Published December 07th, 2015 by

Thinking About Getting Started with Credit Card Processing? Read On for Tips from the Pros!

If you think you’re one of the only businesses who hasn’t yet jumped on the bandwagon and started taking plastic, you’re wrong. Just about half of all businesses still haven’t upgraded to begin accepting credit and debit cards, according to an article published in Investor’s Business Daily [1]. Could it be that credit card processing presents an overwhelming upfront challenge to small business? It’s completely understandable that a business owner would feel overwhelmed with new technology, as well as simply not knowing what is needed and where to begin. It may feel overwhelming, but we don’t think it should have to be. Read on and find out the basics of why you should make the switch—we’ve simplified the process so you can feel completely confident that you know how to ask the right questions and find out exactly what you can expect—and find the best credit card processing company that’s right for your business. So why should I switch—my business is doing fine right now! Whether you’re a small “mom and pop” business that has grown steadily over the years and established yourself in the community, or you stumbled into success and you’re thinking about accepting credit cards to improve your customer experience, switching to accept credit, debit, and other forms of payment can only improve your business. In fact, what if I told you that not accepting cards is costing you money? That same study that was discussed in Investor’s Business Daily also uncovered some sobering statistics about small business in the United States. They found that on average, small businesses who are not able to process cards or electronic forms of payment are losing an average of $7,000 in sales ever year! That’s an unbelievable collective loss of nearly $100B of annual sales to small business in total! The unwavering numbers here make it clear that you simply must upgrade to avoid losses—and as quickly as you can. The truth is, you may not even realize where you could be increasing revenue, but once you upgrade the opportunities multiply. For instance, enabling credit card processing can let you take advantage of many more promotional opportunities. Have a flash sale for those purchasing gift cards, for example—now, you’ve locked in an opportunity for growth with the gifting crowd who just wants an easy way to give a thoughtful gift while supporting small business. Because the truth is, supporting small business today is very appealing to many consumers. Especially in gift giving, boutiques, crafters, and “mom and pop” shops invoke a sense of charm and community—and when you accept additional forms of payment beyond cash, you make it that much more convenient for your potential customers to purchase from you right now. What questions should I ask as a merchant looking for a good credit card processing company? Find out about customer service. The first thing that most business owners want to know is that the company they are choosing has good customer service and a fast response time. You don’t want to invest in upgrading your systemBusiness man writing customer service concept only to lose a sale if your processor has issues. How easy is it to contact support? The best credit card processors offer after-hours support. That’s especially important if you’re a business that operates during the weekend, or has extended hours. You want to make sure the company you’re using is open and available when you are. When you begin to set up your new processing technology, it should be a simplified, user-friendly process, but before signing on the dotted line, you should make sure that you’ll get the support you need during setup if some unforeseen issues arise. Flexibility in your credit card processing company. What options are offered to your customers? Will you be able to offer gift cards? Even more importantly, you should certainly know what credit cards will be accepted. You can discuss your options and find out if all of the major credit cards are accepted. Sometimes you might get an unexpected surprise here, so make sure that they’re all accepted and that you’re ready to offer all of your customers options. Another thing you may want to find out about is the capability to accept newer forms of payment like Apply Pay and Google Wallet, as more people are beginning to use these faster forms of payment—especially the tech-savvy crowd. Here in the future, small business owners can expect things to move in more in the direction of NFC (near-field technology), so you’ll want to be sure that you are up-to-date with these new trends for your customers. Saving the biggest question for last: How much will all of this cost? The U.S. Small Business Administration can shed some light on this subject. You can expect some costs related to interchange fees, processing costs, statement fees, and the gateway fee that’s charged only when you’re initially setting up the new service. Additionally, you can also incur some costs from the major credit cards as well. So what fees can you expect? Here’s a list of the most common fees you will incur and what they mean to you. Your credit card processing company should be able to give you the exact terms upfront when you ask, and in some cases, you can potentially barter these down—it never hurts to go in with a good game plan. Gateway Charges – Find out what the cost of setup, installation, and any other upfront costs you will incur when you sign up for new services. Contractual Obligations – Will you be locked in to an agreement with this company? If so, find out if there is an early termination fee in the event you choose to discontinue your service or want to switch to another company. Monthly Fee for Minimum Charge – You most likely won’t need to worry about this one too much, as the typical minimum charges average around $30. However, in the event you didn’t sell the minimum in through your card processor, you’d have to make up the difference. For example, if you only sold $15 worth of merchandise one month, you’d be charged the other $15 on your statement to make up the difference. Interchange Fee – This variable fee can apply to you depending on how large the purchase was and how the purchase was made. Again, as a business owner, you need to always take into account that offering online sales, for the most part, will open up a much larger opportunity for growth and offset any interchange fees you will incur. Because in-store purchases do bring less risk, you will see a marginal increase in interchange fees between the in-store and the online or over-the-phone purchase. Statement Charge – This small fee is typically around $10 and covers the costs that the credit card processing company incurs to create your statement including to print it out, administration involved, as well as to mail it to you. The takeaway here is to just be aware that there will be charges you can expect, but they are minimal and should be completely explained at the time of signing up. When in doubt—ask! You’re entitled to ask if any special pricing can apply to you based on your size and location as well. Preventing fraud: what you need to know. What you can do here is make sure that you’re making the smartest choices for you, and ensuring that your whole team is on board with the new upgrade. For example, manually entering credit and debit card information can actually cost you a bit more, so opt for swiping whenever you can. This is because with every manual entry, there is phishingalso an increased risk of fraud and user error. Using a swiper is safer because of the security protections in the magnetic reader [2]. You’ll also want to make sure your team is very careful about not accepting in-store payments if the physical card is in not the customer’s hand. Fraud is just too big of a concern here, but when in doubt, ask for picture I.D. and look to see if the name on the card is the same as the holder’s. These things seem obvious to you as a business owner, but prior training invested with the in-store team can provide a much-needed obstacle to fraudulent charges. The good news—you have many choices in credit card processing companies. Now more than ever, you have many options to find the right company that fits your needs. When calling companies, let them know that you’re calling around to find the best deal for your small business, and make sure you understand all of the capabilities that will be offered by your new debit and credit card processor so you can take full advantage of all the new business opportunities available to you.  


[1] Investor's Business Daily, "Businesses Miss Out on Sales," 23 5 2012.
[2] Intuit Quickbooks, "Reducing Credit Card Processing Costs," 2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 25 11 2015]. Everywhere!

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