Guest post by Stella Fayman.
Lawyers who own their own practices must be aware of all aspects of their business. One often overlooked aspect is credit card processing, or merchant account processing. If your law office plans to accept credit cards as a form of payment, you will need to choose a merchant account provider to process credit cards. Unfortunately, choosing a credit card processing company tends to be a long, frustrating, and inefficient proces—and many businesses get ripped off along the way. Here are some tips to prevent that from happening:
1) No cancellation fees allowed
Make sure to read the fine print from your credit card processing contract. You may be surprised to find a cancellation fee of at least $250 to several thousand dollars. This fee is a way of guaranteeing your loyalty to the processor, regardless of your satisfaction with their service. The good news is that getting rid of this fee should not be a problem: most salespeople have the authority to waive it. To avoid this problem, talk to the salesperson and make sure the fee is waived in writing either in the contract or as an amendment. For a new practice, making sure to have the no cancellation fee clause is a great hedge in case anything goes wrong.
2) Only interchange plus pricing
The bulk of processing fees goes to Visa and MasterCard—this fee is called interchange and is set in stone. Interchange-plus pricing is the fairest form of pricing structure for your business, meaning that you pay the interchange fee plus a constant markup which goes to the processor as a service charge. Having this structure ensures there are no tricky fees or hidden costs, unlike tiered pricing structures.
3) Comparison shop
Research shows that the best deal can be found by comparison shopping credit card processors–at least five. However, make sure to compare on an apples-to-apples basis, and be sure each processor knows that you are actively shopping. You can easily make your bids more competitive by leveraging the power of comparison.
4) Don’t rent or lease equipment
For the most part credit card processing equipment is fairly cheap. Those little black terminals that you see in small retail stores usually cost $100 – $300 and a full-fledged POS system is a little more than a desktop computer, less than $2000. If you own your own equipment there is less chance for processors to sneak in extra profit by padding your lease payments and it also makes it easier to switch if something goes wrong in the relationship.
If you have any questions or want to learn more about processing, I blog about credit card processing at the TransFS blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TransFS.com is the comparison shopping site for credit card processing. Just like getting multiple quotes for airfare using Expedia, TransFS lets business owners compare top quality credit card processors on an apples-to-apples basis and makes sure they get the best deal b not having any cancellation or hidden fees, and only interchange plus pricing.