5 questions to ask when picking a credit card processor

March 15, 2018

Picking a credit card processor should be relatively straightforward, right? Actually, all the options on the market can be a little overwhelming. Each processor comes with various bells and whistles, and it’s these little details that make a big difference. How do you know which bells and whistles are right for your business?

Take a deep breath and imagine all the new transactions you’ll be able to accomplish with your new processor. Start with these five questions to find the right credit card processor and get back to doing business.

1. Where is your business now…and where is it going?

Think about the roadmap you have for your company. If you’re a new merchant, consider your credit card processor in relation to your overall POS system: that is, do you need a full inventory, register, and accounting solution, or just a simple card reader? Are you looking for an upgrade to EMV, or are you looking for something you can customize to accept gift cards, EMV, and more? How easy is it to accept any form of payment—even the ones that haven’t been invented yet?

If you’re a well-established business looking to grow, think about things like security, customer service, and integrating with your existing technology when selecting a card processor. The goal is to find a way to make your business run efficiently—while not going over budget.

2. How much are you willing to spend?

Speaking of budget…costs are probably at the top of your list when considering a new card processor. In addition to the initial price tag, there are other fees that come from accepting payments over time.

Interchange fees are charged for every transaction you process, and usually range from 2% to 3% per transaction. The devil is in the details when it comes from interchange fees: the rate is determined depends on several factors, including the type of card accepted, the type of transaction, and the size of the transaction.

In addition to the interchange fees, be on the lookout for monthly statement fees, application and setup fees, monthly minimum fees, monthly gateway access fees, and early termination fees. All these fees can add up quickly! Generally, however, these total fees shouldn’t cost more than $200 annually for brick-and mortar-merchants—and no more than $300 annually for ecommerce retailers.

3. How do customers purchase from your business?

The way your business is set up can have implications for the credit card processor that’s best for your company. According to one study by Google, 76% of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit the business within
24 hours: 28% of those searches result in a purchase. Being able to accept credit cards whenever, wherever, is mission critical to capture this business.

Likewise, if you’re an omnichannel retailer selling online and in-store, you might consider a card processing solution that gives you more flexibility. A word of warning: some processors have proprietary software that may not work with your online shopping cart. Most processors work with a company called Authorize.Net, a fairly universal software (and probably a good bet).

4. What are your biggest struggles?

Specifically, how can your card processor alleviate some of your pain points? A card processor should be able to streamline your payments process, offer great customer service, and keep your financials well organized. Many payment processors can be customized with software that the merchant needs, instead of a one-size-fits-all version that might create additional work for time-crunched business owners. Explore how your payment processor can give you time back and power up your profits.

5. Is the processor secure?

Credit card processors are supposed to solve problems, not create them. Small businesses across America are under attack from hackers and fraudsters at alarming rates. Make sure your card processor has the proper security standards and compliance in place. Namely, the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard, the three-digit Card Verification Value (CVV), Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol and End-to-End Encryption (E2EE) are what you should be looking for to make sure you’re secure.

Finding the right card processor is not merely about being able to accept credit cards at your store. The right partner can help you bring your business to the next level. Automating time-consuming tasks, centralizing of transaction data, and customizing your payments platform for your needs can give your business the spark it needs to take off!

[image: Mayor’s Small Business Tour by CityofStPete on flickr]

Clover is sold by leading U.S. banks including Bank of America, BBVA, Citi, PNC, SunTrust and Wells Fargo. You’ll also find Clover at our trusted partners including CardConnect, Restaurant Depot, and Sam’s Club. For more information, visit us at