Considerations Before Canceling a Merchant Account

Canceling a merchant account is as simple as contacting your merchant service provider and requesting that the account be closed. For security reasons, some providers may require you to submit information verifying your identity before they will process a merchant account cancellation request. Although the process of closing an account is simple, it is sometimes accompanied by a surprise in the form of a potentially large early termination fee. best high risk merchant account provider

Early termination fees range from $50 up to $500 or more and they’re used by merchant service providers to retain merchants for a specified period of time. Finding out that you have to pay a hefty cancellation fee in order to close your merchant account can be a very frustrating experience, but there are things that you can do to lessen or even eliminate the fee.

The first thing to do is to check whether or not the early termination fee is still valid. Many merchant service agreements have a clause that voids the termination fee if processing rates are raised within the contract term. For example, if discount rates are raised on a merchant account in the first year of operation the early termination fee for that account would be waived regardless of the contract term.

Due to the high turnover in the merchant services industry contributing to the lack of knowledge of many sales representatives, you can’t rely on you merchant service provider to bring this loop-hole to your attention. Even if they insist that such a provision doesn’t exist in their agreement, check for yourself to be sure. It’s not uncommon to find a salesperson in the merchant service industry that has never read their acquiring bank’s processing agreement in its entirety.

If you can’t get around the cancellation fee to terminate your account, you may find that’s it’s cheaper to leave the account open until the contract term expires. Depending on the total of monthly fees your merchant account has, it may be less expensive to leave the account active and pay the monthly fees until the terms ends and you can close the account without penalty. For example, a merchant account with a $20 monthly minimum and a $10 statement fee costs $30 per month if there is no processing volume. If the cancellation fee for the same account is $250 and there are four months left in the account’s term, a merchant would save $130 by leaving the account open instead of cancelling and paying the fee ($250 – ($30 * 4months) = $130).

This last point is for merchants that are canceling their merchant account to open a new, less expensive account with another provider. Merchant service providers hate to lose a client to a competitor and they will always try to retain a your business. The first thing that a provider will ask when you call to cancel your merchant account is “why” and the second is, “what can we do to keep you.” The answer to this question is usually lower rates and fees. This is where many merchants get frustrated because they realize they didn’t need to cancel their existing account and devote time and energy into finding a new one. A single phone call to their existing provider may well have produced lower rates and fees at a fraction of the energy they’ve expended finding a new account.


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