With 19% of all retail sales now online, choosing the right merchant service provider is a critical decision. From accepting more payment options to processing transactions quicker, merchant services is a term that covers all of the payment related services, including equipment, that a business might need.

However, with so many merchant service providers available, how do you know which is the best solution for you?

How to Choose a Merchant Service Provider

What are Merchant Services?

A merchant services provider helps your business take electronic payment transactions.

Merchant service providers enable versatile payment acceptance, covering various methods such as cards, contactless and digital wallets. These providers deliver essential tools, including Point of Sale (POS) systems for physical transactions and payment gateways for online payments.

Merchant service providers also help to protect the security and legitimacy of transactions, implementing measures to mitigate fraud risks. They prioritise compliance with industry regulations, including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), to uphold the highest security standards. 

In addition, they manage the financial flow between businesses and customers, offering reporting tools and analytics for effective financial oversight. Customer support services are provided to assist companies in navigating payment operations seamlessly.

Merchant Services Include

Credit Card Processing Providers

Payment Gateway Providers

Online Transaction Processing

Point of Sale Systems

How to choose a merchant services provider in 10 steps

Here are 10 points to consider when assessing which provider to choose:

Transparent Pricing

Select a provider with straightforward pricing. Investigate all costs, including any monthly charges, transaction fees, and potential hidden fees. Industry surveys suggest that hidden fees are a common issue with some providers, so transparency is key.

Essential Payment Options

Focus on providers that support a range of payment methods. Statistics show that credit cards are used in over 40% of online transactions. Also, digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay are rapidly growing in popularity, accounting for a significant percentage of mobile transactions. Offering these payment options can increase customer satisfaction and sales.

Provider Reputation

When evaluating a provider’s reputation, consider factors specific to merchant services: uptime reliability (aim for 99.9%), quality of customer service, and speed of transaction processing. Industry reviews and forums can provide insights into these areas.

System Compatibility

Ensure the provider’s software integrates seamlessly with your existing systems. This integration can reduce errors and save time in reconciliations.

Robust Security Measures

Security is paramount. Look for a provider compliant with the latest PCI DSS standards. Data breaches in the industry have highlighted the importance of robust security measures.

Responsive Customer Support

Customer support is critical, especially for resolving transaction issues. Opt for a provider that offers 24/7 support with positive service reviews.

Clear Contract Terms

Carefully review contract terms. Industry studies indicate that long-term contracts with high termination fees are common pitfalls.

Reporting and Analytics

Advanced analytics can help you understand sales patterns and customer preferences. Providers offering detailed transaction reports and analytics tools can be invaluable for business growth.

Additional Services

Evaluate if you need services like advanced fraud protection (crucial as fraud rates in online transactions are on the rise), loyalty programs (which can increase customer retention by up to 20%), or marketing tools.

Budget-Friendly Options

While comparing prices, consider the total cost of ownership, including equipment costs, if any. Studies show that businesses often overlook these aspects, which can significantly impact the overall budget.

Merchant Services FAQs

What is an example of a merchant service?

What are the costs associated with Merchant Service Providers?

What is the difference between a Merchant Service Provider and a Payment Gateway?

Can Merchant Service Providers integrate with existing business software?

What security standards should I expect from a Merchant Service Provider?

How do Merchant Service Providers handle data privacy?

What customer support should I expect from a Merchant Service Provider?