In this 4-minute read:
- Good features to look for in a processor
- Red flags to be aware of
Whether you are just starting your business or have been in the game for decades, it’s a good idea to have a credit card processor to help increase your sales opportunities. Customers expect businesses to accept credit cards because it isn’t common to carry cash or checks around anymore.
As you are shopping around for your new credit card processor, you’ll want to make sure they provide the necessary features to add value and efficiency to your business.
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Features of a good credit card processor
Pay attention to these features to make sure you get the best payment processor for your company.
It’s important to be aware of the fees associated with your credit card processor. Each processor will have different fees, including any of the following:
- Fees to process your application for the system
- Setup fees for equipment and software
- Monthly statement fees
- Monthly gateway access fees
- Interchange fees
- Minimum monthly fee (even if you aren’t getting a lot of sales, the processor may require a minimum fee)
- Finance charges if you are paying for point of sale hardware over time
Shop around and call at least three different providers to find the best rates available to your business. Understand which fees you will have and try to negotiate fees that you can cut or reduce.
Transaction speed, reliability, and accuracy
We’re all busy and generally on the go for most of our day. And, in order to keep business flowing quickly, you’ll want to make sure your credit card processor makes a quick job of its task as well.
When choosing a payment processor, speed is important, but so is safety and accuracy. You’ll want to choose something that can process large volumes of transactions in an efficient and safe manner. Most popular credit card processors can complete a transaction in under two seconds.
Many customers want a way to shop or pay their bills online. If you want to maintain an online shopping cart or accept online payments, make sure your credit card processor has the capability to integrate with your website or provides an online platform for your business.
Quality, easy-to-use POS systems/processing equipment
Find a provider that will give or sell you the equipment, like terminals, tablets, or phone add-ons for processing credit cards—the industry term is POS (point of sale) systems. The equipment is a necessary part of processing payments for most brick and mortar businesses (particularly in the retail industry), so it’s a definite plus if your provider already offers this.
When possible, avoid renting the equipment and just purchase it outright so you don’t have to worry about those additional fees.
However, depending on your processor, how many terminals you want, and the features you need, you may need to finance your POS system over time, because some of them can be quite expensive. Talk to your merchant services provider and get quotes from different people.
A good credit card processor will provide excellent customer support. You should be able to email, chat, or call someone and hear from them within a day. When you have a technical issue with your equipment or software, quick and efficient support will be critical in helping you keep business flowing.
When possible, try to find a processor that offers 24/7 live customer support.
What to watch out for in credit card processors
As with most things in business, there are definitely some providers and companies that don’t play the game fairly. Watch out for spammy practices and features that are going to cause more trouble than they are worth. We’ve listed a few common practices to be aware of.
Lengthy and/or complicated contracts
Watch out for companies that require you to sign lengthy contracts (longer than a year). They usually have hefty cancellation fees, so if you are going to choose something with a long contract, make sure you want to commit to it.
Look for month-to-month contracts to have the flexibility to switch to a different provider should you need to later down the road.
Also be wary of the fine print. Square and the like have become very popular with smaller businesses because their fee structure is very simple for business owners to understand. Talk to your merchant services provider and let them know you’re considering going with a solution like Square and ask what they can do for you. Many processors will adjust their contracts for individual businesses, so you can work with them to get the deal that works best for you.
While it’s important to look for good rates and fees, it’s just as important to watch out for bad or unnecessary fees. Review any contracts you are considering to make sure there are no hidden fees in your plan.
One such fee might be a liquidation damages termination fee. These are generally required on longer contracts, and it essentially means that at the time you cancel your contract you would need to pay the processor any fees they would have made throughout the full contract period.
Some credit card processors might also apply nonqualified rates to your bill. This can include things like a higher fee for a card payment taken over the phone (called CNP “card not present” transactions) and other non-standard transactions. You can ask the providers you are considering to give you a sample monthly statement to see if any of these charges are applied.
Womply can help you find the perfect processor for your business!
Understanding the “payments” space and credit card processing can be difficult. Fortunately, Womply has direct relationships with a number of the nation’s top processors, and we can help you navigate the complexity. We can also get you set up with a processor that not only provides competitive rates on reliable credit card processing, but can give you additional tools that can help your transaction data into actionable insights to help you attract and retain more customers!