How to Start Accepting Credit and Debit Cards for Your Small Business

Whether you’re starting a business from scratch or simply wanting to expand your business, accepting credit cards is one of the best decisions you can make. Not only is it widely known that your business is missing out on sales if you’re not accepting credit and debit cards as a form of payment, but the United States Small Business Administration also notes…

“The convenience of using credit cards generally increases the likelihood of consumer “impulse purchases,” which 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.”

Acquiring a merchant account from a reputable credit card processor can be a daunting task for any small business owner, but we want to outline an easy step-by-step plan that will guide you from start to finish.

  1. Educate yourself on the fees associated with accepting credit and debit cards.
    There are a number of terms that are unique to the credit card processing industry, and you’ll need to be aware of what they mean. From “qualified” to “non-qualified” to “three-tier pricing” – all of these phrases have special nuances within the industry, and you’ll want to know what they mean in order to protect yourself from being overcharged.
  2. Determine how you will accept credit and debit cards.
    Before contacting a merchant account provider, take a few minutes to estimate how many of your transactions will be in-person (with the credit card swiped), over the phone (without the physical credit card), over the Internet (through your website), and via a mobile application (such as an iPhone, iPad, or Android device). There are three figures that you will be asked about – the % of your transactions for each method, the total monthly transaction totals ($), and the average transaction amount.
  3. Contact several merchant account providers to compare overall pricing.
    Notice that we didn’t say to “compare rates.” The rate game is a tool of trickery that most every credit card processing company plays in order to lure you in to get your business. The overall pricing structure is what to look for! The bottom line is that you want to avoid any merchant account provider that offers you “one flat rate” or “three tier pricing.” You want to look for someone who provides what is called “Interchange Plus” pricing. These accounts are based on the “interchange” tables published by both Visa Interchange and MasterCard Interchange. This type of pricing creates a discount rate by adding interchange rates, fees, assessments, markups, and other costs. By the way, don’t settle for a simple email with a few rates. BE SURE to get the full contract so that you know exactly what you’re agreeing to.
  4. Accept Credit and Debit Cards for your small businessSeek a trustworthy source to help you compare the quotes and fine print.
    In an effort to educate small business owners, we recently started offering a no-obligation review of competitor quotes. We will walk you through exactly what the quote means to your bottom line and ensure that there’s nothing hidden in the fine print that will pop up a few months down the road. If we can’t save you money, we’ll let you know right up front.
  5. After determining the best overall pricing for your company, fill out the application.
    Most companies will pressure you into filling out an application from the very beginning. They figure you won’t want to go through that process more than once, and they’ll have you locked in. Get the contract upfront, do your research, and then fill out the application after you’ve determined which merchant account provider is best for you.
  6. Start accepting credit and debit cards within 24-48 hours after approval.
    This is the simplest part of all. Whether it’s through your existing credit card terminal, through your website, or via a wireless device, you can generally be accepting credit cards within a couple of days. If you choose Best Merchant Rates, we walk you through the process every step of the way, and we’re available 24 hours a day.

Accepting credit and debit cards for your small business has never been easier, and Best Merchant Rates is focused on protecting small businesses from being overcharged.