If you run any sort of small business that’s consumer focused, chances are you spend an awful lot of time and money processing credit card transactions. If your business is based on an e-commerce platform, this is probably the primary way you receive revenues. Even for Brick and Mortar businesses credit card transactions are crucial. Almost no one uses cash these days, so if you don’t take plastic you’re going to miss out on a huge chunk of business. But every time a customer swipes or enters their card numbers, you are getting charged by the bank for processing fees. That’s tough to swallow for most companies. So here are five tips to help you reduce your credit card processing costs.

First of all, make sure you understand the intricacies of the process. Those fees are flexible, but there are certain elements that will be locked in regardless of which company you use. First on that list is the interchange rate. That’s the rate charged by the banks issuing the cards that allows you to accept their products. The credit card companies must list those online, so you’ll know in advance what they are. The second locked element is the assessment. Those are fees that the various card companies charge, again regardless of the processing company. The negotiations must start with the markup charged by the processing company.

When reaching out to find a credit card processing partner, make sure you shop around. There are literally hundreds of options out there, all competing for their small percentage of your business. Start thinking like the one in charge here. No matter how small your business, you shouldn’t let them push you around. Demand their best possible rate, and if they’re not willing to deliver it, go elsewhere.

Processing companies will offer a couple of different pricing structures, and these are actually much more important for your business than the fees and general rates. Basically, you want to make sure you use interchange pricing. With interchange pricing you’ll enjoy lower costs than with tiered pricing, helping you save money on every transaction. If a company wants to lock you in to tiered pricing, simply go somewhere else.

Another red flag is if a processing company asks you to sign a contract. This is tricky, because at this point you haven’t had any experience with that firm, and a contract will force you to keep working with them or face a steep cancellation fee. Processing companies you are speaking to may even declare that this is common practice in the industry, but it is not. Always look elsewhere, as you’ll find plenty of companies willing to work with you without any sort of contract.

Finally, look to avoid renting the equipment you need to process credit cards. Renting machines will see you paying for the hiked up surcharges the processing companies hope you’ll accept. The costs for these machines have gone down drastically over the past several years. You should probably try Moblized if you can’t find a rate that’s under $300 to purchase all of the processing equipment you’ll need to get the job done. Renting at a monthly rate will see you paying far more in the long term.