How to evaluate and compare credit card processing companies
Get the scoop on the major factors to consider when comparing credit card processing companies. From PCI compliance to mobile payments, we'll help you make a smart business decision.
Credit card processing shouldn’t be a pain point for your business operations. You need it to work efficiently and seamlessly, leaving you and your staff to think about the other more mission-critical aspects of your business. To help you choose the best processor for your business we've compiled a comparison checklist to help you identify the payment processing services and features that matter to you and how to compare them among merchant services providers.
Start by identifying what’s important to you
When evaluating credit card processors, you'll want to start with a list of "must-have” services and features that your particular business requires.
To help get you started, download and print out the Processor Comparison Report Card (or write it out by hand if that’s easier). Start by ranking the features from 1-5 in the first column according to how important the listed feature or functionality is to your business operations. If you’re not sure, click on the topic to read more about it before deciding on a rating.
Then, as you learn about the offerings of the processors you’re considering, place a checkmark in the box if the provider meets your needs for that feature. Leave it blank if the processor lacks that feature, or it doesn’t meet your expectations.
Interpreting the results of your checklist
Step 1. Eliminate processors with a blank box next to any feature you rated a five
If you have a feature listed as a five on your checklist, it’s probably wise to eliminate a processor that does not offer that feature. So locate all of your fives and make sure there are no blank checkboxes to the right. Eliminate the processor from consideration if there is.
Step 2. Count the number of empty boxes per processor next to features you rated a four
Remember that a rating of four indicates a feature that is pretty important to you, so you don’t want to pick a payment processor with too many blanks in that feature category. Compare the number of blanks next to fours by processor to see which one meets more of your needs overall.
Step 3. Once you have weeded out payment solution providers that won’t meet your needs in terms of services, you can compare the add-on costs listed at the bottom of the checklist. Keep in mind that interchange rates are the same for every processor. The difference in cost comes via pass-through fees and additional charges listed on your monthly statement. We recommend focusing on the features you need first, and looking at costs second since optimal functionality is worth paying a little extra for.
Making the big decision
With the strengths and weaknesses of the credit and debit card processors listed out in black and white on your checklist, it should become clear which provider best fits your business.
If you finish the exercise and feel you have too many blank boxes overall, it’s probably a good idea to add additional processors to your list for consideration. Ask other business operators who they use and whether they would recommend them to you and why. Or, speak to a point of sale vendor or your business’ banking partner and ask for their recommendations.
It’s a big decision, and ultimately you should pick a credit card processing company you feel you can trust. And if you’re really unsure, ask about their contract and cancellation policy before signing a merchant agreement.