Having a successful business means giving your customers options when making a purchase. And to provide a variety of options, you have to accept credit cards. While cash is great, plastic is the payment of choice for most consumers, especially when it comes to online transactions.

If you cannot accept credit cards and other forms of electronic payment, you will lose profits. To be able to accept these other forms of payment, you will need a merchant account. There are plenty of companies that provide various forms of merchant services. Do a simple search and you’ll be bombarded with options. But how do you know if you are choosing the right merchant services company? Here are 3 things to consider when choosing a merchant services company.

1. Choose a merchant services company that will meet all of your needs. Start by making a list of the different services you need: credit card processing for your storefront, online services for your shopping cart system, mobile technology for servicepeople out in the field, online check processing, etc. If you’re not sure what you need, simply list what you would like to be able to do, and talk with your potential merchant service providers to see what their suggestions are. Many providers only offer certain services or only provide service to specific types of merchants. Pose questions to each potential provider and make sure they offer the full package. The last thing you want is to find out that you need a second provider to complete a transaction, especially if the customer is standing right in front of you.

2. Research each potential company before you ever begin asking questions. You want a provider that is reputable and has a solid customer support system. Support is important in case you ever run into any problems. Research each company and narrow your list down to the ones that have the highest ratings, the best feedback and the superior support system. Again, being informed will help you choose the merchant services company that is right for you.

3. Shop around and compare fees. Not all merchant services companies are created equal. Pay close attention to the fees that you will be charged for various transactions. Read the fine print, too, to make sure you are not hit with higher fees under certain situations. While many merchant service providers offer low rates to get you started, these rates normally do not last. Shop around and compare the rates of various companies before choosing the one that fits your needs. Make sure you understand all of your options before you sign on the dotted line.

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