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How to Evaluate Credit Card Processing Merchant Services

There are numerous credit card processing services to choose from, each offering different features and fees. Choosing a company to process your customer's credit card payments can be a daunting task, and sometimes you'll experience difficulties both looking for a merchant account provider and then afterwards- if you make the wrong selection!

Many banks will deny small business applications for merchant accounts because they don't want to take the risk. Most small businesses end up going through third party providers who actually get the merchant account on your behalf; then apply their own rate structure to your transactions.

If you operate an online business, you'll need a shopping cart program of some kind- which must work with the system you use to process credit cards online. Unfortunately, if you go with a third party shopping cart rather than a custom written one it may not work with all credit card processing gateways. You really need to be sure that whatever shopping cart program you use on your web site works with the merchant account you ultimately end up using to process customer payments.

Accepting credit cards is not free! You pay the third party merchant account provider (or the bank if you are able to secure your own account directly with a bank that provides it) will charge you fees in exchange for the ability to accept credit card payments. The fees and rates you pay will vary depending on many factors, including how long you've been in business, the type of business you operate, your credit score, how much of your sales are processed by phone versus online, and the amount of credit card sales you process each month.

Some providers charge an annual fee in addition to a fee per transaction, while other providers only charge a percentage of each transaction processed. Typical rates for small businesses accepting phone and mail order payments are $0.10 to $0.30 plus 2 to 3% of the transaction amount. If the merchant account providers you are looking at want to charge over this percentage, be sure to check out a few others to see if you can get a lower rate before signing up. Sometimes, your credit rating will result in your having to pay higher fees- but it's worth shopping around a little to see if you can get a lower percentage rate per transaction.

When you're shopping services looking for the best merchant account provider, make sure to compare all of the fees to see how much you're going to end up spending per each sale. You should also take into consideration what the application fee is (if any), how much you pay annually, how much you must spend on equipment needed to set up your account, and whether or not you must maintain a monthly minimum of sales volume.

Also compare how each merchant account provider allows you to withdraw your money- can you do it whenever you want or do you have to do it at specific times of the month or year? How long will it take to receive your funds once you've requested a withdrawal or transfer of the money? How does the provider handle charge backs?

Always read all of the forms and contracts associated with merchant accounts before you sign anything. Understand the terms for cancellation and what conditions the provider can cancel your account, as well.

The process for applying for a merchant account varies depending on the company, but you may be asked to provide a photo of your office (even if it's in your home) to verify you are in the location you say that you are. Some services will want to send a representative to photograph your place of business. Occasionally, you'll be asked to provide a DBA or business license, your tax returns and profit and loss statements.

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"As much as 80% of impulse purchasing can be lost to business owners that do not accept charge cards and average order size increases by as much as 46% over a cash sale" (Forbes Magazine).

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What Our Merchant Account Users Are Saying:

"It has been my genuine pleasure to work with Jane Torvik with Electronic Transfer over the past 3 plus years. Had it not been for Jane's accute product knowledge, efficiency, & dedication to customer service I would have "shopped" for other venues. Jane's personalized attention to my account has kept me a happy customer. Jane Torvik is a credit to herself & to Electronic Transfer Inc., Fastcharge Payment Gateway."

Good Job!

Thomas J Samean
Citadel International

"The customer service department is very helpful in resolving any issues at hand. We are very happy with the service Electronic Transfer and Fastcharge provides and want to thank you for your continued support."

Thanks again for all your help!

Trasi Ogle
Murray's Gunsmithing

"I am so very glad that a business associate recommended your service. I have still not heard back from some of the other merchant account providers that I contacted before I was referred to you. Pretty impressive to be up and running with our first transaction completed in less than 48 hours. Thank you for taking such good care of us, we are looking forward to a lasting professional relationship."

Dean Wilhelm, Pres.

D.K. Rolling Outfitters Inc.
Jacksonville, FL.

"I had alot of questions about my shopping cart and they walked me through the set up and since I've had their service there hasn't been a time I called that I couldn't talk to a real person to get my questions answered. I would highly recommend them for a merchant account and their shopping cart is so easy even I was able to set it up within minutes. "

Electronic Transfer has been great !

Joe Huttington
Texas Firearms

"The way a company performs at taking care of its customers is the most important factor in my decision about whom to do business with and certainly ranks far above price. When it comes right down to it, the customer is what this is all about and Electronic Transfer has proven to me that the company shares this view like none of the others."

Donald Jenkins
Expressway, Inc.

"I have been running a one-person business online since 1994, but until I threw out my swipe machine and switched to Electronic Transfer the cost of accepting charges was always too high. Even if I was on vacation or accepted mostly checks, my credit card fees were always over $50 EVERY month.

Now with Electronic Transfer I pay only a modest fee each month for retaining access to their services. I'm money ahead and my clients get an automatic immediate email receipt letting them know their charge has gone through."

This is how to do business online!

Mark Gisleson

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