How do I Compare Merchant Accounts?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Whether you are starting a business or unhappy with your current merchant account provider, the task of deciding which of the many providers to use can seem overwhelming. Before starting to compare merchant accounts, take some time and identify which features are required as part of the service, then base your comparisons on who offers those services at the most competitive prices. Some of the points you may want to compare include the level of technical support that is provided, the ease in setting up acceptance of different credit cards, the fees you will pay for each completed transaction, and the costs associated with programming or reprogramming your terminal.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

One of the key factors that must be considered when you compare merchant accounts is the ease of the setup. It is a good idea to focus on providers that do not require much in the way of software uploads or a lot of extra hardware. The idea is to implement the new service quickly and easily, so that there is no interruption in your ability to accept credit and debit payments from your customers.

As you compare merchant accounts, you’ll notice that some charge a setup fee for every type of credit card that is accepted. While those fees are usually minimal, there’s no point in paying them if other providers offer free setup for all major credit cards. With some careful checking, there’s a good chance you can find at least a few that offer free credit card setup for most, if not all, credit cards.

Along with getting everything in place, look closely at the fees charged on each completed transaction. As you compare merchant accounts, you’ll notice that some provide a flat monthly rate for a fixed amount of transactions, then charge a flat fee for each transaction after that point. While the monthly rate may look good on the front end, consider your clientele and the number of transactions you average per month. You may find that an account where a fee is charged for each individual transaction is actually less expensive.

As with most types of electronic services, looking closely at the level of technical support offered by each provider is essential when you compare merchant accounts. Ideally, you are allowed a certain amount of time with support personnel each month without incurring any additional fees. Make sure you understand how the charges for support are calculated, so there are not unpleasant surprises later on.

One other key factor to consider as you compare merchant accounts is how well the merchant software works with your accounting software. Many providers offer plans that make it possible to automatically download and post data, without the need to print out activity reports and manually enter the data. Before committing to a specific merchant, make it a point to ask if your particular accounting software, including the version you use, is compatible. Doing so will save you a lot of time and effort in terms of keeping the books up to date and accurate.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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