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Colorful stack of credit cards and shopping gift cards.  Macro wThe lifeblood of any business is the fast, efficient and reliable processing of your transactions, especially if you’re a merchant that is dealing with many customers and purchases on a daily basis. In the 21st century, that means a broad array of ways to handle a purchase, from traditional cash in hand, to credit cards, to online purchases where you never even meet the customer face to face. As a result of all these different ways to do business, numerous companies have come together to help business owners tackle the challenge of being a modern merchant. But how do you find the service provider that’s right for you? Here are five easy suggestions to get you started.

Determine Your Needs

If, for example, you are going to be primarily an Internet-based business, then any provider that specializes in POS equipment and transactions isn’t going to accommodate your more digital-based needs. Conversely, if you run a business that operates primarily on credit card transactions, then a company that only works with ACH groups will not be very useful for you. Always take the time to figure out exactly what kind of merchant services you require to better align your needs with a provider’s services.

Research The Service Providers

There are number of merchant account service providers available, and they are all different in their scope, ability and quality of service. It’s important to be diligent about checking out your prospective candidates and ensuring that have the services you require at a cost and quality level that satisfy your needs. Now is the time to also check their credentials, see how they are evaluated by groups such as the Better Business Bureau, and study the kind of reputation, reviews and testimonials others have left about their services.

Find Out Their Fees

Alongside other considerations, your own operating budget is going to be a large determining factor. Whatever their fees and other service charges are, it is up to you to make sure these figures are in line with what you are willing to spend. Conversely, be wary of fees that seem significantly lower than others, and feel like dramatic bargains. As the old truism goes, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. Be on lookout for conditional expenses, such as a cap on credit card transactions per month that will require additional charges for card transactions over the limit, and other hidden costs.

Consider Cash Flow

Similar to determining your needs, cash flow in this sense looks at exactly how the service provider handles transactions and whether there will be any issues between you, the service provider and the amount of time it will take for transactions to be processed. ACH transactions may take longer to process than credit card transactions, and even among credit card transactions, the time in processing can vary from one provider to the next.

Review The Service Contract

You should carefully look at the services and financial/legal obligations you will enter into with a service provider when they offer a contract. Look at other conditions, such as the expiration date for the contract, whether it automatically renews, the steps required for termination, and other conditions such as price tiers or even merchant discounts.

Posted in Merchant Account, Merchant Card Services on Jul 30, 2015