If you are thinking of offering items or services for sale on your website, you may wonder how to find the best credit card processing services for your needs. There are many credit card processing services out there, so the good news is you can comparison shop and find the most bang for your buck. Following is a guide for selecting a payment processing service:
Compare the fees you may be charged, including:
- The overall cost per month you are charged for the service.
- The startup cost to get your account established.
- Many gateways charge separately for their services, so be sure to check if gateway fees are assessed per transaction.
- Most services charge a statement fee per month. The industry standard is $10/month.
- Merchants must meet a monthly minimum amount in order to keep their merchant status. Make sure you know the minimum amount, and be prepared to pay the extra if you don't meet it.
Compare the different services that each provider offers, such as:
- Most providers include online shopping cart technology. Shopping carts allow your customers greater ease and accuracy in ordering and are a huge help if you are planning on offering more than one item for sale.
- See if the provider offers a virtual terminal, a screen that allows customers to add their personal financial information themselves.
- A gateway is essential for verifying your customer's personal and financial information. Gateways interface with the customer's financial institution, encrypting sensitive information so it cannot be deciphered by hackers. This keeps you and your customers safe from theft.
- If you have a bricks and mortar establishment in addition to your website, a POS (point-of-sale) credit card swiper for your physical business is an asset.
- Many providers now process e-Checks, which allow your customers to pay with their checking account information rather than a credit card.
- Some providers offer recurring billing, if you are offering goods or services that recur monthly.
- Check how long it takes for a payment to clear your customer's account and download to your merchant account. Most providers offer a 1-3 business day turnaround.
The most important thing any credit card processing service provides is security from fraud. It is essential to make sure your online processing service offers the following:
- The most basic service a provider offers is address verification. This means they check the billing information the customer has entered against the information on file with the bank.
- By using real-time processing, the service provider can verify the customer's information and authenticate the transaction. The payment is then either declined or processed.
- SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology actually encrypts sensitive personal and financial information to keep it safe from hackers.
- CVV2 (credit card verification value)--the CVV is the three-digit code on the back of a credit card. By offering this verification, the provider makes sure the customer has the actual credit card in hand and not just the numbers, decreasing the possibility of fraud.
By assessing the fees, services and security each credit card processing service provides, you can find the best match for your ecommerce needs. It may be worth paying a bit more if the provider offers superior fraud protection to you and your customers, so be sure to shop around.
Sarah Baker is a documentary filmmaker and writer currently living in New Bern, NC. Her first book, Lucky Stars: Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, will be published December 2009. Read more about her.