All merchant accounts are the same, right? Wrong. Not only are there different types of merchant accounts depending on the type of business you are running, but there are different services and levels of service provided by each individual merchant service provider. Some merchant service providers don’t accept high risk merchants. Others may or may not have other electronic payment services such as electronic check processing or ACH processing. Some will offer loans, merchant cash advances, point of sale systems, or even loyalty programs. Many will offer a mix of these services. While a few will cater to specific types of high risk merchants. It’s a competitive marketplace and not always the easiest for a merchant to navigate with so many payment processors to choose from. So how do you find the right merchant service provider for your business? Let’s explore.
Finding the Right Merchant Service Provider
We’ve already established that for one reason or another not all merchant accounts are the same. Restaurants, gas stations, clothing stores, and most brick and mortar retailers can use any payment processor of their choice. They are considered to be low risk merchants and their field of options is wide open. Granted they still need to shop around and find the merchant service provider that will give them the most. In many cases it’s a pairing of price and product. For example, a restaurant wants to know that they are paying the lowest possible rates in the industry and they want free or reduced cost for terminals or point of sale systems. More often than not they will get what they want. This is mostly because the low risk merchant account arena is so price competitive that the only way to make money is to have as many merchants in your portfolio as you can possibly attain. Companies like Square or PayPal have taken a slightly different approach whereby they have higher than average rates but take attention away from that with “free” equipment and the ease of using their services.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a restaurant and not everyone can use Square or PayPal because they are high risk merchants. High risk merchants need to work with merchant service providers that offer high risk merchant services. Sounds simple but in reality you are doing yourself a disservice if you just choose any high risk merchant service provider. Choose a payment processor that openly caters to your business and not just by advertisement. Speak with them and make sure they understand the business you are in as well as what you need.
What Other Merchant Services Are There?
Merchant services goes beyond being able to accept card payments. It can help to streamline daily business activities. For example, there are electronic check processing services that greatly reduce the amount of time and effort needed to process checks. ACH processing services allow businesses to directly debit clients bank accounts through a virtual terminal or you can pay out employees in the form of direct deposit. Merchants that are growing and are in need of a capital boost but can’t get a loan from a bank can get a merchant cash advance. A merchant cash advance is given based on current credit card processing volume or bank deposits and is paid over time through future processing or bank deposits. There are point of banking systems that working just like an ATM but all of the transactions are electronic. Because no cash is exchanged these compact, easy-to-use machines are commonly referred to as Cashless ATM’s. Then there are technologies in the different types of terminals and point of sale systems (POS) that are scalable to the size of your business as well as the ways and circumstances in which you will need to take payments. These are just some examples of the more popular merchant services available to merchants.
What This All Means?
Merchant services and payment processing as a whole are not typically the first thing on the minds of business owners or operators. However, it has an impact on the capability, profitability, and efficiency at which a business runs. Merchant service providers shouldn’t just be an answer to processing payments. In fact, working with the right merchant service provider can help streamline your business and help to propel your business towards reaching the goals you’ve set forth.