Fintech Insights

How to choose the right credit card processing company for your business


June 13, 2019

Running a small business means wearing a lot of hats. One of those hats is being able to weigh the merits of different vendors. If your business wants to accept credit card payments, you’ll want to understand the ins and outs of credit card processing companies.

Selecting the right credit card processing company starts with carefully weighing the options available to you. Containing costs is critical in the short term, especially in uncertain times. Yet when it comes to essential payment infrastructure, planning for the long term is vital.

Today there are more options than ever for processing payments. That can make choosing a processing company complex and time-consuming. Thankfully, choosing the right credit card processing company doesn't have to be difficult. Start with a few simple questions:

  • Can the credit card processor work with my business?
  • How much are their fees and other costs?
  • Can I rely on the processor’s customer service?
  • What about security and fraud prevention?

Can they work with my business?

There’s a credit card processing company that’s tailor-made for every business. Finding the right fit starts with looking internally. Think about how your business operates – both how it is now and how you dream that it may be. Do you run an e-commerce website or brick-and-mortar store? Do you sell on-the-go, at street fairs, or offer some mix of everything?

How much transaction volume do you expect to process? What’s your industry? You’ll want to know if your business is considered high risk, since that can impact not just your rates but also your choice of processor.

How are you going to accept credit cards? You’ll want to think through the ways your customers want to pay: in-store, over the phone, online and mobile? What about selling on-the-go? Think about equipment: Do you need a simple credit card terminal, an integrated point-of-sale (POS) system or tools for mobile acceptance? What about international transactions?

How much are their fees and other costs?

Credit card processing companies offer a variety of fee and costs structures depending on the type of business you operate, your transaction volume, your total spend and other factors.

There will be fees associated with transaction processing that are fixed, like interchange where rates are set by the card brand networks. There may also be per-transaction fees, incidental fees, flat fees, monthly maintenance fees and other charges for equipment and regulatory compliance. Beyond that, fee structures vary based on whether you’re processing transactions in-person (card present) or online (card not present).

Take the time to understand the total cost of payment processing, knowing that the least expensive service in the short term isn’t always the best choice. There are trade-offs and risks when selecting low-cost services that should factor into any decision.

Can I rely on the processor’s customer service?

Trusting the customer service you’ll receive from your credit card processor is essential for the success of your business – and your peace of mind.

Payment processing is remarkably reliable, as billions of transactions are processed quickly, safely and easily every day. Still, there are times when even the best systems suffer unexpected interruptions. 99.999 percent uptime reliability is great – except for that 0.001 percent. It’s times like that where you need to know you can rely on the support of your credit card processor.

Make sure your credit card processing company offers access to technical support 24/7. Look for a company with extensive self-help resources that are easy to understand. Most of all, look for a credit card processor that has a help team that stands behind you when you need them most.

What equipment will you need?

The equipment you’ll need to accept credit cards depends on your type of business and how your customers want to pay. From simple POS credit card terminals to the latest in app-based payments, there’s a combination that’s just right for every business.

Credit card terminals: Familiar and reliable, these efficient, easy-to-use devices connect businesses and consumers to the payment networks that process credit and debit transactions.

  • Pros: Credit card terminals are safe, inexpensive, easy to maintain and easy to use.
  • Cons: Though smarter than ever, your growing business may need more options and flexibility than credit card terminals offer.

Integrated POS systems help take your payment acceptance to the next level with payment software built directly into your POS. Integrated POS systems combine the latest in payment acceptance with critical business operation software. Used by millions of restaurants, hotels and retail outlets, there’s an integrated POS system solution for every type of business.

  • Pros: Integrated systems work the way you do. They work perfectly with leading payment processors like Worldpay from FIS, and they’re infinitely flexible to grow as fast as your business.
  • Cons: They may be excessive in situations where credit card terminals do the job well.

Mobile payment acceptance is essential for more businesses than ever before as payments now take place everywhere. Mobile payment acceptance makes sense for consumers attached to smartphones, so it makes sense for the businesses that want to serve them. Mobile payment systems are so popular that they’re increasingly used in-store, not just on-the-go. Though a small attachment may sometimes be needed, many mobile systems can accept payments with nothing more than a smartphone.

  • Pros: Mobile card readers attach to smartphones or other devices to create a mobile POS, allowing you to accept payments anywhere as easily as you would in-store.
  • Cons: The ease, security and convenience of mobile payment systems makes this option “con-free.”

What about security and fraud prevention?

Credit card processors are uniquely positioned to help defend your business on the front lines of fraud.

Many payment processors offer fully integrated security and fraud-fighting solutions. In-store, you’ll need the latest in secure payment acceptance technologies like EMV chip cards and NFC contactless technology for mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Online, detection and prevention services are essential given the rise of card-not-present e-commerce fraud. Today, e-commerce security is often deployed in overlapping layers by multiple service providers. Leading credit card processors serve as a one-stop shop to coordinate those activities, like making card data more secure through encryption and tokenization technology.

Making the right decision

Credit card processing is essential – like a utility. Yet unlike a utility, credit card processing companies vary widely in the quality of value-added services they offer. Look to the long term, beyond credit card acceptance. How will they protect your business and help it grow?

Look for a credit card processing company that has a successful track record of providing merchant services to businesses like yours. The right one will have demonstrated the ability to grow, no matter what direction (and speed) your business may turn.

We help protect businesses globally by offering secure transactions that minimize fraud and reduce risk. Connect with one of our payment experts today to learn more about how we can help your business process credit cards securely.