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10 Essential Questions You Should Ask Before Choosing a Merchant Account Provider

Published November 6th, 2017 by Servistree

Setting up a merchant account can help open up your business to new customers and clients, because it allows you to accept credit cards as a form of payment.

And credit card chip technology has added another layer of complexity to point-of-sale (POS) transactions, making these transactions more secure, but also resulting in some delays, as merchants work through all the kinks of this new technology.

So save yourself time and frustration by making sure that you vet all prospective merchant account providers with these 10 questions that will cover any contingencies that may arise.

How Long Have You Been In Business?

A merchant account provider’s longevity isn’t the only indicator of quality or reliability, but it does provide you with a measuring stick if all things are equal. Therefore, when choosing between account providers that are similar in quality and services, the one that’s been in business longer may end up being the tiebreaker.

Is Customer Service Support Available 24/7?

If your business is on the west coast, you don’t want to hire a provider based on the east coast who works a normal 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, because that means that if your equipment breaks down during peak hours, you won’t be able to speak to anyone to get it back online.

One thing to keep in mind is that 24/7 ‘support’ may sometimes mean email support after hours, but no live support after a certain time. Make sure you ask if live support is available 24/7.

What Are Your Fraud Protection Methods?

Ask every prospective merchant account provider to list the steps that are in place to detect credit card fraud, and to ensure that you recoup your losses.

Is Your Payment Processing System Universal?

To avoid having to overhaul your system, ask the provider if its processing system is universal, or if it can be configured to work with yours.

When Will the Funds Clear?

Ask what the average time period is to clear your funds and get you paid. Obviously, the quicker the better, but just knowing when to expect your funds can help you budget and make contingency plans if something goes awry.

How Long Is Your Contract?

It’s more advantageous for your business if you have the flexibility offered by a shorter contract to measure the effectiveness of your new relationship.

Some providers may offer you an ‘early out clause’ for a fee, which lets you break a longer contract if you decide that the provider is not the right fit for your business.

Do You Offer Online and Offline Payment Processing?

Even if you aren’t online yet, you’re probably going to be someday, and you don’t want to have to hire a second provider to process these transactions. That’s why it’s important to ask whether the provider can process online transactions as well as offline transactions. The same thing applies if you operate exclusively online, but may open a brick-and-mortar in the future that requires offline transactions.

What Is Your Fee Settlement Structure?

Settlement fees are a combination of a processing fee and a transaction fee. Depending on your cash flow and budget constraints, you may want to delay paying the fee until the end of the month, or you may want a daily settlement, so you know exactly where you stand at the end of each business day.

Do You Sell Or Lease the Credit Card Processing Equipment?

You may want to avoid a provider who only offers the lease option, as that will add to your expenses, and cut into your profit margin.

Are You PCI Compliant?

PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance is federally required for every business that accepts credit cards and debit cards for payment. Companies that are not PCI compliant are subject to heavy fines, so it’s vital that you ask every potential merchant account provider whether their systems are PCI compliant. Although your business must be in compliance, the law doesn’t apply to merchant providers, so you’re at risk if you hire a provider whose systems are not engineered for PCI.

Seize the Opportunity

Credit card payment processing can seem complex and daunting, but when you hire the right merchant account provider, you’ll find it much easier to manage your financial transactions. And there’s no reason to feel anxious when you interview prospective account providers, because you’ll be armed with all the questions necessary to help you make an informed decision for your business.

Do you need help setting up your credit card processing system? Get in touch with us today, and we’ll be happy to see what we can do about saving you money while providing you with outstanding service. Contact us today at 1-866-944-3244 or visit us online.

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