Finding the right merchant services provider (payment processor) for your business or organization can be time consuming, and a little confusing if you�re new to credit-card processing. So we�ve developed a guide to help you in your search, including questions to ask and how to avoid hidden fees.

Check our merchant account glossary if youare unfamiliar with any of the terms below
Questions to ask
How to avoid hidden fees

Questions to ask

Remember that low rates and fees are important. But you�ll also want to find a merchant services provider you can trust, because customer support is essential. Don�t be afraid to ask about value-added services and what other customers think of them. Here are some questions to ask as you shop for a payment processor.

Basics and best practices

  • How long have you been in business and how many employees do you have? (Is your staff large enough to serve me?)

  • Do you work out of a commercial office space, and can you give me the address? (Ask this to determine whether the business is legitimate or a poser working out of a home or false front.)

  • Do you have any references you can send me? Can I look at your website for customer testimonials?

  • Do you support High Risk merchants? In some cases the service provider may or may not offer high risk processing. If we are unable to board your account due to risk concerns, we will recommend another processor to handle your account.
  • What�s your level of customer support? Do �live� people answer your phones? What hours are they available? Is there a way for me to get in touch with you after hours? (e.g., by e-mail or emergency number)

  • What�s the minimum timeframe of the agreement I�d have to sign? Do you charge a cacellation fee?

  • Does the agreement cover transactions for all major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover)?

  • Do I need to buy, or lease, your equipment? Do I have a choice? What are the costs?

  • How long will it take to get my application approved?

  • After a sale transaction has been authorized, how long before the funds are deposited in my bank account?

  • Explain your support and process for handling chargebacks and disputed transactions.

  • Are you familiar with PCI/CISP certification and are you PCI/CISP-certified?

  • What fraud prevention tools do you offer?

Service and Support

  • What level of customer support will I receive? Do �live� people answer your phones and what hours are they available? Is there a way for me to get in touch with you after hours? (e.g., by e-mail or emergency number) Will a dedicated team be assigned to me?
  • Which gateway or gateways do you provide?

  • Do you handle technical support for the gateway?

  • Do you provide training on use of the gateway?

Rates and fees

  • What is your setup fee to open an account?
  • Do fees differ according to the type of transaction? (e.g., storefront or online)
  • What is your discount rate?
  • What is your per transaction charge?
  • What is your gateway setup fee?
  • What is your gateway per-transaction charge?
  • What is your monthly statement fee?
  • What is your minimum discount rate?
  • Does your gateway support recurring billing, and if so, what fees do you charge for that service?
  • What is your annual fee?
  • Do you have a security fee? If so, what is that fee?
  • What is your Chargeback fee?
  • What is your retrieval request fee?
  • What is your AVS fee?
  • What are your Mid-Qualified and Non-Qualified rates and which card types fall under this category?

How to avoid hidden fees

Don't be afraid to ask for everything in writing. A reputable company will not have a problem providing this to you.