When selecting a credit card processor to work with, merchants should consider things like reliability, efficiency, customer support, range of services and competitive rates. Coincidentally, these are the five key factors used by an independent research firm and authority on credit card processing to assemble a list of the top payment processors and merchant services providers in the United States.

The three highest ranking companies on the TopCreditCardProcessors.com list are Leaders Merchant Services out of Camarillo, California, Credit Card Processing Specialists in Grandville, Michigan and National Processing based in Orem, Utah.

You might be familiar with some of their biggest clients, which include Subway, Thrifty Car Rental, Hampton Inn, Ace Hardware, Discovery Network and Crime Stoppers USA.

These companies are positioned atop the rankings because of high-quality service and reliability combined with minimal inconvenience to their clients and a willingness to be flexible. This is evidenced by the fact that the lowest client retention rate of all entrants on the list is 85 percent, while 29 of the 30 companies hit 90 percent or better. These are the same attributes merchants should be looking for in their POS credit card processing software, too.

By using technology solutions that are compatible with a wide range of both hardware systems and processing vendors, business owners can be secure in the knowledge that they are able to adapt to emerging consumer trends and needs without having to scrap their entire setup and start over from scratch.

Furthermore, when strategies need to be adjusted, excellent customer service makes any transition as smooth as can be. The same characteristics merchants desire in their processing vendors should be sought in their software solutions as well. When those two align, businesses are primed for success.