How to Choose the Best Merchant Account Service Provider


You have a great idea and you’re ready to start your new business. You selected the name of your business, obtained a business license, selected a great location, printed business cards best high risk payment processor and brochures, registered your domain name and built a professional website. You have your bookkeeping software, plans for customer relationship management and opened your business bank account. Now it’s time to obtain a merchant account and ACH service so you can accept all major credit cards and electronic check payments.

If you registered your business you probably started receiving postcards advertising various merchant account service providers. I’m sure all of their postcards give the impression that they provide excellent service and have extremely low rates. So how do you choose the best merchant account service provider for your business? How do you know which merchant account provider is reputable and which one is questionable?

Choosing a provider to process your credit card and electronic check payments is one of the most important decisions you will make as a business owner. Choose the wrong provider and you will pay high rates and fees, potentially receive low quality service and be stuck with a payment solution that does not meet your business requirements. Choose the right provider and you will obtain a competitive advantage.

Accepting all major credit cards and electronic check payments for your retail, restaurant, Internet, Mobile or Mail Order/Telephone Order business is the lifeline of your business. If you don’t have access to your capital you will quickly be out of business. SaleManager has a 10 Step Checklist for Selecting the Best Merchant Account Service Provider.

Choosing a Merchant Services Provider Checklist

  1. Never choose a Merchant Account Provider with an Early Termination Fee. This fee is used to “lock-in” a merchant. If you agree to an early termination fee you must pay the processor to close your account even if they provide horrible payment processing, low quality customer service and inadequate technical support.
    2. Never choose a Merchant Account Provider with an Application Fee and Setup Fee. This is a junk fee that is simply a revenue stream for the provider.
    3. Never choose a Merchant Account Provider with an Installation fee or Programming Fee. This is another junk fee.
    4. Beware of Annual Fees and Monthly Minimum Fees.
    5. Ensure your payment solution is PCI Compliant. Your merchant account provider should be able to provide you with written verification that their solution is on the MasterCard and Visa official PCI Compliance List.
    6. Beware of hidden fees. Your merchant account provider should disclose all fees in writing. If you don’t agree to an early termination fee you can close your account if you discover hidden fees at a later date.
    7. Perform a Better Business Bureau search before you sign an agreement. If you find a long list of complaints simply walk away from the provider.
    8. Choose a provider that has been in business for at least 10 years. You should ensure your processor will be around when you need them.
    9. Ensure your merchant account provider can provide professional customer service.
    10. Ensure your merchant account provider can provide professional technical support.

Once you have completed your upfront research you should request a price quote from at least three providers. If you plan to process online request a payment gateway test account so you can ensure their solution meets your requirements. If you’re interested in a retail or restaurant payment solution be sure to get a written price quote listing all fees and hardware costs. Never sign a lease for credit card processing hardware. That is a bad deal for the merchant but a great deal for the merchant service provider. If you ever leased a car you know about all of the “extra” fees at the end of the lease. Again, never sign an equipment lease unless you have no other option to obtain the credit card processing equipment.

Finally, when searching for a low cost payment solution you can use your favorite search engine to lookup the following low cost payment solutions. These payment solutions meet the 10 criteria listed above for selecting a reliable, secure and low cost payment solution:


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