most frequently asked questions about merchant processing services
Whether you’re looking to set up a merchant account for the first time or are exploring your options for finding a new processor, there’s a lot to consider. We’ve complied the answers to 10 of the most frequently asked questions about merchant processing services. You’ll be more informed and know what to ask payment processors you are considering for your business.
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of options in payment processors. And there are a lot of ways to accept card payments. But, be advised—all merchant processing services aren’t created equal. Here are some factors to consider when you’re selecting a processor:
• Industry experience. Do they have a proven track record in the payments processing industry? Check out reviews on the company from neutral third-party sources as well as current customers.
• Tailored to your industry. Every business has different needs depending on their industry. It’s critical to choose a payments provider with experience in your line of business so they can advise you on payment solutions that are the best fit and can help you grow.
• Commitment to data security. Data security should always be a top priority. Tools that help you detect and protect against fraud by securing card data are essential. These offerings should be as integrated with your processing if possible. And, in the case of many small businesses, security tools should be bundled simply and smartly to take the work off of you and your business.
• Customer support. You may need support and training when you’re getting up and running, when systems change, and at any other point you need help. Look for a processor that offers live 24/7 customer support to help keep your business running at all times.
Since there will always be some degree of risk associated with handling and transmitting sensitive data, processing credit cards with a reputable payment processor is vital. Above and beyond securing your computers, terminals and networks, there are a number of additional security measures you can implement to boost your security. A reputable payment processor can discuss your options in detail.
Most types of merchant businesses can qualify for a merchant account. The application process may vary depending on your business type and the associated risk that has been assigned by the credit card networks.
The cost of accepting credit cards varies widely. When you sign the contract with your payment processor, make sure you pay attention to how and what fees will be assessed. You’ll likely be responsible for interchange fees assessed by the card networks, various processing fees, and other additional fees depending on the services offered. Make sure you understand the fees you’ll be assessed before you sign your contract. And ask questions. You may be able to negotiable a lower rate.
At the minimum, your business should be set up to accept traditional magnetic stripe cards, EMV chip cards and eWallets. You should also consider whether you need to accept payments on-the-go, online or over the phone. Depending on your customer base, you may also want to consider accepting secure check payments.
There are lots of options in POS terminals. The type of terminal you select depends mainly upon the payments options you want to accept, as well as where and how you need to accept those payments. If you’ll only be accepting payments from a physical location, a countertop model may be the best option. If you accept payments offsite, such as trade shows, festivals or farmers’ markets, a mobile POS system may be the way to go. For phone payments, you may want to discuss a virtual terminal.
The answer to this question depends on a variety of factors including your agreement with your merchant processing services provider, how often you send your authorized transactions for settlement, and the financial institution you use. Make sure you understand this timeline at the time of your contract signing with your processor so that you aren’t caught low on funds. And, today, there are faster paths to funding than ever before.
There is a lot of variation here. Chances are, if you’re a small business with only one location and a terminal, this process will be a bit quicker. If you’re a larger business with lots of locations and terminals, your ramp-up time may take longer. Also, you may be able to set up payment processing more quickly if you choose a mobile processing application versus a traditional countertop POS system.
Knowing that your payments processor is there to support you 24/7 is critical to the success of your business. For example, if your POS system or network goes down during a peak business time, you can’t afford to miss out on those sales. Make sure you understand how much support a processor provides before you sign your processing contract.
Some processing contracts include an “early termination” clause, and some do not. In some cases, you may be assessed a fee if you end your agreement early, while other processors may waive such fees. If you think there’s a chance that you’ll need to end your credit card processing early, make sure you check the contract carefully before you lock into an agreement.