When you’re getting ready to launch a startup, there are often hundreds of different tasks on your to-do list. One that is incredibly important, that you really don’t want to leave until the last minute, is deciding on a merchant services solution.
If you plan to accept debit and credit card payments and other transaction types online, over the phone, via a mobile device, or in store, you want to know that data is secure at all times; that all your sales will go through seamlessly; and that you don’t have to pay too much in fees, amongst other things. To help you make the decision, read on for some tips you can follow today.
Analyze and Compare Prices Closely
One of the most important factors for all businesses when choosing a quality merchant services solution is price. To know that you’re making the right decision before you sign on the dotted line, it is imperative that you be aware that different providers can structure their fees in different ways. As such, you need to compare options carefully and go through all of the various terms and conditions.
You’ll find that a lot of firms charge their customers variable fees which are calculated according to the number of transactions per period (usually this will be monthly); while others charge flat rates which are based on achieving particular sales volumes every period (typically monthly or annually). In addition, others still have multiple monthly payment plans that customers can choose from, with set fees according to the number of transactions included per plan.
As you compare payment processing providers, make sure that you find out whether the firms you’re considering charge a start-up fee to create an account, and/or to configure your particular point-of-sale system with their own.
As well, check to see whether you will be charged a cancellation fee if you end your contract within a certain timeframe, or an administration cost each time you move funds from your balance into your business bank account. Investigate, too, to see if you will have to pay extra money if you want to access customer support, or process transactions via less standard payment methods (such as American Express or Diners cards, or PayPal or Apple Pay payments).
It also pays to check with merchant services firms about the time they will take to make funds available to you. While a provider may seem to be one of the most affordable options at first glance, if you discover that they will take up to a week or more to move your balance into your bank account (versus others which may only take one or two days), they can quickly become a much less favorable option. Longer turnaround times for your funds can, after all, negatively affect your cash flow, particularly when you get to the point where you’re making hundreds of sales every day.
Ask about Customer Support
Next, before you make a decision on which payment processing provider you’ll use, don’t forget to find out about the customer support that will be available if you sign up. While it is always a hope that all transactions will run smoothly over the years, and that your customers will never have any issues using a payment service, the fact is that problems do end up cropping up from time to time.
For example, you could have issues with setting up your system in the first place; find that certain types of payments won’t work all of a sudden; or discover that the provider’s system has crashed and that no payments can be transacted at all.
When these types of things happen, you need to be able to get in touch with a customer service rep to get some assistance. This help should be provided in a timely manner, so that you don’t end up missing out on many sales or have customers frustrated because of payment problems.
Look for a merchant services firm that will provide comprehensive customer support every hour of the day and every day of the year. As well, it is wise to select a firm which makes service available across different methods, not just one, so that you can choose the option you prefer at the time. For instance, top companies will have support available via phone, email, social media, and online live chats.
Examine Security Levels
Lastly, keep in mind that it is vital that your clients’ personal and financial data (such as credit card information, addresses, phone numbers, passwords, and emails), and all your business details, are kept safe as transactions are made. Sadly though, hackers constantly target digital payments in order to get access to valuable information and to cause havoc through crashing systems.
As a result, you need to select a payment processing provide that takes security incredibly seriously, and that has plans in place to protect all details. Look for services which can boast multiple security protocols, including CVV2 verification; encryption on all data; and difficult-to-hack, complex encryption algorithms.
The most secure firms will also provide support for the highest- level SSL certificates; have tight restrictions on how data is sent and then stored, if applicable; and ensure that all customer billing addresses are safe from prying eyes.