Choosing a Merchant Services Provider in VT & NH
In recent years, customer preferences have already been shifting to paying with credit and debit cards instead of cash. Looking ahead, the switch to online shopping and contactless payment continues to accelerate. If you’ve been considering opening a Merchant Services Account, keep reading to learn what to look for in a card processing provider. We’ll explain the most important considerations as well as what you should ask before signing a contract.
When it comes to choosing a Merchant Services Provider, the reliability of the equipment and customer service you’ll receive are important to consider, rather than just considering cost alone. Here’s what to look for:
- A good Merchant Services provider will have fees that are both reasonable and transparent. Credit card processing fees are determined by the related programs that banks offer, such as Rewards or Business card programs, the credit card networks themselves, and your Merchant Services provider. There are a variety of factors that determine these rates, so the most important thing is to look for transparency while balancing cost with quality.
- Look for fees that are fully-disclosed. Check the fine print and ask your Merchant Services representative so you know what you’ll be expected to pay upfront. Be alert and refuse cancelation penalties that inhibit your ability to change providers if you become dissatisfied.
- Take a closer look at “low processing rates.” Are there additional fees? Some Merchant Services providers advertise low rates per credit or debit card transaction, but then add high monthly service fees, as well as annual and regulatory fees to make up the difference.
How are processing fees calculated?
The three most common pricing approaches to credit card processing are as follows:
- Interchange Plus: This is the most popular fee model and also known as the most transparent. It consists of a percentage of the transaction added on top of the Card Association Interchange and Assessment fees plus a per-item charge.
- Flat Rate: Just one fee for every transaction, regardless of the type of card used.
- Tiered Fee: Differs from transaction to transaction based on the type of card used, the associated risk, and the overall transaction volume of your business.
What Else Does a Merchant Services Provider Charge Beyond Processing Fees?
Understanding the different types of merchant services fees can help you choose a provider that balances cost with quality customer service and reliable equipment
- Account set-up fee: Some merchant services providers charge an initial fee to set-up your account once your application has been approved.
- Monthly or annual fees: In circumstances where the account set-up fee is reduced or waived, it may be made up with monthly or annual fees. That’s why it’s always good to compare and do the math yourself before assuming one offer or another will be cheaper.
- Card capturing system: Whether your business is online or has a physical location, you’ll need some type of terminal or other card capture equipment in order to accept credit cards from your customers. You can usually choose between purchasing your card capturing system upfront or renting it for a monthly fee.
- Payment Card Industry Compliance Fees: As a merchant, it is your responsibility to protect the card information that you process. Merchant Services providers typically charge a fee based on your validated compliance and should offer guidance on how your business can stay in compliance with The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
- Early termination fees: Check the contract for any early termination fees based on a predetermined account agreement period. These fees could be quite high, so you want to know what you’re getting into before signing. Overall, it’s better to look for a month-to-month arrangement instead of a long-term contract that could be expensive to get out of if you need to.
- Chargebacks: A chargeback is every merchant’s nightmare, as they are either the result of unhappy customers or fraud. Unfortunately, chargebacks have been on the rise. This is definitely something to ask prospective merchant services providers. Find out what kind of fee you’ll be charged (on top of the lost revenue and/or inventory) and how your provider offers timely help and support in dealing with chargebacks.
Merchant Services Equipment: Costs and Service
The right point of sale system for your business will depend on the type of operation you have and where your transactions are conducted. For example, specific industries like hair salons and restaurants have unique point-of-sales needs. A retail business that sells online and in-person will have different needs than an online-only store. Here are the questions to ask your prospective merchant services provider about equipment:
- Can I choose from a variety of hardware and software options?
- Do I have to rent or buy, or can I decide which option best suits my business and budget?
- Do you have paper-free hardware options?
- What is your equipment-replacement policy?
- What kind of support do you offer when my equipment is broken or malfunctioning?
- Will I be able to offer gift cards and customer loyalty programs?
Speaking of support, it’s best to have local expertise in your Merchant Services Provider. As a local business in Vermont or New Hampshire, you’ll want a provider with local offices or bank branches where you can receive in-person help. Other important customer service considerations include:
- How quickly will I receive deposits? (Look for guaranteed settlement of funds on the next business day.)
- Will 24/7 technical support be available to you?
- Who will you call when you have questions or need assistance?
- Will you have online account access (such as a mobile app) for greater convenience and flexibility?
- What help can they provide if you have to fight or process a chargeback?
Your Merchant Services Provider is also an important partner in helping you stay up-to-date with PCI and other security measures. Here’s what to look for:
- Point of sale hardware that is compatible with the new Europay, Mastercard, and Visa security chip requirement
- Fraud protection via breach insurance
Take the next step in growing your business with credit card processing
As your local merchant services partner in Vermont and New Hampshire, Union Bank can simplify the process and get you set up to accept credit or debit cards from Visa®, MasterCard®, American Express®, or Discover. The increased preference of customers to shop online and/or make cashless payments is likely a permanent change. With credit and debit card processing, you’ll have greater flexibility and convenience to offer your customers and enjoy yourself. Union Bank’s Merchant Services are priced on an individual basis with highly competitive rates, no hidden fees and no cancellation penalties. We understand the needs of small and local businesses and do our best to offer packages that fit a range of budgets and goals. To learn more or start the application process, contact our Merchant Services team today!