Finding the best way to accept credit card payments online is hard. Because when it comes to running your small business, choosing a payment processor is a pretty important part of ensuring you get paid (and paid fairly).

You’ve probably done your fair share of searching, “How to accept credit card payments online” for your mall business only to be met with lists upon lists of “The Top Howevermany Payment Processing Merchants.”

Avoid playing your own personal game of eenie meenie miny moe. Don’t choose an online payment processor without considering how your choice will impact your business and your customers.

Here’s what to consider when looking for the best way to process credit cards online.

Size Matters

Not the size of the credit card processor. (Well, not entirely. They need to be big enough to be trustworthy and reputable. More on that later.)

Instead, consider the size of your business and the dollar size of your transactions.

Not all credit card processors work for all types of small businesses. Many merchants format their payment processing terms and fees to work best for smaller businesses, while others format their online payment processing to work best for larger companies.

Same goes for the size of your transactions. Many merchants work best for accepting lots of credit card payments online for small business transactions, while others work best for companies which accept fewer, bigger ticket purchases.

In general, payment processors like Square work great for multiple, quick, smaller-dollar transactions. On the other hand, PayPal is great for handling more infrequent, larger payment transactions. Stripe is another top online payment processor for many types of small businesses, because it plugs into tons of different business software apps, like Thryv.

Fees, Fees, Fees

Fees are what any smart small business owner is most concerned about when choosing a payment processor. But with online credit and debit card processing, the overall transaction rate most vendors advertise isn’t the only fee you need to take into account.

Merchants commonly tack on additional fees that can add up quickly. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not advising anyone to choose the cheapest online payment processor. Because the cheapest way to accept credit card payments online isn’t necessarily the best way, and it’s almost certainly not the most secure or customer-friendly way.

But when you’re adding up how much it costs to accept credit cards online, watch closely for for these commonly hidden fees:

If a vendor charges one of these fees, don’t immediately count them out. But if they bury these fees deep in their terms and conditions, stay far away.

Understand many merchants will charge a mix of fees to accept credit cards online, and decide how much you’re willing to pay for quality payment processing.

Payment Processing Flexibility

There are a few different ways to think about how to accept credit card payments online for small businesses. Maybe you want to scan credit cards on your mobile device with an app, type (or tap) credit card numbers in manually, use a physical point of sale system or payment terminal, or accept credit cards via an online portal.

Choose a payment processor that doesn’t limit you to just one form of credit card processing. Because what they consider to be the best way to accept credit card payments online might not be the best way for your business or your customers.

The best payment processing vendors give small business owners a couple of options to process credit and debit cards. At the bare minimum, choose a vendor that lets you scan or swipe cards via your mobile device and also lets customers pay online via a portal or web page.

Friendly, 24/7 Customer Service

You’ve probably had this nightmare happen. You’re at the end of a job or interaction with a happy client, you go to swipe a card, and well…it doesn’t work. You stare at a loading screen watching a spinning wheel or loading bar stuck for what seems like a lifetime.

How long should you expect a client to wait for your payment processor to load? How will you accept their payment online once they’re no longer standing in front of you? What if they ghost you and you go unpaid?

It’s a fair concern. That’s why choosing an online payment provider with solid customer service is crucial.

Think about it this way. You probably don’t do business just between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. So you need to choose a payment processing partner that will support you outside of “normal” business hours. Choose a company that’s available 24/7. It’s not too much to ask!

Merchant Reputation

Paying attention to your payment processor’s online reputation will protect not only your business but your customers as well. Consumers are notoriously wary of sharing their credit and debit card information with businesses in the first place. Help put them at ease.

While newer, chipped cards have decreased fraud by adding another layer of authorization to credit card purchases, criminals are still determined to steal consumer credit and debit card information. They’re paying particular attention to card-not-present (CNP) transactions and are also tackling large-scale data breaches.

So when you think about how to accept credit card payments online, think about the reputation of your credit card processor of choice.

  • Have they experienced any major data breaches in the past?
  • How are their online reviews? Do other business owners like processing card transactions with them?
  • Do they have a positive rating with the Better Business Bureau?

Whichever payment processor you choose, don’t follow the crowd. Think about the best way to accept credit cards online for your business. Your customers will thank you.