What are Merchant Services?
Merchant services are financial services that are related to credit and debit card transactions for businesses that operate retail storefronts, ecommerce websites, or provide products and/or services on a mobile basis. Depending on the provider, these services can include not only POS (Point of Sales) or online ordering systems, credit and debit card processing, and payment gateways, but also gift and loyalty card programs, ACH (Automated Clearing House) check drafting service, merchant cash advances, check guarantee, check conversion, and marketing services via email, direct mail, or both. Other services may be offered but are less usual.
Comparing Merchant Services
When you are comparing merchant services to find the lowest merchant services agent merchant service fees, you should plan to do three things:
• consult reliable merchant account provider reviews
• consult the merchant service provider websites for those services that are in serious contention for your business
• do some detailed calculations
Merchant Service Provider Reviews
Reviews are useful for at least two reasons. First, they help you do an initial sort. If, for example, a provider doesn’t offer what is, to you, an essential service, or has costs that are outside your budget, you may be able to quickly eliminate them. Second, merchant account service providers do not set up their websites to enable easy side-by-side comparisons with other providers of the same services, so the review site can save you a great deal of time. They provide a breakdown of the main features in table form for easy comparison, plus prose reviews, and-in some cases-screenshots, video reviews, or both. Besides the costs, you also can get an idea of the types of cards they handle, their customer/technical support hours and methods, which payment gateway they use, etc.
Merchant Service Provider Websites
Within review sites you’ll find links through to the providers they cover, saving you a search to find each of their websites. The reason you want to visit the websites is to a) check the details on the review site to make sure nothing has changed; b) get a sense of the feel and tone of the providers you are considering; c) see if there are any fine points that the review missed that may apply to only some applicants; d) check for any less common services that you may require and may not be listed in the review. It’s also possible that fees have gone up (or down) since the review was done, so you can recheck the numbers. If they’re not listed any place you can find, a live chat or phone call should be able to get you a quote, or you can get a quote directly through the review site.
Calculating the Fees
There are a lot of fees and costs involved in merchant account services. The discount rates are slightly different, the transaction fees are slightly different, the monthly minimum’s vary, and even with the detailed breakdown that you have gathered from the review site and/or the provider’s site, you’re still going to need to run some figures to see what that actual costs will be and how they compare from one provider to another. When you’ve taken these steps, you should have a good idea of the provider with the lowest merchant service fees for your business.