Need a Credit Card Processing Service Provider? 5 Must Ask Questions.
Having to accept credit cards can be extremely frustrating whether you are starting a business or are a long time business owner. So if you are looking for a new credit card processing merchant services account or simply trying to find a merchant service provider with better service or rates there 5 questions that you must ask to avoid getting burned. Because the credit card mammoths Visa and MasterCard manage a vast majority of the credit and debit networks businesses must hire a third party provider to access the network - much like you need an internet service provider to access the internet. Unfortunately the credit card processing world is so complex that many times the sales agent really can have the upper hand and this results in an adversarial relationship and often leads to frustrated merchants paying too and receiving too little with their merchant account. Asking these 5 questions will help you to ensure that your transition or set is seamless, you don’t pay too much for your credit card processing, and that you receive the service that your business deserves.
1. Are your merchant services compatible with my ecommerce shopping cart or POS (point of sale system)?
This seems like an incredibly obvious question, however, there are countless stories of frustrated merchants discovering that their new merchant account will not integrate and function with their sales system just days or even hours before they expect to open for business. Many payment processors have proprietary software that will only work with a select number of shopping carts or retail POS systems. Conversely many shopping cart providers and POS providers have created exclusive relationships with merchant service providers meaning that you will not have a choice of service providers. The connection between your sales point and your payment processor is called the payment gateway or secure gateway and is responsible for securely collecting and transmitting payment information.
2. Will you offer me Interchange Plus pricing?
This is incredibly important because as we have discussed Interchange Plus pricing is the only real way to compare the rates between merchant service providers. Interchange Plus pricing helps to ensure that the processor is not overcharging you for any transaction as you get to see exactly what the non negotiable Visa MasterCard network charges are along with your processors exact markup. If your processor will not quote you with Interchange Plus pricing simply look elsewhere.
3. Will I be charged an early termination or cancellation fee?
Of course if you find a credit card processor that you are happy with this will not be a concern, however, ideally you want a merchant service provider who will not charge this fee in the event that you need to terminate your account prior to the expiration of your contract. By not charging this fee a credit card processor is showing that they have high confidence in their service levels. Early Termination Fees can range from $200 to $600 additionally many service providers also will place a liquidated damages fee into their contract. This fee is an estimate of the profitability of the account for the remainder of the contract which is charged directly to the business owner when the agreement is terminated early.
4. In addition to my processing rate what other fees will I be charged?
It is very important to understand what additional fees you will be charged other than your transaction fees from the start. These fees can include unnecessary fees such as annual fee, download/installation, application fee, AVS, monthly minimum fees and batch fees; OR, fees that can be minimized such as statement fees, per transaction, and gateway fees.
5. Finally, what kinds of customer service is available?
Once again this seems like an obvious question but not all merchant services providers are the same. You want to make sure that you employ a company that offers 24/7 phone support, preferably based in the U.S., at a minimum. Also, find out what type of online resources are available to you for either reporting or support. Finally, ask your representative if they will be directly available by phone and or email in the event that you need assistance.
Once you are happy with the service and rates of the merchant service provider that you have chosen be equally cautious when it comes to your equipment choices by avoiding leases or being sold a terminal that will work exclusively with your processor.
By asking these five basic questions you are well on your way to finding a merchant service provider who is not only giving you the best value but also providing you with exceptional service. If you have any questions about your credit card processing contact the Merchant Doctor or leave them below and we will be happy to answer them for you.