Businesses that do not process credit cards or refuse similar channels of payment are at an almost fatal disadvantage in the modern world. By refusing to update your business to meet the challenges of the day, you’d be shutting out a massive source of revenue even as competitors race to carve out as large a portion of the pie as possible. A merchant account to accommodate modern ways of payment is a must for any business, but due to the rising number of companies that provide such services, the selection process may become intimidating and time consuming. Let’s look at a few of the criteria that you can employ to choose your merchant account provider gainfully.
A merchant account is not free. Acquiring one incurs an initial cost, and a recurring fee on the basis of volume and size of business, and most importantly, on the credit rating of the business in question. Past bankruptcies, tax liens and related issues increase costs, including the transaction fee–the cost incurred when a customer makes a purchase through your account–and the discount rate over the purchase amount typically ranging between 1.5% to 4%. Hardware acquisition may also be necessary, starting at around $200 for a basic setup. Costs are highly variable, and careful scrutiny of the terms is an absolute must. To learn more on the rates and fees click here.
Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is a security initiative backed by Visa, MC, AMEX, Discover, and JCB which seeks to guarantee the safety of cardholder data. The PCI DSS scanning requirements apply to all merchants that store or process credit card information via the Internet. Since compliance with PCI DSS is mandatory for any merchant processing credit card information, you should ascertain that the necessary security protocols and software are included in the package being acquired.
3. Customer Service
There may and probably will be cases of disagreement and misunderstandings between the provider and the merchant account holding business. To avoid issues, it is a good idea to establish a good relationship right from the start. A hands-on approach, with direct and frequent contact with the customer service not only enhances the implementation of the merchant account, but also provides a useful hint on the future cooperativeness of the support team.
A chargeback is a dispute in which the customer refuses to fulfill a charge on his credit card, and the merchant is called to refund the payment. Depending on the type of business, chargebacks can pose a significant handicap in establishing a successful merchant account. Not only are they costly, but they can also prevent merchant account providers from accepting your business at all, or only at exorbitant rates.
Given how important payment processing is for the profitability and survival of a business, the acquisition of a merchant account must proceed with attention to detail and careful consideration of the costs. Although the details are sometimes involving, there are online sources of information available, and any interested reader would be well-advised to avail himself of them.
Danielle Thomas is a graduate from Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, now working as a freelance writer, entrepreneur and researcher. She covers a wide range of topics for merchantseek.com, with a particular interest in technology, the Internet, and the emerging business systems of the 21st century.