Accepting Credit Cards? 5 Questions to Ask Your Merchant Services Provider

by David Dierking

2 min read

If you hope to gain a foothold in your market, your business has to accept credit card payments. It is not that difficult to do when you partner with the right merchant services provider. However, not all MSPs are created equal, and some can turn out to be difficult and expensive to work with. In selecting an MSP, you should be prepared to evaluate several before deciding on one. Ask these five key questions when you’re choosing an MSP.

What Are All the Fees Associated With Your Service?

Your MSP can charge quite a few fees, and not all fees apply equally to all accounts. The basic fees associated with all accounts include the discount fee, which is the fee charged by the processor per transaction, and the statement fee for generating your monthly statement. You should also be aware of a monthly minimum formula, which can trigger a fee if your transaction totals don’t hit a minimum threshold. Other fees that can be applied are over limit fees, voided transaction fees, and debit card fees. It is important to determine precisely how these fees may be applied in your particular business situation.

How Do Your Services Help Me Set Up My Website to Accept Credit Card Payments?

All your website needs is a separate order page. The MSP provides you with access to its secure server (which lets you display a secure server certification on your website) and a gateway. Most MSPs also provide you with payment collection tools, such as a shopping cart where buyers go to complete their orders. If you find that the MSP outsources any of these, you should probably continue your search.

How Are Payments Handled?

The MSP provides the merchant with an electronic terminal or access to an online processing tool that interacts with the credit card authorization centers. When a transaction is entered and authorized, the funds are held for your account. Once you close out the day’s transactions, the funds are released and transferred to your bank account in the next couple of days.

What Are the Costs for Equipment and Software?

Prices for terminal equipment or online processing software range from free to as much as $1,000 apiece. When pricing equipment, find out what add-ons may be required that aren’t included in a basic package, such as printers, check readers, or pin pads. Some MSPs offer a lease plan, which may appear attractive if you don’t have the funds up front. However, the total lease costs are typically much higher than an outright purchase of the equipment.

Why Should I Choose Your Services?

The MSP arena is highly competitive, and MSPs must find ways to add value to win your business. If you limit your criteria to pricing, you may miss out on some MSPs that offer superior customer service, technical assistance in setting up your e-commerce site, service upgrades, and discounts for referred business.

References & Resources

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