What Every Entrepreneur Needs to Know about Credit Card Processing
Most business owners spend a large
portion of their time trying to identify new ways to boost sales and
increase their customer base without going over budget. That’s a pretty
tall order, even for businesses with long established histories and vast
marketing networks. For businesses just starting out, as well as for
smaller businesses, meeting that challenge can feel intimidating, if not
Fortunately, there is one single decision
entrepreneurs can make today that will help them compete with larger,
more established companies, as well as that competing business just down
the block: opening a merchant account.
A merchant account is a special type of
account service that allows businesses of every size accept credit
cards, debit cards, ATM cards, and even gift cards to pay for the
purchase of their goods or services.
Comprising a wide range of technology and
services, a merchant account can ensure speedy, accurate processing of
these transactions, all at minimal cost to the business owner. In
return, businesses that accept credit cards can expect to see increases
in their customer base, both by attracting new customers and preventing
current customers from migrating to competitors who may already be
accepting credit cards as a from of payment.
By automating the payment transaction and
collection processes, merchant accounts relieve business owners of the
hassle of daily accounting and bookkeeping, allowing all daily
transactions to be kept in one centralized location. Keeping sales
accounts consolidated and easy to follow is a major bonus for businesses
of every size, and can be especially invaluable to entrepreneurs of new
or small businesses.
In addition, merchant accounts also offer
businesses methods of validating and confirming transactions to prevent
fraud. Address verification and other software can help businesses
avoid many of the pitfalls associated with accepting credit cards for
purchases, especially when purchases are made online or by telephone.
Today, merchant account services have
expanded to include options for all types of businesses, no matter where
sales are made. Account options exist that can be specifically tailored
to the unique needs for retail stores, online businesses, and mail
order and telephone sales, as well as businesses that want or need to do
business on the road using their mobile devices or laptops.
In addition, because their processing
services are automated, merchant accounts can allow businesses to accept
currencies from around the world, performing conversion from one
currency to another seamlessly and accurately, and allowing even small
companies to compete globally.
When you decide it’s time to look for a
merchant account provider for your business, there are a few tips you
can follow to ensure you get the best account and the right services for
- Choose a merchant account that has an established history. Many new
companies have emerged in recent years, and while they may offer
seemingly great deals, their lack of overall experience within the
industry makes them risky. Because your merchant account will be such
an important part of your business and its potential growth, it’s best
to stick with a company with a relatively long and established history
- Choose a merchant account provider that has experience serving the
needs of your type of business. This tip is especially important for
small and growing businesses, which have vastly different business
needs than larger, established corporations
- Look for a merchant account provider that can grow with your
business, and offers a wide array of services to suit your business
needs today and in the future. Also be sure to choose an account
provider that can offer services to support the way in which you want
to do business, through a retail store, online, by mail or telephone,
or on the road. Many businesses choose companies that can offer package
deals, bundling several services for one lower cost.
- Choose a merchant account provider that is known for excellent
customer and technical support. Often overlooked by businesses seeking
merchant account providers, these two factors are critical to the
success of your business. Especially during the early stages of your
relationship, you want a merchant account provider that is attentive to
your needs and questions, and can walk you through problems or
concerns. Because technical problems can interrupt your ability to
process payments, you also want to be sure the company you select can
provide prompt, courteous service to keep your business up and running.
Many business owners who have considered
merchant accounts in the past decided against using them, based on
service limitations, complicated contractual agreements, or prohibitive
costs. But as more and more businesses have entered the marketplace and
the number of merchant account service providers has increased,
competition among account providers has resulted in a wider array of
account services, simpler contractual terms, and significantly lower
costs. If you haven’t looked at credit card processing and a merchant accounts recently, you owe it to yourself and your business to look at them today.