Business owners who want to take credit cards and online payments have to choose a payment processor, but a lot goes into that decision. Here are some of the key questions to think about as you navigate which payment processing service is right for your business.

What is my processing volume?

The number of transactions and the average amount of purchases your business conducts each month can help you decide which type of payment processor is best for you. There are different pricing models, some of which favor smaller businesses with lower volumes and lower ticket item prices, and others that target companies that process thousands of dollars per month.

In general, flat-rate pricing, in which there is a fixed fee per transaction, can benefit smaller companies. Then there’s cost-plus pricing (or interchange plus pricing), which is more complex in that different transactions incur different fees. Some of these providers will also charge a monthly subscription, but this model can be more cost-effective for medium and large-sized businesses that have lots of sales volume.

What kind of equipment do I need?

The type of business you have will also dictate the type of equipment you need to accept credit card payments. Do you need a full-fledged point-of-sale register system or just a device to attach to your mobile phone? Is your business fully online, and will you accept payments over the phone? Do you need to send invoices where clients can pay from an email or text they receive? Whether you have a strictly ecommerce business, a hybrid business, offer in-person retail or conduct your business on-the-go, there is payment processing equipment to meet your needs. On the processor side, many of the major companies offer various solutions no matter your business type, but some lean more heavily toward ecommerce or in-person.

What features might I need?

If you’re someone who needs a small payment device to accept credit cards because you sell T-shirts at events, your needs will be a lot different than a business owner who has three retail stores and an ecommerce site. The bigger and more complex your business is, the more likely you might want a payment processor that offers additional services like inventory management, the ability to generate invoices and recurring payments, and more. Or, at the very least, you’ll want to choose one that integrates well with the platforms you’re already using.

Do I need a merchant account?

This is another big decision you need to make upfront to help you narrow down your list of payment processor options. Third-party processors can potentially do the heavy lifting for you by accepting payments for your company. Still, there are potential downsides, including lack of customer support, transaction fees that could be more costly, and the risk of an account being put on hold or terminated.

On the other hand, merchant account providers give businesses more control and can scale as the companies grow. Once the account is up and running, you will have plenty of support and guidance. You will have to take on more responsibility regarding PCI-DSS compliance, but your merchant services provider will usually be able to assist. Merchant account providers should also be able to help you develop customized solutions, integrations and give you access to advanced reporting.

How important is customer support?

This is another question that hinges on the size and complexity of your business, as well as your own knowledge and tech-savviness. But in general, more support is always better than less. For businesses that want a customized payment system, having access to 24/7 support and/or a dedicated account specialist who can immediately jump on any problems that arise will save lots of stress and eliminate the need for DIY troubleshooting.

Speak with a Merchant Services Business Consultant to discuss credit card payment processing for your business and unique payment needs.

This content is for informational purposes only. It is not designed or intended to provide financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice since such advice always requires consideration of individual circumstances. Please consult with the professionals of your choice to discuss your situation.