In 2012, 66 percent of in-person transactions took place by means of credit or debit cards, and that percentage is rising. To keep up with customer habits, businesses need to make it easy to pay with cards. Credit card processing services can help you take payments using a swipe-reader at the register. These services also come with different levels of customer support and various point of sale (POS) systems to help you easily process payments from your customers.
If you're ready to get started right now, check out our top picks – Flagship Merchant Services, CreditCardProcessing.com and Leaders Merchant Services – which earn high marks for low fees and easy application processes. To learn more, you can find timely articles about credit card processing in our learning center.
In our rankings and awards, we compared the costs, setup times, features, security protocols and customer service of credit card processing services so that we can alert you to outrageous fees and over-controlling contract terms. See how we evaluated each software service under the following categories:
Average Approval Rating
This measure gives the percentage of applying merchants whose applications are approved by the processing service. Other things to consider are how quickly providers approve applications and how much they charge to apply.
Credit card processing services come with start-up and monthly costs. Therefore, as you calculate what any particular service will cost, factor in the price just to get going with a merchant account and a payment gateway. Our calculations also take into account the monthly costs for 500 transactions with one charge-back fee (assessed when you return funds to a customer), one gateway fee (which you must pay to use the online payment gateway), and one statement fee (charged for delivering your monthly statement). Evaluate these costs before you ever sign up for a service. The best competitors in the credit card processing field publish their charges and fees clearly so that you will not be confused now or surprised later.
Sensitive credit card information requires security protocols. Try to work with a credit card processing provider that uses VeriSign SSL Certificates for your safety. Your service should also protect you against fraudulent transactions by applying address verification services.
A credit card processor's gateway service can make it easier or more difficult for you to interact with the processor. The Authorize.net gateway maintains a strong reputation, so you might look for a credit card processor that uses it. Merchant accounts that use Authorize.net offer tools to help you manage your online business and take payments online. You will also be able to install the free app from Authorize.net to process transactions from iPhone or Android phones. With Authorize.net, you also get fraud-prevention tools and free customer service.
Account Setup Time
Depending on the credit card processer you choose, it could take a day to three days to set up your account. If you need to get your credit card processing account set up as soon as possible, check in advance to know the wait. Of course, if you've planned ahead, it should not make much difference whether a service takes one day or two days.
Because your credit card processing service is so important to your ability to capture sales, you'll want to get help promptly. The most competitive processors provide 24/7 customer service.
Your merchant account will have an online payment gateway — the website you use to enter payments from credit cards — with a variety of features. Ask yourself whether these features are appropriate for your particular business.
Credit Card Readers
Credit card processing services usually offer various point-of-sale terminals. The modern-day cash register is POS terminal with retail software, a credit card reader, cash drawer, monitor and the related computer hardware. Your credit card processor should help you choose a POS system especially suited to your business.
The right credit card processing service helps you keep up with customers' buying habits and increases sales and efficiency. Once you find the right merchant account you will save money and avoid stress for yourself, your employees and customers.