Regardless of whether you plan to take payments from your customers online or in person, you will need to choose a credit card processing service. This provider acts as the “middle man” or link between your business and issuers, banks and credit card providers. Once you understand the key features to look for, you can wade through the confusing forest of providers and find the one that best meets your business’s needs.


As you look through your many options when it comes to credit card processing services, your wallet is probably your primary worry, and no wonder. Who hasn’t heard the horror stories of merchants being locked into nightmarish contracts that kept them in a stranglehold for years? While you might find that you need to pay some upfront costs with certain providers, others will have none. Where you will really notice the differences is in the fees. These include:

  • Interchange fees. Charged for every transaction you process, they range from 2 to 3 percent. The amount depends on factors such as the type of card used, the size of the transaction and whether it is done in-store, online or by phone.
  • Monthly statement fees of about $10 to mail the statement to you.
  • Application and setup fees. Some companies charge when you apply; others do so to help you set up the equipment. These vary widely from one company to the next.
  • Monthly minimum fee. If you do not make enough transactions to meet or exceed the minimum amount, you are charged the difference.
  • Monthly gateway access fee for your payment gateway.
  • Early termination fee if you cancel your contract prematurely.

Since many of these fees fluctuate widely from one vendor to another, shop around. Although cheaper is not always better, choosing a provider with more manageable fees certainly makes sense if they offer the other features you want.


When you run a business, time is money. You can’t afford to have lengthy periods of days when you are off line and unable to process payments. Therefore, be sure you choose a company that can get you up and running quickly and provide support to you and your staff as you learn the new system.


One of the fastest ways to lose a customer occurs when they want to pay for their purchase using a particular method that the vendor does not accept. Therefore, it behooves you to accept as many types of payments as you can. That includes credit, debit, prepaid cards and even electronic payment transfer (EBT) and gift cards. That being said, it is in your best interest to know your customers. If few or none of them pays using EBT cards, for instance, there is no need for you to require that the system you choose accepts them.


People carry their smartphones everywhere with them, and many customers are setting up the digital wallet feature on their mobile devices. This allows them to make payments by placing their smartphone near a store’s near-field communication (NFC) reader, which encrypts and processes the stored payment data, transfers it to the processing company and quickly enables a secure transaction to be made. By giving buyers the ability to pay using Apple Pay, Android Pay or Samsung Pay, you are not only making the purchasing process easier, but also you are demonstrating that your company is savvy and forward-thinking. Both of these qualities are very attractive, particularly to younger customers.


What if your card reader were to malfunction right in the middle of a busy work day? It is at times like this when having access to 24/7 live customer service becomes a necessity not a luxury. A friendly and knowledgeable account representative can also be a life-saver if you have questions about your account or are wondering about fees.

Running a successful business involves surmounting many challenges. In addition to offering consistent product quality and customer service, there are countless important decisions to make that will have a direct bearing on your operations as well as the quality of the customer experience you provide. When you find a credit card processing service that is an excellent fit for your requirements and your unique customers, you will have successfully navigated one of the more daunting hurdles.