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5 Mistakes to Avoid - Choosing High Risk Credit Card Processing

by Kimberly Baylies on February 5, 2020

Choosing a payment processor for accepting credit cards is generally the last thing on any business owner’s mind. Trust us, we know. 

Business owners are busy.  They often feel they don't have time to vet a prospective processor or Merchant Service Provider (MSP). As a result, one of the most important aspects of running a business tends to get the least attention.

Your merchant services are about much more than accepting payments.

How to choose a high risk merchant account providerIt’s been proven time and again that buying is an emotional experience.  As a retailer, you aim to create a memorable and fulfilling shopping experience for your customers that will ultimately result in a purchase. Customers want a frictionless buying experience. It's literally the last experience they have with you before they walk out your door (even your virtual door eCommerce)!

Therefore, it's very important your merchant service provider can offer you a solution that pleases both you and your customers. It must be an affordable solution with stellar customer service for you that provides friction-less payment options and the use of technology for your customers.

You’ve put a lot of hard work into creating your perfect business model. You’ve put your heart and soul into designing the aesthetics, marketing, wooing, tempting and leading your best customers to fall in love with you and your brand. Why wouldn’t you put as much effort into how to make it easy for them to purchase from you? That is the end goal, isn't it?

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Common mistakes merchants make when choosing a payment processor to service their business.

Don't Make these high risk merchant account mistakesUnfortunately, in the haste to get processing up and running, merchants often overlook a few very important points that could ensure their happiness with their Merchant Service Provider. Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes to avoid when choosing a merchant account for your business.

     1. Not creating a lifelong business relationship.

Accepting payments for goods and services is the most fundamental function involved in creating a successful business. And the ability to accept payments is something you need for the life of your business. Opening a high risk  merchant account should be taken very seriously. You are entering into an ongoing business partnership with your Merchant Service Provider. After all, you’ll be sending your income to your processor and trusting that money will eventually make it to your business.

Wouldn't you want to partner with a business based on experience, reputation, and reliability? You need a business partner you can rely on. Your Merchant Service Provider should be someone you can develop a relationship with, who knows and understands your needs and is as invested in your success as you are. As soon as you start seeing your Merchant Service Provider as a long term business partner, you will automatically begin looking for the one who can live up to your expectations! 

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     2. Choosing the wrong rate structure for credit card processing.

Choosing the wrong merchant services provider for your high risk business is risky.There are two ways to quote a merchant account: Interchange Plus Pricing and Tiered Rate Structure. To understand how these rate structures differ, it is important to understand that each card type commands a different rate. The rates are set by the Interchange system over which credit card payments travel. Therefore, corporate cards, rewards cards, airline miles, and cashback cards each have different, and often higher, rates than a basic credit card or an ATM card. 

In our opinion, the ONLY rate plan you should be considering is Interchange Plus pricing. However, many processors operate on a tiered rate schedule. A tiered schedule allows processors to lump cards into three tiers and charge a different rate for each tier. The three tiers are qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified. When they quote you that “low” rate, they’re referring to cards that fall into the 'qualified' tier. Unfortunately, all of those corporate and rewards cards Do Not fall into a “qualified” tier. When you get your first statement you wonder how in the heck your bill is so high and they say it's because the cards you take aren't qualified.

This is why we strongly believe that Interchange-Plus pricing is the ONLY fair and transparent pricing structure. The merchant pays the exact rate set by Interchange for each card type.  The “plus” refers to the basis points, which is the mark up that the processor charges for their services. This mark up stays the same no matter what type of card you end up accepting. There are no hidden fees. When you receive your statement you can actually understand it, and see exactly what you're being charged. I could go on and on.

     3. Effective Rate Vs Lowest Rate Promised.

Merchant account rate mistakes!  Don't make the mistake of thinking the awesome rate you were quoted is the WHOLE rate you will pay. There's your credit card processing rate and then there's your effective rate. Yes, your "rate" generally refers to the rate charged for processing each type of card, along with the mark up the processor attaches to it. But you may also see a per-transaction fee as well as a few additional fees charged to some merchant accounts. Monthly service fees, a statement fee, start-up fees, and cancellation fees are common fees that salesmen will try to sneak in there.

When quoting your rate, salesmen will often only speak to the card rate they have settled on, letting you believe that is the final price. This is why it's important to ask your salesman to calculate your effective rate. It is only when you add in all additional fees and divide it out that you find your true effective rate. These fees are still part of what it costs you to accept credit cards so don’t make the mistake of thinking it only matters what your card rate is. This is the only way to know if you are actually getting a fair price.

Pro Tip: 

There are too many unscrupulous salesmen out there whose only goal is to hit their “new accounts quota”. They will make promises knowing that they'll move on to the next and leave you dealing with a bank who can and will do whatever they want. Banks will often raise the rates immediately after the first year of processing. The Fix? Fair and transparent processing rates with a provider who is willing to provide you with an actual written contract that your rates will stay the same. 

     4. Not demanding that your MSP is an   ETA – CPP (Certified Payment Professional.

ETA CPPDid you know there are NO educational requirements for salesmen to enter the payment card industry? We believe this is a complete and total disservice to merchants who have to work with these salesmen! However, the ETA (Electronic Transaction Association) has created a rigorous, but voluntary, training course for salesmen in the industry to become a Certified Payments Professional. This is an industry with ever-evolving government security compliance laws, national and international regulations, morphing technology, and increasing payment avenues.

Therefore, a salesman who's voluntarily taken on the responsibility to become ETA Certified has proven he's achieved a deep knowledge of the industry’s operations, compliance, risk, and security. In addition, they've agreed to complete annual continuing education to remain certified. Lastly, they vow to conduct themselves according to a code of ethics set forth by the ETA. Expect nothing less.

 5. Overlooking the importance of Customer Service.

BIG puts the service back in high risk merchant services.  Isn't your business worth it?Do not underestimate the power of great customer service! You will need it! Merchants like to think that their credit card processing is set-it-forget-it. Inevitably there will be something you need. For example, a terminal will go down, you'll have a question about your bill, you need to accept a form of payment you previously thought you wouldn't need. Your business will grow, you may open new locations or decide to add online sales. Whatever it is, you want your company there for you when you call. Remember, this is a partnership. Make sure your salesman is someone you can actually get ahold of! And if it’s after hours, having a domestic customer service representative on the other end of the line is indispensable.

Choose the best Merchant Services Provider.

Ethical, Professional and Dependable service levels are the backbone of our company beliefs. ALL of our sales professionals are ETA-Certified, demonstrating our commitment to the legitimacy and transparency of our industry.

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) sets U.S. Data Security standards (DSS) that every entity transferring payment data must comply with. As your Merchant Service Provider, we promise to provide a secure processing solution equipped with the latest security protocols. In addition, we offer innovative fraud prevention tools in addition to built-in security measures created for your business's particular needs. Your representative is always ready and willing to remind you and help you with your own PCI compliance.

We've spent years creating trusting relationships with our global partners. This is how we are able to bring our clients only the most affordable and reliable solutions for payment processing. We are dedicated to providing the most cutting edge products with the latest technological advances. And behind it all, we pride ourselves on exceptional customer support. 

I invite you to give us a call and see what it’s like to experience “The Bankcard International Group Difference!”

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Topics: High Risk Merchant Account