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Call three or more credit card processing companies for pricing quotes

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In addition to processing rates, most full-service credit card processors charge an assortment of fees to maintain your account and provide customer support. Payment facilitators don’t typically charge these fees. Before you sign a processing contract, be sure to read it and make sure you’re aware of all the fees that the processor charges so you won’t be shocked when you get your first bill. Here are the most common service fees:

Monthly fee: Also called a statement fee, this covers the processor’s cost of preparing monthly statements and customer service. It usually costs $5 to $15. It may be higher if it includes a gateway fee and a PCI compliance fee. If you choose to receive paper statements by mail, there may be an additional cost.
PCI compliance: This fee is usually charged annually and costs around $100, though some processors either include it with the monthly fee or charge it quarterly. For this cost, service providers help you certify that your business complies with PCI guidelines. If you fail to establish your compliance, you’re charged an expensive PCI noncompliance fee each month until you are certified. Some processors offer to waive this fee for the first year when you sign up for an account. Payment facilitators are PCI compliant, so their clients don’t have to certify and pay this fee.

Gateway fee: If you accept payments online, you need access to a payment gateway. Usually, this fee is charged monthly and costs about as much as the monthly fee, but some processors also tack on a small per-transaction fee.

Monthly minimum: If you process a low volume of transactions each month, you want to look for a provider that doesn’t charge this fee, as it’s normally calculated against the processing fees you generate – not the full dollar value of each transaction. Usually this minimum is $25, though some processors set it higher. Be sure to ask the dollar amount that you need to process each month to satisfy this requirement.
Incidental fees: Some fees are only charged when certain actions have taken place. For instance, if a customer initiates a chargeback, you will need to pay a chargeback fee. If you use the processor’s address verification service (AVS) or call its voice authorization center as fraud-prevention checks before you process a transaction, you pay a small fee. Again, be sure to read the contract in full before signing up with a processing company, so you know precisely what fees to expect.

The best credit card processor for your business is the one that offers you the best value – with low and transparent rates, no hidden fees, and either a month-to-month contract or pay-as-you-go service. Though many of the best credit card service providers post their pricing online, some don’t, preferring to customize their rates for each client. You should plan on calling at least three processors, and requesting price quotes and a contract to review, so that you can compare rates and fees for your specific business.

Even if all top credit card processors on your list post their pricing online, it’s a good idea to call and speak with a sales rep because there may be a promotion available, or you may be able to negotiate a better deal. It also gives you a taste of the company’s customer service quality, which can be an important consideration as you’re choosing a service provider.

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