Credit Card Processing for Business - Equipment
Starting your own small business? Before you open your doors, you need to decide what kind of payments you will take and how you’re going to take those payments. Credit cards are often the method of choice, so to make your business successful, you’ll need to find a way to process credit card payments. Credit card processing for small business can get complicated, so it’s important you know what you need before choosing a merchant account provider.
Credit Card Processing – Getting Started
The most obvious place to start your search for a merchant account provider is at a bank that is a member of one or more of the credit card networks. However, getting approval directly from a bank can be difficult for small businesses. Your best bet is to look for an ISO/MSP, also known as an independent sales organization/merchant service provider. An ISO/MSP is usually sponsored by a bank and can handle the processing for you.
How can you find one of these merchant account providers? You can, of course, go online and do a little research. But you don’t want to choose the first one you see. You want make sure the credit card processing company is reputable and that it can provide you with all of the services you need at reasonable prices. So a better way to find a merchant account provider that is right for you is to ask around. Find out which companies other small businesses use and whether or not they are happy with the services. If you are on good terms with your competitors, they may also be a good source of information, since they need the same services that you will need.
Know What to Ask
To find the right credit card processing company, you need to know what to ask for. First, find out if the ISO/MSP works with other small businesses, with large companies, or with both. Those who tend to focus on large companies may not understand the needs of small businesses and you may get lost in the shuffle. Credit card payments will be essential to your business, and if you aren’t able to process them, you could lose sales and money. Ask the company if they have customer service and what the operating hours are for that customer service. Also, ask if that service includes technical support. If you run an internet business, you need to be able to process credit cards 24/7 and not just during normal business hours.
Know What You Need
The credit card processing services and equipment you will need depend on whether you need to process those cards on-site, without the actual card, or both. If you need on-site processing, ask if the merchant account provider also offers the terminals and other accessories that you will need. If you will be working primarily with card not present payments, then find out what kind of virtual terminals, software, and payment gateways the ISO/MSP offers, if any. Without the right tools, you want be able to process any credit cards.
Know What They Charge
Another important aspect to choosing a credit card processing company is, of course, the price. Most small businesses need to keep costs down, so make sure you know exactly what your merchant account provider is going to charge. First, find out what you will be paying upfront in set up and/or application fees. Not all companies charge these fees, so it is one way your business can save money. Next, if you need credit card terminals, find out if these are included as a package deal or if you can lease or buy them from the provider. Then you’ll need to look at the various rates for the processing, which will include the monthly account maintenance fee, the discount rate, the per transaction fee, and any monthly minimums. When checking these fees, make sure you know the difference between fees related to terminals and those related to card not present transactions. It is usually higher for card not present accounts. Lastly, read the fine print for hidden fees and cancellation fees. If you’re not happy with the service, you want to be able to get out at no cost to you.
Finding the right merchant account provider isn’t always easy, but it is important to the success of your business.