How can I accept credit cards for my business?
If you have started your own business, congratulations! You are on your way to becoming an independent entrepreneur and doing something that you love to make a living. However, you may be confused by some of the “simple things” which go along with being self employed.
Credit card sales are the most common types of transactions in today’s internet-based shopping world, and accepting credit cards leads to more customers and increased sales. In fact, accepting credit card payments means that you are open to doing business with a wide variety of people who might not otherwise buy your products or services. However, taking credit card payments may be daunting for some business owners because of the setup involved and the maintenance of the system. In order to successfully accept credit card payments you need a strategy that works for the size and scope of your business.
There are three basic ways companies can start accepting credit card payments:
Traditional Merchant Account
For larger business and those housed in “bricks and mortar” locations, the most common method is to use a bank or other financial institution to set up what is called a merchant account. The bank handles the transactions and charges you a fee for each sale. While this can be expensive for a smaller business, it offers the most convenience for merchants because the bank generally has lower fees than independent organizations and handles more of the actual accounting involved in the transactions.
Credit Card Processing Organizations
Another option is to use an independent organization that offers credit card transaction management. There are many of these available to business owners, and these independent firms may be more likely to work with small businesses, newly-opened companies, and those with smaller sales volume. Some banks are picky about the qualifications for businesses to which they will offer credit card services. If your business does not have a high credit rating, you may be turned down by a bank if you apply for a merchant account. However, many independent companies
will work with you and some even have special programs for new or home-based businesses that allow merchant account opened more easily.
Third Party Systems
The final method is to use a third-party payment system such as PayPal or Intuit Quick Payment to accept credit card payments. This is an ideal solution for someone who owns a small or home-based business with a relatively low volume of sales because there are little or no monthly fees or hardware costs. You may have to wait a few extra days to receive your money with these solutions but the quick step and online account management tools are often far superior than traditional bank merchant accounts.
Doing Business Online?
If you have a website you can accept credit card payments online. There are several ways you can construct your website payment system; one of the most popular is to purchase a software platform that gives your customers an online catalog and a “shopping cart” for purchases and an interface for making credit card payments. You can also use a “virtual terminal” to enter a customer’s payment information from phone-in orders; like the shopping cart software, these virtual terminals give you an instant answer as to whether the credit card purchase is valid. There are also phone-in services such as Dial Pay that allow you to phone in a credit card number to receive confirmation of a sale.
The best way to determine your options in taking credit card payments is to do a bit of comparison shopping. Many companies offer packages that are designed to help home-based and small businesses get set up to accept credit card payments and provide other services to customers. For a small fee, you may be able to purchase a package that will take care of the majority of your needs for serving your customers both online and offline. Compare prices from several companies to determine an average fee, then choose a company with which you feel comfortable and that offers the right combination of services you need for your particular business.