Using credit cards as a method of payment seems almost second nature for consumers nowadays. But if you’re starting a business, you know there isn’t anything commonplace about accepting that form of payment. Once you decide to accept credit cards, the next step is to determine which credit card processor you want to use. With so many vendors available, whom do you choose? Who will best suit your business? Consider asking potential credit card processor companies the five important questions below:
1. What fees will I incur?
Processors can charge all sorts of fees – monthly fees, per-transaction fees, contract cancellation fees, access fees, gateway fees, and statement retrieval fees, in addition to increasing these fees periodically. Be sure to ask your potential credit card processor exactly for which services you will be paying. Additionally, clarify the fee structure – is it a fixed rate per transaction or a percentage of the transaction amount? Make sure you understand the fee structure so it aligns with your business’s financial abilities. Finally, ask to see a statement to ensure that you will understand your bill before you even get one.
2. Do you support Web transactions?
Depending on your business type, a portion, or possibly all, of your business could be done online. But not all credit card processors are equipped to handle online transactions. Make sure you ask about the availability of this type of payment to ensure that you can respond to your clients’ needs.
Assuming your processor offers the ability to accept online transactions, also confirm that the shopping cart your business uses is compatible with what the credit card processor is offering to ensure that you are able to offer your clients the services they require to work well with your business.
3. How long does it take to process a purchase?
As any business owner knows, you need money to run your operation. Credit card transaction processing time – depositing money into your business account –definitely affects your business’s cash flow. Confirm with other clients that the times you are told are accurate.
4. What customer support will I receive?
Depending on your business, customers may purchase your products or services at any time of the day or night. Obviously, if any problem with payment processing occurs, you want to resolve it as quickly as possible. Investigate the nature of your processor’s support – does the company work only certain hours or 24/7? Do you pay more for round-the-clock support?
Ask for references – you need to know how existing clients rate the credit card processor’s responsiveness to issues to get an idea of how you will be treated.
5. Will I receive a contract?
A handshake may be a quaint way to make a deal, but it’s always best to seal a deal with a written contract. That way, there will be no second-guessing fees, fee structures or increases, accepted credit cards, the nature of customer support – everything mentioned above and more.
Finding the right credit card processor is crucial to the smooth operation of your business. Take your time, do your research, and use the questions above. Knowing what to ask your credit card processor helps ensure that you partner with the vendor that best addresses your needs.
About the author:
Kristen Gramigna is Chief Marketing Officer for BluePay, a provider of credit card payment processor. She brings more than 15 years of experience in the bankcard industry in direct sales, sales management, and marketing to the company and also serves on its Board of Directors.