Credit card processing shouldn’t be one size fits all. Every business has different needs, and small businesses have very different credit card processing needs than giant corporations do.
Here’s where the system misses the mark for small businesses:
1. They Don’t Always Train Their Clients Well
Most small business owners don’t have a clue what an interchange fee is or why they should have to pay it. And yet, there’s often a minimal amount of education on the part of card processing companies: just enough to answer the basic questions, and then leave the client (you) in the dark.
Your Solution: Don’t be shy about asking questions. You’re paying for the privilege. So if something doesn’t make sense, or you need your rep to come out for the 10th time to show you how to run a batch, do it.
2. They’re Not Always Looking Out for the Little Guy
Your merchant card processor now offers a cheaper package for small businesses. But did your rep tell you? Maybe not. There’s often not a lot of impetus to service existing accounts and make sure they’re happy. Sales reps are on to the next deal before you’ve even processed your first transaction.
Your Solution: Check in once a year and see if there is an option to lower your fees. Chances are, your transaction sizes have been getting larger or more numerous, which is a great fact for negotiating a better rate.
3. They’re Not Always Up Front with Their Fees
Paul Downs wrote a fantastic article about the painful process he went through to find out exactly what his card processing company was charging him for. There was no mention of paying interchange fees in his initial contract, and it took him months of investigating to get to the bottom of it and lower his expenses.
Your Solution: Insist on getting — in writing — every possible fee you might be charged. Then scrutinize your bill to ensure there are no unexpected fees. If they are, ask for an explanation.
4. They Have Trouble Rolling with the Times
The older, more established card processors are having trouble keeping up with the newer and more nimble payment options like Square and PayPal. That card processing machine sitting on your counter is starting to look about as relevant as a LaserDisc player!
Your Solution: Consider mobile payments or online payments. Carrying a card swiper you can attach to your tablet is much easier than using a larger machine, and is ideal if you accept payments on the go.
5. The Signup Process Can Be Lengthy and Complicated
What small business owner has time to pull profit and loss and balance sheets, in addition to going through layers of interviews and question-answering? And sometimes, you’re asked the same things in an interview that you already answered online.
Your Solution: There’s not much you can do here, except be organized and patient. Have all your financials together so you can knock it all out in one meeting.
6. Payments Take Too Long to Hit Your Account
You’re a small business, not a giant corporation! You need your money now! But many card processors take several days, if not a week, to settle accounts and put your profits in your bank account.
Your Solution: Ask up front what the turnaround time is on getting your money. This should be a factor to consider when selecting a service provider.
Understanding how the merchant card processing system works can go a long way toward you figuring out how to best manage your own experience. A little bit of patience, as well as being organized and knowing what you want, can go a long way.