What Small Business Owners Need To Know Before Accepting Credit Cards

As a small business owner, you need to be able to accept credit cards to bring in as much business as possible. Fewer people carry cash and even fewer people carry checkbooks these days, so being able to accept credit cards is critical. However, there are some things you need to know before accepting credit cards.

Credit Card Terminal Costs

When purchasing a traditional credit card terminal you’ll generally pay a setup fee for the terminal. In some cases, you’ll receive the terminal for free or a highly discounted rate if you sign a service contract with a service provider. Smaller businesses will typically pay a rate per swipe, with a small flat rate of a few cents as well as a percentage of the sale, which is usually 2 – 5% depending on the credit card type. You can cut some of these costs by using an ACH payment processor, which allows you to collect directly from the payer’s bank. This comes with reduced processing fees and will offer your customers more flexible payment options.

Certification Requirements

If you are going to be taking credit card information over the phone, you will need to comply with certain security measures, such as PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance. This compliance covers exactly how you can take credit card information over the phone as far as securing the line, what software you can use, etc.

Credit Card Terminal Alternatives

Some credit card terminal providers are based solely online, meaning that you hook a card reader up to your computer and use secured software rather than needing to purchase and maintain a physical terminal. This clears up space and, in some cases, minimizes cost.

If you want to remove the need for a traditional credit card terminal altogether, you could use a phone/tablet based free payment processor such as Square. Square provides you with a reader that you can connect to your mobile phone or tablet to accept cards. They also offer cash register solutions that include a built-in iPad. Transaction fees are very low and in some cases you can get free transactions.

Fund Availability

Funds from credit card terminals are deposited into your bank account automatically on a daily basis. Availability of these funds ranges from 24 hours with services such as Square to up to 72 hours for some processors, but in most cases funds are available in 72 hours.

You don’t have to be a big restaurant or big box retailer to accept credit cards, and accepting credit cards ensures you can get as much business as possible. Whether you go with a traditional terminal, computer software, or a service such as Square, it’s not hard or necessarily expensive to accept credit cards.

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