Choosing the right merchant account provider for your business can be a tough decision. Each provider has a unique set of solutions, contracts and fees. It’s important to understand these nuances in order to select the best solution for your business. Choose the wrong processor, and you could end up paying higher fees or find yourself stuck on hold for hours, waiting for customer support. It’s easiest to make the best choice when you’re fully informed, so we put together a handy list of questions you should ask before applying for a merchant account.
- How long have you been in business?
Asking this question will help you determine if the company has a proven track record of success. You may find that some merchant account providers may not have the experience or solutions you need to effectively streamline payments for your business.
- What kind of support do you offer?
When a problem arises, you want to know that your merchant account provider has your back! Look for one that offers toll-free dedicated support, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year so that you’re never operating without a safety net.
- Are your payment systems PCI Compliant?
Payment security is always a top priority, for both the sake of your customers and your business. Choosing a merchant services provider that always adheres to PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) is critical to keeping sensitive credit and debit card information safe.
- What fraud protection services do you offer?
Ask what the merchant account provider does to reduce your exposure to credit card fraud, and ask if they take a multi-layered approach to protecting your customers’ financial data.
- What is the length of the contract?
When choosing a merchant account provider, you may want to start out with a shorter length contract until you feel comfortable and satisfied with their services and solutions. Find out what predetermined lengths are available and make sure to ask if there are any current discounts or promotions that you can take advantage of.
- Is there a fee for cancellation or early termination of the contract?
It is not uncommon for merchant account providers to charge you a fee for prematurely cancelling a merchant account agreement. Ask up front about the cost if a fee were to be imposed, should you need to terminate your contract.
- What other fees will I be charged?
Ask your provider to go over all standard fees; such as transaction fees, and any other charges you should expect, so there are no surprises. Be leery of processors that advertise rates that are significantly lower than everyone else. Chances are those rates are only good for a short period of time before they’re drastically increased, or there are hidden fees the company is not disclosing. Remember, you can’t get something for nothing, so if the merchant account provider is charging well below what everyone else is charging, it doesn’t hurt to ask lots of questions.
- Will my processing volume be capped?
Imagine that you’re having a great month of sales at your business, more than you’ve ever sold before! Then you’re halfway through the month and you can’t accept any more credit cards without paying extra fees. Make sure to check the agreed-upon monthly processing volume and determine if it’s right for your business. This is a topic you should definitely discuss with a company representative before making your decision.
As a final word of advice, check the provider’s Better Business Bureau report. Take your business elsewhere if you find multiple complaints! Choosing a merchant account provider can often be an intimidating experience if you don’t know where to begin. But these days, most customers expect businesses to accept credit cards as a form of payment, so it’s definitely worth the effort. Now you have the resources you need to ask the right questions and make an informed decision!