Choosing Your Merchant Services Provider: 9 Factors

As a business owner in today’s landscape, you’re looking for ways to secure your income and keep your business running—despite the economic circumstances. It’s no surprise then that with online sales surpassing $4 trillion before Christmas in 2020, you’re paying special attention to your customers’ online sales experience. Now more than ever, businesses of all sizes need to be prepared to take online payments—but many know that they can’t do it alone. If this sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place!

How can you tell if you need to work with a merchant services provider?

To put it simply, you’ll need to work with a merchant services provider if you manage an online store and need to accept a variety of online payment methods. Do you need to track your inventory alongside the purchases made in your online store? Then you especially need a merchant services provider for that. The list goes on, but these two points are fundamental. 

Now that you know you’re in the right place, we’ve pulled together 9 Factors for you to consider when scouting for your merchant services provider. We’re confident this information can help you choose the best merchant services provider for your business so you don’t miss out on the wonderful world of online sales.

Getting Started: Determining Your Business Needs

Before you begin searching for your merchant services provider, you should have a clear idea of what you need. At BankCard Services, we recommend that you become familiar with the answers to the following questions:

  • What are my monthly online sales?
    Ask this because: Many service providers have different pricing structures for different levels of sales.
  • What payment types do my customers use?
    Ask this because: There may be alternative payment options that you want to add.
  • Do I only need an online system or online and in-person?
    Ask this because: You should only pay for what you need—if your business operates online and in-store, then you’ll want to look for a provider that offers both of these systems.
  • What’s my budget?
    Ask this because: A reputable merchant services provider won’t try to nickel and dime you. Once you’ve determined your budget, your merchant services provider is then in the perfect position to serve you well and within your means.
  • What software, tools, and shopping carts do I currently use?
    Ask this because: You might consider making changes to your tech-stack after speaking with a merchant services provider.

As you go through different online payment processing options, these answers can help you narrow down your list quickly.

9 Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Merchant Services Provider

So, are you ready to compare merchant services providers, online payment methods, and everything in between? Here are 9 considerations to empower you and inform your decision-making process:

“We suggest you always read the fine print and get out a calculator when comparing payment processing options.”

1. Costs and Fees

Online payment methods have different fee structures that you should always take into account when you’re deciding on one for your business. Throughout your search, you can expect to come across the following:

  • Setup cost
  • Monthly fees
  • Transaction fees— These are typically between 1.7 percent and 3.5 percent, though they can vary widely.
  • Incidental fees, such as chargebacks and PCI compliance

Each payment processor will have its own fee structure, so you have to check the contracts for specifics. Some processing services charge all of the fees mentioned above.

Many payment-processing services charge a different transaction fee amount for each type of credit card. For instance, they might charge a certain percent for Visa and Mastercard, but a higher percent for American Express.

Others charge a combination of a few, such as monthly fees and transaction fees. There are also some processing services, like Shopify, though they seem great starting points for small business owners— it doesn’t take long for the fees to eat into your profits.

It is important that you fully understand the fees so you can accurately calculate your overall costs. We suggest you always read the fine print and get out a calculator when comparing payment processing options. 


2. Technology

Do you need any special software to work with the online payment method or will it integrate with what you already have? If you need additional software, be sure to add it to your costs and fees.

3. Contracts

Some third-party payment processors require a long-term contract and charge early termination fees. Some companies require a one to three-year contract and have been known to charge hundreds in early termination fees—Yikes! 

Still, there are some providers that elect to service their merchants on a month to month basis. Be sure you choose the one that fits your needs best in this regard. 

4. Accepted Payment Types

What types of payment methods does the merchant services provider enable your online business to accept? Do they just provide credit card payment processing? What about eChecks, gift cards, ACH, or international payments? Will it let you set up a loyalty program? If you sell food, do they allow you to accept EBT cards?

“…online stores run 24 hours a day, so your processing service needs to provide customer service hours that match.”

5. Customer Support

If you have trouble, can you contact customer service all day and night? Or are they only open for certain hours? Consider a payment processing service like Square: Square comes with several benefits, but the customer service department is only available from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. At first glance, this wouldn’t raise any flags, since these hours are fine for brick and mortar businesses that operate during normal business hours. However, online stores run 24 hours a day, so your processing service needs to provide customer service hours that match. 

Also, check the company’s online reviews to see what kind of experience other businesses have had. Past behavior can be the best indicator of how well they take care of clients.

6. One-Time or Recurring Payments

For businesses that offer subscription services, you need to be able to process recurring payments. Does the merchant services provider handle recurring billing or just one-time payments?

7. Direct or Third-Party Payments

Some customers do not like the idea of having to process the payment on a separate website, and it could cause you to lose sales. Will the online credit card processing method work directly on your platform or will customers be sent to a third-party website?

8. Integrations

The simplest online payment methods to use are the ones that integrate with the tools you already utilize. Having to change your entire workflow to make the new payment method work for you can be a hassle. If you’re worried about this, consider the tools you already use and find an online payment processing provider that fits your business’ needs. 

Have you decided that you’re in the market for a total online payment reboot? Then the world of online payment processing is your oyster! We still recommend that you take into account all of the points mentioned above—budget especially!

9. User Experience

When it comes to your buyer’s purchasing journey, there are several important things to consider optimizing:

  • Not everyone wants to make an account. Will the payment method allow for guest checkout?
  • Almost half of online payments are completed on a mobile device. Is the method you are considering mobile friendly?
  • Security is extremely important when accepting online payments. Does it come with fraud protection?
  • Are the payment forms easy to fill out or are there redundant fields?
  • If you have a brick and mortar store, is there a physical POS system option? Is the equipment affordable? If so, can you keep all of your payment processing under one service?
  • Can you offer your customers mobile pay capabilities like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and the like?

How Bankcard Services Can Help

We started Bankcard Services because we noticed the gaps in the available online payment processing methods and decided to fill them. Our online payment methods help businesses accept credit card payments as well as other payment types, while keeping more profit in their wallets. Some of our features provide the following:

Accept Multiple Payment Types

We know it’s important for you to be able to accept all forms of payments. With Bankcard, you can easily accept:

  • Credit and debit cards
  • EBT cards
  • Checks and eChecks
  • ACH payments
  • Gift cards
  • Loyalty program rewards and points

Numerous Integrations

Our services integrate with more than 175 shopping carts, including Shopify, Volusion, OpenCart, and Wix. No matter which one you use, chances are high that we have you covered.

Low Costs and Fees

We want you to know just what you are paying for, so we created a transparent fee schedule. Our services require no setup fee and no monthly fee. Transaction fees are 3.3 percent of the purchase amount plus 15 cents per transaction for online payment processing businesses. Those fees are the same regardless of whether it is a Visa, Discover, Mastercard, or American Express card.

No Contracts

It’s no fun to be locked in, so we work on a month to month basis. No long-term contracts. No early termination fees. We’re here as long as you need us – no strings attached.

Easy Bookkeeping

As a business owner, time is money. We love to save you money, so we also work to save you time. That’s why Bankcard Services easily integrates with tools like QuickBooks SyncPay. No payment tracking necessary.

Easy Application Process

We even make the signup process easy. Just complete our short pre-application to get started processing payments with us.

24/7 Customer Support

Whether you need us at 2 a.m., 3 p.m., or 7 p.m., we are here for you. Our customer support center is open for your convenience 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Want to know more about how we can serve you? Contact us today to schedule a meeting with a Bankcard representative.