What if you’re locked into a contract?
Normally, merchant accounts for payment acceptance have a reasonable cancellation time of 1-3 months with a charge, but card terminal hire is another story. The worst we have heard of are contracts of 6 years, and 12-24 months are still common.
But you needn’t be stuck if you find a provider that can buy you out or offers such a good deal that it’s cheaper to switch – even while keeping the old contract to run its course.
Basically, if by switching you save more in card fees and other costs than what you currently pay in monthly terminal rental, it still makes sense to switch and pay the rental cost to your old provider (though it’s not ideal).
Can you use the current contract as leverage in negotiations with a new provider? Certainly. A new provider may, for instance, offer a deal with zero monthly fees in rental (where it normally has a hire subscription) to sway you over.
It’s also easier with a history of card transactions to get better rates, as it is clearer for the new provider which fees are right for you. With no sales history, the card machine provider has no proof that you qualify for lower fees.
Some merchant service providers cancel the old contract on behalf of you to ease the process, or help you with a template letter of cancellation.
Others offer to pay the exit fee required of the old contract, but this doesn’t always work smoothly. We’ve seen merchants complain that they were supposed to get this compensation as a voucher, but never got it or it was delayed. It may be smoother to just get a reduced deal from the new provider to avoid complications.