Payment processing

5 quick and easy steps to switching payment processing providers




Those are the main reasons you’d want to switch payment processors/merchant service providers.  

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It can be frustrating to read a payment processing statement and be unable to make heads or tails of all the fees you’re paying. It can be just as annoying to call up your merchant account provider when you have a question or technical difficulty, just to be put on hold or otherwise left to your own devices.  

It’s pretty bad when your provider can’t offer you the new Android smart terminals you’ve been hearing about or enable you to accept the alternative payment methods your customers prefer. Payments are part of the customer experience, and you need a processor that can scale with you. 

Sometimes, the best option is to switch payment processors. 

Many business owners are wary of switching, though, because they think they’re in iron-clad contracts with their current providers -- contracts they can’t get out of. They don’t want to pay high cancellation fees. They don’t want all the headaches.  

We’re here to tell you that’s just plain wrong. It’s actually pretty easy to get out of your contract and seamlessly switch providers with no disruption to your business. 

Here’s how. 

1. Complimentary review of your account 

The first step to switching providers only requires a recent statement of fees from your current payment processor. This allows the new provider to review the fees you’re currently paying and the current volume of transactions you process to determine where they can help you save on costs (some providers tend to get pretty creative to help you out).  

Of course, switching payment processors isn’t all about saving on fees. That’s why the provider should also take some time to review the level of customer support you’re currently getting, the terminals and e-commerce solutions you’re using, and the level of fraud protection you’re getting.  

They should also review your customer experience to determine whether there’s a way to improve it. Maybe your customers would benefit from instant financing and alternative payment options, for example. 

This step should give you a pretty good picture of where you’re at, how your payment processing could improve, and how making the switch can help your business grow.  

2. Contract review 

This is often the scariest part for a business owner. You might think that switching providers will mean paying thousands in fees. You might think that you can’t get out of your contract, under any circumstances.   

Fortunately, this isn’t the case.  

It’s important to understand what your contract states, though, and the new provider you’re considering partnering with can help you figure out what those clauses really mean. For example:  

  • Will you be charged early termination fees if you try to back out of the contract before its expiration date? Typically, payment processing contracts run for three years, and to get out of the contract without paying termination fees, you’d have to wait until you were within 90 days of your contract’s expiration date to cancel. Try to cancel any time before then, and you’ll face termination fees. What you might not realize is just how minor the cost isTypically, these fees will only run you $300 to $500. If the new provider can offer you large monthly savings, then it’s certainly worth paying the fees to switch.  
  • Are there any “outs” in the contract? Many payment processors allow you to leave penalty-free if they change your fees during your contract. If this occurs, they must inform you in writing and give you 90 days’ notice. Many processors change their fee structures quarterly. Once you receive the letter, you have that 90-day window to get out of your contract, as well as an additional 90 days after that. If these changes are made quarterly, it means you can essentially get out of your contract penalty-free at virtually any time of the year!  
  • Do you have an evergreen clause that automatically renews your contract at expiration? Most payment processing contracts automatically renew if you don’t cancel within 90 days of their expiration. If you miss this short window, you’re stuck for another year to three years. But remember, they can’t force you to stay!  
  • Is there an exclusivity clause that forbids you from working with another merchant services provider while the contract is intact? Again, they can’t force you to stay! The worst-case scenario is that you pay a couple hundred bucks.  
  • If you’re leasing your terminals, you might be surprised to see that your lease agreement is for a completely different term than your merchant contract. You might want to consider keeping the terminal rentals for the term of the contract or getting out of that contract as well. But if your processor raises your rates, you can cancel both the processing agreement and the lease agreement without penalty. See how easy it is? 

Seeing all of these clauses can be stressful, but the new provider will work to get you out of the contract without unnecessary costs, headaches, and disruptions if you’re unhappy with your current processor.

3. Onboarding 

You’ve made the decision to switch. Congrats!  

Now it’s time for onboarding.  

The new provider will need a few pieces of information to get started, including: 

  • A completed business information form (BIF) 
  • Driver's licence 
  • Legal business document  
  • Void cheque  

This will allow the provider to run a credit check and complete the approval process. If they receive all the requested information in a timely manner, onboarding should only take approximately seven to 10 business days. 

Once this process is complete, the merchant services provider will create a contract and send it out for signatures. Once they receive the signed contract back, they'll submit it for approval. Once approved, your new terminals should ship 24-48 hours after that.

4. Cancelling current contracts 

Once you’ve signed the new contract, call up your current payment processor and cancel your service. Make sure to cancel any terminal lease agreements and e-commerce contracts as well.  

You may need to make an appointment with one of the technicians to uninstall the old equipment and make room for your new terminals.  

5. Implementation 

If you’re just using one terminal at one checkout location, implementing your new hardware will be relatively easy. 

However, if you have a number of different terminals (countertop, mobile, unattended) at different locations, along with an e-commerce store and gift cards and a POS system all tangled together, things can get more complicated.

We’ll need to ensure everything continues to work smoothly and all your new hardware and software is well-integrated once you’ve made the switch. Ideally, the new provider should talk to your IT manager to learn more about your network, firewalls, and tech environment to anticipate and solve potential issues ahead of time. 

You’ll have a dedicated customer-service team helping you set up your new terminals and show you how to use the new system. This team will answer any questions you may have during this time. 

Pro tip: It’s best practice to transition to a new provider during a slow time just in case there are technical difficulties to resolve.  

You owe it to your business to make the switch 

It’s just that simple. Seriously. 

When it comes to the shelving units in your store and even the toilet paper you use, you shop around to get the best deal. Why wouldn’t you do the same when it comes to your payment processor?  

Chances are there’s better value out there. It pays to take these five easy steps and make the switch.  


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Justin Proctor

As director of sales, I run the day-to-day sales department at BNA Smart Payment. I’m responsible for recruiting, training, coaching, and retaining top sales reps and leading a customer-first sales team. I lead an awesome team of revenue-generating machines (aka salespeople) on the front lines of the sales process, move the pipeline forward, build inbound sales playbooks, and implement processes to drive revenue.

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