Accepting credit cards is a vital part of conducting business nowadays. The convenience of using credit cards usually encourages impulse buys – this is advantageous to the business owner.
It is not uncommon for small businesses to start as cash-only ventures. However, as time goes by, you will experience many missed opportunities if you do not start accepting debit and credit card payments. Nowadays, fewer customers are carrying cash because they believe that they have better payment alternatives.
Set Up A Merchant Account To Accept Credit Card Payments
Credit merchant services allow your business to accept gift cards, debit cards, and credit cards. Before you can start accepting payments, you need to apply for a merchant account. This account exists for the sole purpose of accepting credit card payments and is usually separate from your bank account.
The merchant account will also serve as an arrangement between a payment processor, retailer, and merchant bank to settle the credit/debit card transactions. When your merchant account is created, you need the right hardware or software to process payments. The hardware and software for accepting credit cards should be PCI compliant – meaning that it should meet the PCI (payment card industry) security standards.
Here are a few options:
This is the most common way of accepting credit card payments. It is used in face-to-face or retail environments where the credit card is physically present. There are many different types of point-of-sale terminals, and you should choose the one that best meets your business needs.
Choosing the right terminal will increase your profits and reduce the cost of processing. Point-of-sale terminals are best for businesses that want to connect multiple cash registers or locations to each other.
This is the most common method of accepting credit card payments when the credit card is not physically present – mostly used by dot-com and online companies. It allows you to process any transaction from your computer by turning your laptop or PC into a virtual terminal. You can also use your computer’s web browser to accept credit card payments and prevent the loss of customers.
Mobile Credit Card Processors
Mobile credit card processing uses the power of a smartphone to transform your handheld device into a terminal that works just like the computer version. Once you have a merchant account, you only need to download an app that allows you to accept most credit and debit card payments.
This option is best for businesses that sell in a number of places and want to process credit card transactions from anywhere in the store. It is also preferable for businesses that perform just a few transactions at their physical stores.
Software for processing credit card payments makes your transactions easy to track and effortless. Are you doing a face-to-face, web, or wireless transaction? Processing software will make it that much easier to do online selling and virtual sales.
Different Types of Merchant Accounts
Retail merchant accounts
This option is best for businesses that have a storefront location where the customer’s credit/debit cards are swiped through a physical terminal.
Internet merchant account
This type of account is best for businesses that operate online. It allows the business to process credit and debit card payments from an e-commerce website.
Mail or Telephone Order merchant account
This type of account is best for a business that operates by accepting payments via direct mail or telephone. A hotel is a good example of such a business because people usually book rooms over the phone.
All the above types of merchant accounts are great alternatives to cash-only payment models. Just make sure that you learn as more about all of them before signing up for one.