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Hosting Discussion > Operating a Web Hosting Business > Billing and Accounting > How to Choose the Best Merchant Services Provider
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  Post #1 (permalink)   03-29-2011, 09:49 AM
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You are busy running your business. You're thinking of how to cut your expenses and add to your bottom line. Credit card processing is a hefty expense for small to medium sized businesses. With so many choices of merchant services providers out there, it is often hard to narrow down a specific electronic payment processor. Here are the important questions to consider when making the decision:

Question of the Day: What's going to be my "rate"?

Don't get drawn into the "rate". You should be worried about how much money is actually coming out of your account at the end of the month. This is the sum of every discount rate, downgrade surcharge, transaction fee and monthly fee you will be paying. Usually the rates quoted publicly in advertisements are just one of the rates you will be charged. Mail order and eCommerce merchants need to be wary of rates being quoted below 2%. To stay in business, retail merchants need to be wary of rates quoted less than 1.60%, because these rates are below interchange operating cost.

Review the Entire Fee Schedule.

Make sure to review the entire fee schedule. Ask about all of the transaction fees, authorization fees, monthly fees, setup fees and programming fees. There should not be a setup fee associated with setting up your account. If your processor-to-be is trying to charge you a setup fee or application fee, move on! It is perfectly legitimate for you to request a rate review in the middle of the contract period if your volume significantly exceeds the volume from the time which you signed the agreement. Just like in any industry, the more volume you do, the better rates you can negotiate. So go on! Make money, and be rewarded by paying less.

How long will it take for your deposit to be available in your bank account after batching out?

This is a very important question. You have suppliers and vendors that need to be paid. Their concern is not when you will have funds deposited. They, just like you, need to get paid sooner rather than later. Most of the processors make money in the same way as your bank - by floating your money. The average deposit time for Visa, MasterCard and Discover transactions in the industry is 48-72 hours. An average deposit time to receive American Express deposits is an even longer 3-5 business days. There are a handful of processors that provide next day funding. Some banks provide next day funding but charge you a fee or mandate that your checking account is housed with them as well. Some merchant services providers don't care about where you bank and deposit you the funds quickly at no additional fee.

Locked In Rates

Once you've negotiated a deal that benefits your business, it is important to be ensure that your rates will not change. You don't want an adjustable mortgage fiasco. You are making a commitment to stay with the processor, so the processor must make a commitment to you to not raise your rates. Make sure the discount rates and transaction fees are set in contract and not subject to change at any time throughout the life of the agreement. Only increases by the Associations are admitted to be valid reasons to increase the rates from the Merchant Processing Agreement. A reputable provider will pass through the increases directly, without attaching their own fee on top. A basis points system tacked on as an increase can cost your business thousands a year if the processing volume is significant.

What is my termination fee if I decide to switch providers or close my business?

If you don't ask this big question before you sign the agreement, you'll be disappointed when you find out the answer later. The ideal goal is to have a termination fee as a specific dollar amount. Many companies are using the deceptive practice of guaranteeing themselves profit regardless if you're using their service or if you've switched. For example, you may sign a 3 year agreement and see yourself switching to another merchant services provider 1 year down the line. You might be penalized the remaining 2 years of profit and made to pay over two thousand dollars ($2,000). A standard termination fee is between $350-$499, as a one time flat fee.

Online Reporting and Customer Service

On a scale of importance integrated online reporting maybe number one number six to you. Technology is the future of credit card processing and online payments. You want to deal with a company that is motivated and on the innovative forefront to provide you transactional data insight. If you can't monitor your sales in detail, you can't predict them or set goals. A transaction tracking tool should be readily available at no cost, for updating you about deposits, statements and chargebacks.

A merchant services company with their customer in mind always looks out for their best interest. Along with an online portal you should double check that 24/7 support is available in case your credit card terminal or online payment gateway goes down. When there is a problem, it is crucial to know that you won't be left in the dark.


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  Post #2 (permalink)   03-29-2011, 02:52 PM
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i try to use google check out but i think Bank marchant account is best or paypal.
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  Post #3 (permalink)   03-29-2011, 11:37 PM
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Great informative post for newbie web hosting owners.
Quote:
What is my termination fee if I decide to switch providers or close my business?
This one is a life saver.
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  Post #4 (permalink)   03-31-2011, 05:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaxGlobin View Post
With so many choices of merchant services providers out there, it is often hard to narrow down a specific electronic payment processor.
This is a good analysis, thanks!
But have you applied what you are preaching here?

What is the final result that comes out of this study?
Who's "the winner"?

That's what am really interested to know

Thanks,

Rodrigo
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  Post #5 (permalink)   04-01-2011, 08:18 PM
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2CO is a great merchant service.

It supports all kind of payment ways, Credit/Debit Cards, PayPal. A great feature of them I found is their fraudlent service, they will verify fraud at their end, so you do not need to purchase any service specifically for fraud protection.
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