When you’re starting a business, the list of tasks you have to think about can feel never ending. As a result, it can be tempting to skimp on research so that jobs can be done more quickly. However, no matter the industry you’re in, there are some areas where you really shouldn’t rush things if you don’t want to compromise your business success. One of these areas is selecting a payment processing provider.
In this day and age, businesses must be able to accept credit and debit card payments to satisfy consumer demand — this is, after all, the most popular choice of payment for people across the globe. To ensure that your transactions are processed properly, it’s important to choose a reliable merchant services company with an easy-to-use system and affordable rates.
With so many options available though, it can be tough knowing who to select. If you’re keen to ensure your merchant services credit card processing is covered, read on for some key questions you should ask any provider before you sign up.
What Are the Costs?
Of course, one of the first questions you’ll always want to ask a payment processing provider is what costs are involved if you choose them. It’s important to be aware that different companies have different ways of structuring their payment plans, and will vary when it comes to what services they actually charge for. For example, some firms have a setup fee for creating your account or integrating their system with yours, while others will not. You must compare “apples with apples” when choosing a provider.
When analyzing costs, start off by looking at the transaction fees involved for each merchant services company. Many operate with a flat-fee-per-transaction system, which means that you get charged a set percentage rate on each transaction that is processed. On the other hand, some firms charge a minimum monthly fee for their service, as well as additional costs per transaction above that. Alternatively, some payment processing firms have a number of different payment plans to choose from, with the rates getting cheaper per transaction the more the volume grows.
When you’re comparing fees, remember to ask firms how long it takes them to clear funds. While some businesses might seem to have cheaper transaction rates, they may actually hold onto funds for longer than others, which can negate the benefits of their lower fees. For example, if they wait seven days or even longer to transfer funds into your bank account, this will negatively affect your cashflow, and may make them a less appealing option over the long run.
Are There any Other Fees?
Another aspect you should keep in mind when comparing merchant services firms is that some may charge a variety of “hidden” costs which aren’t obvious at first glance. Indeed, sometimes the companies which look the cheapest at the outset don’t end up very economical at all when you factor in their extra fees.
When speaking to payment processing firms, ask them if they charge withdrawal fees each time your payment balances are transferred to your bank account, or if they have costs for integrating their system with your particular checkout or device. As well, see if they incorporate extra charges if you decide to accept all forms of payment (they may charge extra to accept American Express credit cards, for example). Ask too, if you will have to pay more to access customer support when you need it.
How Secure Is the System?
Another question you should put to merchant services firms before signing on the dotted line is how secure is their system? Digital security is an incredibly important element of running a business in this technological age, and with hackers coming up with increasingly sophisticated ways to access point-of-sale information and break into websites, it’s not something you can be lax about. To keep all the personal customer payment information safe from prying eyes, you must ensure that all points of a transaction are secured. As such, you must choose a payment processing company that takes security very seriously.
The most secure systems will have a variety of protocols put in places to safeguard information. This will include things like CVV2 verification; support for every type of higher-level SSL certificate; and data encryption on all transactions. Furthermore, top firms will have security in place to protect the billing address of customers; they will use more intricate encryption algorithms that are tough to hack; and they will have very stringent restrictions on how data is stored and sent via the internet.