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Whether you own a small business or a large corporation, you likely want to make accepting payment from your clients or customers as easy as possible. One way you can do this is through the use of credit card machines. If your business requires you to accept payments in the field, there are various credit card processing options that allow you to do this. As is the case with any type of payment option for your business, using credit card machines has some very significant benefits and pitfalls that you must consider before you decide if your company can truly benefit from accepting payments with credit card machines.
Benefits of Using Credit Card Machines for Your Business
The American Bankers Association notes that credit cards are accepted at over 24 million locations worldwide. This statistic, in addition to the other benefits of accepting credit cards, is probably enough to show you that your business can benefit from having credit card machines at the registers.
Ease of Use
An estimated 10,000 payment card transactions are processed every second worldwide. This is partly due to the fact that credit cards and debit cards are easy for your customers to use. A simple swipe of a card, followed by entering a Personal Identification Number (PIN) or obtaining a signature, and the transaction is complete.
Instant Funds Verification
In the past, you may have offered customers in-house credit. When the customer purchased something, you would have to invoice the customer and then wait 30, 60 or 90 days, possibly longer, for the customer to pay. Once you incorporate credit card machines into your business, you won’t have to wait for customers to remit payment for items because you won’t need to extend in-house credit. You can obtain payment from your customers immediately, and then they can pay off the credit card company. This can increase your profits because you likely won’t have to worry about sending out invoices, and you won’t have to wonder when or if your customers will pay.
Less Cash On-Hand
By accepting credit cards, you are less likely to experience major losses from theft. If you accept only cash and/or checks, there is the chance of an employee or a robber stealing your hard-earned funds. With credit cards, there is no need to worry about these thefts, as employees and robbers can’t steal credit card funds unless they obtain access to your merchant account or bank account. You can even protect your customers’ information by encrypting credit card information and ensuring that the credit card information isn’t printed on receipts.
Your bookkeeping duties will become easier once you begin to accept credit cards. You will be able to print reports directly from the credit card machines that show how much you have earned in credit card sales. This makes closing registers a lot faster than when you had to tally up a bunch of cash and checks. At the end of the week, month, quarter, or fiscal year, you can just obtain a copy of your sales report from the credit card processing company.
One of the major drawbacks of taking credit card payments in your business is the expense. Each step of the transaction can cost money, from the cost of each transaction, cost of equipment, service fees, and the cost of training employees in how to take a credit card payment. When your company takes cash payment, the entire amount goes into the register. When you take credit card payments, part of the money earned goes to the bank that services the equipment.
Availability of Funds
Cash payments go directly into your business account. When a payment is taken via credit card it must go through several banks before the money actually goes into your bank account. This can cause some confusion if a customer wants a refund on an item paid using a credit card. Rules should reflect the hold that the banks place on the account to prevent giving money back on a transaction that may not clear.
With rising instances of fraud, this puts you at risk of accepting a credit card that might be stolen. Companies that accept online orders with cards that are manually entered by hand have more instances of fraud because you can’t see the user of the card when the transaction is being placed.
In order to take payments from companies such as American Express, Diner’s Club, and Discover, you must sign agreements with each company. This includes knowing their rules and regulations, which can take time to learn. Each employee should be trained on the procedures of each card or you could end up losing money from a transaction.
Time must be taken to train all employees in how to use the credit card machines.
One mistake in processing can prevent you from collecting on any money taken in. Training is time consuming and can cost the company additional dollars.
According to a study completed by the Tower Group, the usage of credit cards over the span of 15 years has increased from 1 percent of transactions to more than half of all transactions that take place in America. When incorporating credit card machines into your business, there are certain costs that are associated with the overall pricing.
In addition to the initial fee of purchasing the machine, there are monthly fees to be aware of. These required fees include the monthly minimum, which generally ranges from $15 to $25 per month. Other monthly fees include the gateway fee, ranging from $5 to $15, and the statement fee, ranging from $5 to $10.
The transaction fees are another one of the costs that are included in the pricing for this type of equipment. Generally, the address verification fee ranges from 5 to 10 cents. Other transaction fees include the average discount rate for the Internet, which varies and may range from 2.04 to 2.27 percent; the average discount rate for retail transactions, which varies between 1.55 and 1.75 percent; the retail transaction fee, which ranges from 19 to 25 cents; and the Internet transaction fee, which ranges from 20 to 29 cents.
Once you have decided that your company will accept payments using credit card machines, you must decide on the types of cards your company will accept, as well as what processing company you will use. All of these factors will determine what, if any, of the associated fees you will pass on to your customers. While some small businesses don’t charge customers a fee for accepting a credit card payment, others impose a minimum transaction amount to ensure that the fees associated with the transaction don’t go over the amount of the transaction. When you have found a balance that works for your company and your customers, you may start to wonder why you didn’t accept payments with credit card machines sooner.
The invention of credit card machines changed the way many businesses operated. They opened the door to being able to sell products to more people, and in a wider range of locations. Phone orders alone upped the profit margin of many companies.
The choices in credit card machines may seem overwhelming. The key is to consider some specific things about your business before you choose one. For example, some machines only accept certain credit cards. Ask your existing customers which credit cards they use. This can be done with a simple anonymous poll on your website, or with a suggestion box in your store. It would be a shame to get a machine that doesn't accept popular credit cards in your neighborhood.
Fees for using the machines vary between companies. There is usually a standard percent of all transactions that you have to give the company each time a customer uses a credit card, as well as a monthly or annual leasing fee for the machine itself. This is where shopping around becomes imperative to ensure that you stay within your budget. Ask specifically about every fee that you will incur before you sign a contract.
The tradeoff for this investment is being able to expand and grow your business. Check out the resources on this Business.com page to learn more about credit card machines.
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