Credit Card Processing: An Essential for Any Thriving Business

One of the quickest ways to expand your business is to let your customers use a credit card. With something like $2.5 trillion in credit card transactions a year, that’s a lot of business that you could be tapping into.

A merchant account that can process credit card payments for a fee is a viable system in almost all industries.

Retail: grocery stores, convenience stores, boutiques and the mall

Restaurants: fast food, casual restaurant and fine dining. At some restaurants you can get car-side service and pay-at-the-table service.

Service with Tips: hair salons, taxis and limousines

Professional: doctors, accountants and lawyers

Internet or e-Commerce: anything business that transacts business online

Trade Services: the plumber, mechanic and contractor

All of these businesses can – and should – offer credit card services to their clients. Here’s why:

· More money spent. Studies show that customers spend more than they planned when they have the flexibility of using a credit card, debit card, electronic check or a gift card. They are not limited to the dollars in their wallets and they don’t have to wait for payday. So instead of just picking up one thing, they have the flexibility of looking around or taking advantage of a sale. You will also be able to capture the impulsive buyer.

· Legitimize your business. Understand that customers are strangers until they’ve worked with you. They may like what you offer, but they cannot be sure that you will come through with what you’ve advertised. But when they see a logo that tells them companies like VISA, MasterCard, American Express or Discover are doing business with you, they begin to develop a sense of trust in your operation.

· Better cash flow. Not only can you expect sales to increase, but you can get your hands on your money more quickly. You won’t be waiting for the customer’s check to clear, experiencing bounced checks or sending out late notices in hopes of collecting an overdue bill. The merchant account pays you – and then it is on the merchant account to collect from the customer.

· Safest online transaction. Something like 90 percent of people shopping online use a credit card. It’s safe for them, and if you cannot accept their credit card, they will find another vendor who will take plastic.

· Rewards. Today’s customers know that their purchases are worth a lot to the credit card companies. They have come to look for the rewards associated with particular cards. If they are making a particularly large purchase, they will want the points – points they cannot get if they pay with cash or a check.

Some merchants worry that a merchant account will dip too deeply in their profit margins. But that isn’t true. If it were, the majority of businesses would not accept credit cards. Today, there are a host of different plans and pricing schedules that make it possible for any merchant to reap the benefits of a merchant account – including the extra customers coming their way.

If you want to investigate a merchant account, start by comparing the companies – and only considering those merchant accounts with a sound track record. You are safest by using a company that has been in business long enough to develop a good reputation. There are always some new kids on the block, but let them prove themselves with someone else’s business.

Next, compare fees and services offered. You will find that most fees fall within the same range, give or take a few cents. These are transaction fees, processing fees, and so on. If you find a company whose fees sound too good to be true, there is likely a hidden problem. Most likely, there is a hidden fee somewhere that lets the company make up the difference.

Be aware that there are some fees you should not have to pay, given today’s competitive market. For example, you shouldn’t have to pay an application fee, setup fee, installation fee, programming fee or annual fee if you want to accept credit card payments.

Remember, however, that merchants today need to accept more than credit cards. There are a host of advanced payment processing solutions – like debit cards, check and pre-paid card processing, electronic balance transfers, revenue-generating gifts and loyalty cards – that need to be part of your mix.

You also need to look into the kind of services provided. For example, does the account offer a money back guarantee that you will be happy with? And be sure to ask about customer service. Is it a 24/7 operation? It should be. Remember, if your processing terminal goes out, you are out of business.

Once you have made a decision, the merchant service should be able to a

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