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Getting the Most from Credit Card Processing--For Less

Credit cards and checks account for the majority of most businesses transactions, and processing these transactions is not free. Some credit card processing companies charge a percentage of the amount of the sale, some charge in stepped fees, and some charge a combination percentage and flat fee. Rates are all over the board and may be tied to sales volume, average sale amount, credit rating of the merchant, and lease or purchase of point-of-sale (POS) terminals.

The only way to find the best deals is by shopping. Rates and deals fluctuate frequently, so smart businesses reassess their credit card processing fees at least once a year. There is no need to leave money on the table by neglecting a periodic review.

Credit Card Processing: Rates Are Important, but Theyre Not Everything

Although getting a good rate can certainly makes a difference in revenue, a good rate with slow processing, difficult to use systems, or unresponsive customer service may not be such a deal. Here are some things to consider:

  • Can the credit card processing company support the type of transactions required? Businesses shoud verify that the credit card processing company theyre looking into can support their hardware (wired, wireless, phone, computer) and software (subscriptions, recurring charges, returns) requirements
  • Does the credit card processing company support online shopping carts? Since most businesses have Web sites, and many have online stores, finding credit card processing companies with good rates also entails making sure they are compatible with existing shopping cart applications. Getting references with regards to this avoids unexpected down time or coding headaches
  • How soon are funds available? Transactions are normally processed in batches once every 24 hours. After processing, funds may not be available immediately. If the rapid availability of money is an important consideration, companies should take this into account
  • Are rates tied to hardware purchases? Some credit card processing companies charge low processing fees, but make up for those rates by forcing merchants to purchase POS terminals from them, instead of supporting equipment that is available on the open market. This is more of an annoyance factor than a deal breaker, since most hardware can be reprogrammed or resold, but still, it is something to keep in mind
  • How is customer service reputation of the card processor? It is frustrating to have to call about any issue, but getting lost in a phone tree or put on perma-hold is awful--not to mention a waste of time and money

Companies should shop around for a good rate, keeping service in mind, when selecting a credit card processing partner.


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