If you haven’t spent a ton of time considering the impact of credit card processing fees on your business, you’re not the only one. Most business owners become overwhelmed by the research needed when setting up their payment processing and as a result, opt for PayPal since it’s relatively cheap and easy to set up. However, if you get to the point where you’re considering switching over to a dedicated merchant account, here’s four steps to help you make the switch:
1. **Determine the Right Time** – Use this [calculator](http://feefighters.com/paypal-calculator) to get a benchmark for the size/time in your business to consider switching to a merchant account. PayPal tends to be most cost effective for small businesses, but that of course depends on [a number of different factors](http://www.businesspundit.com/to-paypal-or-not-to-paypal/) like average transaction size.
2. **Comparison Shop Merchant Accounts** – Once you’ve decided that it’s time to get a merchant account, the best way to make sure you’ll get a good deal is to comparison shop at least 3-5 different processors. One easy way to do this is to use our service, [FeeFighters](http://feefighters.com), which will give you apples-to-apples bids from top processors in a few minutes.
3. **Stick with Interchange Plus** – When comparing merchant accounts, stay away from gimmicky [tiered pricing](http://feefighters.com/blog/tiered-pricing-for-merchant-accounts/) which promises low rates (as low as 1.5%!) but usually ends up including scores of hidden fees. Instead, opt for [interchange plus pricing](http://feefighters.com/blog/how-to-tell-an-interchange-plus-quote-from-a-tiered-pricing-quote/), the most transparent form of pricing for merchant accounts. With this pricing, you’ll pay interchange (the fee that Visa/MC charges and does not vary from processor to processor) and a fixed markup over interchange.
4. **Don’t Forget the Gateway** – PayPal acts as both [gateway](http://feefighters.com/blog/weekly-kick-what-is-a-gateway-video/) and processor, so when you switch to a merchant account, you’ll also need to sign up for a [gateway](http://feefighters.com/blog/feefighters-weekly-kick-what-kind-of-gateway-should-you-use/) (virtual terminal). Stay away from bundled packages with shopping carts as they tend to have higher processing fees. The most common and widely accepted gateway is [Authorize.net](http://reseller.authorize.net/application/?id=5558161), which also happens to be fully-compatible with Wufoo.
Though it may seem scary to consider going off of PayPal, you may stand to save a ton of money by switching. Just be sure to follow the steps above to make sure you’re informed about the impact of your credit card processing fees.
**This guest post was written by Sheel Mohnot from [FeeFighters](http://feefighters.com), the comparison shopping site for credit card processors. FeeFighters lets business owners compare top quality processors on an apples-to-apples basis, similar to using Kayak for travel.**