A merchant account establishes a business relationship with a merchant services provider, like BluePay, which enables a business to accept debit and credit cards, EMV mobile payments, and more. By adding a merchant account, you can begin accepting electronic payments. Although you are free to continue relying exclusively on cash or checks, adding more payment options will allow you to capture many more types of sales.
However, not all merchant account providers are created equally. Read below for some essential questions you should ask before selecting a merchant account provider for your business.
1. Do You Offer 24/7 Customer Support?
Sounds simple enough. Most providers do offer some level of technical support. But what you really want is a service that provides 24/7 support, since issues can crop up at any time. Not only is our award-winning support team top notch, we also provide an online resource library to help support your needs.
2. Do You Offer Live Support?
Some merchant account providers offer round-the-clock email support. But when a problem arises, you want to speak to a real person — either via phone or live chat.
3. How Long Have You Been in Business?
You want a provider with a proven track record — a team that has slowly built up a solid reputation after years of service in the field. Stay away from newcomers, no matter how attractive their offerings may sound.
4. Will I Be Able to Process Online and Offline Transactions?
As you expand your business, you don't want to have to switch merchant account providers because they don't offer the full range of credit card processing services. Stick with a provider who can eventually take your retail business online (or your online business offline).
5. Are Your Payment Systems PCI-Compliant?
PCI compliance applies to any business that accepts, transmits, or stores cardholder data. Merchant acquirers are responsible for following the standards set forth by the Payment Card Industry, as well as enforcing merchant compliance, too.
6. What Fraud Protection Services Do You Offer?
Thieves stop at nothing to get to payment information. Security methods like tokenization, encryption, and fraud management filters help reduce the risk of compromised data. Ask each merchant account provider how it protects sensitive account data.
7. What Is the Average Processing Time for Funds?
Predictable cash flow is essential to the success of your business. You want to know (in advance) how long it takes for funds to clear. There is no right or wrong answer — you just need to avoid any unwanted surprises.
8. What Is the Contract Length?
Many merchant account providers use contracts with predetermined lengths. If you’re just starting out, shorter contract lengths are better. Once you feel comfortable, you can explore longer policies with that provider.
9. Is There a Cancellation or Early Termination Fee?
Some merchant account providers penalize clients for canceling contracts prematurely. Although such fees are standard, you shouldn't have to pay more than a few hundred dollars.
10. What Other Fees Are There?
Cancellation fees are standard — as are transaction fees. But be sure that you understand any other charges that may apply. Again, the goal is to avoid unwanted surprises.
11. Is Your Payment Processing Compatible With Our System?
Many merchant account providers use proprietary payment systems that clash with pre-existing online shopping carts. Before signing the dotted line, make sure that the provider's processing technology is compatible with your software or hardware.
12. Do You Have References?
This is a no-brainer. Ask to speak with other satisfied clients — preferably those whose business needs are similar to your own. Merchant account candidates should be happy to provide you with references.
One Final Bonus Question for Your Merchant Account Provider
If you feel comfortable with all of the above, you can end the interview with one final question:
Why should we work with you?
It's a buyer’s market, and there is no shortage of merchant account options out there. Let each candidate work hard to win your business. If you don't feel that it's a right fit, move on down the list.
Now that you know what to ask your Merchant Account Provider, do you know what they are going to ask of you? You may need more items than you'd think. Click below to download BluePay's checklist to ensure you are prepared to accept credit cards.