Questions to Ask About Merchant Credit Card Processing

If you are considering accepting payments by credit or debit card, you will have to select a merchant credit card processor to facilitate your payment transactions. There are plenty of companies offering merchant services, but they don’t all have the same standards or offfer the same services, so choosing the right one for your business is imperative for your ongoing success.

Choosing a merchant account service provider is like going into a business partnership because their expertise, systems, technologies and services are key to your business success. If you make a bad choice, you could end up with anything from an extended downtime where you are unable to accept card payments, to data security breaches.

Here are some pertinent questions to consider asking upfront:

  • How long have you been in business?
    Look for a service provider that has been around for a long time and knows the card payment industry well.
  • Can you give me references?
    A reputable service provider should willingly give you references or testimonials.
  • Do you have a minimum contract period?
    Many service providers tie clients into long fixed-term contracts. That is not necessary, and if you are unhappy with services, you can’t cancel without paying cancellation fees.
  • What is your fee structure?
    You should be able to access a fee structure that details what is payable so that you can budget your expenses.

If you are happy with the merchant payment processing answers you have so far, you can move on to the next step.

Vital services:

  • Do you assess your client’s specific needs before signing them up?
    It is important that the service provider assesses your business’s systems and specific needs before you sign up. Issues like compatibility with your existing systems must be cleared up so that you know if you have to pay anything over and above to begin accepting card payments. If you are an online supplier, you must pay specific attention to a service provider’s software and its compatibility with the software that you have.
  • Do you offer 24/7/365 customer support?
    You want technical support that is available when you need it. You can’t afford to keep your customers and your business waiting for your service provider.
  • Is your technical support live?
    Some service providers offer email support only. When you have a technical problem, you want to speak to someone via phone or live online chat.
  • Are you PCI compliant?
    PCI compliance is not federally mandated, so merchant account service providers are not legally obligated to follow credit card industry standards. If a payment processor is not PCI compliant, drop them right away.
  • Do you offer fraud protection services?
    They should offer strong encryption (preferably military-grade) and have solid systems in place.
  • What is the average processing time for funds?
    If your business is going to succeed, you must be able to predict your cash flow. It is vital that the service provider can give you a reasonable estimate of how long it will take for funds to clear, which should ideally be no more than a few days.

For more information about asking relevant questions about merchant credit card processing, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to

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