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 impossible.


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 your business.


  • 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.