Are you just starting your business? Do you want to expand to have an online presence? Does your business have multiple locations? No matter your current business size or the future you see for it, there’s a Merchant Service Provider that will fit your business. The challenge is how to choose the best one.
In this post, we will discuss the ideal pricing plans and features you should get out of your Merchant Service Provider based on your business size.
Merchant Service for Small Businesses
Whether you’re just starting out or you run a mom-and-pop shop, it’s likely you aren’t processing a lot of credit card transactions. With an uncomplicated business model and low processing volume, a simple credit card processing service is ideal. This setup will minimize fees and provide you with only the assets you need to run your business. We recommend that small business owners look for the following pricing models and features in a Merchant Service Provider:
Pricing: Flat or Interchange-Plus
If you’re just starting out, working with a Payment Facilitator (e.g., Stripe or Square) is the path of least resistance to accepting credit cards. There is no underwriting process and you can start accepting payments within minutes of signing up. Flat pricing structures are also very straight forward, as every transaction is charged the same processing rate.
If you’re looking for a pricing plan that will grow with your business, Interchange-plus is your best option. Flat pricing is only beneficial for your business up to a certain point. Once you start processing transactions more regularly and increase your volume, you’re going to want a plan that provides the most cost-savings. Consider where your business stands, and where you see it going, and then compare Flat vs. Interchange-plus pricing before settling on one.
- Cards on File: The majority of small businesses thrive on a loyal customer base. Storing cards on file sounds like a minor convenience for customers, but it’s something that will make your business stand out from others. Opt for a provider that offers this feature to enable quick customer history searches, one-click refunds and the upper hand on your neighboring competitors.
- Remote Signature Capture: A chargeback can be detrimental to a small business. Protect your business when taking over-the-phone payments (even if they are rare) by capturing remote signatures. This feature will ultimately minimize losses from disputed credit card charges and fight fraud.
- Easy E-Commerce Payments: A great way to test if your business can expand to an online presence is by using a merchant service that offers a proprietary e-commerce platform, such as PayJunction’s Hosted Checkout. This eliminates the need to pay for an additional service and manage an integration between the two providers.
Merchant Service for Multifaceted Businessess
It’s not uncommon for businesses to have a strong presence among online and brick-and-mortar shoppers. Streamlining the costs and transactions across both channels can be difficult with the wrong merchant service. And, if treated as separate entities, it unnecessarily complicates actions taken after a transaction occurs. For multifaceted businesses, we recommend looking for the following pricing models and features in a Merchant Service Provider:
Tiered or Interchange-plus
If you’re looking for a relatively easy-to-understand rate plan — such as Flat pricing — but want more cost savings, you might consider a Tiered rate plan. Tiered pricing buckets transactions into three categories: Qualified, Mid-Qualified and Non-Qualified. If you want the ultimate cost-savings and are OK with a more complex model, Interchange-plus is the plan for you. Be sure to compare the Tiered and Interchange-plus pricing plans of each Merchant Service Provider you’re considering, as plans can vary per provider.
- Flawless Integrations: With a complex or long-standing e-commerce side of your business, you’re probably utilizing a third-party provider to manage inventory, orders and shipping logistics. Working with a Merchant Service Provider that flawlessly integrates with these types of providers will streamline all transactions and funnel them, along with your in-person transactions, into a single location.
- Easy Refunds: Processing e-commerce transactions throws a unique wrench in the mix when it comes to refunds. Opting for a provider that offers easy refunds is key to both your business operations and customer satisfaction. Even though the customer is returning an item, making that process easy and refunding their money quicker means they’ll likely return for future purchases.
- Batch Reports: While funneling both in-person and online transactions to a single place is beneficial, you might be interested in seeing how sales performance compares between the two. Opting for a merchant service that offers batch reports to easily keep your online and in-person sales separate will give you better oversight on performance. You can still deposit all funds into a single bank account while maintaining visibility on each channel.
Merchant Service for Large, Multi-Location Businesses
Whether your business is comprised of various departments, multiple locations or both, it’s a complex business model and has unique needs. Make sure your Merchant Service Provider offers the following pricing plan and features to ensure you’re getting the most out of your processing partner:
Large businesses should always opt for an Interchange-plus pricing plan. Although it’s the most complex of the three plans offered, it provides the most transparency into your rates and offers the most cost-savings. You also benefit from true debit pricing and Interchange refunds on returns.
- User Access Control: With a large business, keeping an eye on each employee is nearly impossible. Effectively manage a large staff by controlling which team members have access and the ability to run transactions at each location. Keep a pulse on user activity with tracked actions in your merchant service’s Virtual Terminal, and delegate admin access to those who need it so you can hand-off certain responsibilities and lighten your own workload.
- Batch and Deposit Reports: Processing large transaction volumes, especially across multiple locations, requires attention to every deposit. Providers that offer batch and deposit reports simplify the reconciliation process by producing automated totals for your accounting team to quickly spot check instead of spending hours totalling batches and comparing them to deposit totals.
- Cumulative Reports: Getting an idea of your business’s overall performance over particular time periods requires hours of prep work. Opt for a Merchant Service Provider that automatically builds quarterly and yearly reports so you can keep a pulse on your business’s performance and compare historical data to current trends.
The right Merchant Service Provider exists no matter your business model, size or future. Consider your business’s current structure, where you’d like to take it and the suggested pricing models and features to look for when assessing your options.
Start a conversation below by telling us your business size, current pricing plan and features you use today. We’d love to see how it compares to our framework.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in June 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.