Credit Card Processing for Business - Equipment

Credit card processing for business involves much more than just setting up a merchant account. Whether you’re processing credit cards on-site or doing it over the internet, you will need equipment that is specific to credit card processing. Learn more about what you need to accept credit cards for your business and make that business even more successful.

Equipment for On-Site, Card Present Processing
If you own a retail store, restaurant, or any other type of business that needs to process a credit card on-site, then you will need a terminal that can physically swipe that card. But that’s not all you need to know. Every business has different needs and there are plenty of different terminals to choose from.

Many terminals use a phone line to transmit credit card information for approval, so before you even buy a terminal, you need to make sure you have an available phone line. However, there are other machines known as IP terminals that use a high speed internet connection to transmit that information. IP terminals can process credit cards faster and won’t tie up an extra phone line.

While credit card terminals are used primarily for swiping an actual card, there are many other functions you need to consider. Many people now use debit cards as their main form of payment, but with a debit card, you, as the business, need to offer the customer the ability to key in a PIN number. For this, you need to get a terminal that comes with a PIN pad or you will need to purchase a separate PIN pad.  In addition, you’ll need a printer to get that all important signature and to provide your customers with a receipt.

Other Processing Equipment
Even though many people do pay by credit or debit card, some people do still use checks. If your business is one that accepts checks, electronic check verification is a great way to authorize that check immediately. Consider investing in a check reader to be able to provide this service to your customers. Does your business also offer gift cards? If so, confirm that your terminal can also swipe a gift card.

Credit card processing for your business may be on-site, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in just one location. For those who own a business that requires mobility, there are wireless credit card terminals. These allow you to swipe a card no matter where you are.

Card Not Present Credit Card Processing
Many businesses today conduct most of their business online, and, for those businesses, swiping the actual card is simply not an option. To accept credit cards online, your business will need a payment gateway. A payment gateway allows your customers to enter in all of their credit card information for it to be processed. When considering a payment gateway for your business, make sure you choose one that provides security features so your customers feel safe when providing you with their information. If you are primarily a mail order or phone order business, you will still need a virtual terminal, which is essentially a type of computer software that allows you to enter and process credit card information from your customers.

Cost Considerations for Terminals
When getting equipment for the processing needs of your business, you also need to consider cost. When you choose a merchant account provider, check to see if they also provide terminals. Some merchant account providers will provide you with a terminal or the necessary software at no additional cost when you sign up for an account. If not, you need to decide whether you want to buy or lease a terminal. This decision will of course depend on the needs of your business and how much you want to spend over the long run.

Before getting equipment to process your payments, make sure you know exactly what your business needs and research all of your options.

Starting your own small business? Before you open your doors, you need to decide what kind of payments you will take and how you’re going to take those payments. Credit cards are often the method of choice, so to make your business successful, you’ll need to find a way to process credit card payments. Credit card processing for small business can get complicated, so it’s important you know what you need before choosing a merchant account provider. 

Credit Card Processing – Getting Started
The most obvious place to start your search for a merchant account provider is at a bank that is a member of one or more of the credit card networks. However, getting approval directly from a bank can be difficult for small businesses. Your best bet is to look for an ISO/MSP, also known as an independent sales organization/merchant service provider. An ISO/MSP is usually sponsored by a bank and can handle the processing for you.

How can you find one of these merchant account providers? You can, of course, go online and do a little research. But you don’t want to choose the first one you see. You want make sure the credit card processing company is reputable and that it can provide you with all of the services you need at reasonable prices. So a better way to find a merchant account provider that is right for you is to ask around. Find out which companies other small businesses use and whether or not they are happy with the services. If you are on good terms with your competitors, they may also be a good source of information, since they need the same services that you will need.

Know What to Ask
To find the right credit card processing company, you need to know what to ask for. First, find out if the ISO/MSP works with other small businesses, with large companies, or with both. Those who tend to focus on large companies may not understand the needs of small businesses and you may get lost in the shuffle. Credit card payments will be essential to your business, and if you aren’t able to process them, you could lose sales and money. Ask the company if they have customer service and what the operating hours are for that customer service. Also, ask if that service includes technical support. If you run an internet business, you need to be able to process credit cards 24/7 and not just during normal business hours.

Know What You Need
The credit card processing services and equipment you will need depend on whether you need to process those cards on-site, without the actual card, or both. If you need on-site processing, ask if the merchant account provider also offers the terminals and other accessories that you will need. If you will be working primarily with card not present payments, then find out what kind of virtual terminals, software, and payment gateways the ISO/MSP offers, if any.  Without the right tools, you want be able to process any credit cards.

Know What They Charge
Another important aspect to choosing a credit card processing company is, of course, the price. Most small businesses need to keep costs down, so make sure you know exactly what your merchant account provider is going to charge. First, find out what you will be paying upfront in set up and/or application fees. Not all companies charge these fees, so it is one way your business can save money. Next, if you need credit card terminals, find out if these are included as a package deal or if you can lease or buy them from the provider. Then you’ll need to look at the various rates for the processing, which will include the monthly account maintenance fee, the discount rate, the per transaction fee, and any monthly minimums. When checking these fees, make sure you know the difference between fees related to terminals and those related to card not present transactions. It is usually higher for card not present accounts. Lastly, read the fine print for hidden fees and cancellation fees. If you’re not happy with the service, you want to be able to get out at no cost to you.

Finding the right merchant account provider isn’t always easy, but it is important to the success of your business.