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Selecting a payment processor for your business


If you’re thinking about credit and debit card processing for your business, or if you already accept credit cards and are looking to switch providers, below are some key points to consider when opening a new merchant account or switching your credit card processing.

1. Ensure the company is experienced and financially stable.

Check their background – how long have they been in the processing business? When opening a merchant account or switching your payment processor, choose a company you can count on.

2. Do they fully disclose all fees and charges?

Before you sign up, understand all the fees associated with your account. What will your total, true cost of accepting credit cards be? A ‘fixed rate’ may include many hidden charges and fees. There are more than 200 interchange categories that could impact you as well as a broad range of surcharges–which means you need to understand more than just your qualified rate to understand what you’re actually paying.

3. Do they rent or lease Point of Sale (POS) terminals?

It is important to understand if the payment processor provides the option to rent or lease the POS terminal. Be aware that when leasing a terminal the contract you enter with the payment processor usually cannot be ended without costly penalties. This means that you may be obligated to continue your monthly lease payments for a terminal, even if it is obsolete or if you change processors. Lease contracts usually cannot be ended without costly exit penalties. You may be obligated to continue your monthly lease payments for a terminal, even if you change processors, if the terminal is defective or if it is no longer in compliance with the latest security standards. CFIB members may call 1 888 234 2232 for more detailed information about the benefits of renting vs. leasing a terminal.  Make sure you understand the payment processors POS terminal policies.

4. Are their systems secure and compliant with industry rules and regulations?

Cardholder data security is the merchants’ responsibility. To accept payments your business must follow card brand rules and regulations. Ask your payment provider to help you become and stay compliant with PCI DSS regulations.

5. Does your payment processor provide a single point of contact for all your payment needs?

Who is the best person to call if you have questions? Are they knowledgeable and courteous? Can you reach them 24/7? Are they bilingual?

6. Do they provide merchant account statements that you can understand?

Make sure you’ll get a clear statement. Merchant statements may be difficult for merchants to understand. As a result, many do not have a clear grasp of their actual “total cost of acceptance”.

Additional resources

At Meridian, we’re big on small business. Learn about our small business banking solutions.

Talk to one of our Small Business Advisors. They’ll take the time to get to know you and your business, and can help tailor financial solutions that fit your needs.

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