Seven tools to select a merchant processor that works for you

Understanding how merchant accounts work will help you minimize your costs and risks.

1. Cost – Don’t fall for “Guaranteed Lowest Costs” and “Free Equipment” promises. Low rates don’t matter if your transactions aren’t qualifying or if you are overpaying due to lack of account maintenance. Look for a processor that will individually evaluate and maintain your merchant account. Your cost stays low when the majority of your transactions “qualify”. You want to maximize your savings and add profit back to your bottom line — in the long run, honest, accurate pricing yields the highest savings.

2. Commitment – You’ve made a commitment to work hard for your customers and treat them with respect, and you should look for a merchant processor with the same philosophy. Partnership with a merchant services processor should mean more than just processing your credit card transactions. You need an educator that can walk you through the complicated fees and processes, and an advocate to keep those fees as low as possible.

3. Competitive – There are many companies that process credit card transactions. In the online world of today however, how you get paid and the types of services small businesses need can become complicated. Look for a processor that can give you a competitive edge with a one-stop-shop approach. Often a packaged approach can benefit your “brick and mortar” and “online” stores, but many are bundled with services that you just don’t need. When researching a processor, look for one that offers many levels of membership, that way their services fit your need.

4. Comprehensive – A cookie cutter approach to merchant services does not work because, no two businesses are alike. Your business may not keep traditional hours, perhaps it is mobile or seasonal. No matter your unique needs, look for a processor that offers comprehensive services. 24/7 customer support, continuous credit card processing fee optimization, up-to-date education on PCI compliance, ongoing account review and maintenance, and advocation to reduce unreasonable and unnecessary fees are just some of the comprehensive services you need from a merchant processor.

5. Compliance – PCI (Payment Card Industry) Data Security Standards (DSS) are a set of standards and actionable framework that ensure the safe handling of sensitive information. For businesses today, ignorance of these standards is not bliss, and can carry hefty fines. Your processor should help your business become PCI compliant, and provide you timely information about credit card fraud and protection methods. For more information about the importance of PCI compliance go to

6. Certification – When researching a merchant processor, look for a company that employs certified payment professionals (CPP). The Electronic Transactions Association (ETA), created the CPP certification program to recognizeprofessionals who have demonstrated a thorough knowledge of their profession through field experience and board examination. They also require continuing education and recertification every three years. Finding a processor that employs CPP’s will ensure your representative is knowledgeable about products and services and has the expertise to recommend the best and most appropriate solution for your business. You can determine if your merchant services provider is a CPP by searching the ETA’s registry The registry allows you to search for a CPP by state or city and is a free service.

7. Community – You live and work in a community and you are dedicated to its health and growth. When looking for companies that serve you, shouldn’t they care about those goals as well? Merchant services play a major role in the well being of your bottom line, and so you should hold your processor to the same level of accountability. Consider a merchant association that values “giving back” as a foundation block — not only will it help your business, but your community as well.

National Merchants Association, a financial services company, is a nationwide Association dedicated to reducing the unnecessary fees involved with credit card processing. As a member of The National Merchants Association, you not only save on your merchant services program, but you gain a partner in business development. To find out more about NMA and the Give-it-Back program visit their website, or call them at 866-509-7199.