Everything You Need To Know About Merchant Services
Being a first-time business owner can be a daunting experience. In addition to having to comply with a dizzying array of legal requirements, you’ll also have to have at least a working knowledge of credit card processing, inventory management, and other topics. At one point or another, you’re going to encounter the term merchant services, and you’ll want to know what it’s all about.
To put it in the simplest terms, unless you’re only going to accept cash and paper check payments in your business, you’ll need to understand merchant services: what they are and where to get them from. Merchant services – and the providers who offer them – are essential to providing your customers with the largest range of convenient and secure payment methods. Signing up through a merchant services provider will – provided you choose the right one for your business – result in increased sales that more than offset the cost of those services.
In this article, we’ll explain what merchant services are, and provide explanations of each of the primary products that are available from merchant services providers. We’ll also tell you how to find the best merchant services for your business, and what features you should look for in choosing a provider. Finally, we’ll give you a brief overview of the best merchant services providers in the industry for small businesses, and explain which providers are the best choice for certain types of companies.
Table of Contents
What Are Merchant Services?
The term “merchant services” can be confusing, because there are a lot of different definitions floating around out there, and they don’t all agree on every detail. For our purposes, we’ll define merchant services as the products and services a business needs to accept and process any form of payment other than cash or paper checks. This includes processing services for credit cards, debit cards, eChecks, ACH payments, and the newer mobile wallet services such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. It also encompasses hardware and software, such as credit card terminals, point-of-sale (POS) systems, payment gateways, virtual terminals, and mobile processing systems.
Note that there are also a variety of ancillary services that are often bundled with merchant services, including inventory management software, gift card/loyalty programs, online reporting features, merchant cash advances, and many others. These are not considered to fall under the rubric of merchant services, as they’re not strictly necessary to enable your business to process credit card transactions. They can still be pretty useful, however.
Where do you go to get merchant services? Why, to a merchant services provider (MSP), of course! Again, the term “merchant services provider” is an umbrella term that covers any type of business offering merchant services. However, there are really two main types of merchant services providers: (1) merchant account providers, who offer true full-service merchant accounts with a unique merchant identification number for your business, and (2) payment services providers (PSPs), who offer credit card processing services, but don’t provide a true merchant account. PSPs aggregate your account with that of other businesses using their services – a low-cost solution that can be very affordable for a small business that’s just starting out.
Here’s a brief description of the primary merchant services that your business will need to accept credit cards, debit cards, and eCheck/ACH payments:
- Credit/Debit Card Processing: Of all the merchant services you might want to add to your business, credit (and debit) card processing is obviously the most important one. If a customer pays for a purchase with a credit card, you’ll undoubtedly want some cold, hard cash to make its way into your bank account – and that won’t happen unless you have a service to process the transaction. As we’ve noted above, you can get credit card processing through either a merchant account provider or a payment services provider (PSP). In either case, your provider will usually rely on a larger, direct processor (also called a backend processor) to approve and process transactions. While large direct processors such as First Data and Elavon offer merchant services, they aren’t good choices for a small business. Popular payment services providers (PSPs) include Square (see our review) and Stripe. Traditional merchant account providers are much more numerous, with Dharma Merchant Services (see our review), National Processing (see our review), and Payment Depot (see our review) among the best choices for small and medium-sized businesses.
- eCheck/ACH Processing: In addition to accepting credit and debit cards, you might also want to allow your customers to pay by check. While old-fashioned paper checks are rapidly declining in popularity, they can be accepted without the need for a check processing service. However, you’ll have to take the check to the bank yourself, wait for it to clear, and hope that it doesn’t bounce. eCheck and ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments bring advanced security and convenience to paying by check, allowing you to scan physical checks for processing or accept an ACH payment from a customer on your website. While some providers include these features with every merchant account, it’s more common for them to be offered as optional add-ons. In this case, you’ll usually pay an additional monthly fee (typically around $20 – $30) for the service. For more information about these alternative payment methods, see our articles Everything You Need To Know About Accepting ACH Payments and The Complete eCheck Payment Guide.
- Credit Card Terminals: Obviously, you’re going to need some type of physical credit card terminal to accept card-present transactions in a traditional retail setting. Options range from simple mobile card readers that require a smartphone or tablet (and the appropriate app) to function all the way up to complex point-of-sale (POS) systems that also include a variety of software features to help you run your business. While magstripe technology was the only option for many years, today EMV (i.e., chip card) is the standard acceptance method in the United States, Canada, and Europe. We also recommend that you seriously consider investing in hardware that also accepts NFC-based payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Pay, as they’re rapidly gaining in popularity and offer a higher degree of security than either magstripe or EMV. We also recommend that you buy your equipment outright. Terminal leases are wildly over-priced and should be avoided at all costs. Buying your hardware directly from your processor is usually the best option, but in some cases, you can save money by buying from a third party and having your equipment reprogrammed by your provider. For an overview of some great equipment options, see our article The Best Credit Card Machines And Terminals.
- Point-Of-Sale (POS) Systems: As we’ve mentioned above, a POS system is basically a credit card terminal with additional integrated software services built-in. Inventory management is a popular option, but there are also software add-ons for employee management and scheduling, online reporting, customer information management, and many others. While a POS system is a worthwhile investment for some businesses (such as restaurants), they’re overkill for others. Beware of sales representatives trying to sell you a POS system if your business doesn’t really need one. For more information on how to select a POS system that’s right for your business, see our article POS 101: Choosing A POS System.
- Payment Gateways: If your business has an online presence and makes sales through your website, you’re going to need a payment gateway to process those transactions. Payment gateways essentially perform the same function as physical credit card terminals, connecting your customer’s payment information with your provider’s processing network to approve the transaction and send you the money from the sale. Because not all merchants need a payment gateway, they’re often offered as a separate feature (with an additional monthly gateway fee). However, it’s becoming increasingly common for providers to offer a gateway that’s part of an integrated payment processing system designed to support both retail and eCommerce sales channels. For more information on what to look for in a payment gateway, see our article The Complete Guide To Online Credit Card Processing With A Payment Gateway.
- Virtual Terminals: Used primarily by mail-order or telephone-order businesses, a virtual terminal is a software application that allows a laptop or desktop computer to function as a credit card terminal. Transactions can be manually keyed in or swiped/dipped with a compatible card reader (these usually connect via USB or Bluetooth). Retail merchants should be aware that, in most cases, you’ll pay significantly higher processing rates if you manually enter the card data rather than using a card reader.
- Integrated Payment Platforms: One common complaint we hear from merchants is that they often have to sign up with one vendor for a merchant account, another vendor for a payment gateway that has the special features they need, and possibly other vendors for things like online shopping carts or POS systems. Merchant services providers are well aware of this problem, and in recent years they’ve started to offer integrated, cloud-based processing systems that combine all these separate features into a single product. Obviously, they have a vested interest in keeping you tied to their particular ecosystem. However, there are genuine benefits to this approach for merchants as well. You won’t have to worry about compatibility problems or dealing with multiple customer service departments to keep everything humming along. Integrated systems can also (usually) save you money over signing up with multiple service providers. Finally, having all your business data accessible through the cloud is a significant advantage, even for smaller retail-only merchants who don’t have a website. At the same time, you’ll want to ensure that a vendor’s integrated system has all the features you need for your business before signing up.
- Security & Fraud Prevention Features: Ensuring the security of your customers’ credit card data is essential for any business – retail, online, or a combination of the two. Obviously, you also want to take every step possible to minimize the chances of a fraudulent transaction. Security features such as tokenization and encryption protect your customers’ payment data and reduce the chances of experiencing a data breach. For online companies, fraud prevention features such as Address Verification Service (AVS) and card verification features such as CVV, CVV2, or CVC should be available through your provider at a minimum.
For more in-depth information on merchant services and merchant services providers, please refer to the following articles:
- What Is A Merchant Services Provider?
- What Is A Payment Service Provider?
- What Is A Merchant Account?
High-Risk Merchant Services
Finding a good merchant services provider is challenging enough, but it’s even harder if your business is considered high-risk by the processing industry. What does it mean to be high-risk? Basically, certain business types are considered to be a riskier underwriting proposition by processors, and they’ll either refuse to give you a merchant account or put you in a high-risk account that invariably will be more limited and more expensive than what a comparable low-risk business would receive.
Besides being in an inherently high-risk business type (i.e., vape shops, online gambling, etc.), you can also find yourself in the high-risk category if you have an unusually high chargeback rate or your personal credit isn’t so great. Fortunately, high-risk merchant service providers are available to serve your business. These providers usually work with a variety of banks (some of them located offshore) and direct processors to get you approved for an account. Your processing rates will be higher, and the terms of your contract won’t be so generous, but you’ll have access to a stable account and you’ll be able to accept credit and debit cards without any problems.
If you’re having particular difficulties in finding a high-risk account, you might want to consider an eCheck/ACH-only option. We only recommend this option for merchants who have been truly unable to get a merchant account, as you’ll potentially lose sales when your customers find out that they can’t use their credit cards.
For more details about high-risk industries and high-risk processing, check out our article Are You A High-Risk Merchant?.
How Do You Find Great Merchant Services?
Over the years, the question we’re most frequently asked is some variation of “What’s the best provider for my business?” Unfortunately, the sheer number of variables involved usually makes this question difficult to answer. As a very general rule, the best merchant services provider for your business is the one that offers the best combination of features, low processing rates, reasonable account fees, and favorable contract terms. In many cases, this might be such a close call that several providers might be able to offer you a good deal, without any single one standing out above the others.
One point we continually try to impress on merchants is that the best provider for your business is not necessarily the one with the lowest processing rates – or even the lowest costs in general. The most important thing to look for is a provider that offers the best overall value. Things like high-quality customer service are often worth paying a little extra for in the long run.
As a general rule, we’d also point out that payment services providers (PSPs) are usually a better value for small or newly-established businesses, while merchant account providers are more suited to medium-sized or larger companies that have been around for a while and have an established processing history. Signing up with a PSP is usually a good idea when you’re just starting out, but at some point, you’re going to reach a level where you’ll need the stability and security of a true merchant account. It will probably cost you less money as well, as lower processing rates become more important as your monthly processing volume increases.
If you’re looking for a good merchant services provider, the resources available here at Merchant Maverick are an excellent place to start. We’ve reviewed almost all of the major players in the industry, and can give you an in-depth look at the pluses and minuses of each provider. As a starting point, we recommend that you look over our Merchant Account Comparison Chart, which compares several of the top-rated providers side-by-side.
How Much Should You Pay For Merchant Services?
No one likes to overpay for anything, and the merchant services industry makes it all too easy to pay too much without even realizing it. With complicated processing rate plans, highly-variable account fees, and surprise incidental fees that can show up on your processing statement without warning, figuring out whether you’re getting the best deal can be very difficult. If you’re new to payment processing, you’ll want to evaluate pricing information and rate quotes from several providers before picking one to use for your business. This is also true if you already have a processing service and are thinking about switching to a (hopefully) less expensive provider.
Below is a quick overview of the various processing rate plans that will be the single most significant factor in determining your overall costs. Be aware that different pricing models will be more cost-effective for some businesses than others. You’ll want to have a good idea of your total monthly processing volume and your average ticket size to make valid comparisons between different providers.
The simplest pricing structure is flat-rate pricing. Despite the name, none of the providers offering this type of pricing actually use just a single rate for all transactions. However, you’ll usually have only two or three rates to be concerned with, making your costs stable and predictable. Merchant services providers offering flat-rate pricing typically have a single rate for all card-present transactions, and another rate (or two) for card-not-present transactions. Often, there will be a higher rate charged for card-not-present transactions that have been manually keyed-in, rather than processed over a payment gateway.
Flat-rate pricing works best for very small businesses, mostly because you usually won’t have to pay any additional account fees. Be aware, however, that the flat rates themselves are often significantly higher than what you’d pay under an interchange-plus or subscription-based pricing plan (see below). For this reason, flat-rate pricing is usually not a good deal once your monthly processing volume exceeds a certain amount (typically around $10,000 per month).
Payment services providers (PSPs) usually offer flat-rate pricing as their only processing rate option. Popular providers offering this type of pricing include Square (see our review), Stripe, and PayPal.
Arguably the most cost-effective pricing method for medium-sized businesses, interchange-plus pricing passes your transactions’ interchange fees on at cost and also includes a fixed markup for your provider. For example, a typical interchange-plus rate quote might look like interchange + 0.30% + $0.15 per transaction. While the underlying interchange rates themselves can vary wildly, this pricing method is more transparent than others because you’ll always know exactly how much of a cut your provider is taking.
Interchange-plus pricing is usually only available through a merchant account provider offering a full-service merchant account. Because these types of accounts also typically have a number of monthly and annual fees, they aren’t the best choice for very small businesses. Depending on the provider and the particular details of your business, the threshold where you’ll start to save money with interchange-plus pricing can be anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 in monthly processing volume.
Popular providers offering interchange-plus pricing include Dharma Merchant Services and National Processing, among others. While these two companies offer interchange-plus rates exclusively, many run-of-the-mill providers offer a combination of tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans. Unless you specifically negotiate for an interchange-plus plan, you’ll usually be given a tiered pricing plan. Although it’s still the most common type of pricing plan in the processing industry, we don’t recommend tiered pricing under any circumstances because it makes it impossible to determine how much of a markup your provider is charging for each transaction. It’s also the most expensive type of rate plan, in most cases.
Membership (Or Subscription) Pricing
A variation of interchange-plus pricing, membership pricing has only been available for a few years from a small number of providers. Pricing is similar to interchange-plus, except that you don’t pay a percentage of each transaction as part of your processor’s markup. Thus, a typical membership pricing quote might be interchange + $0.15 per transaction. However, that’s not all you’ll pay. Membership pricing also includes a monthly membership fee that ranges from as little as $49 per month to as high as $199.00 or more per month. This fee combines all of your other account fees into a single charge, plus includes an extra amount to cover the per-transaction percentage markup that you otherwise wouldn’t be paying.
Membership pricing isn’t for everyone. The high monthly membership fee makes it particularly unsuitable for very small or seasonal businesses. However, high-volume businesses can save a substantial amount of money over what they’d pay with a traditional interchange-plus pricing plan. In some cases, these savings can amount to several hundred dollars per month.
If you’re interested in seeing whether membership pricing is right for you, we highly recommend both Fattmerchant (see our review) and Payment Depot (see our review). Both of these companies provide excellent service and a full set of features to fulfill the needs of any business.
Monthly Billing VS Pay-As-You-Go
Most merchant services providers use one of two billing methods: (1) monthly billing, or (2) a pay-as-you-go billing model. With monthly billing, you’ll pay a variety of separate fees for each service included with your account. These fees will be deducted once a month, at the end of your billing cycle. The processor will deduct any processing fees before sending the funds to your bank account, but if you have a statement fee, software subscription fees, etc. those will be billed at the end of the cycle. Pay-as-you-go billing, on the other hand, doesn’t have monthly fees. You’ll only pay for the transactions that you actually process, and those fees are deducted before the processor deposits your funds in your bank account. If you don’t process anything in a month, you won’t pay anything — which is not true of a monthly billing plan.
If you sign up with a traditional merchant account provider, you can expect to be on a monthly billing plan, regardless of whether you’re on a long-term contract or a month-to-month arrangement. Payment services providers, on the other hand, usually use a pay-as-you-go model. This lowers costs for small businesses and also is the best option for seasonal businesses that aren’t running year-round. Despite the additional fees, a monthly billing plan can actually save medium-sized or larger businesses money due to the cost savings of using an interchange-plus or membership pricing plan.
The Best Merchant Services For Small Businesses
As we’ve noted above, some merchant services providers are a better fit for certain types of businesses than they are for others. Below, we’ll briefly introduce our top picks for the most common types of businesses. Note that if your business falls into one of the categories described below, the provider we list won’t be the only good choice available to you. Rather, they’re generally the best choice for most businesses that are similar to yours. If you’re interested in one of these providers, be sure to read the full review to learn more about them before deciding to sign up.
|Vendor||Best For||Monthly Fee||Retail Rate||Online Rate||Contracts|
|Payment Depot||Mid-sized businesses ($10k-$25k/month)||$49-$199||0% + $0.15 markup*||0% + $0.15 markup||Month-to-month|
|Fattmerchant||High-volume businesses ($25k+/month)||$99-$199||0% + $0.15 markup*||0% + $0.15 markup||Month-to-month|
|Dharma Merchant Services||Non-profits||$20||0.15% + $0.07 markup*||0.20% + $0.10 markup||Month-to-month|
|Square||Micro-merchants & low-volume||$0.00||2.6% + $0.10 total||2.9% + $0.30 total||Month-to-month|
|PayPal||Online businesses||2.70%||2.9% + $0.30 total||$0.00||Month-to-month|
|Stripe||Tech-driven businesses||N/A||2.9% + $0.30 total||$0.00||Month-to-month|
*Markup over standard interchange and assessment rate with interchange-plus pricing (our preferred pricing plan for transparency of fees).
Best For Micromerchants & Low-Volume Businesses: Square
Square (see our review) has been around since 2009, and has quickly become the leading choice for small businesses looking to accept credit cards with a minimum of fuss and paperwork. Square offers flat-rate pricing and uses a pay-as-you-go billing method that doesn’t include any additional monthly account fees (unless you sign up for one of their optional services).
Square’s most common processing rates are as follows:
- 2.75% for all retail and mobile (card-present) transactions
- 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for all online (card-not-present) transactions
- 3.5% + $0.30 per transaction for all manually entered (also card-not-present) transactions
If you’re looking to minimize your up-front costs, Square offers a free mobile card reader that plugs into your smartphone or tablet. However, it’s magstripe-only. We highly recommend that you upgrade to either the $35 EMV-enabled reader or the $49 contactless + chip reader, which adds NFC compatibility and Bluetooth connectivity.
The company has expanded its services tremendously over the last ten years, and now offers far more features than we can discuss here. However, it’s still an excellent choice for merchants looking for a simple, low-cost solution. Square’s flat-rate pricing is more expensive on a per-transaction basis than interchange-plus, but you’ll save money overall due to the lack of extra account fees. This pricing structure works best for businesses processing less than $3,000 per month, in most cases.
Best For Mid-Sized Businesses ($10K-$25K/Month): Payment Depot
For larger businesses with a stable processing history that need to upgrade to a full-service merchant account, Payment Depot (see our review) is an excellent choice. The company offers membership-based processing rates, true month-to-month billing, and a full range of products and services for retail or online businesses.
Membership fees at Payment Depot range from $49 per month up to $199 per month, depending on your monthly processing volume. This single fee covers all your merchant services, so there’s nothing extra to have to pay. You can also receive a significant discount for paying your membership fees on an annual, rather than monthly, basis.
The company’s processing rates start at a simple interchange + $0.15 per transaction, and go down with higher monthly processing volumes. There are four basic membership plans, which are tied to your monthly processing volume. For really large businesses, there’s also a custom pricing option.
As long as your monthly processing volume is high enough that membership-based pricing makes sense for your business, Payment Depot is an excellent choice that will save you a significant amount of money over traditional merchant account providers. Just be aware that the company only serves US-based merchants, and they don’t accept high-risk businesses.
Best For High-Volume Businesses (Over $25K/Month): Fattmerchant
Fattmerchant (see our review) also offers a membership-based pricing plan. However, their membership fees are high enough that their pricing structure only works well for an established business with a significant monthly processing volume.
Stax by Fattmerchant
The company’s membership fees start at $99 per month for businesses processing under $500,000 per year. Above this amount, you’ll pay $199 per month. Bear in mind, however, that this one fee covers everything the company provides – unlike traditional vendors who nickel and dime you for every “extra” service they provide. Processing rates start at interchange + $0.15 per transaction, with lower rates available for higher processing volumes.
Because of the steep monthly subscription fee, Fattmerchant isn’t cost-effective for small businesses with a low monthly processing volume. However, if your volume is high enough, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars a month under this pricing structure. All accounts are billed on a month-to-month basis with no early termination fee (ETF), so you can always switch processors if things aren’t working out.
Fattmerchant is an excellent choice for businesses that are large enough to benefit from the company’s pricing structure. They offer excellent customer service and a terrific cloud-based integrated payments platform that will have you up and running in no time. However, they don’t accept high-risk merchants, and they’re only available in the United States.
Best For Online Businesses: PayPal
For a newly-established eCommerce business, you can’t go wrong with PayPal. Pay-as-you-go billing means that, in most cases, you’ll only pay for your transactions – and nothing else. Note, however, that the company’s virtual terminal comes with a hefty $30 per month fee, so they’re not such a great choice for a mail-order or telephone-order business.
PayPal’s flat-rate pricing structure couldn’t be any simpler. Online transactions are always 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, while manually entered and virtual terminal payments are 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction. The company’s PayFlow Gateway comes bundled with every account, allowing you to quickly and easily integrate it with your website. There are no additional gateway fees, either.
While PayPal is a great choice for a small online business, be aware that the company’s high processing rates will no longer be cost-effective once your business grows beyond about a $3,000 per month processing volume. At that point, you should seriously consider upgrading to a true merchant account with one of our other recommended vendors. Also, PayPal has relatively limited customer service options and doesn’t serve high-risk businesses.
Best For Tech-Driven Businesses: Stripe Payments
If your business is 100% online and you don’t plan to ever expand into the retail sector, Stripe Payments is a great choice for your payment processing needs. The company offers simple flat-rate pricing, pay-as-you-go billing with no monthly fees, and a host of developer tools for integrating their platform into your website.
Pricing couldn’t be more straightforward. All eCommerce credit and debit card transactions are charged 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. International cards are also charged an additional 1.0% if currency conversion is needed. ACH payments are charged 0.8%, with a maximum charge of $5.00 per transaction.
As with any payment services provider, account approval is easy and can be accomplished online. However, the chance of later having your account shut down for any number of reasons is also higher. Stripe does a better job than most PSPs when it comes to customer service, offering live chat and telephone support on a 24/7 basis.
Overall, Stripe is a great choice for fledgling eCommerce businesses. Just be aware that your account won’t be as stable as a true merchant account, and the company’s flat-rate pricing isn’t cost-effective at higher processing volumes. It’s also not available for high-risk merchants.
Best For Nonprofits: Dharma Merchant Services
Nonprofit businesses looking for a full-service merchant account will have a hard time finding a better choice than Dharma Merchant Services. One of our favorite processors, the company seems to be run like a nonprofit itself sometimes. Of course, it’s actually a public benefit corporation (B-corp), something that’s almost unheard of in the processing industry.
Dharma Merchant Services
Whether you’re a nonprofit or not, Dharma offers full-service merchant accounts that are billed on a month-to-month basis to all its users. There are no long-term contracts and no early termination fees (although you will have to pay a one-time account closure fee of $25 if you close your account). For nonprofits, the company offers special interchange-plus processing rates of interchange + 0.15% + $0.07 per transaction for retail transactions and interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction for eCommerce transactions.
Dharma offers a full range of products and services, including the popular Clover lineup of terminals and point-of-sale (POS) systems. The company also provides some of the best customer support in the industry. However, be aware that their pricing structure works best for merchants processing over $10,000 per month, and they don’t support international or high-risk businesses.
Best For High-Risk Businesses: PaymentCloud
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably noticed by now that most of our top choices for merchant services don’t support high-risk businesses. Fortunately, if you’re in the high-risk category, there are high-quality vendors out there that specialize in serving the high-risk community and provide excellent services at a reasonable cost. PaymentCloud is one of our favorites due to their reputation for top-notch customer service and because they offer many features that are typically reserved for low-risk merchants only.
Unlike many of our other top providers, PaymentCloud doesn’t disclose their processing rates or account fees on their website. Because they work with a wide variety of banks and direct processors to get you an account, pricing is highly variable and subject to negotiation. While they have a reputation for fair pricing, you can expect to pay more than what a comparable low-risk business would pay. However, this is true with any high-risk merchant account provider.
The company offers a free credit card terminal with each account, which you can use for as long as you keep your account open. They also don’t charge an account setup fee, which also helps to set them apart from most traditional high-risk providers. Finally, PaymentCloud is one of the few providers to offer support to the burgeoning CBD oil industry. However, they only allow CBD products that are applied externally – no food items or other ingestibles. If you’ve had a hard time finding a merchant account for your high-risk business, be sure to check them out!
If you’re looking for additional options beyond the providers we’ve profiled above, check out the following articles for more great choices:
- The 5 Best Small Business Credit Card Processing Companies
- The Cheapest Credit Card Processing Companies For 2019
- How To Accept Credit Card Payments For Your Small Business
The Final Word On Merchant Services
Merchant services can be a complicated subject, and finding a merchant services provider that’s a good fit for your business is often a real challenge. You’ll want to carefully evaluate the unique needs of your business, and factor in how much you can afford to pay to add the capability to accept credit and debit cards. In most cases, the added expense will more than pay for itself in additional sales.
All of the vendors we’ve profiled above are excellent choices in their particular niche. However, they aren’t the only good choices out there. So, we encourage you to look over the articles we’ve linked to, and carefully read the full reviews of any vendor you’re considering. Most of the best merchant services providers for small businesses offer a very transparent disclosure of their processing rates and account fees on their websites, so check those out as well.
If you’re still having trouble deciding which company is best for you, you’ll want to actually “crunch the numbers” and make a more informed analysis of what your potential costs will be. An excellent resource for doing this is our Cost Analysis Workbook, which will walk you through the steps necessary to estimate your overall costs with various providers. The workbook also includes spreadsheets to do the math for you – it couldn’t be easier!