How Do I Compare Credit Card Processing Companies?

How Do I Compare Credit Card Processing Companies?
••• credit card terminal image by Igor Zhorov from

Credit card processing companies play a key role in the operation of a network such as Visa or MasterCard. They serve as intermediaries in fund transfers between merchants and credit card issuers. While some card issuers have their own card-processing divisions, many processors are independent, specialized credit card processing companies. In exchange for the funds transfer service they provide, credit-card processing companies earn discount fees, meaning a percentage of what the customer paid the merchant. The discount fee is subtracted from the purchase amount, and the remainder is remitted to the merchant.

Obtain brochures from the card-processing services you are considering. Many credit card processing companies are in the marketplace, and competition is intense. Companies pitch their services to stores and Internet merchants. Sales representatives may walk into your store and try to persuade you to switch to their service. If you are dissatisfied with your current service provider, study the promotional materials they leave to see whether their company offers a better service.

Compare card-processing service features and costs. Discount fees are the merchant's main cost of accepting credit cards. How companies price those fees is a major consideration. There are other charges and costs as well, and each credit card processor may provide a different level of convenience. For example, on top of the discount fee, there is a fixed fee on every transaction processed. Companies also often charge a statement fee of about $15 per month, according to

Test the company's card-processing terminal machine before you sign an agreement with the company. While the basic functions of these machines are the same, machines from different companies vary in the ways they structure and present those functions. Make sure you and your staff are comfortable with the terminal you would use. Customer service is another important factor when comparing credit card processing companies. Terminals malfunction, and the availability and competency of a company's technical-support staff can make a difference in how problems are resolved.


  • Make sure you can cancel a credit card processing service at any time, without a cancellation fee.