The first step to finding the best e-commerce merchant account provider is understanding exactly what such a firm does, and why it is important to your online business. Merchant accounts are arranged through financial institutions and they enable you to accept credit card payments from your customers. These days almost all U.S. businesses accept credit transactions, and some 87% of all online customers use credit or debit cards for online purchases.
There are two distinct types of merchant account categories. They are called “card present” and “card not present.” Simply put, the former refers to a credit card that’s being used at the time of the purchase in “brick and mortar” establishments. The “card not present” type of purchases are for online, or e-commerce, use. Once you have decided on the type you need, you will then know what kind to look. Then it is a matter of finding the one that will best suit your needs.
First and foremost it’s important to be careful and stay aware of what you’re getting into. The credit card industry is in a constant battle with those who commit fraudulent credit card transactions. Fraud has been shown to be more frequent with Internet merchant accounts. You want to ensure that the merchant account provider is on your side in this battle and is committed to safe, sane procedures. You don’t want them to be another source of trouble.
There are several hundred well-established merchant account providers that have good reputations and it is easy to investigate their reliability and legitimacy. That should be your first priority when looking for a reputable company. Besides having a good reputation, the e-commerce merchant account provider should be very open and up front about all fees and charges. If there is any doubt in your mind, or you have concerns, this should alert you to the fact that something is not right.
Fees and Mysteries
You have enough business expenses to deal with, and to run your business efficiently you need to know what your costs are going to be, as accurately as possible. You don’t want to be taken by surprise. Fees differ among different providers and are not always the same for all accounts within the same provider structure – “your mileage may vary,” as they say, according to your type of business, credit history, risk assessment and other factors.
The final figure you arrive at for your overall discount rate, and other major frees, is not even the bottom line in most cases. Also, just because provider’s fees are low does not mean that the service is good. It could mean just the opposite of that. It is not a simple matter of arithmetic, and there may not even be a proper name for the types of calculations (rational, emotional, economic, personal, etc.) that will go into your final formula for deciding on the best e-commerce merchant account provider. Be thorough and ask the hard questions, or you will be faced with trouble down the line. A reputable firm will help you figure everything out, since they want to partner with you in your success, not just handle a few charges and watch you fade away.
Making the Choice
Before the final evaluation process of the providers, be sure to press them to discover what extra features you will have (or can qualify for as you go along) because that could make or break your decision. The extra features should be supportive of the needs of your business. You can easily get online and view the hundreds of web sites that are there to help you determine the best course of action and which firm offers the best features. It would be in your best interest to review these sites, and to do a lot of investigating.
A provider that is the best at dealing with online business in one way, in fact, not be as appropriate in another way. Certain providers offer shopping carts, custom software and various package deals. These can help with both website design and functionality, but you must also be concerned with service after the sales. Taking the time to find the most reliable provider, one that is best suited for your growing or well-established e-commerce business, will go a long way toward giving you a positive outlook on the future of your company.