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Checklist: 6 Must-Haves to Look for When Choosing a Merchant Service Provider

By Jeff Warwick

When it comes to selecting a merchant service provider for efficient credit card processing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the vast number of options out there. With so many factors to consider, from processing fees, customer experience, and integration with your existing business technology or ERP, the process can get quickly confusing for anyone not familiar with the details of the industry. 

But to grow and expand, opening a merchant services account is an essential step for your business. Choosing to accept credit card payments from your customers will not only boost your bottom line, but it will also expand your market reach. 

At Clients First, we use our years of extensive experience to help customers optimize and expand their eCommerce. As such, we want to offer this comprehensive checklist as a self-service to guide to finding the best merchant services provider for your business. Check for these 6 must-haves:    

1. Payment Integration 

To truly get the most out of your merchant service platform, look for a merchant service provider that supplies a payment integration for your core finance and business application (ERP).  

A payment integration brings your accounting software, payment gateway, eCommerce store, and reporting all together in one place. For example, a payment integration like EBizCharge, allows you to accept payments directly in your Microsoft Dynamics, Acumatica, SAP Business One, or Sage ERP to automate your payment process. 

Using a payment integration means you won’t have to deal with manual reconciliation, double data entry, switching back and forth between programs, or human errors. The integration automatically posts payments to your accounts receivable and general ledger, simplifying your workflow and freeing you to focus on what truly matters—your business. 

2. Level III Payment Processing and Fees 

When you start accepting credit card payments from customers, you’ll notice that you have to pay fees on each credit card you accept. These costs are probably something you expect, but there is more to consider.  

First off, the fees are set by the card brands (Mastercard, Amex, VISA, Discover, etc.) or the credit card network, and your business can’t do anything to change them. However, your company also pays an interchange fee. This fee is a little more flexible and can be altered by the way you process credit cards. 

Merchant services providers that offer Level III payment processing automatically lower the interchange fee on every card you process, so you pay less to process each credit card. Level III is great for merchants because it saves your business money with no extra work or effort on your part. Over time, these savings add up and result in a lower monthly credit card processing cost. 

3. Flat Rate Pricing 

On top of Level III payment processing, another important pricing option to look for is flat rate pricing. Flat rate pricing guarantees one flat rate no matter what, so you’ll know in advance exactly what your processing fees will be. With flat rate pricing, your business receives one, simple statement each month with a predictable rate. Flat rate pricing means you can process credit cards at the same low rate each month without paying any additional transaction fees. 

4. Support 

Problems happen. Technology fails, payments go missing, and duplicate transactions take place. The question is: how will your payment processor respond when issues arise? 

Exceptional customer service is the cornerstone of any business. Take the time to ask potential merchant service providers who will be answering the phone when you need help. Find a payment processor with in-house, live support. When trouble comes your way, you’ll be happy you have a team standing by to help. 

5. Payment Security 

Effective payment security is essential for your business. The threat of a data breach is always there, but with the right merchant service provider, you can rest easy knowing your customers’ data is safe and secure. 

Here’s what to look for: 

  • PCI compliance. At the bare minimum, your merchant services provider should offer payment processing that’s in line with the PCI DSS. Bonus points if they are a Qualified Integrator and Reseller
  • Off-site data storage. Off-site data storage means you store your sensitive data, well, off-site. Your merchant services provider is responsible for storing the data on their secure servers, so if the worst happens and your business suffers an attack, the data is not on your local system. 
  • Encryption and tokenization. Encryption protects credit card data when it’s in transit, while tokenization protects stored data. Your merchant service provider should offer both encryption and tokenization to protect your data. 
  • Fraud prevention modules. Fraud prevention modules allow you to set customizable security settings in your payment gateway, depending on your level of need. 
  • EMV chip card processing. EMV chip cards reduce fraud and are significantly more difficult to counterfeit than the magnetic stripe on a card. 

6. Faster Payment Collections 

The best merchant service providers go beyond offering basic credit card processing services. They can also help you get paid faster and increase cash flow with payment collection tools so you don’t need to rely on lengthy phone calls, clunky PDF invoices, or spend hours following up with customers. Instead, you can bring everything online so your customers can make payments anywhere, anytime. 

For example, you can give customers the ability to pay off invoices through an online customer payment portal, make quick payments via a mobile app, send convenient payment links via email, or set up automated recurring billing. Better payment collection tools will benefit both you and your customers: they’ll be delighted by the easy transaction, and you’ll spend significantly less time collecting payments. 

Merchant Service Provider Selection 

Finding a great merchant service provider isn’t always easy, but these 6 must-haves will guide your due diligence to help you find and select a platform and provider that supports your business and helps it grow.  

At Clients First, our knowledgeable team of experts is here to help you select and employ best-in-class eCommerce solutions. Your goals are at the forefront of our purpose, and we can match you with the right credit card processing platform for your business and for your Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Dynamics NAV, Dynamics 365 Finance, 365 Supply ChainSAP Business One, or Acumatica ERP.  

We also believe in partnering with only the best people, solutions, and platforms that bring success to our customers. This is why when it comes to merchant service provider selection, we lead with our long-time, trusted partners at Century Business Solutions to offer EBizCharge.   

EBizCharge provides the most comprehensive payment solutions portfolio available, with extensive ERP integrations, customer payment portals, responsive in-house support, and affordable processing. Contact us today for a free consultation on your merchant service needs and to get a quote.  

Jeff Warwick

Partner, Clients First Business Solutions New Jersey

Jeff Warwick is an experienced partner at Clients First with over 20 years of ERP solution selling under his belt. With his honest approach and fine attention to detail, Jeff has helped hundreds of growing businesses find the right ERP software and technology to last the life of their business. When he’s not driving high impact results for his valued customers, you can find Jeff rocking out on his guitar at his local church!