Merchant accounts offer tons of features that help businesses manage their financial activity in a centralized location. These accounts can also integrate with your existing software solutions and third-party apps for smoother and seamless management. However, their main job is to process credit card payments. These companies provide merchants with a full-fledged POS system, card readers, and other tools for in-person and online transactions. Each merchant service provider has varying processing fees and is known for different specialties.
Some are popular for their hardware equipment, which is offered for free or at a reasonable cost, while others have a stellar customer support system that addresses all your concerns promptly. In this post, we are going to discuss the best merchant accounts for consultants and some tips consultants should consider when choosing a suitable merchant service provider. Let’s get started.
Consultants provide professional advice to businesses and individuals. Their roles might vary significantly depending on the nature of their profession and the clients they work with. They specialize in problem-solving, strategic planning, change management, financial analysis, legal and compliance, and so on.
A business consultant, for instance, helps merchants plan their finances, management, investments, compliance, customer relationship management, and other vital aspects of a business. They help businesses adapt to the latest technology and advanced practices to offer competitive products and services. You might wonder why a consultant might need a merchant account.
As mentioned above, every business (no matter the industry they operate in) requires a payment processor or a merchant service provider who can facilitate credit card payments. If you have a physical setup for your consultation business and an eCommerce store where you accept credit cards and contactless payments, you need a secure and dedicated merchant account to facilitate these transactions. That’s just one reason. A consultation company might need a merchant account to comply with the PCI DSS standards, ensure smooth integration with the business system, and conduct fast and secure transactions.
Note: Consultation business is not usually seen as high-risk. However, the risk assessment could vary from processor to processor. It depends on the criteria they have established for classifying businesses as low or high-risk. As a low-risk business, finding a reputable merchant service provider shouldn’t be difficult. In fact, you can get the best processing rate and top-notch service from your merchant account.
If you are running a consultation company or are planning to work as a consultant, here are a few vital factors you must consider when choosing a merchant account in 2024.
Processing Fee: First things first, check the processing fee. As mentioned previously, it differs from company to company and is usually quite high for high-risk merchants. Some have a fixed processing rate, while others quote a price based on your risk level, business type, history of chargeback, and other factors. Unfortunately, the processing fee isn’t the only price you pay for a merchant account.
Processors charge a monthly or annual fee for the software and hardware they install, chargeback fee, PCI compliance fee, payment gateway fee, and more. Some processors have set different fee structures for in-person and online payments. You could also get a discount on the processing rate if you meet a certain processing volume. So, it’s always best to discuss your requirements with the processor and get a custom quote wherever possible before proceeding.
Security Protocols: As a consultation company, your priority should be your clients’ security. So, it’s important to verify the security standards in the POS system, card reader, and other processing tools before configuring them. PCI DSS compliance is mandatory. You can find compliance-related information on the processor’s website. You can also find information regarding their security practices. Look for a merchant service provider who guarantees end-to-end encryption, tokenization, two-factor authentication, and other digital security tools that guarantee a secure payment experience for consultants and their clients.
Customer Support: Having a dedicated team of professional support representatives who are available 24/7 at your disposal is crucial if you don’t have an in-house team of IT experts. Startups usually face a lot of challenges when working with payment processing tools. Your system might experience downtime, which negatively affects your clients’ transaction experience. Look for a payment processor who’s available during peak business hours and offers support through different options, including email, phone, and live chat service.
Supported Payment Methods: Clients like options when it comes to payments. Some clients prefer cash while others pay through credit/debit cards. There has been an increased demand for contactless payment methods, such as digital wallets and cryptocurrencies lately. A good merchant account has NFC-enabled and EMV-equipped tools that support a wide range of payment options, providing your clients with the convenience of paying using their preferred payment mode.
Payout Time: Also, check the payout time. Some payment processors offer next-day funding for a small fee, while others settle your payment in a few business days. For some consultation companies, how soon the payment is settled plays a vital role in their cash flow management. So, choose a payment processor that offers quick payouts.
Integration Options: Many consultants work with payment processors that offer a flexible solution, which can integrate with a vast range of accounting, invoicing, billing, and other management tools. These additional features can save you the time to enter data between different devices manually. It also reduces the risk of manual error. Check if the payment processing devices are compatible with QuickBooks, Zoho Accounting, Magento, BigCommerce, Shopify, and other third-party applications. Syncing your payment processor with your existing system can help manage your financial transactions effectively.
Scalability: A consultation business might start with a couple of clients and can gradually grow into an established organization with clients from all over the world. If you also have expansion plans, look for payment processing services that can scale with your business. Your processor must be able to manage an increased volume of transactions when required.
Reputation: Lastly, check the company’s reputation in the processing industry. Check their testimonials, customer reviews, and ratings on different ranking tools to get a better idea of their popularity.
Finding a perfect credit card processing company for your consultation business can seem pretty overwhelming, especially if you are a startup. Helcim is a good choice if you want the best processing rates in the industry, a reputable merchant service provider, excellent support service, and a flexible contract. Serving merchants in the US and Canada, Helcim is a great option for small-sized businesses.
The transaction rate varies for in-person and online transactions. You are charged 0.4% + 8 cents for in-store transactions and 0.5% + 25 cents for online transactions. Both advertised rates are for merchants with a monthly processing volume of less than $50,000. Helcim doesn’t charge a monthly fee, a plus point for small consultants.
However, you must add the hardware price, i.e. $329 for its payment terminal and $109 for the card reader. For consultants with a processing volume above $50,000, Helcim charges a flat 0.35% + 7 cents for card-present (in-person transactions) and 0.45% + 25 cents for card-not-presents (keyed-in or online) transactions.
Helcim supports debit and credit card transactions, ACH payments, and international transfers. The service works all over the USA and Canada. Consultants who operate globally or are planning to work with clients based in international countries should consider Helcim Payment Services.
Helcim sets up your merchant account and offers a mobile app, which accepts payments on the go. Its mobile app works on Android and iOS. The company supplies virtual terminals, which offer merchants and customers the convenience of processing transactions remotely. Merchants can log into their payment terminal from just about any device using their login credentials. They offer payment gateways that support online payments on your eCommerce websites. Helcim’s payment gateway integrates with third-party shopping carts and billing software.
Helcim is a PCI-compliant and secure payment processor. It has equipped its payment terminals and POS units with end-to-end encryption, tokenization, and other latest security measures ensuring a safe transaction experience for both merchants and customers. Their comprehensive security package covers address verification and a Fraud Defender program, which evaluates your risk level based on different parameters, like shipping location and IP address.
Helcim doesn’t have a fixed contract, nor does it charge an early cancellation fee. The no-contract, zero-ETF, and pay-as-you-go model make Helcim the best choice for consultants who aren’t sure about merchant accounts. You don’t have to worry about getting locked into a fixed-rate contract. With Helcim, a merchant can cancel the plan anytime without paying extra.
Helcim has an extensive knowledge base, which covers general questions and technical content. For merchants who need personalized assistance from a live agent, they have a team of professionals available via phone and email. Their support team is available from Monday to Friday (7 AM to 5 PM). Use [email protected] to drop your questions via email.
While Helcim is a reliable, responsive, and secure merchant service provider, it might not be the best option for startup consultants with a processing volume of $25,000 or less. Their integration options are also quite limited, especially when compared to Stripe and other competitors.
Square POS is another good choice for consultants looking for a free POS system with basic capabilities, like sales tracking and an option to accept offline payments. They offer a free POS system that comes equipped with all the necessary functions to process credit card payments while offering an extensive range of reporting tools.
The service, however, isn’t suitable for all consultation companies. The size of your business and your monthly processing volume determine whether or not this retail POS unit is your best bet. Note that Square doesn’t offer a comprehensive POS that offers advanced functionalities. The tool doesn’t work on Windows. Let’s take a quick look at its features.
Square has displayed its fee structure on the website, enabling merchants to compare the costs and choose the best in the industry. It charges a flat percentage of the total amount and a fixed fee. Square’s processing fees vary depending on how the transaction is processed.
There’s no monthly fee for Square POS, although Square Appointment, Square Appointment Premium, and Square Retail Plus come with a monthly price.
Merchants appreciate the next-day funding option. So, if you are concerned about the delayed payments affecting your cash flow, Square can help you have the payment transferred to your bank account the next day or the same day for a flat $1.75 fee.
Square supplies an extensive range of POS hardware systems ranging from small card readers that can be plugged into your smartphone to receipt prints and barcode scanners. These hardware accessories are available at different prices. For instance, Square Readers comes at $49 and the Stand Mount version costs $149. You can also use its register with dual touchscreens. It costs $799. These hardware devices allow consultants to place different payment tools for online, in-person, and manually keyed-in transactions.
The professional support service at Square allows you to get quick answers to your queries and resolve all kinds of issues with ease. You can contact them via Email, Phone, or live chat service. Currently, they don’t have a 24/7 support system, but they do operate during business hours, i.e. from 6 AM to 6 PM Monday to Friday. They also have a knowledge base.
Square POS comes with basic functionalities that help you process payments and manage your financial activities smoothly. But that’s not all. The system can be synced with third-party features, including payroll, email marketing, and an eCommerce store integration, all of which make your store management a hassle-free job. Integrating your system with these eCommerce solutions and third-party apps can save you time in handling your management.
Small consultants with a high credit card processing volume should consider Payment Depot. Their subscription-based pricing model with zero markup on interchange rate makes it ideal for those with unpredictable sales volume. They have a transparent pricing policy with a straightforward payment structure. You can select from their subscription plans, based on your processing volume and the features you need in the POS, and pay a monthly fee. There’s no contract or an early cancellation fee.
As mentioned above, Payment Depot charges a monthly subscription fee, which starts at $79 if your processing volume is below $250,000 annually. You can get a custom quote if it exceeds the given threshold. In addition to the subscription fee, you only pay a per-transaction fee, which is charged by the card network. There’s no markup on interchange rates. So, it’s comparatively cheaper than other processing systems.
Starting with card terminals, Payment Depot offers mobile-friendly card terminals and register-like systems from different brands, including Clover, FirstData, and SwipeSimple. The company can also reprogram your existing devices if you want to continue using the same hardware. They offer POS systems from Clover mainly.
The POS units come packed with an array of features, such as employee management, reporting tools, loyalty programs, discounts, and so on. In addition, the company supplies a free virtual terminal to all merchants. It comes in handy when your credit card reader is not working or you need to take orders on the phone.
Payment Depot doesn’t implement a contract. It works on a pay-as-you-go model with a flat-rate subscription plan. There’s no hidden or unnecessary fee either. For small consultants who have just started, Payment Depot makes a good choice as you can try its features without getting locked into a fixed-term contract. You don’t pay a cancellation fee if you cancel early.
Payment Depot offers 24/7 support and professional representatives who are available to answer all your questions promptly. You can also reach out to their support team via email. Sadly, they don’t have an extensive knowledge base or a place where you can find information about common technical issues with their system. That means you can’t troubleshoot the problem on your own. Should you face any issues, you must reach out to the team for assistance.
These were the top merchant accounts for consultation companies in 2024. As a consultant, you will want to choose a processor that offers transparent pricing, affordable processing fees, a responsive support department, and flexible contracts. Compare these merchant accounts and get a customized quote if you have a large processing volume. Choose the one that offers hardware at reasonable prices and flexible systems that can integrate with your existing applications.