Written by: Peter Rota, Outreach Specialist, Influencer Campaigns

When it comes time to choosing a credit card processing company, the options seem endless.

With companies ranging from traditional merchant service account providers to more self-service credit card processing like PayPal, it seems nearly impossible to know where to start.

One critical step to take is to invest some time in researching your options. During your research, be sure to consider these top factors before selecting the credit card processing company that’s right for you.

1. Associated Costs to Accept Credit Cards

Money: the backbone of every business operation and decision. When it comes to costs, business owners (especially small businesses) need to be wary of where they invest their hard-earned cash. Certain credit card processing companies can seem cost prohibitive but weighing the benefits associated will make the selection easier.

Upfront costs do not differ in an alarming way between credit card processing competitors. Typically, hidden costs can occur with the fees associated with credit card processing. Companies like PayPal or Square seem enticing by eliminating their monthly fees and instead only charge transaction fees by taking a small percentage of each.

It’s important to carefully review the business model in which your own company operates. For example, if you have a business that processes tons of small transactions, having a percentage taken out of each transaction can add up quickly and can be harmful to your bottom line.

Many merchant service providers offer fixed-fee processing such as interchange plus pricing, while others provide flat rate, bundled or tiered pricing. Fees may vary depending on the interchange rate and credit card types being used such as American Express versus Visa.

Fixed fee agreements typically charge less per-transaction, as compared to flat rate service providers like Stripe. Don’t forget – regardless of the fee structure, most processors charge increased fees for CNP (card-not-present) transactions due to their increased risk for fraudulent activity.

While researching your options, keep the equipment costs in mind and steer clear of leasing processing equipment. Monthly leasing fees can end up costing far more than purchasing the credit card processing equipment you need from the beginning.

2. Fraud Prevention

Whenever you handle a transaction, fraud prevention should be at the forefront of your mind.

Despite the size of your business, it is imperative that you offer your customers the security they deserve. Be sure to find a payment processing company that uses the most technologically advanced security tools on the market.

When it comes to in-store transactions, business owners want to ensure that their EMV chip card acceptance hardware is up to date. Using an EMV chip card makes it much more difficult to skim data from cards. However, it is still possible for fraudulent activity to happen on Point-of-Sale (POS) systems.

Ask your potential credit card processing company about additional safeguards such as encryption and tokenization methods. Another important quality to include in your search is aid in resolution if fraud does occur. If you are stuck dealing with a security breach, you will want and need the additional support from your processing company.

3. Variety of payment methods

Payment methods are evolving daily so keeping your customers happy extends beyond the product or service you deliver, but also into the payment methods they can use.

Traditional credit and debit cards are still the most commonly used payment methods, but the introduction of “digital wallet” technology such as Apply and Samsung Pay is quickly increasing in use.

Customers want to have options and using a contactless payment system will allow you to accept payment forms beyond the traditional plastic card.

4. Customer Support and Integration

During the course of your business ownership or management, there will certainly come a time when you need help with your payment processing systems. Whether you are looking for an upgraded system or have run into some technical difficulties, having quality customer support can help.

Make note of credit card processing companies that offer 24/7 customer support. When a problem arises you want the guarantee of being able to reach a representative that can help you in a quick and efficient manner so you can get back to doing business.

Integration is a critical role in managing a successful business so look for software tools that help you streamline your finances and your transactions. There are many POS systems that have all-in-one features to solve the age-old headache of having multiple programs operating at once.

Keeping these top factors in mind while researching your credit card processing company options should help you sort through the noise and come out with the provider that’s right for you and your business.

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