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For someone new to credit card processing, it can be difficult to tell a professional merchant account provider from the others. You don’t know what features to look for or how much you should be paying. It becomes a greater challenge with a high risk merchant account as it has a unique set of requirements. At the end of it all, you need a payment processor that specializes in high-risk industries, makes your work easy and is safe and convenient to use. If you want to make sure you are getting the best value for your money, don’t proceed without asking your merchant account provider these 8 questions.

1. Do they offer round-the-clock customer support?

Every system, no matter how full-proof it is, is bound to encounter problems at some point. You might be hit by a frozen account or an account shutdown. That is why customer support is crucial. An attentive and responsive support team can reduce downtimes for you. This means fewer customers lost for your business. A merchant account provider should offer your debt collection business 24/7 customer support. The professional attending to you should be experienced in your specific industry. To add, putting in a call to customer care shouldn’t be an endless line of transfer calls or calls on-hold. It is a waste of time. Test their customer support beforehand to check the average response time.

2. Do you have to sign a contract?

A contract binds you to a merchant account provider for a stipulated period. There are several factors that could warrant a switch in payment processors – poor service, change in payment options, a growing business or a better processor. You do not have the freedom to do so, if you sign a contract with a credit card processor. Stay away from long-term contracts. In fact, hire payment processors with a no-contract clause. Before you sign a contract check the cancellation or termination fees.

3. How much will it cost you?

A merchant account is an expense against your business. Hence, you should be aware of the amount you are paying to process credit and debit cards. The statement includes costs under various heads. Ask the payment provider to explain any charge you don’t seem to understand. Talk about the different pricing options such as interchange plus pricing, flat rate pricing and tiered pricing. Merchant account providers charge an assessment fee based on the processing volume. The interchange fee is the amount charged by the card company such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express to process a payment. Merchant account providers add a markup to this amount. There should be no application fee or installation fee. Review the statement carefully to spot unnecessary and hidden fees. An all-in-one pricing model is the best option to work with. The payment processor should be willing to provide a detailed disclosure of its pricing structure.

4. How do they handle chargebacks?

A high rate of chargebacks is a major problem plaguing high-risk merchant accounts such as debt collection. Being unable to reduce the rate increases the risk factor of your business, leads to huge monetary losses, and might ultimately result in a merchant account shutdown. Credit card processors should be equipped to reduce chargebacks by providing timely alerts and offering dispute assistance. They should be able to spot merchant errors and rectify them before they become chargebacks.

5. How do they deter fraud?

Your debt collection business is not called high risk for no reason. It is susceptible to fraud. Security should be a top priority when considering payment processors. The best in the industry offer full PCI compliance, an encryption system that does not allow fraudsters to access sensitive customer data transmitted over payment networks. The payment processor you choose should be able provide alerts of attempted fraud. EVM security chips and tokenization are other security measures used to deter card fraud. If the merchant account provider does not have these in place, it is time to look for another.

6. Will you get next day funding?

The amount of time a payment processor takes to settle funds into the merchant’s account varies. It usually takes 2 to 3 banking days. Timely funding is a must for businesses wanting to expand. Thus, next day funding can be a very beneficial feature for a debt collection merchant account. Make it a point to ask if the payment processor offers next day for all card types, American Express included.

7. How do you pay for payment terminals?

Payment processors offer merchants different options to pay for terminals; one can lease, rent or buy a payment terminal. The best payment processors are those that allow their customers to choose. The benefit of buying a payment processing terminal over renting it is that you don’t have to enter into a contract. You also save in the long run as the purchase is a one-time fee.

What are the features offered?

A good payment processor is one that offers multiple payments options that can be customised to meet the needs of the specific industry. They should not only offer credit and debit card processing but ACH and eCheck processing, Cash on delivery and E-wallets as well. Along with card not present transactions, they should provide point of sale systems for transactions at retail locations. High risk industries like debt collection face a greater risk of account shutdowns. Ask the merchant account provider if they permit setting up multiple ids or offer multiple underwriting banks. To conclude this are only few of the important questions you need to ask when shopping for a high risk merchant account. Take your time interviewing merchant account providers to decide which suits you best.