In 2012, 66 percent of all in-person transactions took place over credit or debit card, and that percentage is only expected to rise. To keep up with customer habits, businesses need to make it easy to pay with plastic. Credit card processing services can help you take payments via both credit and debit cards, using a swipe-reader at the register. These services also come with different levels of customer support and various point of sale (POS) systems, which should 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 earned high marks for their low fees and easy application process. And to learn more about credit card processing, you can find timely articles in our learning center.
In our rankings and awards, we evaluated a few key criteria, comparing the costs, setup times, features, security protocols and customer service of credit card processing services. We looked especially to warn you of outrageous fees and over-controlling contract terms. See how we evaluated each software service under each category:
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 both start-up and monthly costs. So, as you calculate what any particular service will cost, don’t forget to factor in the price just to get going with a merchant account and a payment gateway. In evaluating costs, 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). These costs should be easy to evaluate 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 strong security protocols. For example, 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 choice of 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 this gateway service. Merchant accounts that use Authorize.net can offer you tools to manage your online business and take payments online. In addition, you will be able to install the free app from Authorize.net to process transactions from your iPhone or Android phone. With Authorize.net, you get fraud-prevention tools and free customer service as well.
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 how long each competitor takes. Of course, if you've planned ahead, it should not make much difference whether a service takes one day or two days to get your account up and running.
Because your credit card processing service is so important to your ability to capture sales, you'll want to get help promptly when any problems arise. The most competitive processors provide 24/7 customer service. Check our ratings for the services offering the best 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 for you to use. Ask yourself whether these features are appropriate for your particular business.
The credit card processor you choose should also offer a variety of point-of-sale terminals. The modern-day cash register, a POS terminal includes retail software, a credit card reader, cash drawer, monitor and the related computer hardware (keyboard, mouse, etc.). Your credit card processor should also help you choose a POS system especially suited to your needs.
The right credit card processing service will help you keep up with customers' buying habits, and increase sales and efficiency. If you choose the right merchant account, you will save money and avoid stress for yourself, your employees and customers.
At TopTenREVIEWS We Do the Research So You Don't Have To.™
»Take advantage of one-on one training on credit accepting and how to use the virtual terminal
»Ability to set up automatic recurring billing.
»Transactions occur on a 128-bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) website for safe processing.