Getting Started With A Restaurant Point Of Sale

The most successful restaurant businesses rarely generate their revenue from cash transactions alone.  On the contrary, most of the restaurant revenue is collected using credit cards.  The ability to accept credit cards begins with the best point of sale for restaurant businesses.  Any restaurant can get started with an effective point of sale solution today to increase their profits and speed up their collections.


Research Merchant Account Providers


The ability to accept credit cards involves another party known as a merchant account provider.  Fortunately, there are plenty of merchant account providers that are willing to help out various businesses, including restaurants.  Restaurants should use caution before initiating an agreement with one of these merchants.  Not all merchants are created equally, and certain merchants may be better suited for the needs of the restaurant.  Finding the right merchant usually involves a little bit of research.  Although this research takes time and patience, it will benefit the restaurant in the long run and enable them to make an informed decision.


Select A Merchant Account Provider


Once research has been completed on the various merchant account providers, the restaurant should be able to choose the right provider for their business.  A good merchant should possess the following characteristics.


•             Merchant account providers should be honest and open about their fees.

•             Fees charged should be reasonable and similar to the industry standard.

•             One-time fees should be disclosed ahead of time.

•             The merchant account provider should provide customer service and technical support.

•             Businesses should be able to accept all credit cards with the help of the merchant.

•             A money back guarantee should be in place to protect the business entering into the agreement.

•             There should be no term contract.


These characteristics are industry standards and can be expected by the restaurant.  However, there are other personal factors that the restaurant needs to consider when choosing a merchant.  For example, the restaurant will need the right equipment to operate effectively.  The best point of sale for restaurant should provide this equipment at a minimal cost.


Quality Equipment


When evaluating equipment, it is important for the restaurant to assess the quality.  Certain merchants provide equipment that is old or slow.  Busy restaurants cannot perform with subpar equipment that doesn’t function quickly and effectively.  For this reason, they sometimes prefer to invest in their own equipment.  This is the more expensive route, but it may be the right decision. Before a restaurant spends this money, they should talk to other individuals in the same business to determine the best solution.  In addition, they can also talk to the merchant account provider about the performance they should expect out of their equipment.


Good Point Of Sale Setup


Once the equipment has been secured, the restaurant can focus on the point of sale set up.  The set up will largely depend on where the transactions will take place.  Many people assume that the best point of sale for restaurant is one that is hidden.  While this may be true for a sit down restaurant, it is definitely not the case for fast food restaurants or restaurants that require customers to pay as they are leaving.  Also, many restaurants need multiple point of sale areas.  This is particularly true of fast food restaurants with more than one cashier and a drive thru.  It is important for restaurants to plan ahead of time to determine how they will setup their point of sale to facilitate the needs of their restaurant.  Remember, there is no right way to setup.  However, there is an ideal way for each individual restaurant.


Protocols For Accepting Credit Cards


In addition to establishing a proper setup, restaurants need to determine their protocols and guidelines for accepting credit cards.  These objectives will need to be communicated to cashiers and waiters who will be accepting money.  Standard protocols involve the following decisions:


•             Restaurants need to determine how they will present the bill to the customer – in person, at the cash register, on the drive thru screen, etc.

•             Restaurants need to determine how they plan on accepting tips.

•             Restaurants need to establish policies for credit card identification to minimize theft.

•             Restaurants need to determine who will be responsible for charging credit cards.




Once these protocols have been determined, the restaurant can move on to proper training.  Although the training will cover these standard protocols, the majority will focus on operation of the pos system. This training objective will minimizes error and allow the restaurant to collect their money in an organized fashion.  Since this training is vital to the success of a business, it is usually best to have it during off business hours.  In doing so, the restaurant can avoid distractions that occur with customers and answer any questions their employees may have.




It is also important to understand that the money collected from these charges needs to be allocated for tax purposes.  This is where accounting comes in.  Accountants will work with the merchant account provider to assess the credit card revenue and fees that are associated with it.  Good accounting will allocate the fees properly so that they do not overstate the revenue of the business.  Restaurants need to make sure that they know who is in charge of this process.  It is not something they should put off until tax time.


Communication to the Customer


Finally, every restaurant needs to clearly communicate their point of sale to the customer.  A point of sale is ineffective when it is not understood.  Customers need to know where to pay, when to pay, and what they can pay with.  If the restaurant only accepts certain credit cards, the customer should know.  Good communication prevents errors in the point of sale processes and ensures that the customer will not leave before paying.  In addition, good communication goes hand in hand with customer service.


Those restaurants looking to succeed should setup a good point of sale today that will allow them to charge credit cards and reach more customers.  Setting up a point of sale is easy and makes a big difference in the restaurant business.

pos systems

How to get started with a restaurant PoS system.

Six Factors In Choosing A Payment Gateway

Online business is booming, and if you are considering extending your customer base from just a retail location to an online location, or you’re in a business where you sell exclusively online, one of the most critical decisions you will make is finding the best credit card payment gateway.


The Rise of E-Retail Shopping

In 2012, shoppers in the U.S. spent about $226 billion online, and according to a recent report by Forrester Research Inc. entitled U.S. Online Retail Forecast, 2011 to 2016, that number will increase significantly over the next four years. By 2016, online shopping is projected to account for almost 10 percent of all retail shopping in America. Online shopping is a booming business, increasing by 45 percent from 2011 to 2012, and analysts expect it to continue to grow at an average annual rate of more than 10 percent for the foreseeable future.


Some of the biggest reasons the e-retail industry has seen such astonishing growth include companies integrating richer, more comprehensive online shopping tools, an increase in the number of total shoppers who make purchases online, e-retail loyalty programs, and the increasing popularity of smartphones and other mobile devices that allow consumers to shop virtually anywhere, at any time of the day or night.


What is a Payment Gateway?

In order to accept payments online, you need credit card payment gateway solutions that will allow you to accept payments from customers using credit or debit cards, then have the money deposited into your bank account.


Credit card payment gateway solutions process transactions your customers initiate and coordinate with the credit card issuers to ensure prompt payment. These “credit middlemen” link your customer to their credit card company to request the funds, then link the credit card company to your bank account to disburse payment according to the cardholder terms and the transaction.


Choosing a Payment Gateway

With the astonishing growth in the industry, many businesses are scrambling to get online. Once you’ve made the decision to extend your business to an online platform, the next step is setting up your online payment system. Here are six factors to consider when choosing which payment gateway to go with so you can earn a profit.


(1) Identify the Right Size System for Your Needs

Every e-commerce business is different, so the first thing you need to do before choosing any credit card payment gateway services is figure out what size system you need. If you plan to sell the same volume as a company like Amazon (the largest e-retailer in the world), you will need a more complex system than if you plan to only do a few thousand, or even a few hundred dollars online each month.


If you’ve never sold online before, it can be difficult to approximate how much you will sell every month, but you should still create a “best guess” estimate so you can choose a right-size system. As you’re looking for the best credit card payment gateway solutions, choosing one that you can scale up or down as needed (in case your estimates are off) is a good idea.


(2) Compare Fees and Costs


Yes there is a cost to processing credit cards online, but if you have been avoiding online retail because you’re concerned about the costs, keep in mind that with all the card processing competitors out there today, most companies are able to find a great deal that keeps costs low and gives them a new revenue stream that more than makes up for the cost in fees. Before agreeing to any contract, be sure to read the fine print carefully and ask questions about all the fees so you won’t be surprised when you get the bill.


The most common fees and costs you will encounter with credit card payment gateway services include setup fees, monthly fees, per-transaction fees, statement fees, batch fees, and more. Most credit card payment gateway solutions will charge you a flat rate to process each transaction (usually between 1-5% of the transaction cost). Some may charge a per-transaction fee between 10-20 cents, then a fee of 10-25 cents when you “batch” out the payments at the end of the day (send them to the card companies for processing). Generally companies with higher sales volume can negotiate lower per-transaction rates, which is why it’s important to estimate sales in advance.


(3) Functionality is Key


Nothing is more frustrating to consumers than not being able to make a purchase online while shopping at your site. You may have the best system in the world, but it’s useless if it doesn’t work. As you’re comparing credit card payment gateway services, read customer reviews so you can be sure you’re getting a company that has reliable processing services that will work when your customers are shopping online. If the company frequently experiences server crashes, upgrades, and fixes that take it offline for extended periods of time, it may be best to choose another system.


(4) Getting the Cash


The reason you’re looking for a credit card payment gateway is so you can increase your company’s profits, so another important question is how long it takes to get the money. It’s inevitable that the card transaction will take some time, since it has to pass from your site, through the payment gateway, to the credit card issuing company (Visa, MasterCard, etc.), then back through the payment gateway and into your bank. For most companies, this process takes about 3 business days. In some cases they may keep it longer to protect against fraud, but if the credit card payment gateway is telling you it will be any longer than about 4-5 business days, continue shopping until you find another processor.  The old saying that “time is money” can be taken quite literally here—the less time it takes to process, the sooner you have your cash in hand.


(5) Customized Reporting


One of the most powerful tools your company has is information—if you can discover shopping trends that increase revenue, you can structure your site and your business in a way that caters to the desires and shopping habits of your clients. Ask credit card payment gateway providers what kind of reporting features are included with their system, and whether you can customize reports to get the information that you need most.


(6) PCI DSS Compliance


If this is your first foray into online e-retailing, you may not be familiar with PCI DSS compliance. It stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. The PCI Security Standards Council is an international organization that sets guidelines for companies that process card transactions. These guidelines are meant to protect cardholders so they can feel confident their credit cards will not be stolen when processing transactions online. PCI DSS compliance requirements differ depending on your annual sales volume, but it’s important to find credit card payment gateway solutions that are already PCI compliant so you don’t have to worry whether your customers’ data is secure.


Using these six guidelines, you can find the best credit card payment gateway services that enable you to sell online, expanding your potential customer base beyond just your local area, and giving you the ability to market and sell to millions of customers all over the world.


payment gateway

Six big factors when choosing the right payment gateway.

Choosing The Right Small Business Credit Card Machines

Chances are, as a small business you’ve answered the phone, opened the mail, or even received a door to door salesperson with the latest and greatest pitch on small business credit card machines. Then, if you research the web, the endless options can be a bit overwhelming.


Choosing the best business credit card machines for your small business can be a simpler process. While some companies would prefer you to believe otherwise, most of the best small business credit card machines on the market today can be used with any merchant bank that you choose to do business with. Of course, you’ll want to double check with your service provider before you make any final decisions. Knowing this can help you find a great deal when shopping for the best credit card machine providers. Still, there’s a lot to be said for a full service, no hassle, “packaged” experience too.


What’s Best For Your Business?


No one knows your business better than you do. When you see the right credit card machine with the features you need, you’ll likely know it. An ice cream truck business that travels the southwest during the summer months will need a totally different machine than a telemarketing company selling facial cream to the whole country. You’ll want to evaluate your business model and determine which of the three major types of credit card machines will be best for you. Be sure to consider your growth plan to. A delicatessen featuring dine-in or carry-out only right now, might have plans to start a delivery service within six months that will have a drastic impact on the right credit card machine to choose.


Three Different Types of Credit Card Machines


Virtual Terminal- A virtual terminal is designed for businesses that primarily transact on the internet or via phone. This is the kind of terminal a telemarketing company would be likely to use, or a web retailer would obviously use it as well. The common characteristic of companies that use this style of terminal is that there is very little, if any, face to face contact with customers.


Standard Terminal- When you visualize a credit card machine, these standard terminals are likely what pop in your head. These are usually small boxes or rectangle shaped devices with a receipt printer attached. You’ll find a keypad, a display window, and a magnetic strip reader where you will swipe the customer’s credit card. Most brick and mortar businesses will have these types of credit card machines. There could be a couple different reasons for this. First, perhaps this type of machine just makes the most sense for them because their customers are always visiting their place of business only, rather than deliveries, or online ordering, etc. The other reason is that these terminals usually facilitate the lowest possible Qualifying Rate because the customer, as well as the customer’s credit card, are usually physically present at the time of the transaction. The physical presence of the cardholder and the credit card are a major factor in determining your qualifying rate. By their shear nature, many businesses just can’t help it when the customer isn’t present. Transactions are obviously still possible, but their charged a slightly higher rate.


Wireless Terminal- The wireless terminal probably speaks for itself. Many of them look very similar to the standard terminal, but they are totally wireless. This makes them ideal for businesses that are mobile. Craft shows, trade shows, and fairs are often hot spots for these wireless credit card machines. You’ll also find that companies with an outside sales force can greatly benefit from these devices. When a salesperson can make a presentation, take an order, and process payment all in one meeting, sales are bound to rise.


Where to Find the Right Merchant Account Provider


There are thousands of different merchant account providers out there. Most, if not all, can provide the  machines you’ll use for processing credit cards in your business. Be sure to research consumer review sites, and even ask other acquaintances with similar businesses to yours what they use and why.


Three Things to Consider Before Choosing a Merchant Account Provider


There really are countless options when it comes to choosing the right merchant account provider to use with your new credit card machine. When you’re doing your research, consider these three things:


1.            Equipment Costs- The range on the cost of credit card machines is actually quite large. Most financial experts agree that purchasing this equipment, rather than leasing, is the way to go. However, you know your business-make the right choice for your situation. Comparing companies is the best way to make sure the price of the equipment is fair and to over-inflated.

2.            Transaction Rates- The Transaction Rate is a bundle of different fees rolled together and charged per transaction processed. It’s usually a percentage of the total sale.

3.            After Market Service Reputation- How your needs are met after you purchase the equipment is almost more important than anything else. When malfunctions occur, or equipment breaks down, you’ll want to make sure you have a way to contact someone to get resolution. This reputation is usually highlighted in consumer review sites.


What Kind of Fees to Expect


Credit card processing fees also run the full gambit. Depending on your situation, these fees will certainly include the regular transaction fee, which is a small percentage of each total sale. There may also be monthly or annual fees, and account minimums you are responsible for. As for the transaction rates, most merchant banks will break them down into three different types.


Three Types of Transaction Fees


Qualifying Rate- This is the lowest possible rate per transaction and is reserved for those transactions that pose the lowest risk for the merchant bank. In order to qualify for this rate, a transaction usually is completed on a standard terminal with the cardholder and credit card both physically present.


Mid-Qualifying Rate- This rate will apply for transactions that may be a slightly higher risk to the merchant bank. Perhaps the card or card holder were not present for the transaction. This could also be the rate used for wireless terminal transactions.


Non-Qualified Rate- These are usually higher risk transactions and this fee will be charged if the transaction doesn’t fit the criteria for either of the other two fee categories.


While there are lots of options when choosing the best business credit card machines providers, with a little research and due diligence you can really clear the playing field a bit.

credit card processing fees

How to find the right credit card machine for your business.

How The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard Applies To Business Owners

If you are a business owner who accepts credit or debit cards as payment for good or services, you are already acquainted with the best merchant credit card service features.  But did you know there is a security standard that you should also be following, and in many cases are required to follow, in order to protect your customers’ payment card information?  Read on to learn more about this standard and how you can adopt its policies and procedures into your business plan.


What is the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard?


In an effort to boost security and set forth a single standard for merchants, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) was drawn up in 2004.  This standard was a result of the four major credit card companies, Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover coming together to create a security program.


There are six areas of operation on which PCI DSS focuses.  These include:


1.            Build and maintain a network that is secure.  In order to do this, all system and network components as well as data elements that are related to authorization and the retention, storage and transmission of data must be secure.


A detailed list of all the requirements for the best merchant credit card service for business can be found on the PCI Security Standards Website, but the following is a brief summary of the things that are covered in the PCI DSS for Level 1 merchants.


•             Cardholder Data.  All cardholder data including the account number, name and expiration date.  Any data repository that is located outside of the authorization zone is included if there are more than 50,000 account numbers stored.

•             System Components.  This includes any network component or server that is connected to cardholder data.  Applications that involve internal and external internet connections such as remote employee access and third party access for maintenance and processing are also included in this.

•             Network Components.  Routers, wireless access points, switches, certain types of servers and more are all included.


2.            Protect the data of the cardholder.  No matter where the cardholder’s data is stored, the goal is to make sure it is unreadable.  The PCI DSS prohibits the storage of sensitive credit card information.  This includes data such as CVV, CVV2 and full magnetic strip track data.  In some instances it is permissible to store certain data elements that are needed from the magnetic stripe track data.  In these cases, it is okay to store the cardholder’s name, primary account number, date of card expiration and service code.  It is never permissible for a merchant or merchant credit card service to store the verification code or PIN.


3.            Maintain a vulnerability management program.  This involves using and updating anti-virus software regularly.  This can be done in three steps:


•             Ensure that all systems that are commonly affected by viruses are protected by anti-virus software

•             Ensure that the anti-virus software is up-to-date and capable of detection, removal and protection against malicious software.

•             Ensure the software is active at all times and run audit logs at regular intervals.


4.            Implement rigorous measures for access control.  Cardholder data should be carefully restricted to employees whose job requires access to the data.  For systems with a number of users, safeguards should be put into place to block access by employees who are not authorized to see the information.


5.            Monitor and test networks regularly.  Being able to log and track user activities through the use of logging mechanisms and audit trials is useful in the event that a problem occurs.


You should also continually test your security system and processes at regular intervals.  This prevents hackers from finding vulnerabilities within the system and software.


6.            Maintain a security policy for information.  A great way to prevent a breach in security is to have a written policy for information security.  This policy should be shared with every employee in the organization.  This ensures that employees are informed of the company’s security procedures and how they are expected to operate.  It also sets a strong security tone for your entire business.


Who Needs to be PCI Compliant?


If you process payment cards, as of the end of 2007 you are required to be PCI compliant.  The best retail merchant credit card service, business owners and customers are all protected by this system.


The way you handle credit card information determines if you are required to be PCI compliant.  If you store credit card information, no matter what form it is in, then you are responsible for being PCI compliant.  Compliance requirements differ according to the size of your business.


If the requirements are not met, credit card companies can impose stiff fines and stop the merchant from processing credit or debit card transactions until the company is once again PCI compliant.  Enforcement and the issuing of non-compliance penalties is not handled by the PCI Security Standards Council, instead it is taken care of by individual payment brands.


In addition, if your business operates within an industry noted to be a high risk of fraud or fraudulent activities, it is absolutely crucial to make PCI compliance the highest priority to prevent the potential of abuse. High risk payment processing and PCI compliance services go hand-in-hand to prevent fraud from occurring and to protect your business from abuse.


How to Be PCI Compliant


Being PCI Compliant is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing process.  There are 3 steps for following  the PCI DSS:


1.            Assess.  This step involves identifying the data of the cardholder and taking an inventory of all of your IT assets as well as your processes for credit and debit card processing.  You will then analyze them for any existing vulnerabilities that could potentially expose the cardholder’s data.

2.            Remediate.  Once you isolate and identify the vulnerable spots, you will need to work to fix them.  Unless you absolutely need the cardholder’s data, you should not store it during this time.

3.            Report.  If there was an area where you were lacking and needed to work on, you will be required to submit remediation validation records.  The card brands you do business with and your acquiring bank will also require that you submit compliance reports.


If you process credit or debit cards in your business, take the required steps to protect your customers’ payment card information and become compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard today.  The future of your business might just depend on it.

high risk payment processing

How PCI Standards applies to your business.

Accepting Credit Card Payments

Customers want to pay for their goods or services with a card.  Whether it is a credit or debit card, usually people find it more convenient to pay with a card than with checks or cash.  If you find yourself among those who want to accept credit cards as payments rather than sifting through the cash drawer or risking that a check will bounce, you might want to set up a merchant account.  It enables you to accept most forms of card payments.


Increasing Customers by Accepting Credit or Debit Cards


Because so few people carry cash anymore, having a business that does not have the capability to accept credit or debit card payments can prohibit the number of customers who come through the door.  They would rather go to an establishment that they know can accept their card as payment.  According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, U.S. consumers possess 609.8 million credit cards.  Credit and debit cards are the most common ways to pay for goods or services in the United States, and when it comes right down to it, the best merchant account can provide you, the small business owner, with the benefit of receiving payment immediately without the risk of a check bouncing, or an employee pocketing the cash.


Getting Started


If you have determined that you want to start accepting credit and debit cards from customers, the first item of business would be to set up a merchant account.  A merchant account is a bank account that specifically enables credit and debit card payments to be deposited within it.  An account can be established through a variety of organizations that provide the best merchant account services.


To be competitive with merchant account providers, many banks and other financial institutions have started getting on the bandwagon and now provide their customers with the option to set up a merchant account.  It’s not without a price, however.  Before you set up an account, shop around and consider the following:


1.            Is there a fee to set up my account?

2.            How much does the credit card terminal cost?

3.            What standard rates and fees apply?


Is There a Fee to Set Up My Account?


Generally speaking, no, there is not a fee to simply set up a merchant account with the provider of your choosing.  In fact, to remain competitive with other providers merchants commonly waive fees or have no fee involved in order to gain your business.  As you begin accepting cards and process transaction there are fees associated with that part of the service, but not typically with the account set up.


How Much Does a Credit Card Terminal Cost?


Another way for credit card processing companies to earn your business is to provide you with one or more complimentary terminals.  This is also a freebie that helps you get started with minimal to zero costs, making it easy to start accepting credit and debit cards.  It also enables credit card processing companies a way to compete with other providers in order to give you with the best products and services.


What Standard Rates and Fees Apply?


Of course the set-up of the merchant account probably will not have a fee associated with it, and you can probably score a complimentary terminal or two, but there will be certain fees that are not negotiable.  They might include:


•             Interchange fees

•             3-tier pricing

•             6-tier pricing

•             Bill back

•             Authorization fees


Interchange Fees.  They are generally determined by the credit card issuing companies, like Visa or Discover.  When they set the terms, the fees are unlikely to be negotiated.  They can, however, occasionally be influenced by the best merchant account providers.  It is a fee that is paid between a merchant’s bank and a consumer’s bank.  There are also occasions when an interchange fee would be paid by the credit card issuing company to the acquirer; this is called a reverse interchange.


3-Tier Pricing.  It is usually the easiest fee model for business owners to understand.  The first tier, or qualified rate is the percentage rate that a merchant will be charged each time a credit card is swiped and it is a standard kind of transaction.  Generally speaking, it is the lowest rate that a merchant can expect to incur when processing transactions.


The second tier, or mid-qualified rate, is a percentage rate that the merchant will be charged when the transaction does not fall into the “standard” category as defined by the merchant account provider.  It might include transactions that are manually keyed in to the terminal instead of swiping a card, or the acceptance of a card that is a special kind of card like a rewards or business card of some sort.  Merchant account providers usually markup the fee associated with a mid-qualified transaction because it can cost the merchant more to process than a qualified rate.


It has been reported that rewards cards being accepted as payments can cost as much as 40% of the entire transaction amount, so understanding the fee and what its financial impact might be is important.


The third tier or non-qualified rate is almost always the highest rate that a merchant can expect when accepting a credit card.  A transaction may fall into the non-qualified category for any of the following reasons:


•             Rather than swiping a credit card, the card number is typed into the terminal manually and address verification does not take place.

•             A unique business card is used as payment and the data from required fields is not completed.

•             A merchant batches transaction outside certain parameters.  Usually it is required to batch transactions every 48 hours.


6-Tier Pricing


In order to remain competitive with purchases that require a pin, Visa and MasterCard lowered interchange rates for debit card transactions. This rate is sometimes passed directly to merchants and has created an additional 3 classifications of pricing, making a total of 6-tiers.


Authorization Fees


Each time a card is swiped or manually keyed into a terminal, the merchant account requests funds in order to pay for the goods or services a customer is attempting to purchase.  This fee is incurred whether or not the funds are available and the transaction approves.


Lots of Options When Accepting Credit Card Payments


If you’re considering accepting credit card payments, be sure to do your homework.  Credit and debit cards are the most popular ways for people to pay for things, but the fees and rates associated with each transaction can get costly.  Do some research to determine the fee schedule that would be most beneficial to your business and start enjoying the rewards of increased customer traffic and safer transactions.


Coping With High Risk


For some businesses dealing with clients that are highly regarded to be high risk it is important to understand the limitations working within a high risk industry. If your business is considered to be at high risk of be defrauded, many merchant services will decline to assist your business or may charge extravagant fees. High risk merchant processing companies specialize in helping businesses dealing with high risk payments to ensure the payments they are receiving are indeed legitimate to help reduce chargebacks and other activities that can cause pain and suffering to merchants.

high risk merchant processing

The importance to accepting credit cards.

The Basics of Credit Card Processing

No business can survive in today’s economy without the ability to process credit cards.  Through the best credit card machine merchant, businesses are able to collect money, meet the needs of their customers, and improve their overall efficiency.  Credit card processing is simple and is most effective when businesses understand the following basics of credit card processing.


Merchant Account Provider


The ability to process credit cards begins with a merchant account provider.  Businesses gain the best credit card machine merchant account when they sign up for merchant services.  However, they need to understand that not all merchants are alike.  In order to find the right merchant account provider, businesses need to evaluate and compare their options.  The right merchant account provider should possess the following characteristics:


•             Fees should be low and comparable to market standards.

•             A money back guarantee should be offered.

•             The merchant account provider should have a good business reputation.

•             The merchant account provider should not require a term contract.

•             There should be no charge limit.

•             Technical service and support should be provided.


When a merchant account provider meets these objectives, businesses can easily succeed processing credit cards because they have access to the best credit card machine merchant services.


Equipment and Software


In order to process credit cards, businesses need access to various equipment and software.  Most of the time, the merchant account provider will have these tools for the business to use.  Businesses should make an effort to secure the best equipment and software for their processing needs.  In particular, equipment should be easy to use.  Furthermore, online businesses will need software to process their transactions online.  The right software will allow the business to get paid on time and avoid errors.


Payment Options


Another component to credit card processing involves payment options.  Customers like to be able to pay in their own way.  Therefore, most businesses accept all major forms of credit cards to satisfy the needs of their customers and get paid on time.  In addition, businesses also provide their customers with a variety of ways to pay.  Common payment options include:


•             phone

•             online

•             mail

•             cash register

•             self checkout

•             floating cashier


Having more than one payment option is the fastest way to boost sales.  Many retail businesses do this well.  They offer mail order catalogs, online shopping, and in store shopping.  These options allow the retail business to expand their customer base and grow sales.


Avoid Errors


During the transaction, businesses need to make an effort to prevent errors.  Errors arise for a variety of reasons.  When they occur, they hurt the business financially.  For this reason, businesses need to avoid hand-keying equipment.  This type of equipment is more subject to errors than scanners or credit card swipers.  Additionally, errors can occur if the system is not backed up properly.  For example, a power outage can be a major threat to businesses that process multiple credit cards throughout the day.  Without adequate backup, these businesses could easily lose out on income.


Passing On Fees


One of the reasons many businesses are hesitant to process credit cards is because of the fees that come with it.  Fortunately, these fees can easily be passed on to the customer in a variety of ways.  The easiest solution to recoup lost income from fees is to raise prices.  Most of the time, prices can be raised 2 to 3 percent to account for the fees that come with processing a credit card.  In addition, many businesses charge a transaction fee.  This is common with management companies who collect rent.  Instead of limiting their tenants to cash only payments, they offer credit card payments with an added fee.  Also, many businesses view the merchant fee as a small operating cost.  When analyzed, the added profit from accepting credit cards usually makes up the fee difference.  Finally, in terms of worth, it is always better to get paid a little less today than a little more a month from now.  Credit card processing provides this value, even with a small fee.


Good Cashiers


Good cashiers are also essential for many businesses that process credit card transactions in the store.  These businesses not only need a well-functioning credit card machine, but they also need cashiers that understand how to properly process the credit card.  Fortunately, most cashiers can be trained.  During this training, stores can answer questions and help the cashier to be successful during the sales process.


Accounting For Each Transaction


One of the benefits of credit card processing is that accounting is simplified.  Many services actually provide businesses with the necessary data to account for each transaction.  This data can be used to project sales, file taxes, and understand the performance of the business.  In addition, it can help businesses to understand the most popular payment methods used by their customers.


Customer Database


Furthermore, many businesses also use the credit card transaction to collect data from the customer.  They can learn specific demographic information that will guide marketing tactics.  Also, many stores use their customer database to establish VIP customer programs.  This effort can also boost sales and it promotes customer satisfaction when used correctly.


Communication With The Customer


Too often, businesses make the mistake of assuming that collecting payment is the end result.  This is not the case.  Instead, businesses should consider the credit card transaction to be an opportunity.  During the transaction, the business should make an effort to communicate with the customer and encourage repeat business.  They can do this in a variety of ways.


•             The business can invite the customer to return for future sales and promotions.

•             The business can seek feedback from the customer through comment cards and surveys.

•             The business can learn customer preferences to better assist the customer in the future.

•             The business can provide product feedback.


When the business makes an effort to communicate with the customer, they are more likely to experience repeat business.  Customers enjoy this added service and attention.


Processing credit card transactions is a simple tool that all businesses need.  It provides them with the opportunity to increase sales and meet the needs of their customers.  The most successful businesses understand the basic aspects on credit card processing.

credit card processing

The basics to credit card processing.

Making The Point Of Sale Work For Any Business

In today’s fast-past society, very few businesses are capable of functioning without the help of a point of sale system.  Fortunately, there are several tools that make easy to accept credit cards and reach more customers at the point of sale.  Even better, the point of sale can easily be adapted to meet the needs of any business.  Here are some tips to make the point of sale work for your business.


Find A Good Merchant Account Provider


First, most business utilize merchant account providers for success at the point of sale.  The merchant account provider charges a small fee to the business for their services.   In return, they provide the business with easy solutions to process transactions.  While the needs of each business vary, there are a few standard things that every business should expect to receive from their merchant account provider.


•             The merchant account provider should charge reasonable fees that are competitive with other merchants.

•             All fees should be disclosed up front – installment fees, annual fees, charge back fees, application fees, setup fees, etc.

•             Businesses should be able to accept all types of credit cards with the help of the merchant account provider.

•             There should be no term contract required.

•             Businesses should be protected with a money back guarantee.

•             The merchant account provider should provide technical support and customer service.


These conditions make it easy for any business to work with a merchant account provider.  However, there are certain conditions that may need to be personalized for certain business.  This includes reserve limits and accepting international charges.


Low Cost Alternatives


Some businesses cannot justify a merchant account provider due to cost.  Those small businesses should not forgo accepting credit cards.  Instead, they should take advantage of the best point of sale open source.  With the help of the best point of sale open source software, they can begin accepting credit cards at a lower cost.  Even better, many of the best point of sale open source solutions  are free. Businesses can download their software online and being accepting charges online.  This is a great way to minimize costs for many small businesses struggling to stay alive during this difficult economy.  In addition, these tools are very user friendly.


How To Process Credit Cards

Another concern for most business involves how the credit cards will be charged.  The following are the most popular places to process credit cards:


•             Phone

•             Internet

•             Cash register

•             Smart Phone


However, not all of these options work well with each business.  For example, a restaurant does not typically have the luxury of using the Internet to process charges.  This takes too much time.  Instead, they need a physical cash register to swipe the credit card during the transaction.  On the other hand, an online boutique would rely on the Internet for all transactions.  Furthermore, a small business may prefer to charge with their smart phone or using the phone.  Businesses should evaluate their business structure and determine the best option for charging cards.  Sometimes this could be a mixture of options.


System That Works


Once the business understands how they plan on charging their customer, they need to create a system that works.  For online transactions, businesses will need a website for the transaction.  In addition, they will also need the right software and tools to facilitate the charges.  Most merchant account providers offer technical help that makes these logistics easy.  In addition, they often have physical equipment that businesses can rent if they plan on making physical charges.  It is also important that businesses keep the customer in mind and select a system that works best for the needs of the customer.  This makes it easier for customers to pay and increases the likelihood that the customer will pay on time.


Functional Point Of Sale


Furthermore, the point of sale should be functional for all to use.  This is imperative for the business and the customer.  For example, a retail business will experience longer lines and slower transaction times when the point of sale does not function properly.  In addition, a poorly designed website will not facilitate and online transaction.  Customers may get confused and decide to postpone their payment.  On the other hand, sites that are functional and easy to use speed up the collection process.




Many point of sale systems require training.  This is not usually the case for a small business that processes a few charges each month.  However, it is typical of larger retail stores and restaurants.  Employees will be facilitating the majority of charges at the point of sale.  They need to understand how to use the system.  Lack of training in these instances increases the risk for error and can have a negative effect on the total collections.


Proper Accounting


Much of what happens after the transactions occur at the point of sales relates to accounting.  Keep in mind that these transactions all need to be accounted for come tax time.  Many businesses make the mistake of enjoying their quick payment time and forgetting the next steps.  Smart businesses properly reflect each transaction and allocate the fees that were paid.  This minimizes stress come tax season and allows the business to understand exactly what they are receiving from each charge.


Good Customer Communication


Finally, good customer communication is vital to enhance the point of sale experience.  Customers interact with various point of sales each day.  Since every system is different, communication is crucial.  Customers need to know the following:


•             The payment location should be expressed – whether it’s physical or virtual.

•             All accepted credit cards should be disclosed.

•             Any fees that accompany a transaction should be identified.

•             The payment due date should be understood by the customer.


When customers know what to pay, how to pay, and where to pay, and when to pay, they are more likely to pay on time with fewer problems.


It can be overwhelming to make the point of sale function for your business.  However, this effort will translate into a larger customer base, increased revenue, and customer satisfaction.  It’s no wonder few businesses can stay afloat without a proper point of sale.

point of sale systems

How to make your point of sale system work for your business.

How To Avoid Credit Card Fraud

If you’ve ever been in a situation where something has been stolen from you, you are aware of how violating it can feel.  How frustrating it is to lose something to someone who didn’t earn it and not be able to get it back.  These feelings apply in greater magnitude when your identity is stolen or your credit card information is stolen.  With credit card fraud, it is essentially your money that is being taken.  Your bank or best online credit card processing company may have a system in place to ensure that you don’t pay out of pocket, but it can still be a huge hassle and may end up costing you fees.  The best thing to do is to educate yourself on the ways to avoid having your confidential information stolen.


Be Careful Where You Place Your Cards


You would be surprised to find out how many stolen credit cards are simply crimes of opportunity.  A thief happens upon a purse or wallet and decides to grab it, or finds a lost card on the sidewalk and slips it into his pocket.  Make sure that your cards are kept safe and secure and on your person as often as possible.  Don’t leave credit cards in your car where they could be stolen.  Thieves may even be able to simply take a picture of your credit card with their phone camera, so make sure your card isn’t exposed any longer than it needs to be to make a purchase.


Shred Personal Information


Any time you receive a piece of correspondence that has your name and confidential information on it, you should shred it.  It’s not enough to simply throw it in the trash.  Some things that you should always shred are:


•             Bank statements

•             Credit card offers you receive in the mail

•             Bills that have personal information on them

•             Old checks

•             Anything with your social security number on it


When you receive a credit card offer in the mail, don’t just throw it away.  It is a simple task for a thief to rummage through your garbage, find the offer and open a card in your name.  Once the payments are not being made on the card, your credit will be damaged and you will be notified that fraudulent activity has occurred.  The best online credit card processing companies will have safeguards in place to protect against these things, but it’s still a good idea to always be on guard when disposing of personal information.


Avoid Giving Out Personal Information


Whenever possible, use a pin or code word rather than a social security or bank account number.  Try to avoid giving out your personal information as often as possible.  There are times when it is necessary to use your specific information, but keep those times as rare as possible.  If someone calls your home and requests your credit card information or social security number, don’t give it out.  Only give out personal information on calls that you initiate and start with companies you do business with.  Be extremely selective when giving out any type of personal information, but especially with credit card numbers and social security cards.


Be Selective About Online Purchases


Each time you pay for an online purchase, make sure you go through a secure logging in process and that you are selective about where you make purchases online.  Don’t click links from your email to enter your bank account information.  These are common scams and ways for thieves to get information from customers.  Even emails that look legitimate can be part of phishing scams where you are tricked into entering your login information on their website.


If you are wondering how to tell if a website is secure and okay for you to enter your credit card information into, look for a lock in the lower right corner of your Internet browser screen.  This tells you that the site is secure and it is safe for you to make a payment.


Report Stolen Or Lost Cards


If you believe your card has been misplaced or stolen, you must immediately report it to your bank or to your credit card company.  The best online credit card processing services will offer round the clock service for these situations.  Remember that as soon as you report the card missing, the bank or credit card company must cancel the card immediately and issue a new one, even if you find your old card.  Any time it has been out of your possession it will be considered stolen.


Review Your Statements Regularly


This process applies to your bank statements and to your credit card statements.  Your debit card is connected directly to your checking account but is likely processed through one of the major credit card companies.  So closely reviewing any correspondence you receive in the mail that resembles a financial statement will help to keep your money and identity safe.  Once you are done reviewing the statements, make sure they are either filed away or quickly shredded.


The sooner you notice a fraudulent charge on your credit card, the quicker the card can be cancelled and the less money you will lose.  If the charge is caught quickly, you will not likely have to pay for the charges.  So checking your statements regularly ensures that you don’t pay for someone else’s dishonesty.


Don’t Sign Blank Receipts


Before you sign a credit card receipt, make sure that the total is filled out and has been printed by the computer.  If there is an option for a tip, make sure you fill it out or cross it out and print the total at the bottom.  If you don’t put in the amounts, the cashier can very easily add money to your receipt, making it look like you were okay with the charges.


Be Aware


The most important part of keeping yourself safe from credit card fraud is being aware.  Be aware of ways that people will steal you information, and ways that you can stay on top of your money and keep it from being stolen.  Check your accounts and statements regularly, and quickly report any discrepancies as soon as they arise.


High Risk Businesses


It is particularly important to be aware when making purchases or using services that banks and financial institutions consider to be high risk. High risk processing services entail ensuring that businesses are able to still accept credit card payments in industries where the risk of fraud is increased. As a result, if the service you’re using has a tendency to deal with fraud, if your case of being incorrectly charged reaches their team, it could fall on deaf ears.

high risk processing

Preventative measures to protect yourself from credit card fraud.