Anyone who has a retail operation has to accept credit cards. If they don’t their competitors will, it’s really that simple. Finding the best retail merchant account is a combination of getting low cost and high quality service. However, retail merchant account providers who offer low processing costs and high quality service are not easy to come by. In fact, often retail merchant accounts can end up costing people and businesses much more than they had at first expected.
Why is this?
It should be easy to find a good retail merchant account, because retail attracts the lowest processing rates compared with Internet or telephone processing, because the customer is physically there at the time of purchase, so the chances of fraud are much less.
The problem lies in that the merchant account market place is very competitive. Normally this would be good for consumers with competition driving down prices, however in this marketplace many providers are not 100% honest about what they will be charging people for their processing costs. By advertising very low ‘rates’ some companies are able to attract customers and sign them onto long term contracts with hidden extras. They often also encourage people to take out expensive equipment leasing deals, when buying will almost always work out cheaper.
Often the low rates are only available for introductory periods and don’t include other extra fees that get added to the overall cost of credit card processing, such as monthly minimums, transactions fees, statement fees, application fees and contract cancellations fees.
These extra costs can significantly alter the cost of processing cards. To help people avoid these problems with retail credit card processing, we’ve reviewed the merchant account industry to come up with recommended providers. These providers have been judged on 3 different areas.
1. Processing Costs and Contracts.
Usually people just want to know what rate they will be charged. This is not a good way to look at retail merchant accounts. Although a transaction will get charged a rate, what people really need to know is what the overall processing cost will be, i.e everything they will be charged.
When a person asks a merchant account company what their rate is they get told the ‘standard’, or ‘discount’ rate. It’s not the overall cost. The pricing system is split ‘Interchange Fees’ and ‘Assessment Fees’. The Assessment Fee is a flat fee charged on every transaction, that changes depending on the card used. The ‘interchange’ fee is effectively the ‘rate’ but actually depends on how the card is used and the information collected.
For a visa, or master card, there can actually be 150 different categories for an ‘interchange fee’. Advertising fees that are not going to be available, or only available for an introductory period is a common practice in the industry.
We look for companies that are completely upfront about everything they charge, so that anyone applying for an account is made completely aware of what their retail processing costs will be. Only then can they make proper decisions about what companies will be the best for their needs.
2. Support and Customer Service
Most people don’t worry too much about this before they sign up. Again, it can be a big mistake. Retail credit card processing works with technology, and this at some time will always go wrong. Pick the wrong company and people can find that their system is going down far too often, and that means they are not able to process cards and take sales. The bottom line is that it will hit profits.
We only recommend companies that are continually investing in their technical infrastructure to keep any problems, or downtime, to an absolute minimum. Also, we look for companies that offer high quality customer service teams 24 hours a day, so people can always reach someone, whatever their problem is.
3. Merchant Account Services
We also look for retail merchant account providers who can also offer other services as well. This is useful when, and if, business needs change. For example, some retail organizations may at some point need to process cards on the Internet, or through an e commerce store. Some may need wireless terminals for events such as trade shows. Companies that can offer all these services, mean that people will not need to find separate merchant accounts for their different needs, saving time and money.
Updated:08/20/2014 (2 recommended Merchant Account Providers)
Best Retail Merchant Account #1 Choice
Merchant Warehouse provide the best retail merchant accounts.
- They can approve 99% of the applications they get, and get things set up in about 24 hours.
- There are no long term contracts to sign, the contracts roll on a month to month basis. This means they can be canceled at any time with no cost. It also does not cost anything to get started, or to apply.
- Merchant Warehouse are completely upfront about all their fees. What we consider to be the best feature about them, is that they consult with potential customers and help them to understand the industry and the way it works, rather then just trying to sell to them. It means people can get a real understanding of what they really need, and what services will be the cheapest and best suited for them.
- However, when you look at the overall processing costs, the Merchant warehouse consistently comes out as the cheapest retail merchant account in the industry. They also do not try to tie businesses into expensive leases for card terminals. They actually go as far as to guarantee they are the cheapest for both their merchant accounts and the credit card terminals they sell. They’ll actually pay $100 if anyone can find cheaper elsewhere.
- They are happy to offer accounts to new customers, or to those looking to change providers and find a better deal.
- They are continually investing in their infrastructure to make sure it is the most up to date in the industry.
- Their customer service teams are very good and operate 24 hours a day.
- They can also provide Internet, wireless and virtual accounts for retail customers, should they decide they need them.
- They have the highest A+ rating from the better business bureau and they were voted the best Independent Sales Organization of the year by the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), the ETA regulate the industry. So this is really an indication of just how good they are.
The main disadvantage with the Merchant Warehouse though is that they only offer retail merchant accounts to those based in the USA. Those based internationally should look at our next recommendation.
Best Retail Merchant Account Recommended
Charge.com are normally able to get accounts set up in 48 hours or less and approve 98% of the applications they get.
They offer very low retail processing costs and are upfront about all their fees.
They can take all the major cards and employ very high quality customer service teams.
The main negative is that they require a longer term contact with their retail merchant accounts.
They are a great option for those based outside the US.
For retail credit card processing we currently only recommend two companies. The main reasons why others ended up being rejected included using high pressure sales tactics, not being upfront about fees and hidden charges, start up and application fees, long contracts with big get out clauses, bad technical or customer service performance, and rate rises during contract periods.
To get started we recommend having a consultation with The Merchant Warehouse. Simply go over to their official site, or give their consultation line a call on 1.866.372.1152.
We always try to stay as up to date as possible at the Best Retail Merchant Account. If you do have any comments, or experience with any of these companies, or others, please do let us know.