Beginning with the introduction of the first credit card in 1950, shopping became more convenient and cash started to decline in popularity. Of course, in those early days, the credit card system was fairly rudimentary, but today, thanks to many technological advancements in finance, electrical engineering, and the digital space, credit cards have become ubiquitous.
In fact, you will often run into customers who use cards for their purchases almost exclusively, and if you plan to operate an online business, accepting cards might as well be mandatory. This means that processing credit cards will expand your customer base. Studies have also shown that people tend to spend more when they use a credit card instead of cash. So how can you begin processing credit cards?
- Find a trustworthy payment processor
In order to process credit card payments, you have to work with a merchant account provider. However, it’s important to find a trustworthy company that has solid customer support, and no hidden fees. Credentials come into play here, and a good place to start is at the Better Business Bureau. A highly ranked company with the BBB is more likely to be secure and to have a proven track record of ethical business practices. If this first step goes well for you, your merchant account provider will act as a one-stop-shop for all your payment processing services and products at a competitive price.
- Applying for the merchant account
To accept credit cards you will have to use a merchant account. Filling out the application itself is usually easy. Some merchant account providers charge an application fee, which you’ll have to pay even if your application is declined, so using such a provider is not recommended. Your merchant account provider will usually request some documentation from you. If you don’t have a requested item or you’re having difficulty obtaining anything, just let them know, and the underwriter can often either work around it or suggest an alternative.
- Tailoring the payment processing solution for your business
The final step is finding the best solution and equipment for your business. For example, if you own a brick-and-mortar store, you will probably prefer a stand-alone credit card terminal, but if you have a mobile sales team, or you have to process payments outside of your store, you will benefit from a mobile card reader. And if you do business online, then an online solution is essential. There are many options to choose from when it comes to the equipment and software that you will use to process payments, and each merchant account service provider has a different policy for the equipment – some offer the equipment for free, while others charge a fee. Be sure that your merchant account provider offers 24-hour technical support to help you get set up. Once you’ve chosen the equipment and gotten it set up, you are ready to tap into the credit card market.
For more information about credit card processing for small businesses, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.