This is a guest post from Maria Rinaldi of Better Merchant Accounts.


Creating an easy, stress free checkout process for one’s customers is an absolute necessity for small business owners.  It takes a lot of work to bring a prospect to the point of sale, and one thing any entrepreneur does not want is for a customer to decide not to purchase due to a clumsy or imperfect checkout process.  This is where merchant service providers come in.

A merchant service provider enables businesses to accept credit card and debit purchases in-person and online.  There are thousands of merchant service providers out there, and choosing the best one for one’s business can seem like a daunting task.  Following are four key things to keep in mind when selecting a merchant account service provider.

Customer Reviews

In today’s internet age, it is fairly easy to find out how a company treats its clients—simply search for online reviews.  Visit various forums and message boards where people are discussing the merchant service provider.  One’s goal ought to be to find a merchant service provider who has mostly positive reviews and feedback.

Remember, competitors will often post negative reviews about each other, and, at the same time, companies will also pay people to leave fabricated, positive reviews.  The bottom line is that the majority of reviews ought to be positive.  Use common sense.

Fees Comparable

Since there are thousands of merchant service providers out there, fees are often similar between major companies.  Most per-transaction fees range between 1.5% – 2%.  Beware of companies that advertise insanely low rates that sound too good to be true.  If the rates sound way too good to be true, then they are!

Generally, service providers will vary on how they charge for upfront fees such as application fee, equipment fee, and setup fee.  Companies that charge lower upfront fees, will often charge higher per-transaction fees, and reverse for companies that do not charge higher upfront fees.

Hidden Fees

This is where some merchant service providers will attempt to take advantage of unknowing customers.  On top of the headline per-transaction fee, a merchant account provider  may also have scores of other fees, including cancellation fees, customer service fees, minimum monthly volume fees, maximum monthly volume fees, etc.

These fees are typically all included in the contract, but they are typically in fine print.  Make sure to read the entire contract to ensure one understands all fees that may be assessed, and ensure that one agrees with them.

Customer Service

A merchant service provider is one of those relationships where a business owner will only talk with the service provider when something is wrong.  Therefore, customer service is essential.  The last thing that should be happen is trouble with a customer’s credit card, and then a merchant service provider that is not available or helpful.

Test the customer service quality of the merchant service provider by calling during peak business hours in order to test out the quality of the customer service.

Author Information: Maria Rinaldi is an entrepreneur and lead editor for Better Merchant Accounts, a website that strives to provide visitors with the best offers for a new merchant account solution. For more information on merchant accounts read more here.