5 questions to ask a potential card processing provider

Small Business Advice 16 January 2015


Find out how to get the best deal on your card processing

Since the financial crisis brought the big banks into disrepute, this has opened up the market for smaller service providers to step in and offer businesses a much-improved service.

The card processing market is one such sector that has now expanded to include a number of specialist companies that, unlike banks, specialise solely in card payments.

There are quite a few out there to choose from so if you‘re in the market, use our helpful guide to make sure you get the right responses from your preferred merchant service providers when doing your research.

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What are the card costs involved?

Cost is obviously a crucial factor when it comes to choosing your card processing provider. The good news is that it’s a highly competitive market out there, so you can shop around in order to get the best possible price for your business. However, beware of being drawn into a contract based purely on the promise of incredibly low card transaction rates.

Many card processing providers will ratchet up their rates once they’ve got you signed up and so it’s often best to play the long game and look for a provider that will fix or cap your rates over an extended period.

Also, keep a close eye on the individual debit and credit card rates you get quoted, and be sure you check which of these accounts for the majority of your sales before you agree on rates.

How soon can I be set up?

If you’re new to taking cards, speed of set up is very important. Many providers will try to lure you in with the promise of rock-bottom rates or a few months’ free terminal rental, but don’t be fooled by these offers if you’re in need of a quick turnaround.

It can take some providers four to six weeks to get you set up to take card payments, so always look for one that can get you ready to take cards in days, not weeks, that way you won’t have to turn down payments and turn away customers.

What happens if my card terminal goes down?

Excellent technical support might seem like a bit of a bolt-on on benefit when settling on your card provider, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.

When it comes to card payment processing you really can’t take any risks and should always feel completely confident that your provider is on hand day or night if you have any problems processing payments.

If your machine dies and you have to send your customers on a cash machine quest, chances are most won’t come back.

And don’t just settle for the usual standard of service you might expect from your bank. Go with a company that really makes you feel personally looked after and in safe hands at all times.

What other products do you offer?

Your business is always changing and how you take payments is likely to change as well. And so when weighing up card providers it’s a good idea to look for a company that has a wide range of payment products that your business can grow into.

You may start out as a small business, but when you start to expand your provider should be right there with you offering you a card payment solution that can take your business to the next level, whether that be online, by smartphone or on the move. Look for a provider that has different card terminals types and varied online payment packages, so you don’t have switch provider should your circumstances change.

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What do you know about my industry/business sector?

Finding a provider that genuinely understands your business and your industry should always feature on your list. It takes a lot of hard work to get a business off the ground and keep it going, and so picking a provider that knows what it takes to succeed in your sector is important.

All too often some of the bigger providers overlook the specific needs of smaller businesses, but there are providers out there who specialise in looking after the little guys. Seek them out and you’ll more than likely find you get much more than just good rates, you’ll get great guidance too.

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