In today’s world, most businesses offer the option to purchase items online. Convenience and 24-hour shopping are the ringtone of the 21st century. According to a study by JP Morgan, global e-commerce grew by 19 percent in 2011 to $680 billion. Just think of the numbers that 2012 produced!
With the hustle and bustle, it’s tough for people to find time and energy to run more errands on top of the regular weekend ones, such as going to the grocery store. In order for both large and small businesses to survive and keep revenue flowing, accepting online payments is a must.
This goes beyond processing credit cards, although that’s a first step to building revenue. There are three ways to accept credit card payments: merchant accounts, Internet gateways, and third-party providers.
A merchant account can be opened with banks, online companies, or software providers, including QuickBooks. There is usually a monthly fee of between $5 and $20 and a fee of between 10 cents and 40 cents per transaction, including refunds. On top of those fees, there is another charge based on a percentage of the transaction, usually between 1.5 and 4 percent per transaction.
It’s important to note that the fees are based on volume and whether it’s a qualified or non-qualified transaction. An example of non-qualified is if the credit card number is punched in, rather than swiped.
Most of the time, set-up fees are waived during promotions.
If your business sells online only, you need an Internet gateway service, which provides a way to get the credit card information from the customer to the merchant account.
The set-up fee usually ranges from $50 to $100, and it tacks on a monthly fee between $20 and $50. There is a transaction fee, too.
A third-party provider is a way for customers to use credit cards without you using a merchant account. However, the fees can sometimes be higher, and it might take a longer amount of time to receive your money from the provider.
A few examples of third-party providers include PayPal, ProPay, and CCBill. Transaction fees are between 2 and 20 percent.
Credit card processing companies
There are a plethora of companies that offer such credit card processing services. Here is a list of the top five service providers. Remember to always read the fine print and to negotiate any start-up and transaction fees before signing on the dotted line.
Flagship Merchant Services
Flagship Merchant Services boasts a high approval rating (98 percent) with lower fees, and the application process is paperless and free. While only open to U.S.-based businesses, there is no contract to sign, and it offers flexibility to customize a plan for your needs.
Merchant Warehouse also has a high approval rating with several inexpensive start-up options for businesses. The competitive discount rate for Internet-based businesses is a major plus, and the company’s customer service is second to none. The only negative is that the application process tends to be slower than other services.
The plus with National Bankcard is the large chargeback and fraud department. While only operating in the United States, the company offers a free credit card terminal with no cancellation fees. The customer service is also impressive.
Leaders Merchant Services
This company boasts low rates for credit card processing and no start-up fees. However, the lowest rates usually do not apply to non-regulated debit cards from smaller banks. There also are customizable plans. They offer a guarantee that if a competitor beats Leaders’s prices, they’ll pay you $500.
Chase offers personalized service, as each customer has an assigned representative. Obviously, current Chase customers receive better treatment, but the set-up is quick. The service allows options to process Bill Me Later transactions, fleet cards, PayPal, and debit cards. The 24-hour customer service is paramount for 24-hour businesses that require help.
Individual representatives also add a level of excellent service. To combat fraud, there is a free address verification component as well as an Orbital Virtual Terminal for Internet-only companies.
There is also next-day funding if you have a Chase bank checking account.
There are a few tips to remember before delving into credit card processing. You must be knowledgeable and negotiate with credit card processors. Ask for interchange plus pricing, which is a type of pricing that is transparent and can save you money.
Ask to waive cancellation fees. Never, ever agree to any termination fees because there are plenty of companies that can waive such nonsense. Think about it. If the credit card processor is not meeting your needs, you have to switch companies. And you should be able to do so without paying a penalty. Any good processor will realize that if they do a good job, you won’t switch. It’s a no-brainer.
As you can see, credit card processing is a must-have for many companies, both brick-and-mortar stores and Internet-only businesses. It helps to increase sales and your penetration into the market.
By accepting online payments, you can expand your ability to accept debit cards, electronic checks, and traditional checks also. These payments can occur anywhere from sea to shining sea, which expands your digital footprint. Not to mention, most credit card processing companies offer security protection and fraud protection.
Isn’t it time you checked out your options?
Laura Burkey blogs on various topics, including online reputations, best practices for processing credit cards, and the digital age.