two women in an interview asking questions

5 Questions to Ask Your Merchant Services Provider

Before you decide to go with one merchant services provider or another, it is important to have an honest and thorough discussion. The right fit is crucial in helping your business save time, money, and stress in the long run. Asking the right questions is a great place to start, and a good merchant services provider should have no reservations addressing any of these concerns. 

1. What Do You Do?

As a business owner, you’ve probably been told that you need merchant services. But that doesn’t tell you much about what, exactly, a merchant services provider does. Ask your potential provider for specifics about what services they offer and how it will benefit your business. 

In a nutshell, a merchant account enables a business to accept payments by credit or debit card. Card data is handled by a payment processor and transferred securely to the business bank account, where it is received as funds. Beyond this, your merchant services provider should be willing and able to answer all your questions about the specifics of payment processing, including security, data storage, fees, and more.

2. What Security Steps Do You Take?

Security is of the utmost importance when processing credit card data, which can be subject to all manner of fraud. Ask your merchant services candidate to explain any and all security measures they take to prevent data breaches. 

Your merchant services provider should also be willing to help you work toward PCI compliance. This is a set of twelve security requirements developed by the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council. PCI certification can take time, but it will help you avoid additional fees for non-compliance. 

3. What is My Contract, Exactly?

There is no reason why your merchant services provider should want to hide anything from you within your contract. He or she should disclose all fees and thoroughly review the contract terms with you. Watch out for shady clauses like low introductory rates that will double or triple after a trial period. Ask about locking in your rate and if you are eligible for any discounts. 

A good merchant services provider should want to help your business succeed so you can have a long-term relationship. Hidden fees, unreasonable contract lengths, and too-good-to-be-true intro offers are red flags that you will want to watch out for. 

4. What Happens if I Have a Problem?

The best merchant services providers will be communicative. If you have an issue, your provider should have a way for you to discuss it with a live person and in a reasonable amount of time. Generic customer service lines or chat bots that have you on hold for thirty minutes at a time are no good in an emergency. Ask your provider to be candid about their customer service protocols. 

You can get a good idea of how well your potential provider handles customer service through their online reviews. Check for key words like “responsive” and “above and beyond.” This is a solid indication of their attitude towards helping established clients. 

5. How Long Will it Take to Get Set Up?

The time it takes for your merchant account to be approved will ultimately depend on your type of business and your financial standing, including credit score and any prior issues with merchant services. That being said, the process generally takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. If it is taking any longer than that, you may want to try a different provider with more experience in your type of business.

If your business is considered high risk, for example, you will want to be sure you are working with a merchant services provider who has experience in getting approval for these types of businesses. Otherwise, you run the risk of your merchant account being denied and having to restart the process. 

Help Choosing a Merchant Services Provider

Selecting the right provider is essential in helping your business grow. With so many companies to choose from, this can be a daunting and time-consuming task. A merchant services broker is a great place to start to help you filter out the best candidates for your business. Brokers have relationships with many different providers and can help find the best match for your needs. 

If you are a business in need of merchant services, contact Brendon Degner at Summit Payments. Brendon is highly knowledgeable about industry requirements, trends, and common security issues. Call our office today to get started.