Intro: Accepting Payments Online (Taking Credit Card Payments)
How many times have you been on the road and felt the itch for an early morning coffee or a late afternoon snack? When you pull out your wallet, however, all you see are a bunch of crumpled receipts, a few coins, and that magical, gleaming piece of plastic.
In today’s world, the decision to accept credit card payments is one of the most important choices a small business can make. Learning how to accept credit card payments is a sure-fire way to allow your business to grow and expand.
Furthermore, as more and more people make purchases on the Internet, accepting payments online is also a critical business strategy that will help advance your company’s goals for growth.
In this brief article, we’ll explain the importance of choosing to accept credit card payments, the specifics of how to accept credit card payments, the ins and outs of accepting payments online, and some important points to consider as your business begins to take credit card payments.
Why It Is Important to Accept Credit Cards Payments
Paying with plastic is the preferred method of purchase for the vast majority of consumers. By making the decision to receive credit card payments, your business will be on the path to receiving more customers as well as opening up to new payments options.
Purchasing with credit or debit cards allows customers to better track their spending. Businesses that accept credit card payments are often seen as customer-friendly. As our society grows increasingly “cashless,” learning how to accept credit card payments will not only be an option but a necessity for businesses that want to stay competitive in today’s economy.
Even the Small Business Administration of the U.S. government recognizes that plastic is the most “common method of customer payment.” If you want your business to continue to grow and transform with the patterns of the modern economy, accepting credit card payments is a must.
The Benefits of Learning How to Accept Credit Card Payments
If your business doesn’t accept credit card payments, you’ll be losing out on a vital source of income. Millions of dollars are spent every month on impulse purchases, where customers buy something they hadn’t planned on purchasing when they left home.
By taking credit card payments, you are allowing customers to follow their consumer impulses. Since many people don’t leave home with large amounts of money, accepting credit card payments allows more flexibility for your customers.
The Small Business Administration advises that choosing to accept credit card payments “ultimately contributes to an increase in a business's average sale. Customers are more likely to make these purchases if they have access to credit or their available bank account funds.”
Furthermore, the decision to accept credit card payments will also help your business increase the volume and likelihood of large purchases.
According to smallbusiness.com, the decision to receive credit card payments by “small businesses is making it more convenient and easier for customers to make larger purchases as payments are delayed for the consumer. This is especially true online where cash is not an option and consumers are weary about using bank account information when making a purchase.”
Accepting payments online is a complementary business strategy that goes hand in hand with deciding to take credit card payments.
How to Accept Credit Card Payments in Person
There are a number of options regarding how to accept credit card payments, but the most important thing is to find the cheapest way to get the money from your customer’s credit card into your bank account.
If you will be dealing with customers in person – that is, if you have a business where customers have to leave their house to come to your store – you’ll most likely need to set up a merchant account. Setting up a merchant account will allow your business to accept credit card payments as well as other forms of electronic payment, including debit cards, gift cards, and others.
Merchant Account Services
A merchant account is, in essence, a financial middleman that helps facilitate the transaction. The merchant account will take credit card payments, process them, and then send the money to your business’s bank account. It will make sure that the money clears the processing protocols before it is sent to your bank account. For example, the merchant account makes sure that your customers have sufficient funds on their debit card or that no credit problems exist before clearing the money.
Unfortunately, merchant accounts do cost money, but they are often a necessary expense that comes with deciding to accept credit card payments. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, merchant account services will most likely charge you a monthly statement fee, a monthly minimum fee, and gateway monthly payments. These three fixed payments will usually cost your business somewhere between $30 and $50 dollars a month.
On top of that, the merchant account will also charge a transaction fee for every transaction made when you accept credit card payments. The transaction fees will vary between different providers, ranging anywhere from 0.25% to 6%. Also, some merchant accounts will charge a fee (usually between $0.15 and $0.30 cents) for every transaction. Before choosing to take credit card payments, it is important to research which providers give the best deals.
Point-of-Sale System to Accept Credit Card Payments
A point-of-sale (POS) system is usually the best option for small businesses that have made the decision to accept credit card payments. This system comes with a complete checkout terminal that includes the traditional card swiper, a barcode scanner, a cash register, and an NFC reader that can be programmed to facilitate payment via Apple or Android operating devices.
A point of sale system is also a great option for businesses that operate in various localities. You’ll be able to connect multiple locations and/or cash registers to your business accounting system or other software your business may depend on. For businesses with a physical location that decide to accept credit card payments, a point of sale system is often the best option available.
Mobile Credit Card Processors as a Way to Take Credit Card Payments
Business strategies are changing in today’s modern world, and many businesses have adopted strategies that take them to their customers instead of trying to lure their customers to them. This mobile business strategy is ideal for the traveling salesmen of today. Of course, it is absolutely necessary to accept credit card payments if your business utilizes this sales strategy.
Mobile credit card processors will set you up with an app that will allow you to accept credit card payments anywhere you’re at as long as you have a smartphone with a signal. Since many of your customers may not be expecting you, they might not have cash on them when you visit. Thus, having a mobile credit card processor will allow you to accept credit card payments anywhere you go.
This option is also recommended for businesses that have large physical locations where employees are interacting with customers. A mobile credit card processor will allow your business to accept credit card payments anywhere in the store, thus limiting “buyer’s remorse” and increasing sales. This option also does not usually require a merchant account.
Accepting Payments Online
We live in an increasingly online world. One study determined that the average person spends approximately two hours and fifty-one minutes online per day. Of that time, much of it spent doing online shopping. Furthermore, as the advertising industry shifts its efforts to online advertising, people are continually bombarded by online advertisements. According to Fortune magazine, during Black Friday weekend last year, online customers spent 4.45 billion dollars, and almost all of those purchases were done with businesses that accept online payments.
If your business does large volumes of sales online or if you are considering expanding into online sales, then it is essential for your business to accept credit cards online. Most online payment systems will allow your business to accept online payments without having to set up a separate merchant account.
There are a number of ways to accept credit cards online. Your business can choose to purchase shopping cart software to upload onto your business website, you can work via an e-commerce site or you can operate via a third-party marketplace, such as Amazon, eBay, PayPal or many others. These options will allow your business to take credit card payments online at your website or even on a blog. The increasing popularity and proven success of inbound marketing strategies show how connecting your blog to an online store will help your business vastly increase its sales.
Most e-commerce sites and shopping cart software require your business to sign up for a merchant account. Third-party sites, like Amazon.com, almost never require you to use a merchant account.
When choosing which option to use in your decision to accept credit card payments online, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors. Unless you are a computer programmer, you’ll want to find a way to accept credit cards online that doesn’t require extensive tech skills. If you have to use code in order to accept online payments, then all you should have to be required to do is copy and paste the code that is provided to you.
Furthermore, any software that you use for accepting payments online should come with a shopping cart, buy buttons, and even a website builder if you don’t already have one. Just as accepting payments online shouldn’t be difficult for your business, paying with plastic online needs to be easy for your customers as well. Checkout should be an easy and painless process using the fewest steps as possible. Many customers despise having to set up an account just to purchase a $10 item, so the software that helps your business accept online payments shouldn’t require account setup.
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Cons of Choosing to Accept Credit Card Payments
Though choosing to accept credit card payments will most likely help your business grow in sales volume, there are a few cons that need to be taken into consideration.
The risk of fraud always exists with accepting online payments. While encryption technology is always getting better, the risk still remains. As a business that accepts credit card payments and accepts online payments, you’ll want to read up on business responsibilities related to protecting customer privacy so as to avoid liability.
Another minor disadvantage to accepting credit card payments is the processing fees associated with receiving credit card payments. If your business receives a lot of small purchases with credit cards, these payments can add up. Furthermore, if your business is doing large volumes of sales, you’ll want to find a merchant account provider that offers low percentage transaction fees so that you’re not losing money on every sale.
Lastly, if you’re not good with accounting or numbers, your business will probably have to invest in bringing in a trusted employee to keep the books. The decision to accept credit card payments will add a little more detail to traditional accounting practices.
If I Accept Credit Card Payments, Will My Business Grow?
According to a Huffington Post article, “Last year 27 percent of all point-of-sale purchases were made with cash and that number is expected to drop to 23 percent by 2017.” At the same time, plastic card purchases represented 66% of all in-person sales, and almost half of those were made with credit cards.
As the economy grows, consumers feel free to spend more money, and there is no easier way to spend than with plastic. By choosing to accept credit card payments and to accept credit cards online, your business will be on the fast track to future growth and expansion of sales.
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