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With so many credit card processing solutions out in the market today, it can be hard to sift through different offerings and find the solution that supplies the best service possible for your business.
By keeping the factors below in mind when considering accepting credit card transactions; you are sure to find a processor that not only works for you but also works with you.
Determine What you Need
The first step to filling a need, is identifying what that need is. Look at your business model, and what your business model might be in a couple of months or years. Do you have a storefront? Will you be traveling? Are you ever going to find the need to sell your goods and services on the road?

Most of the times, merchants realize that a physical terminal that sits on a counter top isn’t the best option for them and that newer technologies, such as mobile payments, or online shopping, is a better way to accept payments that is more convenient for their customers.

Also figure out if you need to accept payments from every card type, credit or debit. This will help in narrowing down which Point of Sale solution you would be pursing and save you a lot of time.
Do Your Homework
Like with any purchase or contract, make sure you complete your due diligence before choosing a particular provider. Do your research on the industry and find out what your options are. Look up reviews online, check out blogs and even go as far as speaking with a company rep armed with questions. Lots of questions!
Shop Around for a Price that’s Comfortable
Remember you don’t have to sign up for processing from your bank. There are many other options that are far less expensive and provide a better service that is customized to your business’ needs.

No matter what you do, go with a price point that is manageable for you. Always be aware of hard costs that you really can’t get away from, and be wary of hidden fees, and surcharges that some payment processing companies will tack on.
Don’t be Fooled by a ‘Low Merchant Discount Rate’
To expand on the earlier tip of being aware, don’t be careless. A low rate will always look more attractive, but be mindful that there might be hidden charges appearing on your statements that you were not made aware of.

Things to keep in mind are:

Non-qualified surcharge
Assessment fees
Per transaction fees
Batch fees
Settlement fees
Monthly fees

When comparing pricing structures, ask specific questions about these fees to ensure you’re fully aware of all the charges you could potentially incur.

Interchange Plus Pricing has recently come to Canada and is offered by a few providers. This system eliminates all of these additional fees and has a completely transparent pricing model. It is recommended by the Canadian Code of Conduct which aims to provide merchants with full rate disclosure.
Easy Integration
It is important to remember that the processor which is a perfect-on-paper is not always the easiest to integrate with your current system. Integration should be seamless, cost-effective and secure. Know the systems that you want your processor to work with and ask specific questions about connectivity and integration with those systems.
Commitment to Security
When looking for a processor, you should verify that the possible candidates are fully compliant with the latest PCI (Payment Card Industry) and EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) standards.

As a merchant, you should expect to be safeguarded against unauthorized capture of sensitive credit card information protecting you and your brand.
24/7 Customer Support
Finally, before deciding on a processor, ensure they have a solid support network established. Full post-sale service is essential because you never really know when a terminal might suddenly stop working, or you’re at an off-site venue and you can’t process any transactions.

Make sure the company you choose is one that provides real customer support and matches you with a payment advisor that you can depend on when the worst happens.

A great thing to keep in mind is office locations. If you’re a merchant on the West Coast and your processor is on the East Coast, be aware of the time difference and make sure that even if regular office hours are over, someone will be available to troubleshoot with you should any issues occur.

Small Business BC – April 3, 2012

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