Choosing among the many merchant account providers available can be one of the biggest challenges faced by business owners. With the growing popularity of e-commerce and credit card payments, though, it’s a necessary step for any business that hopes to continue growing in today’s economy. As long as you limit yourself to cash or check payments only, you’re missing out on sales opportunities and new revenue.
So how does one go about choosing a merchant account provider to handle their credit cards payment system? Here are four important considerations to help you choose the best of the merchant account providers available for your business:
- Determine what services you’re looking for
Before beginning to search for merchant account providers, take the time to clearly determine exactly what you want from a provider. It can help to begin by defining the characteristics of your business. For instance, how often do you plan to receive credit card payments? Are you a large retailer or a smaller shop? Do you plan to accept online payments? What about mobile payments? E-commerce sales are a huge business, generating $931,490 every 30 seconds from desktop sales and another $269,693 every 30 seconds from mobile devices. Even if you don’t currently offer online or mobile payments, this may be an area you want to expand into later. If this is the case, make sure your merchant account provider can support you in such an expansion.
Once you have lain out what you need from a provider, you can start compiling a list of merchant account providers who can provide those services.
- Evaluate their track record
Resources such as the Better Business Bureau are your greatest ally when trying to evaluate merchant account providers. If you find several complaints – – particularly any that are unresolved – – keep looking. Find out how long the company has been in business. Asking other customers who use the merchant’s credit card payment system about their experience can be another great way of gaining insight into the business. Ask current and former customers if they would recommend the provider and why or why not.
- Ask about their customer support
Does the provider offer 24/7 customer support? What about live support? Problems can arise at any time, as such you want to make sure your payment processing provider offers round the clock support. Decide what sort of customer services are important to you. Do you prefer to speak to a live human being rather than slogging through a back-and-forth email chain or chat forum? Then rule out any merchant account providers who offer only email or online support. Don’t forget to consider your customers’ and employees’ needs and preferences in the support they receive as well. Perhaps you don’t mind using FAQ and chat forums to get guidance but your staff may prefer to have live contact over the phone.
- Learn about their fraud protection services
Losses from credit and debit card fraud cost $16.31 billion worldwide in 2014. By 2020, that number is projected to more than double to $35.45. Currently, fraud costs over $8 billion annually to U.S. consumers alone. Data breaches not only hurt your customers, but can also severely damage your business’s reputation. Your customers will want to know their personal information is kept secure when they do business with your company. Before signing a contract with any merchant account providers, make sure you understand exactly how they protect your and your customers’ sensitive financial information. Data encryption techniques are the most secure means of providing secure payments with apps. The highest level of encryption is 256-bit encryption. Even the most able and experienced hackers will struggle to break through a 256-bit encryption level.
With the abundance of merchant account providers out there, it can seem like a trying task to weed through them all. Don’t get overwhelmed; simply keep these four tips in mind as you evaluate them one by one. Remember: when there’s an abundance of suppliers, it makes for a buyers’ market. Make sure any merchant account provider you contract with has earned your business by providing the services, support, and security you require.