If you are a small business owner or nonprofit organization seeking to fundraise or process credit card payments, you’re probably thinking about how you can accept credit and debit card payments (if you haven’t started already). Since almost everyone these days expects to be able to pay with plastic, it is definitely to your business or organization’s benefit to set up a merchant account that allows you to accept credit and debit cards. And if so, you are probably wondering what credit card processing is right for your business.
The first thing you’ll want to do is think about how you intend to collect payments. What does your business do? Do you intend to collect payments in-person, online, by phone, or on-the-go? Your organization may even wish to collect personal and business credit cards in all of these ways.
Below is a quick overview of different types of credit card processing solutions along with important considerations for each method.
1. Point of Sale Systems (POS Systems)
If you are a retail store, dental or doctor’s office or have any physical storefront or location that draws in your customers, you are likely going to want a point of sale system. POS systems have been around forever, but today’s POS systems are streamlined. Rather than buying an expensive credit card machine, they can run off a tablet or small computer. This is a big advantage, as software is easily updated.
*Important considerations: If you plan to physically swipe credit cards using a POS system, you are in luck because this form of payment processing comes with the lowest transaction rate. Be sure to compare rates of vendors, but also be on the lookout for processing equipment fees. Today there are traditional and wireless credit card terminals and tablets are increasingly popular. Some companies charge hundreds of dollars for credit card terminals where others offer them for rent or even free. You’ll also want to find a company that helps you set up and train employees on how to properly use the equipment.
If your business is conducted entirely online (perhaps you have an online store), you offer online consulting or design services, or are a nonprofit organization wishing to collect online donations for your fundraising campaign, then you’re looking for online payment processing solutions. These are also called eCommerce, internet gateways, or internet processing.
*Important considerations: be sure to partner with a certified payment processor. This type of processing does come with the highest risk (due to the greater risk of fraud w/ keyed entry vs. swiped card), and therefore this type of processing will result in the highest transaction rate. Again, you’ll want to compare credit card processing rates between companies, but most importantly be sure to find a company that you can trust. Other considerations include the ability to accept e-checks (ACH withdrawals) and process MOTO (mail order telephone orders).
If you have a business that is on-the-go, perhaps mobile pet grooming, a contract worker that collects payment in homes, or perhaps you are a vendor that attends a variety of events, a mobile credit card processing solution might be right up your alley.
*Important considerations: find a solution that works with the hardware you already have. There are plenty of add-on swipers that can attach right to your mobile phone or tablet, allowing you to safely scan a credit card and process the transaction on-site. Be sure to compare transaction fees for this form of processing as well, and consider monthly premiums or add-on fees for this service.
4. Integrated Payments
Many software companies now offer integrated payments options. Integrated payments are not full merchant accounts, but work for online payment processing. This option generally makes it much easier to setup and begin processing, and they don’t require that companies maintain hardware or gateways. There are typically no monthly or start-up fees with integrated payments and users pay only transaction based fees. This makes it easy to budget – though the rates will be higher to cover the full cost of taking payments.
PCI Compliance is Key to Credit Card Processing
Regardless of the method you decide to accept credit cards, be sure that your payment processing provider is PCI compliant. Never heard of PCI compliance? The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard is a worldwide standard for payment card and consumer financial data protection. PCI is a set of rules and regulations put in place to safeguard your constituent or client credit card data.
Every business and non-profit organization that accepts credit cards must adhere to PCI. Be sure to ask providers about PCI compliance and the requirements involved, before signing any merchant services contracts. Depending on the provider, the fees and the overhead involved can be substantial.
Conclusions: Credit Card Processing for Businesses
Regardless of your business or mission, there is a credit card processing solution that is right for your needs. And no, a merchant account isn’t free, but it does open a huge opportunity for you to expand your sales by accepting debit and credit cards. Now, you just need to find the right merchant account partner. DoJiggy Merchant Services provides payment processing solutions for your business when and where you need it. Whether that’s at your retail store, your online shop or fundraising website, at a fundraising event or client call…we’ve got a credit card processing solution for you.