Integrity. Ethical. Trusted. Secure. Honest. Innovative. Transparent. Reliable. Easy. The Best.
I know. Sounds compelling right?
Those were the words I consistently found when researching the leading credit card processing providers in the United States.
The interesting thing about the research I was doing is that I’ve had extensive personal experience with most of these credit card processing companies, and was very surprised some of them used the words ethical, transparent, or reliable to describe themselves.
No intent here to be negative, it’s just that there really aren’t any industry benchmarks that can help us determine who is truly reliable, transparent, and ethical. The words are nice and fuzzy, not actually tangible. It’s one of the revelations that came to me that fueled my decision to quit working for one of the largest credit card processors in America.
As a business owner and former employee of a major credit card processing company, I’ve had an opportunity to see the good, bad, and of course the ugly. I’ve reviewed thousands of credit card processing statements, helped hundreds of merchants quickly improve their systems, and have personally taken thousands of calls when my clients needed me the most.
I’ve worn the company hat. The company t-shirt. And if they had underwear swag, I would’ve worn that too. The company I sold for was an excellent company, but the reality is that there are at least a half-dozen very good payment processors operating here in the U.S.
So as a business owner, you’re probably wondering….
Who’s The Best?
I ask this question, not because I think it’s a legitimate question. I ask it because you probably get a call every week from a representative wanting to talk with you about your credit card processing. And what are they saying? Wait for it, Here it comes, “We have the best rates”, “We are the most ethical”, “We have the most clients”, “Look at who else is using our services”, “We have the best security”. Blah, blah, blah.
These credit card reps are rampant in the payments industry. It drove me bonkers being around some of the credit card processing representatives that my company used to hire. I just wanted to take a shower after my team lunches. I digress.
Back On Topic. Who’s The Best?
I promise you I thought it was the company I worked for. It isn’t. They aren’t the best. And guess what? It’s none of the providers I have agreements with either or any of their competitors. I promise. So I’m letting the secret out of the bag:
It’s………..They Don’t Exist!!!
There is no “Best” Credit Card Processor!
And when you have a credit card processing salesman show up in your office talking about how great they are, do yourself a favor and show them the door. What is critical for every business owner to have when evaluating their credit card processing is goals. Going for the lowest rates could be a goal I suppose but because rates are so easily misrepresented, I wouldn’t recommend focusing on rates.
When thinking about your credit card processing here are some questions every business owner should ask themselves:
1. Other than getting a better rate, what am I really after?
It’s important to ask this question because as I’ve evaluated the payment processors available here in the U.S., I’ve found that the rates really are all the same for the most part. Every business pays 1-2% of their gross sales to Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express regardless of their sales volumes. Everything above that goes to the company they signed their agreement with, also known as the acquirer. I encourage you to really think about what else you are looking for that would improve your situation, before you begin to entertain switching to a new provider.
2. In a perfect world, how would I like my customers to pay me?
With new payment technology like ApplePay, SamsungPay, BitPay increasing daily in consumer adoption, it’s a good time to think about whether these technologies are a good fit for your business. It’s also a great time to consider whether it makes sense to expand your payment channels via a mobile app or an online store. Because of the cost of implementing these new services, you can often have them added to your new account at a more competitive cost as companies will often give you a discount if you are implementing multiple products.
3. What are my expectations of customer service?
Expectations not being met are usually what has caused you to consider switching. Get clear on what you must have to be satisfied with a company’s approach to customer service. For some, it’s important to have a local, dedicated representative, for other’s they just want to know who to call when they really need help. Consider having your potential new company walk you through different scenarios you may face when trying to get help.
4. What is working well with my current provider, what isn’t?
Most of the clients that choose to work with us, choose to because they are looking for something they don’t currently have. Sometimes they are interested in consolidating vendors, wanting their systems integrated, or they just want a human relationship. Take inventory of what you like about your current credit card processing relationship. You will likely want to continue to enjoy the benefits that are working well while improving upon the areas that aren’t going well. Have a list of things that you like and don’t like prepared for all meetings with potential new vendors, then interview them like you would a new employee.
5. How much is my provider getting paid to service my account and is it fair?
We believe you have a right to know how much your provider is earning on your account. How else will you know if it’s a fair deal or not? Knowing how much you are paying your provider, minus what goes to Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express, is important when you are trying to figure out how to lower your credit card processing costs. We have a process that is free for our clients that show them exactly what our partners pay us to manage their account. We’ve also made our process available to businesses that aren’t clients, for a minimal consulting fee.
6. How would I like my payments reconciled?
Many businesses have begun integrating their merchant account with their accounting systems so that their accounting teams can spend less time doing manual entry. Would you like to keep it standard with manual entry or would it be better to have your system automatically connected to Xero, Quickbooks, or Sage? Well, today you can. These are just a few of the enhancements merchants are experiencing as a result of innovation in the payment processing industry.
The revelation I ultimately came to when evaluating credit card processing providers to partner with was that, every processor we collaborate with today does something great. Whether it be their security, software solutions, or funding schedules, each processor does something unique and valuable for the merchants we serve. When choosing a payment processing company to partner with, it’s about two parties coming together to determine if what the provider has to offer is a good fit for the direction the merchant is wanting to take their business. When that conversation happens, then it’s magic and you find YOUR best payment processor.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you are wanting to evaluate your credit card processing. If you’d like to learn more about the untruths credit card processing companies use to profit, download a copy of our unbiased report on the industry!