Home Based Businesses Can Accept Credit Cards from Customers

If you have been considering starting a business from home, or are already the proud owner of a home based business, you should learn about the various options for accepting credit cards as payment from your clients.  It used to be that accepting credit cards from customers was too expensive for the average home based business owner; but now there are a number of inexpensive methods for accepting credit cards thanks to the internet and the popularity of e-commerce.

Whether you operate your business entirely out of your home, or have an internet presence – you’ll notice an increase in sales when you start accepting credit cards.  Many people make impulsive purchases with credit than they wouldn’t make when paying with cash or check; and many people just don’t carry cash on them anymore – preferring to use their credit and debit cards.  Make it easy for your customers to purchase from you by accepting credit cards.

Merchant Account Providers

Many traditional merchant account providers have discovered the need for credit card processing by home business owners. With a merchant account, you can begin accepting credit as payment from your customers.

It can be difficult to qualify for a merchant account.  It involves an underwriting process and a strong credit score; although many merchant accounts have different approval requirements for home based business owners than they do for traditional businesses.
Once approved, when your customers pay using their credit cards the amount of payment minus fees provided to the bank or merchant account provider are deposited into your business account. The higher your sales volume and credit card use, the lower your fees will be.

Third Party Credit Card Processing Options

Third party providers have merchant accounts with banking institutions; and then allow home based business owners to accept credit cards from their customers and process them through the third party.  There are usually higher fees associated with using third party credit card processors; but it may give you an option to accept credit cards if you were unable to obtain approval for a merchant account yourself.

Accepting Credit Cards Through Independent Sales Organizations

If you are considered a high risk home business, or have less than perfect credit that caused you not to get approved for a merchant account – an independent sales organization can help you collect payments from your customers online.  The fees associated with the service are typically much higher than those you’d pay to a merchant account directly, but if you need to accept credit cards this is an option.

Shop Around!

There are many different merchant account providers online today. In order to find the right one for you business, you need to research and compare the various programs. It is important to have an idea of everything out there to make the most informed decision. Check out the options offered from banking facilities, independent organizations, and third-party processes like PayPal.

Start Early

Don’t expect to be ready to process credit cards as soon as you sign up for service. Most merchant account providers will require approval for any business or individual wishing to set up and account. There is an underwriting process that needs to be completed. While merchant accounts generally have high rates of approval, there may be some issues you need to work out first before opening an account. If you need to start accepting credit cards for the good of your business, you need to start the process now.

Understand the Fees

Regardless of the method you select for credit card processing, you have to pay close attention and compare the fees each provider charges for services and individual transaction. There may be a monthly maintenance fee in addition to the individual fees that are processed for each transaction. If you select a service that charges significant fees, you’ll end up losing more money than you are making, especially on smaller transactions.

Understand the Terms

It is always essential that you read the terms and conditions – also known as the fine print – on any business service you sign up for as it is the only way to ensure you are getting what you need. If you have questions or concerns about the terms of any service, contact customer service directly and make sure you get a clarification.

Understand the Process

Make sure you are able to understand how the credit card processing works through the provider you select. You need to be able to address issues with customers who wish to use their credit cards for your business services. In order to be able to help them, you have to be able to understand the process yourself. Providers all handle money and transactions differently. You want to make sure you know how the funds are received from the customers, how soon the money is available to you, and how long the total transaction takes to complete.

Never rely on the merchant account provider to handle everything because you don’t feel like doing the research. Because of the amount of fees involved and the importance of providing reliable service to your customers at all times, you need to do the legwork and select the right credit card processing service to accommodate not only your business needs but the needs of your customers. Whether you are impecunious or not, credit card processing fees can result in huge losses if you sign the wrong deal. Take this decision seriously, evaluate all options and you will most likely succeed!

Photo via mccluskeyadrian

Posted on Friday, July 30th, 2010