How to evaluate and compare credit card processing companies
There are plenty of aspects to worry about when it comes to running a business successfully, but managing a problematic payment processor shouldn't be one of them. Your merchant credit card processor should be on point all of the time, leaving you and your employees to think about the other more mission-critical aspects of the business.
If you don’t know what to look for, it’s easy to get trapped in a contract with a less than stellar credit card processor. So we've compiled a short guide that will help you quickly and painlessly compare credit card processing companies for your business.
Basic considerations for credit and debit card processing
The key things you will most likely want to take into account include:
- Types of processing offered (mobile processing, online processing, in-store card processing, etc.)
- Types of credit cards and other payment methods accepted
- Security and fraud protection solutions and PCI compliance
- Level of customer service
You might also want to take transaction rates, equipment fees, and extra processing and setup fees into account. Not all credit card processing companies charge extra fees for using their equipment (such as a terminal), but nearly all payment processing companies will charge an additional percentage and/or per item fee for processing transactions, to cover their own costs. It's an industry standard practice, and those not charging percentages and per item fees build in costs elsewhere in the contract to pay for their services.
While these fees should be taken into account, they should not take precedence over the other important criteria we’ll review. For example, if you select a cheaper processor, but can’t accept credit cards online, you may miss out on important revenue that outweighs the slight cost difference to go with a processor with greater functionality. Plus, there may be value-added services that you want and which make sense for your business that come with additional fees like gift and loyalty programs.
Types of processing offered
The types of payment processing services offered should be one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a payment processor. Even if you’re not ready to take your business online or mobile right now, there’s a chance you may need that functionality in the future. Look for a processor capable of handling your current needs and that can grow with you as your business grows.
Some other important considerations are whether or not you’ll be able to accept EMV chip-cards and mobile wallet payments like Apple Pay and Android pay. As these payment types become more and more popular among customers, you’ll definitely want payment technology that can keep up with customer demand.
Types of credit cards accepted
It's important to make sure your credit card processor accepts all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) — this is a no-brainer. But in addition to the major credit cards, if your customer has to pay with a lesser-known credit card or corporate purchasing card, your payment processor should be able to handle that, too; this includes fleet cards, such as Voyager, Wright Express, Fleet One, and more. The processor should also accept EBT and electronic checks. It should be easy for the processor to process the payments as well, no matter what payment method your customers may choose to use.
Security and fraud protection
When it comes to security and fraud protection, look for the most effective solutions on the market because data breaches cost more than money — they can cost you your customers' loyalty, too. All transactional data should be protected with the most stringent payment security technology available, like encryption and tokenization. And your payment processor should help you protect your systems from hackers by helping you follow PCI compliance guidelines.
In short, make sure your chosen processor protects against cardholder data breaches, fraudulent charges, and financial loss. Check to be sure that they are fully PCI compliant with a good track record regarding security.
When comparing credit card processors, customer service is often overlooked. A business owner may think things are great when payments are being processed with ease and they're receiving funds from customer payments. But the true test is what happens when you hit some sort of snag or have a question? Your ability to receive prompt, knowledgeable and friendly support whenever you need it will make or break a payment processing relationship.
Before choosing a credit card payment processor, ask questions about their support availability, their average wait times and resolution record. A credible payment processing company should be able to provide you with all of the information you need to feel confident in their ability to provide good support.
Reporting and data insights
Make sure you understand what your credit and debit card processing company offers for intelligence tools such as reporting and analytics. What kind of transactional data will you have access to? What's the user interface like? Does it allow you to sync with other tools and platforms that you use? Ultimately, you'll want to know how your own customer transaction data can be used to better serve your customers and help you grow.
If you're interested in knowing more about the things you should expect from a merchant credit card services provider, take a look at Vantiv's in-store payments information page, or check out the online payment and mobile payment information pages for additional information on those specific topics.