be a sign that they struggle to get and maintain clients.

Inquire About Customer Service/Tech Support

If the provider does not offer 24-hour support, find out the service hours to determine if they’re sufficient to meet your company’s needs. Preferably, you have an IT person on your staff or on retainer, who can evaluate the provider’s software to determine if it’s compatible, whether they are using the latest technology, and if they perform routine software updates. Also find out if the provider has an IT team on staff to ensure that problems can be quickly addressed. And you need to be sure that their customer service people are knowledgeable as opposed to being message-takers who pass the information on to someone else -- which can significantly increase the time it takes to get an issue resolved.

Obtain References and Reviews

Before choosing a service provider, discover everything that you can about the company. Ask for -- and check -- references. Also, check their Better Business Bureau records for complaints. In addition, read the online reviews and complaints, but keep in mind that some companies pay people to write glowing reviews. And don’t forget to ask other businesses which provider they use, and if they’re happy with their choice.

While choosing the right merchant service provider involves a lot of factors that must be taken into account, these five tips can help you make the best decision, based on your needs.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)