credit card acceptanceIf your business wants to start a credit card acceptance program, it is time to do a bit of homework. This is a major financial decision, and should not be rushed, or taken lightly. Many companies out there offer services to help businesses, but not all merchant processor companies are created equally.

Credit Card Acceptance Customer Service

Excellent customer service is the cornerstone of any business, and it should always be the case when it comes credit card acceptance. Whether you need help choosing a provider, or getting setup with the provider you pick, you need to know that customer service will be there for you to assist you whenever the need arises.

Affordable Equipment

Equipment requirements and pricing will vary from processor to processor, and it may also vary depending on the type of merchant account you require for your business. You may have the option to lease the equipment, or to purchase it outright. Compare the options and costs to determine what will work best for you. The equipment you need to accept credit cards in person at a retail store will be quite different from the equipment you need for credit card acceptance in a delivery scenario. Consider all the options, and don’t opt for the cheapest equipment just to get it done, or for the most expensive equipment on the basis that expensive equals best.

Affordable Fee Schedule

There are fees for account setup, equipment, transactions, etc. Make sure you are fully aware of all the fees that are charged, how much each fee is, and when the fee is charged. If you cannot afford all the fees from one credit card acceptance provider, continue looking until you are able to find one you can afford. Be sure to ask questions about any fees listed on the schedule that you may not understand. If you are unable to get a clear answer, keep looking for another provider.

Full Disclosure

Look for a company that provides full disclosure of their terms and conditions, fees, etc. Many merchant programs look good at first glance, but it is once you get under the surface and find hidden fees and lengthy contracts that you realize it is not the great deal you once thought it was.

Quality Credit Card Acceptance Reputation

When evaluating a company for their merchant services, it’s a good idea to ask for references. A company who really wants to work for you will have no problem providing references so that you can see for yourself how other customers really feel about working with that company as their payment processor. If, for privacy reasons, you are unable to connect with actual customers, don’t hesitate to ask the processor for case studies as well as their retention rate.

Other Considerations

When evaluating a company for its services, also consider:

Is there a contract? If so, will I be able to meet the terms of that contract? What is the benefit of signing the contract? For instance, if I agree to stay with the company for two years, do I get a better discount rate? If I cannot meet the terms of the contract, what are the penalties for terminating before the term has been reached? For instance, is there a large early termination fee like with cell phone contracts? Is there potential for my business to be sued? Great processors with nothing to hide will generally offer no contracts as they are positive that their solutions work and will save you money. Also consider that merchant processors with no contracts are less risky to work with due to the fact that you can leave whenever you are not satisfied, without any harsh penalties. When a merchant processor requires no contracts it reflects that they want to earn your business every month.

What cards are accepted? There are four major credit card issuers in the United States: American Express®, Visa®, Mastercard®, and Discover®. If you’re only able to accept Visa and Mastercard, you will be alienating a large portion of your consumer base. The more you accept, the more flexible you become for your consumers, giving you more opportunities to earn your customer’s business.

Gather all the information you can about the companies you are considering doing business with. Compare their setup fees and rates with all the other companies. Then, take a closer look at their equipment fees, their contract terms, etc. Eventually, you will be able to narrow the list down to a credit card acceptance program that works well for your business.

Every business is unique, with different needs and requirements. The best credit card merchant accounts will be able to create a solution designed to meet your business needs, rather than using a cookie-cutter approach.