The Simple Steps to Accepting Credit Cards

In a competitive market environment, it is important to always strive to get ahead. You can be sure that the other companies in your field are doing the same, and you don’t want to get left behind.

One business tactic that can certainly help your company to grow is teaming up with a merchant services account. When you sign up for merchant services, you are providing your business access to a world of possibilities, as well as 24-hour customer support to help you along the way.

It is important in this day and age for every business to be able to accept debit and credit cards. This might be intimidating for those who have always relied on a cash only model, but a merchant services account can help you through the transition. Here are the simple and easy steps to setting up credit and debit card processing for your business.

Step 1 - Banking

Before you go out shopping for a merchant account provider, you are going to need to take care of a few things. For one, you need a business bank account. This is so that your account provider has somewhere to transfer the money to after they have processed the credit card transaction. Odds are, you probably already have a business bank account. Just make sure you double-check with them that they will be able to link your account to your merchant services provider.

Step 2 - Proving Your Worth

When you go to sign up for a merchant services account, the provider is going to want information that proves you are a legitimate business. It is always best to have this ready ahead of time to expedite the process. Different providers require different material, but it is always good to have the following items on hand:

- Recent tax information for your business

- Any photographs of your business

- Your business license

- References from peers in your field

And of course, any other information you may have that proves the legitimacy of your business will be helpful in moving this process along as quickly as possible.

Step 3 - Shopping Around

Now it is time for you to pick the merchant account provider that is right for your business. Call around and talk to different places to see what they offer. Ask about fees, programs and the accessibility of their customer service agents.

You should be able to get a good feel for a merchant account provider based on how they deal with you on the phone. But don’t sign up with the first account you find. Take your time and shop around. You can always go back to the first provider you spoke to. It is also a good idea to take notes as you go along so you can always refer back to them.

Step 4 - Finding the Programs that are Right for You

Now that you are signed up with your merchant services account, you need to decide how you plan to accept credit and debit cards. There are a multitude of ways you can do this and you should talk to your provider about what is right for you. Here are a few examples of what you could be in for:

- Retail Swipe Terminals - If you operate what is often referred to as a “bricks and mortar” business (a business with a physical retail location), then you are probably going to need a retail swipe terminal. These are the machines that you simply swipe a card through and the information is sent to your provider for processing. Because fraud is lowest when people pay face-to-face, these swipe terminals have the lowest processing fees in the business.

- Virtual Terminals - There may also be instances where you need to process credit card information without actually having the physical card. You may have received an order via the telephone, e-mail or fax. With a virtual terminal, you can sign onto a secure website and process that payment from any computer connected to the Internet.

- Wireless Terminals - Wireless terminals are great for businesses that are always on the go. If your restaurant delivers and you can’t provide at-home payment options, then you are missing out on a world of customers. The best part about these wireless terminals is that they often feature a “save” function if you are out of a service area. This way you can still swipe the card and just send the information later.

- Online Transactions - With a merchant services account, you can finally accept payments over your website in a secure, PCI-compliant system. You and your customers can feel confident that your merchant account provider will take the utmost care in protecting your sensitive information.

Once you follow these simple steps, you will be on your way to processing debit and credit card payments. After the steps are completed, it should only take two or three short business days before your new payment system is up and running. So get started today!