10 Tips for Choosing the Right Merchant Processor for Your Business

merchant processor

How critical is picking the right merchant processor? Ask any of your fellow business owners, and they will tell you it is as important as hiring employees you can count on. Your merchant processor is essentially “working” inside your business each time the doors are open.


Knowing that, we are giving you a huge head start right away so you don’t choose a processor you regret.  After these 10 tips to make the best choice, we will dive a bit deeper (and include real-life evidence of how much a great provider means to your business).


#1 Avoid Set-up Fees: Ask if the merchant service provider charges set-up fees. Some providers charge no set-up fees.


#2 Watch Cancellation Fees: You want a company that is upfront and clear about cancellation fees. This matters even more for newly launched businesses that need to watch every dollar.


#3 Contract Length: Be wary of long-term contracts, which may keep you locked in with a provider that lets you down. Being unable to switch companies without paying to cancel the contract is a bad spot to be in.


#4 Beware Transaction Quotas: Transaction or processing quotas can mean you will be charged for failing to meet sales volume criteria. A business that sees fluctuating sales or seasonal ups and downs should be especially cautious.


#5 Transaction Caps: While rare, you should stay away from payment processors that have transaction caps. Most processors want you to make more sales and reward you with volume discounts.


National Processing offers volume discounts and helps your business scale with four flexible plans – (see our plans).


#6 Ask About Chargeback Assistance: Chargebacks cause major headaches for merchants. Go with a company that is on your side when it comes to fighting chargebacks and helping you avoid them in the future. 


#7 PCI Compliance Support: Ensure the merchant processor is proactive in helping you maintain PCI compliance rather than leaving the responsibility entirely on you.


#8 Demand Transparent Rates: Be cautious of low introductory rates that steadily climb. If a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is, so ask about price guarantees.


#9 Breach Assistance: Assistance in case of compliance violations is a valuable safety net merchants need because even major companies fall victim to data breaches.


#10 Highest-Quality Hardware and Software: Look for a company that goes beyond standard payment hardware and software. Updated, modern equipment lightens your workload and makes for efficient business operations.


All ten of the above tips show how crucial it is to read your contract closely before signing. So here are tips for noticing problems in a contract.


Selecting A Merchant Processor For SMBs: Contract Tips

  • Taking your time reading the contract prevents being taken advantage of.
  • Mark confusing parts of the contract then ask for clarification.
  • Ask if any details are negotiable.
  • Consider details the contract might be leaving out (omissions).
  • Read and review the contract at least three times.
  • Get a second set of eyes (ideally a legal expert).


Perhaps the biggest key merchants forget with a payment processing contract? You have leverage! The merchant processor wants your business. However, your leverage to negotiate ends once you sign the contract.


Knowing you have leverage, let’s look at some proven negotiation tips.


Negotiating A Merchant Services Agreement


One of the essential features in a merchant processor for businesses is their willingness to listen to your concerns and questions. It doesn’t mean they can change their policies, of course. Yet, it says a lot when their representative is empathetic to your perspective and takes time to listen.


Hopefully, the following five tips for contract negotiating can save you money, stress, and maybe even keep you from signing with the wrong payment services provider.


#1 Research the provider and write down questions to ask the representative.


#2 Build rapport with your sales rep.


#3 Try to understand the representative’s motivations.


#4 Request more leeway in any dispute-resolution clauses.


#5 Let the sales rep know you have offers from other providers on the table.


The last one gives you what? More leverage!


Now for a handful of additional essential features in a merchant processor for businesses (with a bonus  coming up).


A Quality Merchant Processor’s Essential Features

You want great rates so your business can save money on credit and debit card transactions. This is a given. There are other essentials to seek out, though.


A merchant processor should provide world-class security for your business and customers / clients. Weak security has cost businesses millions of dollars over the years due to fraudulent charges. As for the reputation damage for businesses due to data breaches where private customer information is leaked? Those costs are incalculable! 


Another merchant services feature that protects your business is rock-solid customer service. It is your provider’s duty to assist you when problems arise. If you can’t reach customer service without delays or they don’t have the experience to solve your issue, then you will face these headaches alone. Luckily, you can check reviews to see which providers’ customer service stands out.


Lastly, having quality point-of-sale systems is essential to keeping your payments flowing. Look for modern, user-friendly equipment that makes life easy for your employees and smooth for your customers. What about set-up? A reliable sales rep will go above and beyond to not only get your system set up, but also won’t walk away until you are comfortable with how it all functions. 


“Reliable” is the key word we need to talk more about.


How To Choose A Reliable Merchant Processor


Remember those reviews we mentioned? We combed through multiple review sites for you. The reason is to show what a reliable provider looks like (as well as the polar opposite!).


Quotes from reliable payment processor reviews.

These are from three random payment companies.


“Our business was having complex issues processing HSA medical payments based on specific requirements we were unaware of. The processor support team helped us navigate to get it resolved. It took longer than we were expecting but their team kept us informed of the status and what they were doing so we weren’t left hanging and felt well taken care of.”


“Quick application and my money is available next morning.”


“The representative made it a point to give me her direct contact and from there we have grown an amazing, professional relationship. She helps service all aspects of my 3 account locations.”


Obviously, we want to also highlight a National Processing review, too:


“The best payment processor hands down – they are very reachable and whenever there is an issue – they are always there. National was the missing piece to my puzzle!”


These next reviews show what to watch for to avoid an unreliable provider…


Quotes from unreliable payment processor reviews.


“Have left numerous messages/emails/calls and no one is getting back to me. Not happy!”


“Checked my bank account and the deposit did not match transactions, $150 less than it should be. I have the salesman’s number and he won’t respond either.”


“Another annual fee of $160 ish, without letting me know. And a $10 monthly wireless fee for a device that has not worked for months.”


You know running your business takes major focus and energy. So, who needs the added hassle of an unreliable, unresponsive merchant processor?


Luckily, if you simply stick to the ten tips we listed at the beginning, you will find a processor that is perfect for your business. One with the goal of being your partner in business – making life easier through payment services.


Here are two bonus tips for choosing the best credit card processor as we wrap up. Also, scan the FAQ at the end. Thanks so much for reading, and remember…


Signing up with National Processing is quick, easy, and has zero risk since you are covered with our $500 Guarantee that our rates cannot and will not be beat. Get started today!


Bonus Tips: 


#11 Choose a payment processor with advanced security features like encryption, tokenization, and early fraud detection tools.


#12 If your business is considered high risk, then research providers who not only have vast experience with these complex challenges but also welcome business owners with these unique challenges.


FAQ: Signs You are choosing the best Merchant Processor


What is a secret way to get a better idea of actual fees your business will pay?


Ask the sales rep to show you an actual account statement (example statement) with all fees listed. If they can’t or won’t, this is a red flag.


Don’t all credit card processors have solid security?


There is standard security (mandated by the US government). Then, there are next-level security tools and protocols. SOC 2 is a top-tier security measure that average processors do not offer.


What are two things to ask your sales rep when interviewing merchant services companies?

1)Ask them for references – business owners you can call to ask how their service has been. Aim for longer talks with these owners so you get the full picture. 2)What is the biggest complaint customers have had in the past year? Be concerned if the rep “can’t think of any complaints.” All payment companies have hiccups from time to time, and if the sales rep is open and honest, they will be glad to talk about it.

Shane McLendon

Shane McLendon

Job Title, Author

Customer focused

If we can't beat your current rates, we'll give you $500!*

We happily accept merchants processing any amount. Price guarantee for merchants processing $10,000 or more per month. Free terminals and other promotions depend on processing volume, credit and qualifications.

Customer focused

If we can't beat your current rates, we'll give you $500!*

We happily accept merchants processing any amount. Price guarantee for merchants processing $10,000 or more per month. Free terminals and other promotions depend on processing volume, credit and qualifications.