How to Choose a Merchant Account Provider

Choosing a merchant account provider can be an overwhelming experience. That’s why we’re going to provide you with the inside information you need to make a wise, well-educated decision for your merchant account provider needs.

First, consider only real merchant account providers and stay away from banks. There is no advantage to going to your bank – in fact, only a disadvantage. In today’s high-tech Internet world, banks have become antiquated and just aren’t up to date on the latest technology in merchant accounts, especially in things like website ecommerce and wireless processing. In addition, banks that offer merchant accounts actually outsource the entire operation to a merchant account provider. As a result, you are better of going directly to a merchant account provider and ignoring the bank altogether.

So how do you choose the right merchant account provider?

First and foremost, find a provider that has a proven track record. Check their Better Business Bureau report. If there are numerous complaints, turn around and walk away. You’ll need to take your business elsewhere.

Second, find out if they offer a 100% money back guarantee. This way you can try them out for a period of time and see if what they provide you with matches what they promised. Any reputable merchant account provider will give you a guarantee.

Third, look into their customer service practices and their technical support options. What do current and former customers have to say about them? Do they offer a toll free customer service number? What are their customer service hours? These are all questions you should ask.

Next, check out their fees. Make sure they are reasonable, and one of the lower cost options out there. CAUTION: Be careful of those that offer deceptively low rates. If you find a provider offering significantly lower rates than everyone else then something is fishy. Run don’t walk, they are sure to have hidden fees. After all, you can’t get something for nothing and if the merchant account provider is charging well below what everyone else is charging, there’s something wrong and you’re probably going to wind up paying for it with horrible customer service.

You also shouldn’t have to pay an application fee, setup fee, installation fee, programming fee or annual fee. Those are a lot of fees that many merchant account providers will try to stick you with. Be careful.

If a company is trying to charge you extraordinarily high equipment prices or if they’re trying to push you into a lease, run the other way. Stay away from leases and never pay more for your equipment than what it’s worth.

You must also look at your personal needs. If you’re going to be accepting a lot of International credit cards, ask your processor if that’s allowable. Some processors will shut down your account if you take International credit cards.

Ask your merchant account provider how they deal with the reserve issue. A reserve is a fee that the processor will keep back as insurance against chargebacks and other issues if you’re considered a high risk. Make sure your provider doesn’t do this.

Make sure that you’re not given a cap in your monthly volume. Imagine that you’re having a great month in sales, more than you’ve ever sold before. Suddenly, you’re halfway through the month and you can’t accept anymore credit cards. This can be the downfall of your business and it won’t be your fault. Or will it? It may be if you didn’t check into monthly caps before signing up with your merchant account provider.

Lastly, consider other things when choosing a merchant account provider such as how long they have been in business, their technical competence, their email and phone availability, any training they provide, online reporting, accurate deposits and statements, and timely deposits.

So you’ve done your research, now what do you do? Choose a provider that not only meets all your technical needs but also one that has a proven track record over many years, with thousands of satisfied clients, provides world class customer service and low fees, and offers a 100% money back guarantee so you can try them out. Never settle for second best. Your business is depending on it.

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