Reviewing merchant account providers? What should be a simple and straightforward process can actual be quite daunting for a merchant – whether you are new to credit card processing or have been processing for years. The various cards, fees, and rates that come with accepting credit cards at your business, create a complicated maze of options that can easy overwhelm anyone trying to choose the best merchant account for their business. As a result of this confusion, merchants are constantly being taken advantage of by both overly complicated contracts, and unfortunately in many cases through outright deception by their merchant service provider.
Merchant Account Providers will often try and distract you by using words like “free”, “rates as low as…”, and other flashy sales pitches to confuse you from what matters. Ignore the noise and focus on these key areas to save money and find a merchant account that is suited to your business.
Rates and Fees are a Shell Game – Focus on Overall Cost
When signing up for a merchant account it is tempting to search around for the lowest rates possible. It is also the area where 99% of merchants make the mistake of not understanding that rates are a shell game. Too often merchant’s sign with a merchant account provider because they’ve been offered a 1.05% rate, while the other companies they’ve looked at were all much higher. Only after they’ve signed the contract, do they realize the error of their ways – as they are left paying large fees and assessments (along with rarely if ever being charged that 1.05%). The reason for this is that there are over 300+ types of credit cards and Merchant Service providers can offer you a different rate for each type. Beyond that each rate can have 3 rates attached to it, Qualified/Mid-Qualified/Non-Qualified. That 1.05% is likely for a Qualified transaction on a select type of premium credit card that your business will never see. Don’t focus on rates – focus on actual cost
Avoid Specified Length/Term Contracts
Failing to avoid specified length or term contracts is often the other main mistake made by merchants who soon regret their decision. While merchants who receive a full schedule of rates and fees will likely not be as exposed to the dangers of signing a long term contract, but regardless as to your current costs – you always want to avoid long term contracts.
Customer Support and Service
Now that you have your choices narrowed down to a handful of choices, the next question you need to ask is what is their customer support and service like.
Do They Offer 24/7 Support?
While you hope you will never have any need for customer support, you want to be assured that if an issues arises at any time – someone will be available to speak with you.
Is their Support in-house or outsourced?
Nearly as important as to whether the support is available is whether it is handled in house or outsourced to another company. Avoid outsourced support staffs, your agreement is with a merchant company not with their support company – accountability is paramount and you want the person on the other end of the line to be invested in your problem.
Does the sales person seem knowledgeable about your business?
It’s important to sign up with a merchant account provider that understands the challenges and uniqueness to your business. When speaking with your account rep, does he/she proactively address the issues above? Do they understand the type of cards your business will most likely see? Do they try and pressure you into signing a long-term contract? Do they personally know a member of the support staff? You can learn a lot about a company by speaking with a sales representative; always remember that you are choosing a company that will directly impact your business’ bottom line. The choice is yours, and it is important to choose a company you feel comfortable with.
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