Finding The Best Credit Card Processing Company
There are many factors that must be considered before selecting a credit card processing company. The following tips will help you find the best credit card processing company for your business. Fossicking for the smallest details in every aspect of each offer will bear huge rewards in the long run!
Step 1: Outline Your Needs
Each business faces it’s own unique challenges, therefore your search for a credit card processing service should include looking for one with features that will address your specific needs. If you are a start-up business, Internet business or home based business, your needs will vary and should be considered when shopping for a credit card processing company.
Step 2: Get Consultations
Whether you are looking to switch companies or are just starting to accept cards, the companies you are looking at for credit card processing services should offer you a detailed consultation. They should be able to help you determine your company’s needs and be able to let you know in detail how they will be able to meet those needs. The consultation should include pricing as well as all the options that they can provide your business. At the consultation they should be able to answer any questions you might have and show you the caliber of customer service that they will be able to provide you down the road in terms of upgrades and any issues that may arise.
Step 3: Sign on, Get a Specialized Installation
Another service that all credit card processing companies should offer is professional installation of all the equipment your business will need in order to process credit cards. The installer should be able to install any POS payment devices that are required and be able to explain how the processor works and train you on how to use it. They should be able to show you all the functions that the machine can perform and be able to show you all the precautions you will need to take in order to make sure that all of your transactions are secure.
Step 4: Make Sure You Get Multiple Processing Options
While your business may only require online credit card processing right now, you probably don’t want to choose a company that can only process cards online. What happens if you decide you need to process payments on-the-go, and your company can’t handle mobile processing? What if you need a card reader, but the company you choose can only work via an online form? Think of your long term business needs and potential growth plan, and try to choose a credit card processing company that can grow with your needs.
No Downtime for Online Shopping Cart Applications
If you process cards via a website shopping cart, you want to choose a company that can handle it – all the time. If your website displays a message that your “shopping cart is currently unavailable”, you’re inconveniencing your customers and losing sales.
When and How You Can Access Your Money
Most modern credit card processing companies will process credit card transactions once per every 24 hours. There are still a handful of companies that only process transactions once a month which can be a big inconvenience for a small business owner. Think about whether or not you can wait to access money for a month or if you need a system that allows more frequent and instant availability of money once cards are processed.
Watch Minimum or Maximum Processing Requirements
For the most part, credit card processing companies do not impose a minimum number of transactions per month, although some do. If you are just getting started with your business or are small and unsure of how much sales volume you will have, pay close attention to any requirements for having to process a certain number of credit cards each month. For companies that do require minimums, there is a good chance if you fall below the minimum you will be faced with penalty fees. On the other side of the coin, keep an eye on companies that limit you to a certain number of transactions or sales. If your business grows and you start processing larger volumes of credit cards, you could be faced with over-the-limit processing fees.
If you are a business that requires equipment to process credit cards in person, keep in mind the price of the Point-Of-Service equipment, and the ease in which it can be reprogrammed if you need to switch credit card processing providers. There are some companies that allow you to lease the equipment, but most of the time you’ll make out better financially by purchasing it. At the very least, if you buy the equipment and need to upgrade later you can at least sell the items you no longer need to recover some of your investment.
Step 6: Research The Hell Out of The Company
Whenever you consider entering into a contract with a company that will involve the exchange of money, it is important first to determine exactly with whom you are doing business. Big, well known credit processing companies most likely have an established reputation or at minimum clients that you can question as to the type of service they receive. Smaller or less known companies can be researched via the Better Business Bureau or your state’s Attorney General’s Office.
Credit card processing companies must be able to do their job and help you do yours as well. This means you will have to communicate with various representatives at different times throughout your business relationship. You want a company that has friendly and competent customer service representatives to ensure any potential problems or concerns are handled promptly and efficiently. The right processor will also have support and technical staff that has the experience and expertise needed to take care of any issues that might pop up.
Business owners will usually agree that the high cost of credit card processing is a major concern. Depending on contract terms and associated fees, merchants can pay anywhere from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars annually in processing expenses. As a general rule, the increased sales resulting from offering customers credit card payment options make the cost worthwhile. For some small businesses however, each swipe of a credit card represents money lost to processing fees. In some situations a merchant may discover credit card transactions end up costing more money in the long run. To ensure credit card transactions are not only affordable but also profitable, business owners must carefully compare all of their processing options. Careful consideration must be given to the processor and the terms and conditions of any agreement to see if the cost is worth the expense.
Review and Understand Your Credit Card Processing Fees
The fee structure and amounts charged from one credit card processing company to another vary widely. Review all fees associated with processing credit cards and ask questions about anything that is not clear. Online credit card processing has different fee structures than retail merchant accounts, so don’t assume if you’re familiar with an offline company that you’ll automatically know what to expect when processing credit cards online. Once you’ve gotten your first statement, take some time to look it over carefully.
What Out for Hidden Fees
Credit card processing can get quite expensive if you are not careful. When comparing processors, pay close attention to the fees, both disclosed and those that may be hidden in the fine print. How much you pay per transaction and for other services will determine how profitable it will be to accept credit cards at your place of business.
The cost of credit card processing can range from affordable to very expensive. Before signing on the dotted line, compare the fees associated with credit card processing to ensure you are getting the most value for your dollar. Ask about start-up fees, gateway fees and other monthly fees which can quickly add up, costing you more money than your originally anticipated. While accepting credit cards will undoubtedly increase your sales, you do not want to spend more money than necessary on expenses associated with processing those sales.
Small business owners are often lulled into a false sense of security in regards to the security of their credit card processing system. Reports of security breeches in the news usually name major corporations or financial institutions, not mom and pop operations across the country. Unfortunately, a small business may be more vulnerable to hackers and other security threats. Small businesses are not as likely to have the security measures and experts on hand to deal with problems as that of a major corporation. Hackers have learned that it is easier to steal from hundreds of small businesses than it is to target one large corporation. In the wrong hands, the names, addresses and credit card information of customers patronizing small businesses can be used to steal identities and access personal finances. Lacking the expert and financial resources of larger corporations, the attacks on small businesses are on the rise. Unfortunately, these are the very businesses that can least afford the cost of recovery from this type of security breech. Investigating this type of incident can take months and cost thousands of dollars. In addition to any expenses associated with recovery, the loss of revenue and business following a breech can be the downfall of a small independent business. A very real concern for business owners already struggling in a tough economy, however one that can be addressed. Becoming familiar with methods used by hackers to gain access to computers and other equipment is the first step owners and managers can take to protect themselves. Proper training for all staff members in security issues is essential to ensure all employees are taking precautions to prevent an attack from hackers.
How to Avoid the Wrong Credit Card Processing Provider
To make sure you are getting the most value for your money, you have to first understand the common pitfalls that end up costing you more money. Here we look at things to avoid when selecting a credit card processing provider.
Picking the first provider you find- As with any other purchases, you should take the time to review several providers before making your final decision. If you think all providers are the same, you may find yourself paying top price where you could have saved money by shopping around.
Not reading the fine print- There are dozens of fees that may be associated with credit card processing. From application fees to monthly maintenance fees and everything in between- what you pay in fees is what makes the difference between an affordable provider and one that will make you dread swiping a credit card for purchases.
Renting equipment- Another way to save money on credit card processing costs is to invest the money for all necessary equipment versus renting equipment. Few businesses opt to go back to not accepting credit cards, therefore buying the equipment you will need will be cheaper in the long run. Make sure you wait until you have done all your research and know what equipment you will need to ensure it is compatible with all providers and software that you are using.
Fly by night businesses- There are plenty of con artists out there that set up businesses that are at worst outright scams and at best offer shoddy service. This is especially true where large amounts of money exchanges hands. You want to research any company before considering them as your credit card processor. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see how previous and current customers rate the business. New businesses should be carefully researched as they don’t have the years of experience or reputation from which to base a decision.