The Right Way to Compare Merchant Payment Processors
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If you run a business, it’s high time you start accepting credit and debit card payments. Though cash has long been king, consumers are carrying cashless and less frequently; under 41 percent of the population is likely to have cash on hand, and one-third of the younger generations, to include millennials and gen z, attest to never touch the stuff. Thus, if your business isn’t equipped to accept plastic payments, you are missing out on a significant portion of potential profits.
However, that doesn’t mean you should rush recklessly into accepting card payments. Rather, you should take your time to compare available merchant payment processors to determine which one is right for your business. Here is a guide to researching and understanding your options, so you can accept card-based payments the right way.
First, Some Introspection
What does your business sell? How do your customers behave? Where do you do business? I might seem like these are rudimentary questions, but providing answers is a critical first step to finding your perfect payment processor. Questions like these will help you understand what kind of transactions you will likely process, which in turn will lead you to merchant payment processing providers best equipped to handle your payment needs. For example, if your business exists in stores, online and on a mobile app, you will need a processor who offers services across all three platforms. You should pay especially close attention to the size and frequency of your transactions because most processors organize their plans around these two criteria. You could be penalized with fees if your transactions don’t occur according to your plan.
Additionally, you should consider what services and features are important, though not critical, to your business. For example, your brand might be built on the importance of supporting local businesses so you might prefer a local payment processor. Customer service is always important, but if you are a Luddite, having a particularly active and available service line available might be imperative. As you determine what you need and want, you should make a checklist and rate these features according to their importance.
Next, Deep Research
With your checklist in hand, you should begin your hunt for the perfect merchant payment processing provider. You can start on the internet: Perform a web search for processors and a few of the most important features on your list. Then, you should dive deep into whatever results show up, scouring websites for information about services and plans.
During this period, you should accumulate a long list of potential processors. Likely, you will feel overwhelmed by possibility and want to commit yourself to be a cash-only enterprise. However, by paying attention to the information available online, you should be able to narrow your list relatively swiftly. You should consider the quality of providers’ websites; if the website is at all janky or less-than-informative, you can write that option off. You might also search other areas of the web, like the Better Business Bureau, for reviews of potential processors. An exceptional number of dissatisfied customers is a bright-red flag that should prompt you to look elsewhere.
Once you have a small, manageable list, you should begin calling processors for quotes. Rarely are processors fully transparent regarding their fee structure online; calling is often the only way to understand and compare costs. Plus, calling processors allows you a better view of their customer service. Any providers who take too long to reach or are in any way rude or dismissive might not be right for your business.
Finally, the Decision
Once you have thought long and hard about your needs, done an appropriately deep amount of research on your options and contacted the hopefuls, it is time to make your decision. While your payment processor will impact day-to-day business and your bottom line — meaning this choice has an effect on how your business functions — it is important to remember that payment processing contracts only last for a certain length of time. If you are dissatisfied with your service in any way, you can return to your research and choose a new provider after your contract term is up.
You need a payment processor soon, but you don’t want to make the decision lightly. By putting the time and effort into researching and weighing your options, you will be more likely to find the perfect processing service and lead your business to success.
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