In 1994, Jeff Bezos introduced the world to a company called Amazon. The same year, Pizza Hut delivered the first pizza ordered online. Few experts at the time made much of the business news, but fast forward to 2020, and the Internet is sizzling with eCommerce transactions that have averaged an annual growth rate of 15 percent since 2010. Several economic forecasts have predicted that eCommerce transactions by the year 2040 should represent a vast majority of overall sales.

Despite the transition to ordering products and services online, far too many businesses venture into cyberspace unprepared to address the challenges of selling products and services. Perhaps the most significant challenge faced by many companies is processing payments digitally. As the online payment processing experts at Double Helix Processing emphasize, the key for business owners and operators is to learn six tips for choosing an eCommerce merchant account.

Read the Fine Print of the Contract

Fees tucked into an eCommerce merchant contract can make processing credit cards online cost-prohibitive. As with every other type of credit card charge, purchases made with a credit card online include an interchange fee, which is the rate charged by a company for processing a credit card. Interchange rates differ depending on the company conducting the processing of credit card payments.

Since online sales do not require the buyer to sign on the dotted line, the payments are more vulnerable to fraudulent activities. Make sure to read the fine print tucked within a merchant account contract to determine whether your business can afford the interchange fee rate.

There are three types of charges for processing credit cards:

Flat Rate

Under a flat-rate plan, credit card payment processing companies charge merchants the same rate. If your payment processing provider offers a per-transaction rate of 3.4%, then that is the percentage you pay for processing every credit card payment online.


Tiered transaction rates fall under three broad categories: Qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified. Although the three categories appear to be easy to understand, the fact remains the federal government does not regulate how much a payment processing company can charge for each category.

Plus Pricing

As the most transparent type credit card processing method, price pricing is calculated by determining the risk posed by a credit cardholder plus the percentage rate charged by the provider.

Go with One Provider

Processing credit cards online versus having it done with a customer standing at the checkout line involves additional steps that require different companies to process the payment. Here are the steps involved in processing a credit card online:

  • Card information inputted into shopping cart software
  • Payment information sent to the payment gateway, and then on to the payment processor
  • Credit card company receives details of a transaction and determines interchange fee
  • Bank issuing credit card authorizes the sale
  • Payment gateway verifies authorization for the shopping cart to complete the transaction

Save time and money by contracting with a credit card processer that handles each of the five steps.

How Do Refunds Affect the Fee Structure?

Like a physical shopping cart, an online shopping cart can include at least one product that a customer decides to return for credit or cashback. Credit card processing companies charge different return rates, and if you work in an industry that experiences a high return rate, the fee charged for returns can make running an eCommerce store unprofitable. Customers that decide to cancel an order before you process a credit card are not the problem. It is the customers that come back online a few days later to request a return. The contract you sign for a merchant account should include clear language defining the rate for return transactions.

Avoid Long-Term Contracts

Credit card processing contracts typically include legal language that makes it costly to leave a contract before it expires. Even if you are not getting the service expected from a credit card processing company, you might have to pay a high fee for closing the contract before the end of service date. A high fee is also levied on your account if you change anything related to processing credit cards online. The most effective way to avoid the upper end of contract fees is by signing up for a monthly contract that lets you make changes to the contract to account for changes in the operation of your eCommerce store. A month-to-month pay as you contract also allows you to end the business relationship because of inferior service.

Flawless Integration with Shopping Cart

The key to choosing the right eCommerce merchant account often depends on the seamless integration between your website and the virtual shopping cart. Consumers run away from eCommerce stores that take too long to process credit card transactions. The biggest culprit for slowing down online credit card sales is the last step, the virtual shopping cart. Choose a merchant account that makes it easy for you to connect your online store to the shopping cart feature provided by the credit card processing company.

Make Security the Top Priority

Yes, speed matters for processing credit card payments online. However, you can process credit card transactions at the speed of light and still upset customers because a lack of security for your virtual eCommerce store leads to fraudulent activities. PCI Level 1 compliant payment processing companies ensure the most secure credit card transactions. It is not only your customers; you have to protect against fraudulent activities. Retailers have to prevent criminals from using stolen credit cards to make purchases as well. Signatures remain the most effective way to verify online credit card transactions, which means collecting remote signatures should be part of your credit card processing plan.

Selling online comes with several risks. Minimize the risks by choosing the right merchant account.


Will AI Replace Content Freelancers?