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Credit Merchant Services Providers

Credit Card Processing Buyer's Guide

You're not obliged to use an acquiring bank to process customer credit card payments. Instead you have a choice of credit merchant services providers, most of whom are happy to process all your incoming credit and debit card transactions. Some companies specialise in online payments and offer a speedy internet service with high levels of security; others will offer a full range of PDQ machines while others still will provide virtual terminal for taking card payments by telephone and mail.

Acquiring Banks

When an acquiring bank offers you credit card processing services, check out the fees and compare them to those charged by merchant service providers. Also consider just what the bank is offering you. Is it a fully-rounded service that accounts for all the types of transaction you need for your business such as face-to-face, postal, phone and online?

Merchant Services Companies

Dedicated merchant services providers deal with the authorisation and settlement of your credit card transactions plus the billing and reporting. They also provide processing systems for your online sales and can encourage customers to buy via the Internet by promoting sophisticated security and encryption features for credit card payments.

Many of the companies also sell or rent you credit and debit card chip and PIN machines. You can plug these into your point of sale system or use wireless hand-held devices. In both instances, the machines transfer the credit card payment information to the processing company via a phone link. A recently introduced alternative to this is a GPRS chip and PIN device that doesn't require a phone line or an Internet connection.

Some credit card processing companies offer to organise your merchant account application. This service can save you time and effort but ensure you're happy with the merchant account provider's terms of business.

Trade Associations

You may be able to join a trade association that gives its members a credit card processing service at discounted rates. This can be a particularly useful option if you experience difficulty obtaining the services of a credit card processing company by yourself.

High-risk and Offshore Merchant Accounts

There may be a number of reasons, such as your credit history, that prompt you to consider a high-risk or offshore merchant account. These types of account will often involve much higher payments - both in terms of standing charges and transactional rates - in order to cover the creditor's extra risk.

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