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10 Questions To Ask When Choosing A Merchant Services Provider

Setting up a merchant account will allow your business to begin accepting debit and credit card payments. By providing this convenient payment method to your customers, you will more than likely see an immediate increase in your sales volume.

However, not all merchant services providers are created equal. Below are 10 essential questions you should ask BEFORE choosing a merchant services provider for your business. These questions will help you save money and avoid unneeded headaches and frustrations with your merchant account.

1. Do You Offer Live 24/7 Support?

Sounds simple enough. Most providers do offer some level of customer and technical support. But what you really want is a service that provides 24/7 live support, since issues can crop up at any time.

Also, some providers only offer round-the-clock email support. But when a problem arises, you want to speak to a real person — either by phone or live chat.

2. How Long Have You Been in Business?

You want a provider with a proven track record — a company that has slowly built up a solid reputation after years of service in the field. Stay away from newcomers, no matter how attractive their pricing or offerings may sound. Remember the old saying... "if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is."

3. Are Your Payment Systems PCI-Compliant?

Believe it or not, PCI compliance is not federally mandated. In other words, merchant services providers are not legally obligated to follow the strict security standards set forth by the credit card industry. So it's vitally important that your business chooses a provider whose network and equipment are in full compliance and utilizing the latest security protocols. Your provider should also require that your business completes an annual PCI SAQ Survey showing that you're in compliance too.

4. What Fraud Protection Services Do You Offer?

With the new EMV liability rules haven taken effect back in October 2015, you want to reduce your exposure to credit card fraud and chargebacks as much as possible. Ask each provider how it protects sensitive card holder data at the time of the sale.

Also, ask about how they handle chargeback disputes and what steps you can take to avoid them as much as possible.

5. What Is the Average Deposit Time for Funds?

Predictable cash flow is essential to the success of your business. You want to know upfront how long it takes for your funds to clear and be deposited into your bank account. Your time zone and the type of POS equipment or software you're using can impact your deposit times. So be sure to bring that fact up and get a detailed response from each prospective provider.

6. What Is the Contract Length?

Many merchant services providers use contracts with predetermined lengths. The standard contact length is normally one to three years. These contracts can become like a proverbial "ball and chain" around the ankle of your business, taking away any flexibility in negotiating lower rates and fees.

Also, most contracts only have a small window of time in which you must cancel, or else the contract automatically re-news for another set duration. The best option is to find a provider that will setup your merchant account on a month-to-month agreement with no predetermined length. This gives your business the greatest amount of leverage and control.

7. Is There a Cancellation or Early Termination Fee?

Some merchant services providers will penalize their clients for canceling their contracts prematurely. Early termination fees can be configured in a multitude of ways. Some providers charge a straight flat fee, while others use a sliding scale to determine the ETF based on how many months are left on your original contract. The average early termination fee ranges between $500 on up to $1,200. It's vital that you find this information out BEFORE signing any contract.... and get it in writing!

8. What Other Fees Are There?

Sadly, hidden rates and fees are far too common in the merchant services industry. Some scrupulous providers will give you a proposal promising massive savings and lower costs, but then your first statement from them shows something completely different. Be sure that you fully understand ANY and ALL charges that may apply to your merchant account. Again, the goal is to avoid unwanted surprises!

9. Do You Have References?

This is a no-brainer. Ask to speak with other satisfied clients — preferably those whose business needs are similar to your own. Any reputable provider will be more than happy to provide you with references to contact.

10. Why Should We Work With You?

If you feel comfortable with all of the above, you can end the conversation with one final question: Why should we work with you?

It's a buyer’s market, and there is no shortage of merchant account options out there. Let each prospective provider work hard to earn your business. If you don't feel that it's a right fit, move on down the list to next one.

At Tailored Transactions, our primary goal is to earn your trust and become the last merchant services provider that your business will ever need. We are fully committed to providing the very best solutions and support that will help successfully grow and manage your business well into the future.

Contact Us Today to receive a no-obligation Free Rate Quote.

Visit us online at or call us direct at (888) 669.1686