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While major companies and corporations have already accepted the idea of accepting and using credit card processing<, smaller businesses have just started accepting credit cards. This guide is intended to help direct you to a merchant account provider for your business, while helping you avoid some tactics that could end up costing you more than you had intended to spend.
For businesses that are accepting credit cards for the first time, merchant services can be confusing and frustrating. With this comprehensive guide you will be able to understand the different providers of merchant services and how to educate yourself so you can make informed decisions that will benefit both you and your business.
CreditCardProcessing.org is a informative resource for the transaction processing industry. Whether your business revolves around transactions with consumers or other businesses, it is important to provide multiple methods of payment so that you are not limiting yourself of potential revenue. In a day and age where credit cards are vital to expanding businesses and making online purchases, those not accepting credit cards put themselves at a disadvantage and will fall behind the pack, and inevitably fail. That is why it is important for businesses not currently accepting credit cards to begin doing so. Unfortunately, businesses unfamiliar with accepting credit cards may become confused and frustrated by merchant services.
That is why CreditCardProcessing.org is here to help. This site can provide potential merchants vast amounts of information on whether a business should begin accepting credit cards, the different types of merchant providers, what merchant provider should be used and much more. Visiting the Learning Center should be the first step in any potential merchant's decision so they can become informed on the topic before they blindly apply for a merchant account.
CreditCardProcessing.org can also simply the process of choosing which credit card processing company a merchant should choose. This site provides vital information on the industries leading credit card processing companies, including their rates, approval ratings, fees and more. Review any of our credit card processing companies for free to get a better feel for which merchant provider you should use. Additionally, we offer free credit card processing reviews and rates based on the location of the merchant. So get your business caught up with the rest of the pack by educating yourself and selecting a worthy credit card processing company with CreditCardProcessing.org.
What is a Merchant Account?
If you want to start accepting credit cards at your company, you need a merchant account. Merchant accounts are what actually run the credit card processing system, as we will explain.
A merchant account is the best and easiest way to accept credit card payments< from your customers. A merchant account brings you and your company into a credit card processor. This allows you to accept credit card transactions from your customers then be able to put that money into your bank account.
There are two different types of merchant accounts. A "card present" merchant account and an Internet merchant account. In a "card present" account, the credit card is present at when the card is swiped through a credit card terminal. With an Internet account the card is not physically there.
To get a Merchant Account you have to fill out an application with your desired credit card processing company and then you have to get approved. Your local bank can offer credit card processing services but their application process is very rigorous and they are very selective. Also, banks cannot provide web-based services like specialized credit card processing companies.
After you get approval from your desired credit card processing company, you need a way to process the transactions. You will either have a physical terminal to where you can swipe the cards or, you can get software especially if you have an e-business.
When you successfully set up your merchant account and have all the necessary tools you can begin to accept transactions from credit cards. When the credit card transaction is made and is not declined then it goes into your merchant account. If however the credit card is declined then no funds will be put into your account. You will be able to receive the total amount in your bank account at the end of the day.
Credit Card Terminals - Credit Card Processing
After Applying for a Merchant Account you may ask yourself do I need a terminal. If you intend to physically accept credit cards for your business then yes. There are many different kinds of terminals in different price ranges. Picking the right terminal for you is based on you and your company's specific needs.
With the credit card terminal you can physically swipe the customers card and then key in the amount and the transaction will be complete. Usually it prints out two receipts, one being for the customer and the other being a store copy.
You can also use the terminal when there is no physical card present. You can take the customers order over the Internet and then key in their information on the terminal. However if your company is online based it may be more efficient to get software for your computer.
Usually the price of a terminal can be anywhere between $100-$1,000. The price is very reflective of how old the terminal is and what are its features. The newer models and ones with more features and keys will subsequently drive the price up.
Most of the credit card terminals dial out through a phone line and complete a transaction in less than 10 seconds. The line does not have to be a primary line. It can hold a fax machine as well as others. Be careful if you do this, for the chance of a busy signal will interrupt a transaction and it may not be processed.
The newest terminals can be connected through IP lines. If you do not need a phone line you can just piggyback on your existing Internet line and save money. The transaction time is also greatly reduced to 2-3 seconds.
If your company wishes to start accepting ATM cards then they need a PIN pad. You can still accept them without one, though the card will be run as a check card.
When you finally settle on the right type of terminal for you remember to shop around for the best price. Do not lease a terminal for the simple fact that it will cost you more money down the road. Steer clear of business that wish to charge you an exorbitant amount of money for a terminal.
Types of credit card processors
Here are some examples of the different types of credit card processors you can use.
- Your financial institution for your business is the first place to inquire about a credit card processing provider. This is one of the easiest options since banks usually have bundles and packages already designed for businesses that have merchant services in them. Although you can setup your business through a bank package, the bank itself does not process the credit card transactions, they hire a third party vendor to do this. Banks are more likely to look more closely at what your business is doing and your comprehensive business plan, which results in a more difficult and lengthened process of being approved.
- Third Party Processor
- Third Party credit card processor companies own merchant accounts with the additional rights to use that merchant account to accept credit card orders on behalf of other companies. A third party credit card processor is a company that can accept credit card orders for your business. This means that you do not need to get a merchant account for your company, although you could if you sell enough products to cover the cost.
- Independent Sales Organization
- Independent sales organizations (ISOs) are third-party organizations that partner with banks to find, open, and manage merchant accounts for businesses in exchange for a higher fee, or for a percentage of the merchant's sales. ISOs also are called merchant service providers (MSPs) when ISOs offer financial transaction processing services. ISOs can offer merchant accounts to riskier merchants, and charge higher fees, because they do not fall under the same laws and regulations that banks do. With the banks that they work with, ISOs also assume much of the liability and risk that comes with this service.
- Financial Service Provider
- MasterCard and Visa require you to establish a merchant account through an intermediary. However American Express and Discover give you the option of applying directly to them.
- Small business and trade associations offer credit card merchant processing at discounted rates. These are helpful if the field that your business operates in is historically hard to obtain credit card merchant status.
- Offshore merchant accounts (or international merchant accounts) are an option for businesses that have problems with location, bad history with creditors or many other reasons. This type of account may have low processing fees, no taxes, and flexible guidelines and terms, although they are not required to follow the same regulations as US credit card processors and in some cases may not give you the necessary long relationship to keep your business stable.
Qualifying for merchant accounts
You have to apply and qualify for a merchant account before one is given to you. You must be able to show that you are able to pay and not let the processor be liable if in any event you can't cover the cost. They will most likely administer a background check. This also includes a credit history review of the owners or officers listed on the application; also they will ask for credit references from suppliers.
The most likely and influential question that they will pose is that if your company has an unusually high amount of chargeback's. A chargeback is a reversal of a sale that was credited to your account, usually because of an error made by the cardholder's bank, a misunderstanding by the customer, or fraud.
Products are considered to be more reliable than services in respect to fraud and other liabilities. Businesses that deliver goods and are immediately compensated for their work are usually less risky for merchant accounts.
They will more often than not also look at the types of credit card transactions that your company typically uses. In most cases, card-present transactions where you swipe the credit card and receive a real time signature are found to be safer than card-absent transactions that happen over the phone, by mail or the Internet. A higher-risk merchant will not always stop you from obtaining a merchant account, although it has the potential for increasing your costs.
Some companies will try to lure you in with extremely high acceptance rates. Be wary of these advertisements because these companies will be more likely to not be able to address your needs in a timely or efficient fashion. Rather than looking at which company has the best acceptance rate, search for company's who look at any deficiencies in your credit score or can display working with businesses like yours.
Credit Card Payment Systems Pricing
The main fee that occurs for usual providers is the single transaction fee that accrues on each transaction. Banks and larger businesses will establish this fee on certain aspects such as your company's evaluated risk, average sales ticket, transaction type, and total charge volume.
Usually most providers have two different rates because of the difference in risk involved. One of these rates is for card-present transactions and one for MOTO (mail order/telephone order, also includes Internet transactions) or card-absent transactions.
Card-present transactions carry a discount rate of 1.5% to 2%, but card-absent transactions are at 2.2% to 3.0%. Some credit card companies set a monthly minimum fee ranging from $20 to $35 per month.
There is also usually a fixed cost to use a credit card processing firm and it is usually around $10 per month.
Negotiating with merchant providers
If your company were projected to only expect a few thousand dollars in revenue through credit card purchases, it would be advantageous to negotiate a low start up cost and low monthly fees for their services. Always remember to check with competitors before negotiating prices with a company.
However if you expect to have high volumes of credit card purchases, you should focus your negotiating on the per transaction fee, and the discounted rate.
Always be wary of some traps so you wont be left with major costs such as an early termination fee. Also watch for low introductory rates that rise after a few months. Many providers can raise their prices make sure to find ones that don't directly state it.
Choosing a credit card transaction service
Although cost maybe the primary driver in your decision to choose a company, you also need to look at what kind of services you are getting from them as well.
Remember that the most important part of a credit card processing company is their customer service support. Many things can change such as cost and fees associated with their services. Remember that you may have to spend more but you will most likely receive better customer service, better fees, and the ability to talk with and negotiate your certain situation with a reliable person who can understand the needs of you and your business.
If you operate on the web as exclusively an e-business, see if your provider can offer security for you. They can secure transactions, purchases, and sensitive information on their servers so you can keep your information safe.
Always check the legitimacy of the provider you will use. There are many companies that will offer and promise great rates 99.9% acceptance rating and other claims. Remember to research all companies and compare to find the right fit for your business.
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