Whether or not a business accepts credit card payments can make or break a deal with a potential customer. Therefore, signing up for a merchant account is among the first steps to take when starting a business, either physical or online.
That said, choosing a merchant account provider can be overwhelming. While the choices are many, companies have different policies and qualities. Moreover, the merchant services industry is notorious for unethical agents, hidden fees, and expensive contracts. With so many things to factor in, impatient dealers often go with the cheapest option.
Nevertheless, some research is usually all it takes to land a quality provider. Below are four essential factors to consider before opening a merchant account:
- Your processing needs
Many traders simply find the firms that best suit their budget and work back from there, the assumption being that the chosen provider will be able to work outside its comfort zone.
Instead, compile a list of providers that specialize in your type of business, before making contractual considerations. For instance, if yours is a “high-risk” enterprise, your list should include the likes of eMerchantBroker, who know what your specific needs are, after which factors like rates and policies will come into play.
A merchant account provider typically sells its credit card processing services to you for a percentage of your sales. This means that, with every card swiped at your store, some money is automatically paid to the processor.
The percentage a provider would be charging is typically outlined in the contract. When selecting your pick, therefore, pay attention to the quoted rates, and choose the most reasonable. At the same time, be leery of processors whose charges are unusually low. Cheap deals are usually accompanied by hidden fees or poor services.
- Month-to-month contracts
A processing company may seem perfect at first, but what do you do when, a few months later, you realize it wasn’t the right fit? If your answer is to call the provider and request cancellation, you’re not wrong. However, many credit card processing contracts extend for years and include harsh fees to discourage merchants from canceling the service early.
Fortunately, providers are starting to embrace month-to-month contracts. Read the agreement carefully to ensure that you’ll be able to withdraw at the end of any month without consequence if you find the service unsatisfactory.
- Customer service
Technology advancement and an increasing customer base have brought extensive changes to customer support policies. Today, traditional call centers and personal assistants are being replaced by online options like FAQs, user forums, and social media. Before drawing your pen to sign a contract, ask yourself what kind of customer service you’d mostly prefer. Searching for a company’s user reviews can also provide useful insight into the effectiveness of its customer service.