Accept Credit Cards

Accept credit cards and your company can increase its customer base, maximize sales volume and conduct business over the Internet quickly and efficiently. Credit cards are a convenient form of payment for customers and allow the user to delay payment based on the amount of credit extended by the financial institution or retail store. Many consumers also prefer using credit cards because they can often earn airline miles or rewards such as cash-back refunds every time they use their credit cards to make a purchase.

How Accepting Credit Cards Can Help Your Business
Merchant account providers, also known as independent service organizations, or ISOs, set up special accounts that enable your business to accept credit cards. These accounts, called merchant accounts, are established with a financial institution that is partnered with the ISO. Many merchant accounts give you the opportunity to connect your company’s website with a secure payment gateway that will enable your business to process credit card payments online. Merchant account providers can also offer software applications or equipment that you may need to accept credit card transactions as well as other payment acceptance solutions such as debit card processing and online checks.

Advantages of Accepting Credit Cards in Real-Time
You will need to carefully consider whether you want to set up real-time or deferred processing. There are advantages to each option, depending on your business needs. Real time processing enables your customers’ cards to be accepted or denied immediately. With deferred processing, the order is sent to your business first so that you can process the order.

The greatest benefit of real-time processing lies in the customers’ instantaneous results. This is particularly important if you are in the business of selling goods and services that are delivered quickly, like information or software packages. And, real-time processing provides the ability to automate certain business operations so that you can free yourself or your employees to focus on other jobs.

Real-time credit card processing is flexible in that you can automatically or manually process your orders. For example, if a customer decides to order over the phone rather than online, you’d simply need to log onto the virtual terminal of the real-time account and enter the customer’s information manually. Another useful payment option that you can set up with real-time processing is repeat billing, so that you can automatically charge your customer accounts at specific pre-set times.

Most customers prefer real-time processing because immediate feedback will be received on their card approval. Also, if they make a mistake while inputting their information, like an incorrect expiration date, they’ll be notified immediately and be able to conveniently fix the error in the original transaction. This can have a major impact on your sales because customers are not as apt to revisit to your site to re-enter their credit card information after the original sale.

Benefits of Deferred Credit Card Processing
Deferred credit card processing, also called offline sales, may be the best way to accept credit cards at your business if you don’t offer your products online. With deferred processing, your orders can be manually examined to fix any erroneous information before shipping them to your customers. If you are in the business of shipping products to foreign countries, and you discover that the network of the credit card issuer is experiencing problems due to time zone differences or other difficulties, you will have the ability to call in and approve the transactions rather than decline them. Real-time processing does not allow for this option.

Accept Credit Cards with an Online Shopping Cart
If you plan on accepting credit card payments online, after you have established a secure server, you will need to set up an online shopping cart. This will display order forms where the customer can enter in their credit card information, billing and shipping addresses. The shopping cart feature will also allow you to store customers’ order history and calculate costs. If you decide to go with real-time credit card processing, you will need to ensure that your shopping cart can work with your real-time gateway.

Preventing Chargebacks
Chargebacks, which occur when transactions are reversed, are the primary drawback of accepting credit card payments. Instead of receiving funds from the customer, the amount of the order will be deducted from your merchant account. Chargebacks can occur for many reasons, such as double-charging, credit card expiration, bank error, customer disputes, and fraud. Besides losing money, there is a danger of losing your merchant account if too many chargebacks are issued against your business.

You can avoid chargebacks by following a few simple guidelines. Be sure to use address verification to help you prevent fraud. If you receive a suspicious order, follow up with the customer immediately. And finally, always include an invoice in the package when you ship products to your customers.