Merchant Services

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Compare the best Merchant Services providers and empower your business to carry out more transactions, faster.

Last updated May 2024
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What is a Merchant Services Payment Method?

It's a versatile package of hardware such as a Point of Sale terminal for customers to swipe their cards and computer software that allows your online store to process credit card payments. It usually covers all types of electronic payments such as purchases made through smartphones. EMV point of sale units process smart cards that contain a chip and NFC terminals process contactless payments. With a point of sale unit you'll gain the benefit of computerized stock inventory and highly detailed analytics such as customer shopping preferences to help you plan an effective marketing strategy. Most importantly, it usually provides SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) security that includes encrypted code to combat fraud.

How do Merchant Services Work?

A point of sale terminal connects to the provider's network through an Ethernet cable or WiFi. When a customer pays for goods using a credit card by swiping it through a point of sale terminal, details of the transaction are instantly relayed to your merchant account to seek authorization for the payment. The acquiring bank that holds your merchant account then sends the request to your customer's credit card account for approval before sending the decisive message back to your terminal. It's a process that usually takes seconds to complete.

Choosing Merchant Services

If you are just starting out in business you'll be eager to maximise your profits by making it as easy as possible for your customers to pay for goods in your bricks and mortar or online store. More purchases than ever are being made with credit or debit cards rather than checks or cash so it's vital to ensure your business can grow by offering a merchant services payment system. It creates a secure payment gateway between your customer's bank, your own account and the major credit card networks.

Two Way Trust

A merchant services account has benefits for both you and your customers. There are many features such as encrypted coding that provide both parties with superior security against fraud. Adding a merchant services account to your business provides your customers with a sign of how much they can trust your services particularly when they make purchases online.

Merchant Services Providers Fees and Rates

Each merchant services provider will have a different range of services and fees. If you need a countertop point of sale terminal your merchant services provider usually sells you one directly or leases it to you for a fee of approximately $20 per month. Occasionally, providers will provide a terminal free of charge. Some providers impose transaction fees as low as 0.15% or 0.50%. While some providers let you set up and cancel the system for free others may make a charge for cancelling the service with fees that can be as high as $1,000. You can be offered a contract of up to three years with monthly fees of around $8 per month or an agreement that runs from month to month. Not every business has an online store but those that do can expect to pay around $25 each month for the payment gateway.

Comparing Merchant Services Providers

Merchant Service Providers can be vastly different in what they offer clients. The majority of providers insist on helpful customer support by e-mail, telephone or online chat that is available 24/7. If your business only launched recently you may still not be sure how the immediate future will develop so it can be wise to opt for a flexible provider that has a contract with a minimum of one month. Some providers offer options for scanning paper checks to determine whether they are genuine and if your customers have enough funds to pay for their goods. There are many features available such as being able to apply online, loyalty programs and free hardware. Other features to consider are helpful software tools, easy to use accountancy programs and detailed analytics such as tracking when your customers might purchase more than one item.

Making the Right Choice

Every business has different requirements based on the size of the enterprise, locality and the type of goods or services that are available. Some providers can offer flexible contracts which could prove to be ideal for start up businesses. Other packages could include software that can cope with high volumes of traffic. Merchant service providers frequently offer customized packages at reasonable rates that are specifically designed to help an individual business aim towards even greater expansion. A merchant services account can give your physical or online business the best opportunity for growth by providing flexible payment transactions, state of the art hardware and sophisticated software combined with superior, reliable security features.