When your business plans to accept debit and credit cards-either at your brick and mortar, online or by phone, you will need a merchant services processor so you can accept them. There will be some upfront costs and fees for doing so.  Fees if you have been a cash only business, that you are not accustomed to paying.  But the extra costs that are associated with taking credit cards far outweigh the disadvantages of you not taking them.

The biggest change you will see almost immediately is the boost in sales.  Credit card purchase encompass almost 80% of all purchases in the US marketplace.  By being cash only, you have been excluding these customers from your business.  People have a different mindset when they purchase with plastic.  Cash is a physical action you have to take to make a purchase.  You pull your wallet out of your purse or pocket, you pull your physical money out and you see it transferred directly to the merchant.  It is difficult, it can be painful.  One minute you have $200 in your pocket, and the next minute you have $25.00 and the goods you just purchased.  With plastic, you hand your card over to the business attendant, they process the payment, you sign for it, get a receipt that you barely look at and put it in your pocket.  Not until the end of the month will you receive your statement that gives you your payment balance.

Choosing a credit card processor can be a difficult task.  It is wise to compare the pros and cons of your options before signing a contract.  Here are several factors to consider.

Fees and Costs

Processing costs can range from .025% to 5% on all transactions a company processes through their terminals.  There are many companies available to you who offer products that are competitive and offer the same level of service as those who are charging a higher percentage.

How much are the fees and other costs?

Credit card processing fees can be up to 5% on everything a company earns from its credit and debit card sales, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. However, some companies might charge much less than others while offering the same products and level of service.

Fees to watch out for and compare: Interchange fees, monthly statement fees, application and set up fees, application and set up fees, monthly minimum fees, monthly gateway access fees, and early termination fees.  All of these fees are subject negotiation and are offered in tier pricing by different companies based on your volume of processing. Make sure you understand all of these fees and service terms.  Make sure they can provide you with a detailed explanation on all costs and fees and if they cannot, then find another processor.

What is the setup time?

Many companies have the ability to set you up in as little as 24 hours after your application.  The normal amount of time is usually 3-5 days from application until approval.

What are the accepted payment types?

You will want to make sure that your new processor accepts all major credit and debit card so you do not have to turn away any possible customers. Also, you may want to include a system that accepts prepaid cards and gift cards.

Is your system up to date with new payment procedures:

Most customers are very tech savvy now.  NFC (Near field technology) is the latest payment processing that will allow you to accept digital wallets like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Wallet. This technology allows customers to make a payment with a simple touch of their cell phone.

Is customer support reliable?

If you run into processing, terminal, or technical problems how reliable is their customer support. Make sure you hire a processor that offers 24/7 support and you will need direct support from an account rep who can solve your issues. There may be an extra cost for this service, but it will be some of the best money you can spend.

Good luck with your search for a reputable merchant services provider.  There are many solid companies available for you to contact.  Find the right one and then good luck in the new world of credit card processing.

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