Why is this question appropriate? Like most, you are probably pretty fed up with the ever-increasing merchant account rate increases. When you first signed up with your merchant account provider, you were likely promised a set rate and low monthly fees. Things were going as planned. Then one day it all changed. Your monthly merchant account rates and fees increased! This fact has moved many merchants to continue in their quest for a cheap merchant account with excellent service. Maybe you have seen super low merchant account rates advertised on the internet. Perhaps a sales agent calls you on the phone and tries to switch your provider. When it is time to decide, what do you look for? Do you keep falling for the same advertised low discount rate and statement fee? On the other hand, do you keep falling in love with the company who has the greatest presence and fanciest ad slicks?
You will no doubt be surprised to learn that no matter who you choose, there really is little difference between merchant rates that are being offered. Why is it that every company is offering the exact same discount rate on the internet? It is simply because everyone works off the same base cost structure. Visa and MasterCard issue Interchange and Assessment fees which are collected by the credit card issuing bank. You merchant account provider must pay these fees every time. Therefore, the only real difference between the various merchant account programs offered is how much the sales agent is going to mark up your pricing in order to make a profit from selling you. Another important factor is how much it costs your credit card processor to process transactions. These two variables are what make the true difference in your pricing.
Now back to my earlier question. How would you rate your merchant account? Now you can see why the answer to this question should not be based on your rates. You need to start looking at the actual service you are getting for paying your fees every month. When you have a question, does your processor or sales agent respond quickly? When there is a risk issue or other concern, how are you treated by customer service? Do you lose sleep at night or can you trust that the matter will be resolved promptly allowing you to continue to accept credit cards with peace of mind?
I am not trying to discourage you from shopping around. In fact, I think that you can get a cheap merchant account with great service. However, it is going to take some legwork on your part. Are you willing to spend some quality time researching companies on the internet? You need to pick up the phone and ask questions such as, “If I want to increase my processing limit in the future, what can I expect to happen?” If the answer is somewhat unclear or the person you talk to on the phone hesitates, then you might be making an unwise choice if you choose to sign up with them. On the other hand, if the answer is too general and sounds overconfident, then you need to be cautious! They are simply selling you and want your business no matter what. The most professional answer will be clear and forthright. You will get a sense that the merchant account provider is protecting their interests while doing everything they can to keep you processing.