A merchant services provider (MSP) is a businesses that enable merchants to accept credit and debit card payments from customers. MSPs typically provide various services, including credit and debit card processing, ACH processing, check guarantee, and fraud prevention.
This benefits you, the merchant, because you can outsource the payment processing to a company specializing in it and focus on running your business. It also helps your customers because they can use their preferred payment method.
Many different MSPs are available, so how do you choose the right one for your business? Here are some factors to consider:
MSPs charge different rates for their services. Some MSPs charge a flat rate per transaction, while others charge a percentage of the transaction amount. Compare pricing structures to find the most favorable for your business. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.
Fixed Price: A fixed price per transaction is easy to budget because you know exactly how much you will be charged every time you process a payment. The downside is that your costs will remain the same even if your average transaction amount decreases.
Percentage of Transaction: A percentage of the transaction is more variable but can end up being cheaper in the long run. If your average transaction amount decreases, your costs will also decrease.
2. Payment Types Accepted
When it comes to accepting payments, business owners have a lot of choices. There are so many payment options available that it can be difficult to decide which is right for your business. Depending on your business type and customer base, you may want to look for merchant services providers who offer the payment methods you want to accept. There are different types of payments. Some of the most popular payment types include:
Credit Cards: The most common type of payment, credit cards are accepted by nearly all businesses. If you don’t accept credit cards, you could miss out on many sales.
Debit Cards: Debit cards are similar to credit cards, but the funds are drawn directly from the cardholder’s bank account. This can be a more affordable option for customers who don’t want to pay interest on a credit card purchase.
ACH Payments: Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments are electronic transfers from one bank account to another. ACH payments are often used for recurring billing, such as monthly subscriptions.
Check Guarantee: Check guarantee services protect businesses from bad checks. The merchant services provider guarantees that the check will clear with this service. If it doesn’t, the provider will cover the cost of the check.
3. Fees Charged
Merchant service providers can charge a variety of fees for their services. It is essential to understand these fees before selecting a provider. Some of the more common fees are listed below.
- Transaction Fees: This fee is charged each time a credit or debit card is used to make a purchase. The fee amount varies depending on the provider but is usually around 2-3% of the total purchase price
- Monthly Fee: Some providers charge a monthly fee to maintain your account. This fee can range from $5-$50 per month, depending on the provider
- Setup Fee: Many providers charge a one-time setup fee to open an account and begin processing payments. This fee typically ranges from $0-$100 but can be higher in some cases
- PCI Compliance Fee: All businesses that process credit or debit card payments must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Many merchant service providers charge a monthly PCI compliance fee to cover the costs of compliance and security measures. This fee typically ranges from $10 to $50 per month but can sometimes be higher.
4. Fraud prevention
Merchant service providers have a responsibility to help their clients prevent credit card fraud. Credit card fraud can take many different forms, from someone stealing your physical credit card to making unauthorized purchases online. Whatever the form of fraud, it can be costly and time-consuming for businesses to deal with.
Most merchant service providers have various tools to help their clients prevent credit card fraud. One of the most important is fraud detection software, which helps identify potentially fraudulent transactions. This software can be configured to automatically block any transactions that are flagged as suspicious, preventing them from causing any damage to the business.
In addition to fraud detection software, merchant service providers also offer a variety of other tools businesses can use to protect themselves from credit card fraud, including:
- Card verification value (CVV) codes: The CVV code is a three- or four-digit number on most credit cards. This code is used as an additional security measure by businesses when verifying a purchase
- Fraud monitoring: Most merchant service providers offer some form of 24/7 fraud monitoring, which can help detect any suspicious activity as it happens
- Manual review: In cases where there is suspicion of fraud, businesses can manually review transactions before they are processed
5. Customer Support
Merchant services providers offer a range of customer support options, from online chat and email support to phone support and even customized account management. When choosing a merchant services provider, it’s essential to consider the level of customer support offered.
Some providers offer 24/7 support, while others may only provide weekday phone support hours. It’s crucial to find a provider that offers the level of customer support that you need. If you need 24/7 support, choose a provider that provides it. If you only need weekday phone support, many providers offer this level of service.
When choosing a merchant services provider, it’s essential to consider its reputation. A provider’s reputation can be determined by many factors, including customer satisfaction, industry awards, and years in business.
Choosing a provider with a good reputation in the industry is essential. This can be determined by reading reviews, checking for industry awards, and seeing how long the provider has been in business.
A provider’s reputation is essential, but it’s important to consider other factors when choosing a merchant services provider. Make sure to compare pricing, features, customer support, and fraud prevention before deciding.
Choosing the right merchant services provider is vital for any business that accepts credit cards. There are various factors to consider, from pricing and fees to customer support and fraud prevention. It’s important to compare all of these factors before making a decision. Merchant service providers can help businesses accept credit cards, but it’s essential to choose the right provider for your business.
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