How to Choose the Right Merchant Services Company

Choosing the right merchant services company for your small business can be a difficult task.

With so many providers on the market, it's hard to know:

  • Where to start

  • What questions to ask

  • What to look out for

To help make your decision easier, our team at Rigel Payments put this blog together with tips and strategies for choosing the best provider!

As San Diego’s leading merchant services provider, our goal is to provide important information about all things merchant services.

Let's dive right in!

Customer at retail store paying for their service on mobile phone with QR code.
Merchant Services Company

Table of Contents

  1. Choosing A Merchant Services Company: Getting Started

  2. If You're New to Accepting Credit Cards

  3. If You’re Already Taking Credit Cards

  4. 10 Tips to Follow When Choosing A Merchant Services Provider

  5. Carefully Research All Available Options

  6. “Free” Does Not Always Mean Free

  7. Fees Always Require A Detailed Discussion

  8. Be Honest About Your Small Business and Future Plans

  9. Complete Your Merchant Account Application with Complete Honesty

  10. Ask Questions About All Financial Sides of The Process

  11. Seriously Consider Any Available Fraud Protection Programs

  12. Allow Enough Time to Set Up Your Merchant Account

  13. Carefully Read Your Contract

  14. Savor The Benefits of Accepting Credit Cards!

  15. 7 Signs You’ve Found The Right Merchant Services Company

  16. Conclusion

People Also Ask:

How do I choose a merchant provider?

  1. Understand the different types of merchant services providers

  2. Don’t let price rule over your decision-making

  3. Remember that not all companies are equal

  4. Find a provider that meets all of your needs

  5. Do your research on all possible providers

What is the best payment method for small business?

The best, most highly-rated payment methods for small businesses are:

  • Clover

  • Revel

  • Vend

What are merchant services for small businesses?

The term “merchant services” is broad and can be confusing because it refers to its wide variety of financial services and processes.

“Merchant services” used to refer to taking credit card payments. Now, the term encompasses the many:

  • Tools

  • Companies

  • Payment processing methods

Used in your small business.

“Merchant services account” refers to a type of bank account small businesses sign up for to accept debit and credit card payments.

What do merchant service providers do?

Merchant services companies, like Rigel Payments, provide small businesses throughout San Diego the tools and requirements they need.

Without them, small businesses cannot accept debit cards, credit cards, and other forms of electronic payments to complete transactions.

How can I accept credit card payments for my small business?

POS systems. Small businesses like yours can now take credit and debit card payments with ease, thanks to the modern point of sale (POS) systems.

These devices come in many types and allow you to accept electronic payments using mobile card readers and other convenient methods.

Choosing A Merchant Services Company: Getting Started

If You’re New to Accepting Credit Cards

If you’re a small business owner not taking credit and debit card payments, you should find a merchant services provider as soon as possible.

It's best that you create a merchant account with a credit card processor. Then, you can choose the equipment that best supports your business.

Since there’s a large range of processors and equipment, going about it this way helps ensure that you:

  • Get a machine that suits your needs

  • Receive the right equipment

  • Get the most comprehensive credit card processing cost

If you need special features, like online ordering and restaurant delivery tracking, it’s best to choose a POS system or credit card machine first.

If You’re Already Taking Credit Cards

Finding the right equipment might be your top priority if you’re a small business already taking credit card payments.

You’ll need to determine if:

  • You’re going to keep your existing system

  • You wish to purchase a new machine

  • You’re going to use an online payment gateway

Point of sale systems and credit card machines work with different processors. Some devices are:

Universal: This means that POS systems and credit card machines work with any company.

Proprietary: This means that credit card machines and point of sale systems only work with one or two processors.

Selective: This means that these systems fall somewhere in between - they work with multiple processing companies.

10 Tips to Follow When Choosing A Merchant Services Provider

As a small business owner, choosing the right merchant services company should be a top priority. This is because any modern venture needs to be accepting credit cards, and be able to process those payments.

We know that finding a merchant services provider can be intimidating. And, one thing is for certain: Credit card processing is not a “one-size-fits-all” proposition!

With an important decision like choosing the right merchant services company, your decision-making should include:

  • Researching all available options

  • Seeking recommendations

  • Carefully comparing the products and services of potential candidates

Your final decision should be based on the provider’s:

  • Experience and reputation

  • Packages they offer and how it meets your needs

  • Cost

Our team at Rigel Payments has compiled the following 10 tips below to ensure that your experience and outcome go as smoothly as possible!

1. Carefully Research All Available Options

When you choose to partner with a merchant services company, they’re going to be involved with all financial aspects of your small business. For this reason alone, it’s vital that you go with a reputable provider that has a proven track record, like Rigel Payments!

We always recommend doing your research. You can do this by:

  • Researching online or using Yellow Pages

  • Getting in touch with local business associations

  • Ask fellow business owners in your network for their recommendations

It’s also a good idea to collect names and other information and create a list of potential candidates. From there, check out each company with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

You can also type the names into Google and see what shows up.

Just remember to trust your gut! If something stands out, or you see or hear something you don’t like, it’s usually best to move on.

2. “Free” Does Not Always Mean Free

If you’ve begun your research, you’ve probably already seen providers advertising things like “free terminals”, “free merchant accounts”, or “free internet gateway”.

It’s essential that you understand that when it comes to the term “free”, it’s usually not. Be sure to read the fine print at the bottom of the contract or page!

Before signing anything, make sure to question any “free” claims with the merchant services company and ensure you understand all their terms and conditions.

3. Fees Always Require A Detailed Discussion

When you start talking to providers, you’ll learn that there are various rates and fees associated with credit card processing.

Common charges include:

  • Interchange

  • Transaction

  • Batch processing

  • Statement

  • Chargeback

These are standard and all small businesses accepting credit cards must pay them.

It’s important to be aware of “junk fees”. These often include fees for:

  • Filing

  • Security

  • Audits

  • Conversions

  • Over-limits

  • Excessive transactions

  • Bill backs

If you spot any of these in your contract, you can and should ask that they be removed. If you don’t they’ll be added to your monthly bill.

We always recommend checking your monthly statement to make sure you’re not overcharged or charged for unused products and services.

4. Be Honest About Your Small Business and Future Plans

In order for the right merchant services provider to give you the best products and services, they need to understand your business.

If you’re a small business owner running a retail company from a physical store but want to expand online, let your provider know.

This way they can provide the best:

  • Products

  • Services

  • Equipment

In their proposal.

Remember: The merchant services company wants your business and a good one wants your partnership. Help them make this happen by being honest about your company and future plans!

5. Complete Your Merchant Account Application with Complete Honesty

It’s in the best interest of you and your business that you’re completely honest when filling out your merchant account application.

In order for your merchant services company to provide you with the best possible products and services, there must be full transparency.

Your provider will ask for specific information about:

  • You

  • Your company

  • Your personal finances

And any other data needed for the account application like contact, banking, and tax information.

The merchant services company will also ask about:

  • The type of business you own

  • Your processing volume

  • Average sales amount

If your small business is already accepting credit cards, you’ll usually be asked for several of your most recent statements. A copy of your business permit or license will also be requested.

6. Ask Questions About All Financial Sides of The Process

Imagine not knowing what your monthly bill will look like or when the revenue from credit card transactions will be deposited to your business bank account!

You have the right to know exactly what your financial responsibilities are in the merchant services process. You also have the right to know what the obligations of the company you’re working with are.

For example:

  • Will your fees and rates change without any notice?

  • How soon will you have access to the profits after a transaction?

  • What is the chargeback policy?

These are all vital questions that require honest answers from a potential merchant services provider.

7. Seriously Consider Any Available Fraud Protection Programs

Credit card fraud can and does happen to businesses of any size.

Unfortunately, more evidence shows that:

  • Cyber thieves

  • Scammers

  • Fraudsters

Target and go after small to medium-sized businesses because they’re considered vulnerable.

Luckily, you can help keep yourself protected by achieving and maintaining PCI compliance. This is the first essential step in a process designed to keep your sensitive data and customers secure.

A trustworthy merchant services company will help you with Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance and provide you with a security program. These programs are designed to help offset potentially large expenses following fraud or a suspected security breach.

8. Allow Enough Time to Set Up Your Merchant Account

It usually doesn’t take a lot of time to:

  • Apply for

  • Get approved

  • Set up

A merchant account. This process becomes even more straightforward when you’re well-prepared and qualified to provide all essential information.

A reputable merchant services company can often approve and equip you in a few days!

Just remember, the longer you wait, the longer it takes to get your business set up to accept credit cards and generate growth.

9. Carefully Read Your Contract

Now that you’ve gone over every detail of the process, why spend more time focusing on the fine print?

The answer: Protection!

You’re about to sign a legally binding document, establishing a long-term relationship with a merchant services company. For this reason alone it’s absolutely vital that you’re 100% sure what is required of you and the provider.

It may be in your best interest to review the contract with a legal or business advisor if possible. This is the final step in the process.

It's also your final opportunity to ensure the deal you’re agreeing to is the deal you’re getting!

We always recommend asking:

  • For your own copy of the contract

  • The company’s terms and conditions

  • Service agreement

10. Savor The Benefits of Accepting Credit Cards!

As a small business owner now taking credit and debit card payments, your potential benefits grow significantly!

Common advantages include:

  • Boosts in customer convenience and satisfaction, creating increased customer loyalty

  • Increased recognition of your business’ brand, boosting your competitiveness in your marketplace.

  • Higher consumer conversion rates

  • Rises in customer spending

  • Reduced number of bounced check or collections

  • Guaranteed and fast direct payments into your merchant account, meaning fewer trips to the bank

  • New opportunities to grow your business, including mobile, wireless, and online processing

When you determine the effort and time credit card processing saves you, it’s well worth the investment tenfold!

7 Signs You’ve Found The Right Merchant Services Company

The good news is that you don’t have to go about payment processing alone. With the right merchant services company on your side, you’ll never have to worry about going at it alone again!

But, how do you know that you’ve found the best provider for your small business?

Below are seven signs that you’ve found the right merchant services provider for your unique business.

  1. Equipment that meets the specific needs of your business

  2. Software that can keep track of your business and help it grow

  3. Reasonable and transparent fees

  4. Understandable and fair processing rates

  5. Honest marketing and advertising

  6. Month-to-month contract options

  7. Exceptional customer service and support


Your San Diego small business is your livelihood, and you want to make sure it’s taken care of. Finding the right merchant services company will help ensure that everything runs smoothly, from setting up processing to accepting all forms of payments.

Are you ready to find the best merchant services company for your small business?

You're in luck because you've found Rigel Payments!

To learn how our experts can assist you, contact us today to get started!

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