Merchant services are the services and solutions businesses rely on to process payments from customers. Large enterprises and small businesses alike leverage merchant services for reliable and efficient payment processing. Sourcing the best merchant service providers for your specific business needs starts by knowing what is available and how these tools work. Here is how the best merchant services providers help businesses today and how you can find one that works best for you.

How Can A Merchant Services Provider Help My Business? 

Merchant services providers make it easier for you to set up payments for large and small businesses. They streamline and simplify the process for customers. They help you secure information. And, they may offer flexible options for payments across mobile and POS systems. 

Merchant services providers often provide access to the following tools: 

  • Card payment processing 
  • Online payments
  • Point of sale systems
  • Merchant accounts

Let’s look at these in more detail and then we’ll discuss some of the additional features and benefits that set a provider apart from the competition. 

Card payment processing

Most people equate merchant services with tools to process debit or credit card payments, and it’s true this is a vital component of merchant services.

Payment processing services enable you to offer convenient and multiple methods of payment for your customers.

For your business, a merchant services provider will ensure that your customer’s payment methods are secure, and that your team can rely on a solution that’s easy to use and efficient. Behind the solution itself, the provider will service the technology that verifies payments are authorized before being deposited into your bank account. This keeps your business secure from fraud, bounced checks, and other failed methods of payment.

Online payments

Many merchant services providers also facilitate secure online payments through a website.

In doing so, a business will likely use an online payment portal with payment forms from the merchant services provider they are working with. Behind the portal or payment form is a payment gateway; the technology that connects payment systems and securely communicates information between parties involved in the payment processing. 

Both online payment portals and forms allow businesses, like physical therapists or freelance graphic designers, to accept payments for invoices. Depending on what the merchant services provider allows, automatic and recurring payments may also be possible for businesses that need installment billing.

These systems ensure small and large businesses alike get paid easily and with little effort.

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Point of sale systems

In addition to straightforward payment processing, most merchant services providers also offer full-scale point of sale (POS) systems. These two services complement each other, both aiming to make transactions easier for a business and its customers.

Comprehensive point of sale systems come with both in-store and mobile payment tools. They also allow you to streamline certain parts of your business, like:

  • Tracking inventory and sales over time
  • Managing employee information
  • Reconciling tips and commissions

POS systems may also pair with additional features like branded gift cards or customer loyalty programs.

Merchant accounts

Most merchant services providers also manage a merchant account for businesses. But, what are merchant accounts?

Put simply, a merchant account is a specific type of bank account that accepts multiple forms of payments. There are two different types of merchant services accounts: dedicated and aggregated accounts. The main difference is in how many entities “share” the account.

Dedicated accounts work directly for your business. The money provided in transactions, less processing fees, are deposited directly into your bank account. The provider can correct errors, react to potential fraud, and debit your account for customer “chargeback” claims on your behalf.

The only company processing credit card transactions through a dedicated merchant account will be yours. As a result, you are in full control. For many business owners, this type of security can offer peace of mind.

On the other hand, aggregated accounts (such as those provided by services like PayPal) use a single merchant account to provide credit card processing for a group of entities.

The money provided in transactions will go to the service provider first before being deposited into your bank account at the provider’s discretion. The disadvantage of using aggregated accounts is that they have the power to make and change the rules on their platform. For this reason, it’s important to pay close attention to the contract terms of these types of accounts.

How to Find the Best Merchant Services Providers

Merchant services can and do differ among providers depending on what they can offer your business.

While some may handle only merchant accounts and nothing else, others may service end-to-end payment processing. Ideally, the best merchant services providers manage all or a majority of a company’s needs. Instead of coordinating tasks, you work with one provider from the start to finish of every payment. 

A provider who can “do it all” can help your business now and as it grows over time. They can also streamline and automate some of your day-to-day tasks as a business owner. 

What else sets the best merchant services providers apart?

Great customer care

Beyond looking for a comprehensive solution, it is helpful to look for providers that not only meet your solution needs, but are also easy to work with. You want it to be a good and efficient experience whenever you call in with questions. 

The best providers offer always-on communication. When you’re in a pinch, you need an expert customer service team who can answer your questions or concerns by online chat, email, or one-on-one phone calls.

They should also take your business seriously. Your business is your top priority, and your merchant services provider should feel the same way. Find one that will stand with you over the years and provides a designated point person for your account.

Finally, a great reputation goes a long way. Look into what other business owners are saying about the provider you’re considering.

Focuses on security 

Work with a merchant services provider that can ensure your customers’ information is safe and secure. Additionally, they should protect your business with high protection standards.

Delivers great value for cost 

Find a provider that is honest and up front about the cost of their services. Fees should be both reasonable and predictable.

Offers flexibility

Flexibility is often important, especially for new business owners. 

Consider a company that has no contract or can offer you shorter contract lengths. Once you’re confident in the services they provide, you can look into entering into a longer contract.

Selecting the best merchant services providers

In order to compare the best merchant services providers, look at your specific needs now and potential ones in the future. Take some time to jot down features that are important to you and your business.

Whether it’s communication, reliability, additional features, price, or a variety of other factors, your top concerns should be addressed. Keep that list handy as you research providers for your business.

Learn More About PaySimple Merchant Services

At PaySimple, we combine our expertise in merchant services with a truly flexible payment processing solution and team that is always ready to help you and your business. We provide dedicated merchant accounts so you’re in control, and help you set up reliable and straightforward payment tools for your customers.

Beyond this, we’re your partner in business, ensuring that we stay on the cutting-edge of consumer habits so you can always offer the options your customers want. That’s what sets us apart and makes us one of the best merchant services providers.

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