Important Questions to Ask a Merchant Account Service Provider

By combining an online or retail outlet with a merchant account, sellers can accept credit cards. Although many businesses continue to rely on checks and cash, providing additional payment options can allow sellers to bring in more kinds of sales.

However, not all merchant services providers are the same.

Below are some important questions for online and in-store sellers to ask before choosing a merchant account service provider.

Does the Merchant Services Provider Offer Customer Support at All Hours?

This question sounds simple enough, but not all providers offer straight answers. While most providers offer technical support to some extent, some are better than others. Ideally, customers should choose a service provider that offers all-hours support, because as all retailers know, problems can come up at any time.

Can Customers Get Live Support?

Some merchant service providers offer round-the-clock email support. However, when serious problems come up, it’s important to be able to speak to a live customer service agent—either through live chat, email or a phone call.

How Long Has the Provider Been in the Business

Payment processing is a serious business, and as such, it is important for customers to choose providers with a solid history. Try to avoid providers who are new to the business, regardless of how great their offers might sound.

Can Customers Process Transactions Online and Offline?

As businesses grow and evolve, owners should not have to find a new merchant account service provider simply because they do not offer a full complement of credit and debit card processing solutions. For the greatest versatility and adaptability, customers should stick with providers who can eventually take the business online or offline, as its needs dictate.

Are the Provider’s Payment Systems PCI Compliant?

It may come as a surprise to many business owners, but PCI compliance is not a federal requirement. Simply put, a merchant account provider is not legally required to follow the security standards enacted by the country’s credit card issuers.

Which Fraud Protection Issues Does the Provider Offer?

As new credit card accountability rules went into effect in 2015, business owners strove to reduce their exposure to potential fraud as much as they could. When evaluating a merchant services provider, the customer should ask how their customers’ sensitive financial information will be protected.

What’s the Average Funds Processing Time?

For an online or brick and mortar business to be successful, it needs a way to predict cash flow. Business owners need to know ahead of time how long it will take funds to clear the account. While this question has no right or wrong answer, asking it can help business owners avoid unpleasant and expensive surprises.

How Long is the Contract Period?

Many merchant services providers offer contracts with a predetermined duration. If a business owner is just starting out, he or she should look for a contract with a shorter length. Once a customer feels comfortable with a particular provider, they can explore the possibility of signing on for a longer contract.

Will Customers Face Fees for Early Termination or Cancellation?

Some merchant services providers charge fees for premature contract cancellation. Although these fees are relatively standard for the industry, customers should not have to pay over a few hundred dollars to get out of a merchant contract.

Which Other Fees Should Sellers Be Aware Of?

Transaction fees are commonplace, as are cancellation fees. However, customers should learn about other charges that may be applied to their accounts. By learning about fees before signing on with a provider, sellers can avoid expensive surprises.

Is the Provider’s Payment Processing Method Compatible With the Business’ Systems?

Many merchant services providers use proprietary payment methods that don’t work well with many online shopping carts. Before signing a contract of any length, a seller should ensure that the provider’s processing tech works with their purchasing system.

Are References Available?

This question is elementary, and it should be one of the first a client asks. When choosing a payment gateway, ask to talk to other customers with similar business needs. A merchant account candidate should be willing to offer references from other satisfied customers, and if they can’t (or won’t), customers should take their business elsewhere.

A Bonus Question

If customers feel comfortable with a provider’s answers to the above questions, there’s a final one to ask:

What makes this company better than the others?

The payment processing market is geared toward customers, and because there are numerous options, there’s no need to choose a provider out of desperation.

Candidates should work hard to earn customers’ business, and if they’re not willing to do so, the customer should move on. Visit the Maverick website or call today to find out more about merchant services options.