Cash was once the primary method of making payments, but most people now use a credit or debit card if they want to pay for an item, particularly if it is a more expensive purchase. As a business, you need to be able to accept payments from your customers quickly and easily. The harder it is the more likely it is that customers will go elsewhere to buy their goods.
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In order to accept debit and credit card payments, a business needs to open a merchant account. Merchant account providers give you the hardware and equipment you need to swipe or input credit and debit card details. They are the intermediary in the payment collection process. A merchant account provider authorizes the customer’s card and transfers the money from the customer’s account into your account.
Without a merchant account, you will not be able to accept card payments, but it is important to realize that not all merchant account providers offer the same service. Some, like PayPal, are geared towards smaller, low risk businesses, whereas other specialty account providers such as Ultimate Merchant Providers specifically tailor their services to high-risk businesses such as those in the gambling or online dating sectors. Therefore, before you apply for a merchant account, you need to consider the following points.
Before doing business with a client, any sensible businessperson would check the reputation of the person to ensure they don’t have a history of dodgy dealings or suspect financial shenanigans. When looking for a merchant account provider, it is sensible to do the same.
Check the provider’s reputation online, find out how long they have been in business for, and if you are concerned about anything you discover, walk away and talk to a different service provider.
Good customer support is crucial. You need to know you can get help around the clock, by a variety of different means. Telephone support is the benchmark of good customer support, but it can be useful to have live chat and email support options if the problem is less urgent.
Range of Services
Smaller start-ups may not need a huge range of services at the start of their enterprise, but as the business grows, it is helpful if your merchant account provider can expand their service offering in tandem. If your merchant account provider doesn’t offer a full range of card processing services, consider looking at one that does.
Positive cash flow is essential in any successful business. You need to know how long it will take a customer’s funds to reach your bank account, so check this out before sign up for a merchant account.
You can expect to pay a fee for using a merchant account, but fees vary widely between different account providers, so always read the contract carefully to make sure there are no hidden fees waiting to bite you where it hurts.
There are many different merchant providers out there, and as long as you are not in a high-risk industry, you should have plenty of choices available.