Want to do an experiment? Find a retail establishment that doesn't accept credit cards. It's nearly impossible today, but somewhere between the cracks you can still find a few if you look hard enough. The simple fact is that consumers are replacing the use of cash or checks with credit cards. One of the reasons is the convenience; all you have to do is reach into your wallet and pull out the plastic. And, for you, it's nearly just as easy to accept credit cards. In fact, it's about as easy as it is to whip out the plastic to pay for something. Thanks to the competitive merchant services market, exceptional packages are available to retailers of any size. Finding the right one for you is a breeze. Just keep in mind that once you come to an agreement with a merchant services provider, you're work isn't done. Related: Find a Qualified Credit Card Merchant at Business.com There are several things you must do to maintain your merchant account. Here are a few of them. Create a Company System There are rules that need to be put in place to make sure that credit card transactions are uniform. For example, you might refuse to take orders over the phone to help prevent potential fraud and your employees must adhere to any such policy you make. Avoid Fraud with Compliance Fraud is one of the worst things that can happen to your customers, and you play a big role in prevention. Keeping a policy of compliance to which you and your employees must adhere is paramount. This will help protect you customer's information and can promote additional business in the future. Related: Top 6 Credit Card Processing Tips Keep It Classified When a customer hands a sales representative their credit card, they trust that their credit card information is in safe hands. The card should immediately be handed back to the customer, the receipt should be coded in a way that prevents fraud and the information stored in the company computer should only be used with the customer's permission. Scrutinize Each Transaction Thanks to the careful scrutiny of merchant service providers and banks, duplicate transactions and ones made in error are often caught before it shows up on a customer's bank statement. But there's something retailers can do, too. Compare each transaction to the corresponding receipts at the end of each day. This could prevent lost money resulting from lost transactions. It will also keep a tighter handle on discrepancies caused by employee negligence. There Will Be Outages Even the top merchant service providers experience outages. Things like power outages, phone malfunctions and computer problems can render your ability to accept credit cards impossible for a brief period of time. Keep some carbon authorization slips on hand for such situations. This way, cards can still be processed during the outage. Keep an Open Dialogue with Merchant Services Provider One of the first transactions you'll have with a merchant services provider will be the initial agreement. Study it closely and know what you're getting yourself into. If you see your business increasing -- a phenomenon that is likely to happen once a business begins accepting credit cards -- many times a good dialogue can lead to a lower transaction rate. Merchants are aiming to provide the best possible services for their clients, whether they are providing mobile payments, phone orders, mail orders, e-commerce, point of sale and ATM installations. Be sure to ask detailed questions to your potential provider when considering accepting credit cards. You'll be glad you did. Photo credit: towncartransfer.us Bio: Michelle Latham is a Credit Specialist at Switch Commerce, a Texas-based merchant services provider that specializes in mobile payments.