Credit card (CC) transactions have become a common means of payment for business transactions. Earlier, banks were the primary credit card processing agencies. Improved technology and the internet have allowed third party agencies to enter this domain, and they are offering faster and cheaper services to merchants.

Credit card processing (CCP) rates vary across the market. They can depend on sale amount, sale volume, credit ratings of the business owner, and purchase or lease of point-of-sale (POS) machines by the merchant. CCP companies can charge a percentage of the sales amount per swipe, a flat fee, a stepped fee or both a fixed fee and a percentage of the sales amount.

Businesses should verify their financial statements periodically, or at least once a year, to make sure they are not paying more than required as CCP fees. This review can often result in the business changing its credit card processing agency to improve its bottom line.

Though a good processing rate is agreeable, other factors also need to be looked into incase you plan to change your card processing agency:

Compatibility with existing hardware and software

Credit and debit card processors should have a system that works well with the existing hardware setup at the merchant’s business. Credit card slots are available on phones, computers, wired and wireless machines. Similarly, the software for sales entry may allow return charge, subscriptions, and recurring charges. The credit card processor should be equipped to process these instructions accurately.

Support for online shopping cart applications

Many businesses have web sites that allow online shopping through a shopping cart application. The CCP system should be able to support the application. Downtime of applications is not just a coding nightmare, but also an inconvenience to the customer and a sale killer.

Availability of funds

Credit and debit card processing firms usually process a batch of credit transactions once every 24 hours. The funds are not available immediately after processing. If immediate availability of funds is a major issue for your business, this is an important consideration.

Credit card processor is hardware specific

Some CCP companies offer hardware specific solutions. Merchants have to buy POS instruments from the company in order to support the credit card processing system. The low processing fee is counterbalanced by the amount you shell out for the POS terminals. If the services and rates of the company are good, you can go ahead with the deal, as hardware is reprogrammable and can be sold off later.

Quality of customer service

POS terminals installed by the credit and debit card processing agencies should be easy to use. Merchants should not have to call customer care for every issue, and if they do, the response should be fast.

Good service and good processing fees are equally important in a credit and debit card processing agency. A low processing fee does not do the business any good if sales cannot be processed smoothly due to slow processing times, hard to use machines and unhelpful customer service. Verify the CCP agency on all counts before partnering with it.