Merchant services allow businesses a variety of financial services including check, credit or debit card processing. Examples of merchant service companies would include Transfirst or First Data. These companies provide merchants with credit card terminals to buy outright or lease over a contract period. However, purchasing expensive equipment when just getting started isn’t always an option so virtual online payment gateways are sometimes an option. On top of deciding to lease or buy the equipment, per transaction rates, batch fee, registration fees, contract periods and setup fees can really add up. So how much are we really paying to take customer credit and debit cards? When you add up all the monthly fee’s, hardware, per transaction fees, etc.. Your average per transaction cost is probably around %3-%4. Debit offers lower fee’s because of the lower risk involved but only if the customers transaction is about $35. It’s not surprising that a lot of smaller Mom n’ Pop stores only take cash because of all the variables of using merchant services. Why can’t these merchant services companies make the entire process more transparent? And now with the interchange battle that is waging between banks and retailers I would assume this process will only become more complex over time. Anyone had confusing experience researching merchant services for their business. Feel free to comment.