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Getting a Better Card Processing Rate

Important Note:

 This best lower rate merchant account information is for educational purposes only. Advantage Processors routinely beats and lowers processing fees for all types of merchants. Our merchant accounts are set to get the best transaction discount rate available. We generally have a lower rate card processing solution for everyone and the easiest way to check rates is to fill out our cc payment application form to get started.

(ex. supermarket)
rate comparisonHighest
(very rare)

What We Can Offer:
  • Honest Straight Forward Pricing
  • $0.00 Setup Fees for all Merchants
  • $0.00 Annual fees for most Merchants
  • $0.00 Cancellation fees for most Businesses
  • Rates for Retail Merchant Accounts Start at 1.79%
  • Internet/MOTO Merchant Accounts Start at 2.29%
  • $0.00 Virtual Terminal / Payment Gateway Setup
  • Work with Small Business Friendly Banks

How to get the Best Merchant Account for Your Business

Once you register with the state as a business, you can expect dozens of offers for merchant accounts to come to you through the mail.  Most of them will be for exorbitant fees, but consider them anyway and then do your due diligence by carefully researching the different institutions out there for the best fit for your company. Consider setting up a spreadsheet where you can compare the various features and pricing of the different merchant account processing services.  Of course the fees and money will be the bottom line as it always is but there are definitely other things to consider.  When you have got a financial service representative on the phone, or you are assessing their website, be on the lookout for smarmy tactics that seem to good to be true.  There are definitely unscrupulous financial lenders out there who will make the whole experience a living nightmare when you have to deal with them regarding problems on your monthly statement, problems with different situations that arise, and financial institutions who will take advantage of your inexperience by giving you unfair financial terms.  

Financial Considerations

The financial terms and conditions will be the most important point of comparison.  Rates will depend primarily on your credit history, length of time in business, and the amount of risk factor assessed to your particular trade.  Consider the following terms and fees when comparing financial institutions:  
  • The percentage of each transaction paid to the merchant account processing company is called the discount rate. If your monthly charges are less than a certain volume, the processor may charge a higher percentage.
  • A flat transaction fee is charged for each transaction processed.
  • Most website companies will not need to buy or lease equipment for running credit cards.  Instead, they will need software applications for this process.  
  • There are monthly minimum fees that the merchant account provider collects each month from the merchant if the merchant's discount rate and transaction fees don't add up to the monthly minimum specified on the original merchant application. For example, consider a monthly minimum fee of $25 per month if the monthly minimum volume isn't reached.  Consider that the monthly minimum fee applies to the transaction fees collected and not merely the total sales.  For example, if the merchant account provider takes a 1% transaction fee on credit card sales, you would need $2500 in sales a month to meet the $25 minimum monthly fee.  Usually it is the flat transaction fee and the discount rate that are combined to assess if the monthly minimum fee has been collected.    
  • If you own a new or high-risk business, you may be required to set up a reserve account, which protects the processor from any future losses.  The reserve account is calculated as a percentage of your sales. See our article on high-risk credit card processing for more information on reserve fees.
  • Chargeback fees are the costs charged by a processor to cover disputed charges.  These can be high fees that really affect your bottom line, so see if your merchant account provider offers ongoing guidance on reducing the number of chargebacks or see our article for tips on lowering chargeback numbers.
  • If you're an e-commerce merchant, ask your prospective processor about the costs of storefront solutions that you must have to effectively operate your Web site, such as shopping carts, Web hosting, payment gateways, virtual terminals, virtual checks, databases for fulfilling orders, customer tracking, and a way to calculate tax and shipping charges.

Other Considerations

Phone Support

Most merchant banks offer a help desk service.  The business owner is able to make contact for basic support information like transaction history and technical support.  The help desk assists the customer with transaction information should there be some problem.  

Make sure whatever merchant company you use has reliable phone support available at times that are convenient and acceptable to you and your customers.  Also test whether there is a long hold time or busy signals that prevent the customer from getting customer service that is acceptable.  Are the customer service representatives able to answer questions quickly and in a manner that is easy for the novice to understand?  Are they polite and helpful?

Online Merchant Account Support

Some merchant accounts have online support to help the merchant resolve problems with payment matters.
Live chat is usually used for urgent matters such as the cessation of transactions from the account or the inability to access the transaction area. Email support handles non-urgent informational issues that the help desk does not handle and website problems.  Does the merchant bank you are considering have both options available?  How soon will they respond to an email you have regarding a problem.  Do they send you information tailored to your specific question or a generic form letter?  Do they urge you to browse the website for the answers you are looking for whether you already have done that or not?  Policies such as the ones mentioned can really give you a headache when you are trying to get different problems resolved and carry on with making money for your business!

Website Support

One of the broader support areas is website support.  Website support may only come with additional fees, but they should be utilized because they can be very helpful to the business owner.  This allows for account testing, hosting and implementation of the software. The technicians handle a greater deal of the website activity and do more to ensure the security and smoothness of the credit card transactions.  Otherwise, if the credit card processing area of your website is down for whatever reason and you cannot resolve it on your own immediately, this can cost you thousands of dollars in lost sales.  

Merchant Support

Merchant training is available in the form of informational booklets and software programs that give an overview of the account set up, background information and means for accessing further information. It will also give information on how to maintain the merchant account online, how to access reporting, troubleshooting and who to contact for what sort of problems.  

Processing Times Providers differ on how long it takes for funds to be deposited to your account. You will want to specify whether it is a retail or MOTO (mail order/telephone order, including internet orders) transaction, since MOTO transactions usually take substantially longer to clear.

You should assess any possible merchant account company for the above forms of support because although you may not foresee having any problems, they will undoubtedly happen in even the best of arrangements and the best preparation.  You want to deal with a company that handles your problems in a professional and timely manner and who offers the amount of support you feel is necessary to your business.  The amount of customer processor service and the willingness of the company to go the extra mile can make all the difference in times of crisis and to the overall success and health of your business.  


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