Choosing A Merchant Account – What To Look For & Things To Avoid


Besides just the rates.

There are a couple of reasons you might find yourself choosing a new merchant account provider for your business. Maybe you’ve just decided that it’s finally time to start accepting credit cards. Maybe you just started a new businesses. Alternately, you may be unhappy with an unsatisfactory payment processing company. Maybe you’re looking for better customer service or pricing. Either way, there are a few important ideas to keep in mind when choosing your merchant account provider.

1. Evaluate The Sales Pitch

When choosing a merchant account, whether you’re talking to a sales representative or exploring the payment processor’s website, look past the sales pitch! Some processing companies try to dazzle clients with vague promises and low rates. Ignore these for now! When first reviewing a merchant account provider, the more important things to establish are how much experience they have with businesses like yours, and how knowledgeable they are about your needs.

If the sales pitch looks too good to be true, it probably is. Many processing companies will offer introductory “teaser” rates. Others have a whole catalog of rates based on what kind of payment card a customer uses. Temptingly low rates may turn out to be for payment types that you’ll never actually encounter with your business (such as “PIN” debit cards, when you’ll never have a card-present debit transaction). Similarly, each of these rates often come in three tiers: “qualified,” “mid-qualified,” and “non-qualified.” If you think your odds of having the lowest, “qualified” rate apply are low, you’re learning how this game is played.

2. Consider Add On Fees

Some merchant account providers will also add on a swarm of fees, fees typically for services that you’ll never use or need.  Low rate promises can be bait to lure you into a situation that can cause other problems. Processors will have to nickel and dime you to death on other aspects of the service. Or worse, you may be stuck with horribly unresponsive merchant support…remember, you get what you pay for.

A few more things to double check…

Another area that is often overlooked by merchants choosing a new merchant account provider is contract terms and length. Make sure the processor or merchant account broker is transparent and open about any termination fees or waiver stipulations for cancelation of the account. For example, do they offer a hardship waiver if you need to cease operation of the business or if the merchant account itself is not profitable for you? Cheap rates may lure you in but, once you determine there are problems you may want to end your relationship. Check beforehand to determine how much it will cost to end your contract.

Remember! Ask if there are minimum monthly transaction fees. Make sure your rates are not subject to arbitrary increases during the length of the contract. Those initial “low” merchant account rates may jump after only a few months with no warning. Don’t get too caught up in looking for the lowest rates, because the company probably makes their money off the other fees they charge. Instead, look at the overall cost of their service, and the quality of the support they provide, as well as internet reviews of the provider.

Which leads us to…

3. Evaluate Reputation. You get what you pay for.

Checking with the Better Business Bureau is always a good first step. Find out if others have had problems with the service and what rating the merchant service has.

Google reviews and reviews on platforms such as Merchant Maverick are also great places to check out!

4. Read the contract!

The number four tip (but it really should be number one) for choosing a merchant account is read your contract all the way through. Don’t just rely of the promise of merchant account rates. Make sure the contract is something you can live with for the duration of the term before you jump in. Great merchant account rates are only the tip of a submerged iceberg. The part you don’t see can often cause the greatest problems.

Blindly signing a contract based solely on the promise of great merchant account rates is like the story about the love potion. A gentleman buys a love potion for only a penny. After the transaction, the lady of his dreams falls madly in love with him; so much in love that he eventually becomes constricted and trapped in the relationship. He goes back to the dealer for an antidote to the potion. There, he finds the cost for the antidote to be thousands of dollars. Getting out of something is often harder than getting in.

5. Prioritize Customer Service

In evaluating payment processors, think of them like friends or partners! A good one will be there for you when you need them. That means consistent customer service and technical support offered in-house. In house is always better than customer service farmed out to some generic 800# that has no motivation to care whether your problem is solved to your satisfaction. If your payment processing equipment or secure transaction gateway goes down, you lose sales. The people responsible for fixing the problem should have a stake in solving it. Your payment processor makes their money off of the transactions they process for you. An outsourced tech support company gets paid regardless.

Does the merchant account service have a good customer service record? Does someone actually answer the phone when you call or do you get a “please leave a message” recording ? Are you assigned a personal account manager to handle any issues you may have for the life of the account ? Having someone who is familiar with your account to contact is very helpful.

In Conclusion…

These guidelines should provide you with a solid grounding in your search for a quality merchant account provider who can offer you the kind of features and service your business needs to thrive.

At Durango Merchant Services we think of ourselves as your business partner, if you are not making money we don’t make money. Our bottom line is tied to our clients bottom lines in a symbiotic relationship. You can be assured that we will do whatever we can to help your business succeed by providing the best customer service, logistics and most appropriate pricing for your particular business. At Durango Merchant Services, you will work with the same account manager from the initial application through the life of the account! Dedicated account managers are the reason Durango has a high merchant retention rate.

If you anticipate needing a high risk merchant account, there are a few other things you’ll need to keep in mind. Read more HERE. 

As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out. Contact us HERE! 

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