How Do You Choose A Merchant Services Provider?
When you’re looking for a merchant services provider, you can quickly get overloaded with information, advertisements, promises from salespeople, and visions of big changes or new opportunities. Let’s see if we can nail down your real wish list with a down-to-earth view of what you really want:
- You want a trustworthy partner to get your credit card payments processed quickly, correctly, and affordably.
- You want easy and convenient access to customer service – when you need it, without hassles.
- You want to understand your contract, and your statements. You want to know you’re being treated fairly.
- You want great rates that make sense for your business.
- You want the truth.
How can you possibly know if you’ll get these things when you’re evaluating credit card payment processing providers?
As the best Merchant Services Provider, we’re glad to help you figure that out. While we hope you’ll end up choosing EPS, we’re happy to help even if you don’t. We’re on a mission to make credit card processing easy to understand, no matter what provider you’re using.
- Be wary of rates that seem too good to be true. They probably are. Are you being offered an introductory rate? Perhaps the salesperson is quoting a rate that only applies to debit card transaction? Dig in. Get the details.
- Low rates are important, but there’s way more to your relationship with your Merchant Services provider than money. What’s their customer service like? Find out.
What to Look For in a Merchant Services Provider
You want to select your credit card processing and merchant services provider based on a number of criteria. Download the Ultimate Provider Checklist to get a complete list that you can use as a worksheet.
If you don’t want to go through a detailed analysis, we suggest the following five criteria are by far the most important:
- Low rates are important, but they aren’t everything. Be on guard for situations where the rate you’re quoted is only the bait to get you to sign the contract. Ask specifics about what rate applies to the bulk of your transaction types (card-present, card-not-present) as well as whether the rates you’re being quoted apply to reward cards as well as pin debit transactions. Also be absolutely certain that you’re not being quoted an “introductory offer” that will expire after X number of months.
- Be sure you understand what access you will have to customer service people when you need them. Will you have to go through an automated attendant (computer-answered phone line) followed by a lengthy hold time? Is customer service a 24/7/365 operation? Are customer service team members based in the US, 100% of the time?
- Does the merchant processor offer the full range of services you need? If you’re brick and mortar but you also need a virtual terminal, and maybe you have an online store, can your potential processor handle all of those needs? Do you want to be able to accept checks with confidence?
- Be sure that your potential processor won’t require you to take MORE than you need. We know of merchants who are on-line only yet have been required to take possession of a physical terminal – which now lives in their respective closets. If that happens to you, you’ll have to do another annual PCI Self-Assessment Questionnaire (in addition to the one required for your payment gateway) for that closet-living terminal. Do you have time for that? (You don’t.)
- Will the processor walk you through your contract AND your statement, any time you need help, at a time that is convenient for you?
Ask these questions at the very least before you sign anything. Then test anything you can test. Ask the salesperson if you can call the customer service department. (If they say “no,” walk away.) Call at least three times before you make a decision – vary the times of day on your three test calls. Ask the customer service rep if he or she will help you understand your statement. Put them through their paces. You’ll have the confidence you need to make a great decision.
Finally, the process of getting a new merchant like you up and running with new credit card payment processing services can differ greatly between providers. Some send you your gear and expect you to get it all running by yourself. Others – EPS included – walk you through every step of getting set up. Be sure you understand the level of help you’ll get from any provider you’re considering.
If you’re already accepting credit cards, and now you’ve decided to become an EPS customer, we’ll help you get everything transitioned properly. There’s nothing worse than switching providers but forgetting some detail that causes you to get another statement from your old provider. We have a process, and we’ll get you through every step of your switch-over with minimal disruption to your business. Read more about switching providers here.