Credit Card Processing a Must for Any Business

By: Kelly Brown

If you currently donít accept credit cards, you are severely limiting your business. These days, the average consumer has multiple cards and prefers to use plastic over cash for transactions. Additionally, if you want to take your business to the internet, this of course is the only method of payment.

If you plan doing business online, one easy option is PayPal. Essentially, anyone with an email address can send or accept money once they sign up. Some customers prefer Pay Pal because once they share their financial information with PayPal, they donít have to share it with each vendor they do business with. A benefit to the seller is that you donít have to get approved to have an account, another is that you donít have to have a shopping cart on your website. PayPal is pretty basic and inexpensive. A PayPal user has three options: a personal account, business, or premiere. With all three, there is a small fee to accept credit card payments.

Vendorsí main complaint with Paypal is that when funds are transferred they go into a separate PayPal account, which is not regulated by Federal Banking Regulations. Occasionally, PayPal may freeze an account or hold money. Another drawback is that your customer has to sign up for a PayPal account, which may stand in the way of them doing business with you. Finally, while providing an efficient way to process transactions online, PayPal does not allow for face-to-face or phone transactions. For these reasons, if you plan on conducting your business entirely online, and have a small amount of regular customers, PayPal may be ideal for you. Otherwise, you should consider a merchant account.

A merchant account is an account you establish with a credit card processing company. Your bank may offer such a service, but itís recommended to do business with a company with a singular focus on merchant account services. Setting up a merchant account will allow you to accept credit cards online, over the phone, and in person. Most merchant account providers can offer quality credit card processing equipment, like Point of Sale terminals, so you have everything you need to operate. You should be able to find state-of-the art equipment for as low as $300. Or, you can purchase software that allows you to process credit card transactions on a computer - an affordable alternative to purchasing a credit card terminal. Such systems are easy to use and have a great reporting capabilities. You can then do business at home, on the road, and online. Most funds are deposited directly into your account, not a third partyís. This has the added benefit of less potential for fraud.

About the only downside of a merchant account is that you will pay more fees because the range of service is so much greater. It is important to remember then, that when choosing a credit card processing company, you must carefully investigate the fees involved. In a competitive market there is no need for you to pay start-up or set-up fees. You also should only pay for what you need, and make sure the merchant account services package is specifically tailored to your needs.

For a smaller business operating only online, PayPal may be the best option. With minimal expense you can accept credit card payments from your customers. For a larger business who wants the option of accepting credit cards in person, over the phone, and online, a merchant account is ideal. Whatever method is best for you and your business, it is imperative that you accept credit cards.

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Helen Walker. Get affordable and reliable credit card processing and merchant account services from Veritrans.

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