If you’re going to have a business, you’re going to take credit cards. There’s not much of a market for cash or barter anymore. Customers need and expect to use plastic, so you need to be processing it to attract and keep business.

May be that’s not news. But, identifying and dealing with credit card processors offers another startup challenge. That’s why you need to know everything there is know about credit card processing businesses.

Security issues

Business transactions require absolute security. It’’s your financial data, and you want to keep that private.

As important, customers deserve confidence that their transactions are secure. They don’t expect to be hacked, but there are forces out there breaching big business systems as well as small.

So, when shopping for your credit card processing business, you must demand a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate.

Customer service support

Any business needs and respects good customer service. But, when your business depends on the cash flow that credit cards represent, you need 24/7 customer support services.

Retail sales and restaurant transactions, for example, cannot afford to see their credit card processing go “down” for any part of the day.

But, you may also need customer service for billing statements and complicated fee structures. You need immediate, knowledgeable, and responsive customer support. As reported by Shopify, “Remember that your credit card processor will make a little bit of money every time you process a sale.  They should want you to succeed and do everything possible to support you.  Good processors do this very well.”

Fee structure

Fees can be complicated enough to confuse or go unsuspected. Some providers offer Tiered Pricing that typically don’t disclose the underlying interchange rates. Tiered Pricing isn’t inherently bad, but it does not appear transparent.

In discussing credit card processing for businesses, Jeff Marcous, Co-Founder and Chief Evolutionary Officer at Dharma Merchant Services, remarked, “We strongly believe that you should be able to see exactly how much you paid us. We don’t think it’s fair that merchants are left in the dark.” So, to clear that understanding, you need to check on other typical fees.

For example, there may be an Application Fee and almost certainly be fees for setting up the equipment necessary for the card processing.

Monthly Statement Fees may cost you about $10/month for mailing statements. Perhaps, more important is a Monthly Minimum Fee charged if your processing does not meet a minimum target. As Entrepreneur reports, “Virtually all credit card processors initiate this fee, and generally it ranges from $10 to $30 per month.”

There is also a Monthly Gateway Access Fee covers a secure connection from your processing hardware to the credit card companies. This supports an Address Verification Service Fee (AVS) that adds fraud-detection to card usage especially when the card is not in hand.

Chargeback Fees are meant to handle disputed transactions, and Retrieval Fees are charged for the retrieval of original receipts requested by the cardholder’s bank.

And, finally, you will find the important Interchange Fee assigned to every credit card transaction you process and paid to the card-issuing bank. The fee is a function of the type of card, the kind of transaction, and the size of the deal.

There may also be equipment and software fees, termination charges, discount rates, and reprogramming costs.

Business specific processing

If you are a restaurant, you may want transaction equipment that makes wireless connections from the patrons’ table. Or, you might prefer tip adjustment and chip and PIN processing at a central location.

If you’re depending on e-Commerce transactions, you can look for hardware that is a virtual or standalone terminal or administer email invoicing.

If running a retail storefront, you might opt for countertop terminals, portable POS systems, or mobile swiping.

Clearly, the more choices your business has, the more comfortable you will be with the credit card processing solution. That’s why you need to know everything there is know about the credit card processing business.

This post was written by Michael F. Carroll. Mike is a freelance contributor to OutreachMama and Youth Noise NJ who helps businesses find their audience online through research, content copy, and whitepapers. He frequently writes about management, marketing, and sales with customized outreach for digital marketing channels and outreach plans depending on the industry and competition. You can contact on Twitter.

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