Merchant services

How to Get a Merchant Services Solutions Agreement

Before you can get particular about what a merchant services provider can offer your business in the way of custom solutions, you need a merchant services solutions agreement. Such an agreement is a formal document of terms and conditions about what solutions will be available to you, both for in-person and e-commerce transactions. But an agreement also represents your responsibilities to your provider.

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For small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) and high-risk merchants, getting a merchant services agreement is often the hardest part of finding the suite of card-processing solutions that work best for them. Often, such merchants have their applications denied several times by traditional banks and independent sales organizations (ISOs), and they are left exasperated and uncertain about what options are left.

Sometimes, obtaining a merchant services solutions agreement is more about the due diligence done before you approach a provider with an application. Check out our guide below for tips to ensure your business has done thorough research that will lead to an approved agreement.

Determine What Type of Merchant Services Provider You’re Approaching

One of the many reasons high-risk merchants have their applications denied? The providers they’ve approached think there are too many risks involved. This includes the reputation risk your business holds industry-wise as well as the financial risks involved.

SMBs with low or poor financials run into similar trouble when they apply to traditional banks or ISOs. If you’re running a business that has a high probability of experiencing chargebacks, or your monthly statements showcase a fluctuating and unreliable revenue, applications will likely be denied. Providers want assurance their clients will be able to make their monthly payments.

Before you approach provider, read up on their websites to determine if they work with high-risk merchant providers. Some providers specialize in high-risk businesses, so it’s in your best interests to be thorough and learn the must-ask questions when shopping for a merchant services provider.

 Make Sure You Have all Necessary Documents

When you’ve found a merchant services provider that will work with your business, no matter if it’s high risk or not, you need to prepare your application. To have the strongest application possible, you need to provide as much up-to-date information about the state of your business financials as possible.

Include monthly statements that can show your provider a typical example of your monthly volume, how often or how little you deal with chargebacks, and proof you aren’t a business that frauds its customers. Your provider should be able to get a clear idea of how your business is doing and how it can customize solutions to help.

Read Every Inch of the Terms and Conditions

As mentioned in the introduction, your agreement isn’t just about what your provider will offer you, it’s about the responsibilities you must uphold in the terms and conditions. Before you sign off on the agreement, you need to get intimate with the details of the terms and conditions document. This document will be governing your relationship between you and the provider, after all.

Not reading the terms and conditions is considered one of the chief mistakes a business owner could make upon entering a merchant services agreement. You could be facing hidden fees in the form of interchange downgrades and unpredictable rates for your monthly processing fees. Pay special attention to whether your provider has included clauses about costly setup and termination fees as well.

If there doesn’t appear to be anything suspicious about the terms and conditions, and you’ve asked all your questions, then congratulations! You can complete your application knowing you stand a high chance of getting a merchant services solutions agreement.


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Lisa Gibson

Lisa is the Credit Manager of BNA Smart Payment Systems and has over 18 years of experience in diverse roles of credit and credit risk management. She graduated from the financial program at Boreal College and is an expert in personal loans and line of credit, mortgage underwriting, private label commercial credit cards, small business loans, and merchant account underwriting. Lisa is also an avid railfan and HO scale train modeler, and enjoys curling.

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