Monday, March 29, 2010

Choosing a Merchant Account to Accept Credit Cards for Your Online Sales Business.

Note... this is a continuation from this article.  Accepting Credit Card Payments on Your Website

So, you know you want to offer credit card payments right on your website.  Youve looked into Propay, but it isnt right for your situation.    Now, you need to look for a merchant account. 

Merchant Accounts
For more than 3K a month,  a merchant account is likely the way to go.  This is trickier, because one has to "shop around" to find a good deal.   

Start out by finding out what "gateway" your shopping cart works with.  This is a service that goes between the website and the credit card processor - to communicate check-out information TO the credit card processor,  and to collect information FROM the card processor . is a popular "gateway", but there are others.      You will then need to look for merchant account providors who offer/work with the gateway you need to use.

To shop around, I'd just start the way I do with everything new I get into.  I call a company I'm unlikely to go with, and fumble my way around, not knowing what to ask about, not knowing the lingo, etc.     I allow myself to "play dumb" - and just start at the begining "Hello, I have an online store, and I want to process credit cards - how much will that cost?"  

I always learn a lot doing that, and thus "know what to ask for" when Im ready to call actual potential vendors.       Still... Id again go with a company Im less likely to go with, to brush up on "playing smart".
There are a lot of different fee types used in the credit card processing business.  So you need to be sure the company you are speaking with is giving you ALL the associated costs.   Do not be too quick to narrow down your list based on advertised pricing.... because you will likely NOT be comparing  "apples to apples".    Some will charge a fee for integration with some include it.    Some charge a "monthly statement fee" (and require you get a monthly statement).    (and lots of other stuff).    

The company that looks most expensive, may actually be right on par with the others... but is choosing to be upfront about the total costs (or, they may just BE more expensive!)

You should also ask the costs and fees in the case a customer disputes a charge (wether they win or lose, the credit card processor typically charges their customer a fee).   And, of course, ask "what other fees are there?" AND "What other charges are there monthly?  annually?.   Ask what happens if you start to process  more transactions than you are expecting?  Less than expected?

Before committing to anything, have them send it to you in writing, and go over it with them to be sure you have ALL the information.

----Don't be afraid!  Just be informed!   This is just the way some industries are.   Most likley, you will find a representative  you feel comfortable with, and find a great match for your business

Whatever you do - be smart and do it!   Accept credit cards on your site.... without sending your customer AWAY from your site to Paypal or Google checkout.   (Can you imagine a cashier in a mall store telling you to walk down to the next store to swipe your credit card, and then come back to pick up your bag of goodies?????   No matter how convinient they made this.... its still not great customer service.  


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