How to Avoid Common Mistakes When Getting a Merchant Account

October 18, 2019

Choosing a merchant account can be overwhelming. With innumerable fee structures, not to mention growing varieties of payment options, a business can spend full-time hours simply keeping up with the fast pace of credit card processing trends. If you follow the advice from the steps listed below, you’ll be ahead in the merchant account game:

Look for Reviews

When you begin the discovery process with a merchant account provider, seek references and research reviews. Rather than read testimonials on their website or blog, find forums that objectively discuss merchant accounts. Then, follow up by checking online reviews and by contacting one of their customers whose business is similar to yours to determine their satisfaction with services. 

Once you have your short list, ask your potential merchant account providers for details and processes regarding your potential Account Manager and the overall customer service staff. When and how is the customer support team available to merchants? You will need a contact name and direct number for assistance at any time.

Avoid Hidden Fees

Due to the complexity of merchant services pricing, it’s easy for payment processors to hide fees in their statements. Terms such as “qualified” and “non-qualified” rates are red flags indicating tiered pricing, which allows the payment processor to determine which transactions don’t qualify for the lower rates.

In order to ensure there are no hidden merchant fees on a sample statement, ask them to explain rates and fees, including ancillary fees. They must be open and honest about their merchant account fees. Check the MasterCard and Visa websites to compare their rates to the rate quoted by the merchant account provider to ensure they’re not quoting a low rate to obtain business. Explicitly request the following: application fee, set up fee, batch fee, statement fee, monthly minimums, PCI compliance fee, IRS fee, and annual fee

Ask if they bill for additional services. Ask if they auto enroll merchants in free trials that require the merchant to opt out if not interested. Ask if they back-bill for fees versus bill fees in the same month they occur. And ask how often they raise rates.

They May Not Support Your Equipment

Confirm their services are compatible with all terminals, gateways, point of sale (POS), mobile devices, chip & signature, Apple Pay, and eCommerce, among others.

Avoid Long-Term Equipment Leases

If you need credit card machines or payment processing devices, ask if they are new or refurbished. Determine if you are buying or leasing the equipment – and what is the cost? Relative to buying, equipment leases are more expensive in the long run. While a credit card terminal can cost a few hundred dollars to buy, a lease can end up costing thousands of dollars over the course of a few years at $30 per month at minimum.

Don’t Be Just Another Residual

Because your merchant services company should view you as a valuable customer, they should increase your payment-processing efficiency, improve your customer service experience, and save your business money. Ask for the payment processing options available. Note whether or not they discuss building long-term relationships with merchants.

Before Signing the Contract

Before signing the contract, learn the termination process. Ask if there is a cancellation fee or early termination fee. Also, determine if the contract automatically renews. Host Merchant Services does everything month to month, no long-term contracts, allowing you to cancel at any point with no fees.

Host Merchant Services

Host Merchant Services can guarantee the lowest rates while providing the best customer service. With no term commitment, no cancellation fees, no hidden fees, and no obligation, HMS provides the highest level of customer service, earning respect from our peers, as well as from our clients. Host Merchant Services will gift you a $50 gift card if we can’t match or beat another price on the market.

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Categories: Credit Card Processing, HMS vs. Competitors

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