Veteran merchants and first-time entrepreneurs alike have been needlessly buffaloed by the prospect of setting up online merchant accounts. It isn’t nearly the hurdle many people think it is. Once you have figured out the basics of what your business needs are, such as mobile capabilities or maybe you need insured services, you will readily find qualified assistance when you need to have it. Compare fees and discount rates, and make sure you are only going to be charged for services you actually use.
Below are some tips to use when you are in the market for a merchant account provider.
- Research – Programs vary greatly, even within a single company, so even before you contact anyone about setting up an account, you should determine what you and your business require for service.
- Glossary of Terms – A good site to visit is merchant-accounts.com, which can help answer questions you have about any of the terminology used by your merchant bank or credit processor.
- Contract – Contracts can be tricky, even when the terms and wording are clear, and this is because your business needs may change dramatically, well before your existing contract runs out. Will your contract be flexible enough to adapt to new criteria?
- Hidden Costs – The discount rate, which is the percent of each sale that goes to the merchant account provider, statement fees and transaction fees are standards, but compare what different companies charge. Know what charges apply in the event of refunds.
- Support – Sometimes the way things are handled when problems arise can be every bit as important as business-as-usual. If you work with a company that can troubleshoot and remedy problems quickly, it can mean the difference between a successful holiday business season and one that is just so-so.
- No App Fee – There shouldn’t be any application fee to start an online merchant account, and you should be very wary of any company that requires one, no matter how attractive the rest of their presentation looks.
- Technical Reliability – Some companies can be far ahead of others on the technology curve, and it will pay you to find out how your account is handled. Are transactions processed quickly? Are deposits credited promptly? Are statements issued properly?
- Secure? – As important as speed and accuracy are, so is security. You will be handling sensitive personal and financial material, and great harm can be done if your merchant account/accounts are not secure.
- Accurate Records – Needed to help with taxes and planning, timely record-keeping is essential to any well run business. Whether you are using these records to plan future expenditures and investment, or if you are preparing a tax return, money and time savings are a direct benefit of good record-keeping.
- Mobile Business – Square, co-founded by Jack Dorsey, the driving force behind Twitter, is an app named for the shape of the small card-reader that attaches to many “smart” phones, allowing mobile vendors to process credit card sales from almost anywhere. The app is fast becoming popular with artists, crafters and others who require mobile capacity from their credit processor.
Take the time to ask questions and make comparisons, and then go make some money!