How to Pick the Right Merchant Services Provider for Your Business

Choosing a merchant services provider (or credit card processor) can make the difference between overpaying and having a competitively priced account with good customer service. Regardless of whether you’re already accepting credit cards or not, the methods for choosing your provider are very similar. The only major difference is the equipment consideration.


Not sure where to start? Here’s what you need to look for (or avoid) when it comes to picking a merchant services provider for your business.


Businesses New to Accepting Credit Cards


If you aren’t accepting credit cards at the moment, your first step should be to choose your merchant services provider. This allows you to secure a low-cost merchant account. Then, you’ll get to choose from the equipment that the provider supports. Most providers offer a wide range of equipment, which means you’ll get a machine that fits your needs at a low cost.


If you’re looking for a specialty feature (such as restaurant delivery tracking), your priority should be finding a POS system or credit card machine that offers that feature. However, keep in mind that choosing the system first may limit your choice of providers. Most of the time, this will result in you paying more for credit card processing.


Businesses Already Taking Credit Cards


Does your business already accept credit cards? If so, you may want to pay more attention to the equipment itself. You’ll need to decide between keeping your existing machine, purchasing a new one, and switching to a new online payment getaway.


If you want to keep your current POS system or countertop terminal, find out if it’s universal, selective, or proprietary. Universal systems work with any company, proprietary systems only work with one or two providers, and selective systems fall somewhere in between. For example, Verifone is a universal machine, whereas Paypal readers are proprietary ones.


Why does the equipment status matter? Well, if you want to keep using your current machines, you’ll need a provider that can reprogram them. Some systems work with multiple providers, but can’t be reprogrammed. Common non-programmable machines include the Vital POS system and the Clover Station POS system.


Choosing Credit Card Machines


There are several factors that can help you settle on the right POS system or credit card machine. Here is a short guide to help you out:


1. Make a list of required features, features you’d like to have, and features you don’t need.

2. Ask your provider which machines they support or recommend.

3. Research those machines.

4. Based on your research, book demos with your top choices.

5. Purchase the system, preferably through your provider.

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