If you accept credit cards for your home business, you need a merchant account provider. But how do you find the right one?
My home business payment acceptance needs are simple and straightforward. I just need clients to be able to pay me via PayPal or direct deposit (or by check — if they must). While a client occasionally pays by credit card, this transaction can be handled by PayPal, which is my de facto merchant account provider, or even by Freshbooks.
However, your home business needs might be different. If you sell goods, you might need a merchant account provider that can help you manage a shopping cart, or allow you to accept payments wirelessly from your smartphone if you are selling remotely. Choosing a merchant account provider can be difficult, though, since there are so many different fees that can add to the cost.
How do you decide which to choose?
After spending a few minutes speaking with Rich McIver, the founder of MerchantNegotiators.com, I realized that there is a tool that can help you find the right provider for you. Merchant Negotiators takes your small business needs and then suggests the top options for you, giving you a side-by-side comparison so you can make the right decision for your home business.
Narrowing Down Your Merchant Account Provider Options
Your first step when using Merchant Negotiators is to narrow down the options. You don't want to get bogged down by looking at providers that don't even meet your needs. Merchant Negotiators starts out by asking you the dollar amount of your card transactions each month and gets an idea of how you use your cards (ecommerce, on-site swipe, etc.). You also have the opportunity to select other features that you might need, such as the ability to accept welfare benefits or issue HIPAA compliance or manage online menus.
McIver tells me that he understands what it's like trying to find the right merchant account provider because his own parents were small business owners, and he is one as well. He wanted to create a tool that makes it easy to see what's available for you — and that makes it easy to compare pricing and features.
Once you have entered your information, Merchant Negotiators shares the results. You can see a side-by-side comparison that includes pricing, and breaks down the transaction fees and other costs, as well as features. You can also read in-depth reviews of each of the providers. You will receive an estimated monthly cost, based on the information you provided, on top of the breakdown.
Signing Up for Merchant Account Provider
Of course, McIver is running a business, and that means Merchant Negotiators is paid for signups. You can sign up for a provider through Merchant Negotiators, or you can go directly to the provider. I like that the site offers you contact information for Merchant Negotiators, as well as direct contact information for the provider. That way, you can easily decide how you want to sign up.
McIver says that signing up through Merchant Negotiators offers extra benefits, though. He says that you can receive protection against rate increases as well as hidden fees — and you will receive lifetime statement analysis so that you always know what is happening with your account statement.
If you are curious about how providers are recommended, Merchant Negotiators includes its methodology. Transparency, says McIver, is important to the company.
If you are looking for a quick and dirty way to compare merchant account providers, Merchant Negotiators isn't a bad choice. It's important to remember that the total monthly cost is an estimate, so your actual cost could be higher, depending on your transaction volume. The tool's filter on transaction amounts should help with accuracy, but nothing is full-proof.
I'm not looking for a merchant account provider right now, but if I ever get to the point where one becomes necessary, there is a good chance that I will make use of this tool.
Have you used a similar tool? What merchant account provider do you use for your home business or small business transactions, and why do you like it?