Becoming a business that accepts credit cards is a process. Both before and after the application there are certain steps that we strongly advise you to take. Follow the steps below to start accepting credit cards at your business and be successful from the get-go.
- Research Your Options
You wouldn’t apply for a bank loan without thoroughly researching your options, right? The same should go for accepting credit cards. You need access to a merchant account to process credit and debit transactions, and like most service industries, there are an overwhelming number of options to choose from.
To cut through the chaos, consider the size of your business and your plans for its future. Depending on where your business is now and where you see it going, there are certain pricing plans, features and equipment to look for as you research providers.
Once you narrow your research pool to a few options, it’s time to request demos and gain current customer insights. Do your homework before the demos to prepare yourself with questions. This will ensure you have a meaningful conversation with each provider’s representative. After a demo, a provider will typically offer a pricing proposal.
You’ve done an in-depth review of your options and have narrowed them down to your first pick, congratulations! Now it’s time to apply for a merchant account.
Depending on your business, you may have opted for a quicker solution with a Payment Facilitator (think Square or PayPal). With this type of provider, no actual application is required; it’s a relatively fast set up. However, with a traditional Merchant Service Provider, you must apply and go through an underwriting process.
Applying for a merchant account usually consists of a formal application, a void check (for the depository bank account) and certain supporting documents depending on your business type and anticipated processing volumes. The entire process typically takes two to five days from submission of paperwork to approval.
- Choose Your Equipment
Depending on the provider you select, you may choose your equipment during or after the application process.
One absolute for your credit card reader is EMV capability. Chip-enabled credit cards are the new norm, and without an EMV-capable reader, you’ll put your business at risk for fraud and bank-initiated chargebacks. Though NFC isn’t as widely adopted as EMV, its adoption increases every year. Opting for equipment that stays up-to-date with consumer trends is a smart move for your business.
If your future plans include the need for payments on-the-go, consider mobile card readers during your application or set-up process. It’s important to opt for a mobile card reader that is, at least, EMV capable. If it’s also NFC capable, that’s a plus.
- Set Up Additional Features
You’ve been approved, you’ve chosen your equipment and have started processing. Now that you’ve had some time to get used to your credit card processing service, it’s time to set up additional features.
Are you looking to test online sales? Hosted payments is a great way to integrate payments to your website (sometimes with no extra cost). If you find online sales is a viable sales medium for your business, you can upgrade to an integrated shopping cart.
Explore the additional, no-cost features your new provider offers to see how you can streamline your business in new ways. Tools like recurring payments and securely stored cards on file can decrease time spent running transactions and increase customer satisfaction.
Are you looking to start accepting credit cards? Ask us any questions you may have in the comments section below.