Payment Processing Review: Are You Getting Enough Bang for Your Bucks?

Picture of Gina Blitstein Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

Payment Processing Review: Are You Getting Enough Bang for Your Bucks?

Paypal? Stripe? Square? Another of the myriad of payment processing services out there? How does your business accept payments? Are you certain that the company you use is the ideal choice for your business’ unique needs and preferences? Let’s examine the various elements of payment platforms to help you determine how well yours is suited to your bottom line, desired cash flow, customer needs and everyone’s convenience. There may not be one ideal solution, but there may be something out there that checks more of your boxes than the one you’re using now.

Payment types accepted

Although every payment platform doesn’t accept every payment type, make certain that yours handles the “big four” (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express). Billions - if not trillions - of dollars are paid via these credit cards yearly. Honestly, any platform that fails to support any of these cards will lose you sales in the long run.

Fees

Fees charged by payment platforms can eat into your cash flow and bottom line. Companies charge differently and for different things. While some platforms charge a flat rate regardless of transactions, others may offer a tiered structure so as to scale with your use. Still others charge for individual transactions, which include the following:

  1. Transactional fees - Usually fees are structured like: “2.9% plus 30 cents on every transaction.”
  2. Interchange fees - Charged by the credit card companies, these are sometimes rolled into transactional fees, other times charged separately.
  3. Monthly/annual fees - In addition to per-transaction fees, these are charged monthly or annually.
  4. Batch fees - When the platform processes your credit card transactions, they are deposited to your bank account in batches. A fee may apply for each batch.
  5. Chargeback fees - A fee may apply when a transaction is reversed and money is charged back to the customer.
  6. “Hidden” fees - Some companies obscure certain fees, or penalties, in the “small print.” Make certain you are aware of any potential surprises, such as a fee to be charged when you exceed a number of transactions per month.

Payment turnaround

You’re entitled to prompt funds deposit. Payment platforms vary on how long it takes for money to be deposited to your bank account. Make certain that you are aware of the procedure they use and that you are satisfied with the turnaround time. It’s not unrealistic to expect minimal obstacles to having your money deposited as soon as the next day.

Contracts

Some payment platforms require that you sign a contract; others do not. For a contracted service, you’ll want to have it reviewed by a lawyer before agreeing to its terms. Such a contract will spell out the conditions upon which additional fees and/or penalties will be assessed. It will also state any requirements on your part, such as including their logo in your checkout. Additionally, it will inform you as to their regulations on gathering user data.

Payment Card Industry Compliance

It’s important to ascertain that the platform is Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant, which means it’s been shown to be current with industry regulations and standards. Be sure that the platform you choose is compliant to the level of your sales volume so you’ll be assured that they can responsibly handle your transactions. There are four levels of PCI compliance, representing the number of Visa and/or Mastercard transactions processed annually:

Level 1 - over 6 million

Level 2 - 1 - 6 million

Level 3 - 20,000 - 1 million

Level 4 - up to 20,000

Software

The software that runs the service is critical. Assessing it should be left to your technical team. They will be able to determine that it can be integrated into your existing systems and will be capable of growing/adapting as your business’ needs change.

Another crucial element of the software is how it presents the look and feel of your checkout experience from a customer point of view. Checkout should be simple and straightforward, presenting no obstacles to completing purchases.

Customer security

Ensure that the platform you choose encrypts customer data and stores it securely on a third-party server. Letting your customers know your commitment to their data security is a reassuring selling point for encouraging them to shop with you.

Support

It’s very important that customer payments go smoothly. Customers have little patience when something goes wrong when they’re paying for goods or services. Determine the level and type of support you’ll need to ensure customers aren’t disappointed in their checkout experience. Is it a contact form? A fully fleshed out FAQ list? Live chat? Do you need the payment platform to provide a representative to mediate chargeback issues on your behalf? Find a service that can provide that level of responsiveness to customers’ questions and concerns.

Accepting international payments

The above information pertains to the U.S. only. Unless you’re positive you’ll never need to process a foreign payment, it’s a good idea to choose a payment processor that deals with international currency (because not all of them do). Make extra certain that you understand how fees are assessed. Like U.S. processors, they should be in compliance with all international regulations and take adequate security measures.

Keep these elements in mind when determining if your present payment processing service is appropriate for your business’ needs now and into the future.

Is your payment processing service serving you and your customers like it should?


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