Working for the Future: A Guide for Small Businesses

Most small businesses start off with a simple idea and a need to be one’s own boss. The idea of becoming your own boss and being able to make decisions for yourself is an often enticing for those in search of making a living off their own skills and abilities. While the life of an entrepreneur seems straight forward at the start it quickly turns into a practice of responsibility, wise spending, and the ability to read the industry and act accordingly.


The greatest mistake most small businesses make in the long-run is not looking towards their future. As most businesses are prepared for the now, less businesses are looking for ways to grow out their small business over the next three to five years. One of the greatest tools a small business can have is a plan for growth over the long term. While many businesses have the difficulty of being unable to foresee what the future brings, it is always essential to have a plan of action and a goal set over the next few years for the business.


Setting a Realistic Goal


A truly dedicated business owner is constantly looking for ways to improve their business. Whether it is making their workforce more efficient, finding ways to reduce costs, or finding ways to maximize the potential of their current assets there are a large number of strategies that small business owners use to get the most out of their investment. At the end of the day most small businesses are an investment on the part of the owner with a hope of growing the business larger than it is. With a steady business and a growing income, it is possible for many businesses to grow.


In order to grow, it is important to set goals for the business for both the short term and the long term. A short term goal usually involves aiming to provide a new product or service to customers or setting a goal for revenues based around a growing demand of something. Long-term goals often relate to annual income, reaching a new target demographic, or finding new ways to profit off of an existing audience which would normally be unobtainable. Whatever the goal is, there needs to be a clear plan of action as a way to reach the goal.


The goal is needs to be realistic. Many business owners set a goal for reaching an annual revenue of 1M USD or a number completely outside of their reaching given their means. While some businesses flourish through taking advantage of a perfect storm, it is highly unlikely for a business to experience a large growth over a short period of time. In the business world three months is a very short period of time and years are counted like sands in the hour glass. It is important to create realistic goals based on past performance and what is realistically obtainable.


The Financial Side


The financial side of setting goals and accomplishing them can be one of the most limiting factors of creating a realistic goal for the future. While a business can be quite profitable, it can still be hard to figure out how to properly expand a business. The idea of expansion is often met with fear as there is never certainty to whether expanding into a new market or location will bring in additional revenue and profit over the short-term and long-term respectively. At the end of the day it is a constant challenge for balancing finances and attempting to pay the costs associated with expansion.


Financial assistance is a concept most often scoffed at by small business owners which are determined to not incur any additional debt as a result of expansion. This is often a down fall of many businesses who are not able to make that delicate balance of profit and expansion. You either make a decent profit or you expand and incur losses. Or you look into financial assistance.


Financial assistance can be found in the form of small business loans. Many banks offer small business loans backed by the United States Small Business Administration. These are loans that are made to be particularly accessible for small businesses for the operation and expansion of a business. There are different loans that provide businesses with various payment terms, interest rates, and levels of flexibility on how the loaned funds can be used. It is important to understand just how small business loans can be used and how they relate to the goals of the business.




Looking forward to the expansion of a business is an important step that most business owners either refuse to look at or are completely oblivious to. It is a scary thought for many but is often a necessary step to take to ensure the livelihood of a business. While no business owner wants to operate at a loss, an expansion is an investment into the future of a business and is additional assurance during times of economic turmoil to ensure that the business can survive in the case of downsizing. More revenues means access to more resources to survive during the toughest of times.

small business loans

A guide for small businesses.

What is the PCI Data Security Standard?

It can be difficult understanding exactly what the PCI data security standard is and how it affects all parties. As a small business owner it is vitally important to understand what the security standard does for your business, how it affects your business, and how it affects your customers. PCI DSS affects all businesses which offer their clients the opportunity to make their payments via credit card or debit card transactions.


Since the dawning of a new era in payment processing credit cards have provided professionals and consumers alike with the ability to charge their payments to a line of credit to be paid at a later time. This often has inspired many consumers to use credit cards as a means of payment rather than the less convenient alternatives in cash and checks. Cash transactions often require a large number of bills and change for larger transactions while checks can be a hassle to carry around. Credit and debit cards are small enough to fit in a wallet.


Within this era of convenience credit card terminals have become a necessity for any business which deals with their customers directly. While some antiquated businesses have found ways to evolve their offerings without having to integrate new credit card payment systems, most businesses will find themselves in the situation of being unable to find customers who are willing to pay using alternative methods of payment. You cannot reliably do business without offering your customers credit card and debit card processing.


The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, also known as the PCI SSC, was formed in 2004 as a means of establishing and creating a new level of protection for card issuers by ensuring merchants meet minimum requirements for the encryption and transmission of sensitive financial information. As most merchants are aware there are key data sets which are transmitted during any financial transaction to ensure the card holder has the allowed funds to make the purchase and to process that purchase. The PCI Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS, was established to achieve a stronger standard for ensuring absolute precision in information security.


The 12 Objectives


There are twelve major objects to be met by merchants:


  • Firewall Configuration
  • Password and Security Parameter Requirements
  • Cardholder Data Encryption
  • Transmission Encryption
  • Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Protection
  • Secure Systems and Applications
  • Access Restriction
  • Unique Access Identification
  • Physical Access Restriction
  • Track and Monitor All Access to Network and Cardholder Information
  • Regular Testing and Maintenance
  • Information Policy


Each of these 12 objectives must be met and maintained by all merchants to ensure that cardholder information is being secured and that systems are not being accessed in an unauthorized fashion. While there are a lot of services that handle all twelve of these objectives for merchants, it is important for a merchant to ensure that they are meeting the PCI data security standard compliance requirements.


PCI Compliance Services


There are a number of services available that will certify a business as being PCI compliance by producing tests that look for a number of often overlooked factors amongst the twelve objectives. Many of these services involve probing a network for open ports, attempting to access machines using default passwords and common passwords, and attempting physical access to information. These services identify potential issues and help merchants rectify them to ensure they continue to remain PCI DSS certified.

pci data security standard

Learn about pci data security standard.


The Role of Security in Your Small Business

Most businesses in this day and age are used to hearing of the latest security breaches and intrusions at major brands and retailers. It is a story told over time about how credit card details, credentials, and personal information are found to be found in the hands of hackers and those who could use the information for mischief. What is often underreported in the industry is the financial cost associated with these breaches for all parties involved.


For small businesses the threat of a security breach may not be the absolute highest concern. Many small businesses can find it particularly difficult to manage and balance out finances alongside service-related issues and ensuring that everything is being managed properly. Business owners also have to ensure their business is holding up to the latest legal standards locally, at the state level, and federally. This often means that some practices like information security go out the door.


The Cost of Information Insecurity


There is an often ignored cost associated with information insecurity that small businesses simply ignore until it is too late. For businesses that contain many trade secrets it can be vitally important to ensure that the information stored on local computers and on web servers is being properly encrypted and secured. While many businesses see it as a sunk cost, paying for security audits and services are an investment from a risk point of view.


Security can be looked at from a number of different perspectives. One of the oldest tales of a small business owner is the loss of vital information. Customer information and key files that are essential to the operation of a business are often not being backed up properly. When removed from the main system, there often exists either no other copies or incomplete copies which ends up costing the business money in either the short-term or the long-term. Information loss can be a devastating loss when the company loses a project over the loss of information or even loses time and progress.


Stolen information can be just as horrible for a business. A competitor gaining access to proprietary information could be the difference between a competitive advantage and a competitive disadvantage. Business owners will often do anything in their power to gain an advantage over a competitor. Understanding your trade secrets could be that edge they need to steal your clientele and offer a superior service, especially if your system is too insecure to prevent it.


Lastly, not having access to auditable information could be devastating for any company which holds trade secrets. One often overlooked form of information theft lies in giving access to proprietary information to employees. Having a single location for information storage can often lead to providing the wrong members of the team with the wrong types of information. Having access to this information can often lead to employees misusing it for their own personal gain.


The Cost of Financial Insecurity


Outside of the realm of information security, financial insecurity is also a major concern that many small business often overlook. From the perspective of customer information it is vitally important to ensure that all information being received is being properly secured to prevent hackers and other marketers from using that information illegal. Companies are responsible for the information they collect and there are often fines and fees that must be paid if this information is illegal accessed.


The problem can become much larger in the case of the security of financial information such as credit card numbers and transaction information. PCI DSS compliance services are offered to businesses not only as a means to meet federally mandated requirements for the encryption of financial transaction information, they also protect merchants from penalties which could be passed down onto them in the case of fraudulent charges and illegal obtainment over information.


The costs of financial insecurity always outweigh the financial benefit gained in the short-term for businesses which decide not to invest in the security of their financial information and transactions. While many online solutions for payment processing and many credit card terminals are already being encrypted and managed, it is important to ensure that your business is properly PCI compliance. Even a slight malfunction or a process not being followed could cost thousands to a business.

pci dss compliance

how security plays a role in your business.

Merchant Services Providers Strengthen Small Businesses

As a small business owner, you may believe that you don’t really need to work with a merchant services provider. However, this way of thinking could lead to a very serious mistake. Some estimates show that well over half of all retail transactions are made with a credit or debit card. Small businesses can’t afford to lose that number of potential customers. However, with the right provider, there are many benefits available to your business as you work with merchant service providers.


How Merchant Services Providers Help the Small Business Grow


•             Protection and security


Whether the majority of your transactions are handled over the phone, done in person or run through on online payment gateway, the use of checks or credit card information will always leave your business open to some potential for fraud. Many experts teach that there is no way to be completely safe from the losses which result from criminal activities. However, merchant services providers are constantly working to improve the security measures that they offer their clients. After all, improving the safety of the finances of the business is one of the best steps toward improving their own business.


•             Upgrade your professional image


It probably won’t take you long as a new business owner to discover how valuable your reputation is. Among your peers and the community within which you work, your reputation can bring in new customers and increase customer loyalty or it can lead to devastating losses. As you create your business website and begin to promote your business, your chosen merchant services company can provide you with information about how your website can be improved and can offer you advice about the software and hardware that you use in order to accept payments at your customers’ convenience.


•             Increase your profits


Improving the manner of accepting customer payments is a very important way to increase your profits. With the assistance of merchant services providers, you will be better prepared to accept those payments – no matter how your customers choose to make them. If your business benefits from impulse buying, then you want to have a fast and easy system of credit card processing in place. This way, you will be able to speed your customers through the checkout process and you can both be satisfied with the transaction.


•             Decrease your losses


Every day, businesses lose potential customers because they don’t accept credit card payments. Sometimes those customers move on because the checkout process is slow or the website is difficult to navigate. In other cases, business owners are unaware of the many ways that criminals can intercept financial information. Each of these scenarios will lead to lost revenue and may have long lasting detrimental effects on the business. On the other hand, when you are working with the top merchant services provider, you will have someone with the motivation and experience to help you realize the potential for losses and who can teach you how to avoid them.


•             Prepare you for the future growth of your company


It isn’t always to see what the needs of your business will be in the future. It can be helpful to have another professional’s perspective as you plan for the growth that you hope to see. Part of this planning should include the software and hardware updates that will undoubtedly become necessary. While your main focus will be on running your business, your provider of merchant services will be able to oversee the direction that credit card processing system is heading. Working together, you will be able to have a smooth transition each type your business takes a step forward.


The Choices You Will Have to Make As You Research Providers


Choosing the best merchant services provider for your business may affect your business for a very long time. So naturally, you want to be sure that you have made the best choices along the way. There are a few decisions that you will have to make to best serve your business and customers.


•             Do you want to work with a reseller (or ISO) or work directly with a processor? You will have to listen carefully to the company representative in order to decide which route is the most beneficial to your business. Processors have the technical capacity to run the entire transaction. ISOs generally have to work with a processor in order to run transactions. Processors may work with ISOs in order to maintain their relationships with merchants. Processors can handles high volumes of work and ISOs may be able to provide a more personal touch for their clients.


•             Should the cost of the provider be your main consideration in choosing? Follow up this question with another: Can you understand how the rates and fees are figured? There is no question that costs are important. However, some unsavory providers may attempt to camouflage their prices, leaving you with fewer services for higher prices when you thought that you were getting a better deal. If the cost of the provider has to be your number one factor in choosing, then be very sure that you fully understand how well the costs of one provider compare to the costs of other providers.


•             Should you work with multiple companies to get your merchant services or should you work with one provider? Some small businesses choose to find one main provider and then to add on to those services by working with several smaller providers. Other small business owners have found that working with one provider allows them to bundle services together and save some money. It is important for you to consider which of these situations will provide the overall best services for your business.


•             Will you need to use a specialized merchant service? Some industries are often classified as high-risk based on the possibility of clients complaining or utilizing chargebacks. High risk merchant services provide merchants with the ability to legitimize their financial transactions by providing ownership of the card at the time of the purchase to minimize the risk of a chargeback.


Ask Other Business Owners for Advice


Collaborating with the other businesses in your area can be beneficial for a variety of reasons. When it comes to involving other companies in your business, it is very helpful to have the opinions and firsthand experiences which other business owners can share. Working together and exchanging information at your local Chamber of Commerce meetings or in other settings, you and the other business leaders in your area can strengthen the business economy as you share stories and referrals.


Always Follow Up With Provided References


This is one point that can’t be over-emphasized. When the merchant services providers offer you references for the businesses they have worked with over the past, be sure to follow up on those references. Even when a provider doesn’t have a positive history, they will provide you with references with the assumption that you won’t follow up. Don’t leave yourself open to risks because you didn’t do your homework.


Do You Need to Know Anything Else?


By now there shouldn’t be any question in your mind that your business needs to have a provider of merchant services. If you aren’t quite sure, bring it up the next time you are working with a gathering of business owners. You may find plenty of new reasons to find a provider of merchant services for your business.

high risk merchant services

How merchant service providers strengthen small businesses.

Cost Effective Payment Processing

As business owners we all reach a point where we are searching for new ways to reduce our costs. It can be rough trying to meet certain goals with the economy is making it difficult to bring new customers through the front door. With such issues there comes a time when a business owner must look at their fees and costs and find ways to reduce them over time. There are a number of ways which merchants can find cost effective solutions that reduce the fees associated with their payment processing while ensuring they are receiving a quality service.


Credit Card Processing Fees


Most merchants don’t quite realize just how quickly credit card processing fees can add up over time. While credit cards are a convenient way to make and accept payments, they present a cost that most businesses don’t account for when they first start accepting them. For some businesses that don’t necessarily have a reason to charge someone on the spot there could be alternatives to credit card processing that still provide a way to accept regular payments from their customers while still making it a painless process in the long run.


Early Termination Fees


If you’re considering switching to a new merchant service it is important to review your current contract to make sure the merchant service provider isn’t going to charge you an early termination fee. Many merchant services make money off of the numerous fees they hide within their contracts. It is important to thoroughly review your contract to ensure that your termination of your merchant account doesn’t end in an unauthorized charged you didn’t realize you had already agreed to at a prior time. By thoroughly understanding the agreement you can make the right decision on when to switch services.


Point of Sale Terminals


Point of sale systems aren’t cheap. That’s precisely why many merchant services offer programs allowing businesses to rent them. While this presents an opportunity to cut costs in the short term it often leads to problems in the long-term when you realize you’ve more than paid for the cost of a point of sale terminal. For any long-term business the purchase of a point of sale terminal ensures you’re properly investing in your company and you understand the financial investment required for a successful venture. A point of sale terminal can be expensive up-front, but you will save a lot of money in the long-term by not paying a rental fee.


Alternative Payment Processing


There are a number of different ways to accept payments from your customers. If your company is a small business many of your clients may be able to pay via cash. It is always an option to accept checks from your clients as an alternative tender. At the end of the day there are a number of ways to accept payments from your customers including the following:


* ACH Payment Processing

* Online Payment Processing

* Check Processing

* Phone Order Processing


By ensuring you’re selecting the right method for accepting payments from your customers you can effectively cut your costs over time. It is important to understand your customers prior to switching to a new system. It is also important to understand all of the fees associated with different methods of payment in order to understand which arrangement saves your business the most money.

ach payment processing

Cost effective payment processing.

What To Look For In A Merchant Credit Card Processor

Has your small business grown to the point where you find it necessary to offer credit card processing service options? Very small businesses can get away with not providing the option of credit card payments for a period of time, but eventually they will need to upgrade to a small business merchant credit card processor if they want to compete with other businesses and keep their customers happy. Very few customers nowadays carry cash or checks around with them, so if you don’t offer credit card processing services it could discourage many potential customers from purchasing your products or services. Purchasing the best merchant credit card processor is especially important if you are setting up an online business, because customers will need to be able to pay for your products with their credit cards. Here are some things that you should look for when you are shopping for a merchant credit card processor.


1.            Full disclosure of fees


Although it can be very confusing to try to decipher the many different charges and fees that come along with a merchant credit card account, it is important that you understand what they are before you commit to any type of contractual agreement with a credit card processing company. Some of the common types of merchant processing fees that you should be aware of include:


•             Monthly minimum

•             Batch

•             Gateway

•             Termination

•             Non-qualified rates


If you are aware of these fees and what they entail, you will have an easier time deciphering whether or not a processing company is charging fair rates in these areas.


2.            Complete, reliable product line


When you are looking for the best retail merchant credit card processor, it is important for you to try and purchase a processing package that includes a complete and reliable product line. For example, if you are conducting sales online, then you will need to make sure that you purchase a package that includes a payment gateway. When looking for the right gateway for your online business needs, look for the following attributes:


•             Secure

•             Fraud-preventative

•             Compatible with the majority of shopping carts

•             Few glitches or “hiccups”


If you look for a gateway with the above attributes your customers will have an easier time purchasing goods and services from you, and you will protect your business from fraudulent activity.


3.            Good reputation


When you are purchasing a merchant credit card processor, it is important for you to go through a service provider that has a good reputation. Never purchase equipment or a service contract from a company that you haven’t checked out in advance. If you aren’t sure how to figure out whether a company has a good reputation or a bad one, a good place to start is an internet search engine. Simply type in the name of the company in question, as well as the word “reviews” and you should be able to find plenty of previous and current customer reviews for that particular company. If you aren’t able to find very many customer reviews, check out professional business rating websites to find out how a business is professionally rated. If you want your business transactions to run smoothly and conveniently, then it is important that you take the time to learn about different credit card processing companies and services before purchasing from them.


4.            Honesty and integrity


Just like any other line of business, credit card processing companies aren’t all created equal. Some conduct their business in dishonest ways and employ shady selling practices, while others focus on honesty and integrity. If a high risk payment processing company quotes you a price that is simply too good to be true, then you may want to steer clear of that company. If a company advertises suspiciously low rates and fees that are well below any competitor’s prices, then you can almost guarantee that they will charge hidden fees that they don’t advertise, or they may have very shoddy customer service.


While it is always a good idea to compare prices and choose to work with the company that offers the most reasonable prices, you need to be careful not to get sucked into a deal that is too good to be true.


5.            Customer service


When you are choosing a company to purchase the best small business merchant credit card processor from, you will want to make sure that the company you choose offers excellent customer service. Unfortunately all electronic machines are destined to experience some sort of technical problems at some point during their lifetime, but if you are working with a company that takes pride in their customer service you will have an easier time getting the problem resolved in a satisfactory and timely manner. If you have to choose between a company that offers no customer service but can save you a few dollars versus a company that may charge a bit extra but offers superior customer service, it is probably wise for you to choose the company that will take the best care of you.


Before choosing a credit card processing company to purchase services and equipment from, make sure that you visit their customer service area and pay attention to how you are treated. If a company can’t treat you right when you are deciding whether or not to use their services then they most likely won’t treat you right throughout the course of your contractual agreement. You should also make sure that you understand the services that they are willing and able to provide, as well as their customer service business hours.


6.            True to their word


Along with honesty and reputability, it is equally important that the credit card processing company you choose to work with stands behind their word no matter what. Ask different credit card processing companies if they are willing to offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee along with set up and application fees so that you can get a full refund if they don’t deliver as promised. If a company is truly reliable and honest they should understand your request and be willing to offer some sort of satisfaction guarantee.

high risk processing

What to look for when choosing a merchant credit card processor.

Common Services Provided by Merchant Accounts

Many businesses often seek a merchant account provider as a means of being able to accept credit card payments from their customers. As credit cards have become the prime way that customers pay for goods and services it is a well-established standard for merchants of all shapes and sizes to accept payments from their customers. While it is a convenient way to accept payment, it is not always the best way to accept payments from customers. In addition there are numerous services provided by companies in the merchant services industry that most merchants are simply unaware of.


Check Processing


For larger transactions many businesses and consumers prefer to write a check. Some businesses are in that situation where they must inform their customer that they do not accept checks. Often this leads to a loss of business. Customers making a larger purchase may feel more secure making a check payment as this often alleviates the tension of having to pay the interest fees on making the payment on a credit card.


As a result, it is important to have a check acceptance process in place to show customers you care about their needs. For businesses dealing with transactions in larger sums it is nearly a requirement.


ACH Processing


The Automated Clearing House provides a cost efficient and effective method of accepting payments. For businesses that deal with their customers making larger payments and often times payments on a set schedule ACH processing services can be particularly appealing. The transaction does not require the use of a credit or debit card and does not require a check for the payment process. Through electronic processes the amount can be withdrawn from one checking or savings account and deposited into the account of the vendor.


This is a secure and cost-effective method of payment processing. While the process is not instantaneous, it is a great way to ensure the funds are being accepted and deposited.


Gift and Loyalty Cards


For businesses that deal with repeat customers gift and loyalty cards can be a great way for a business to be able to reward their customers as a way to get them to return more frequently. Rewards programs can be a positive experience for customers which associates their visits to your store with a reward they have in mind. In addition many merchant services also provide gift card distribution and processing services. This can include traditional written gift cards in addition to digital gift cards with the amount associated with them tracked in an online or central location.


PCI Compliance


PCI compliance is a service provided to merchants in order to assist them in ensuring that all of their processes are compliant to the latest security practices for the encryption and protection of financial information relating to cardholder information. Any business that accepts credit card payments is subject to PCI DSS standards and are therefore reliant on security practices to ensure their business is being covered in the case of someone attempting to access the information. A quality PCI compliance service will ensure that all aspects of PCI requirements are being addressed promptly.

pci compliance

Find out some of the common services provided by merchant accounts.

Merchant Cash Advance: Pros and Cons

Merchant cash advance services provide businesses with the opportunity to receive a loan used for any purpose made against the future credit card sales of the business. Most businesses which offer merchant cash advance loans provide the loans based on a historical analysis of the amount of credit card sales the merchant processes on a monthly and annual basis. This differs greatly from most traditional loan services that provide a loan based on annual revenue to ensure the company will be able to afford the monthly payments.


It’s hard to see the differences between taking a merchant cash advance and a bank loan.


Purpose of a Bank Loan


A traditional bank loan is provided to businesses who are in need of financial assistance for a business activity associated with the operation or expansion of a business. In some cases entrepreneurs seek small business startup funds in order to finance the start of their business. In each of these cases the bank loan is a financial loan provided by the bank with particular fees and requirements being associated with the loan. Often times a loan is also produced with an asset being offered to the bank in the case that the loan is defaulted upon. There are also additional requirements and restrictions on how the loan funds can be used by the merchant.


Purpose of a Merchant Cash Advance


A merchant cash advance is a loan provided against the receivables of the merchant based on their credit card sales. As a result, the financial arrangement differs greatly from a traditional loan. Most providers do not require an asset to be attached to the loan.


Interest and Fees


Bank loans are generally provided with a set interest rate that accrues over the course of the loan. There are a number of different fees that can be charged to those borrowing money including late payment fees and fees associated with refinancing the debt. Some lenders charge a fee if the loan is paid too quickly or if the loan is paid back using a non-preferred payment method. Interest fees are generally held at an industry standard depending on the type of loan being provided.


For merchant cash advances there is generally a single premium paid in addition to the borrowed amount. The entire total is withdrawn from the company over the course of their normal business activities as they accept credit card transactions from their customers. The merchant cash advance company often keeps a track of the monthly sales of the business and charges them a percentage of those sales in order to get back the money they have loaned.


In general cash advance loans provided to businesses are going to cost more in comparison to a general business loan being provided by a bank. The downside to bank loans lies within the requirements and restrictions of the loans. Many bank loans are restricted to certain practices and purposes as opposed to being used for whatever purpose the merchant would need funds for. There are also requirements that the business must meet including credit requirements which can disqualify a business from receiving the loan. Generally merchant cash advance services have relaxed requirements and are the alternative when businesses are unable to get a bank loan.




At the end of the day a merchant cash advance loan is an effective financial assistance solution for businesses who need access to capital for purposes not fit for a bank loan or may require the financial assistance while being unable to get a bank loan.

cash advance loans

Find out the pros and cons to merchant cash advance.

A Beginner’s Guide To Merchant Credit Card Machines

In today’s marketplace, accepting credit cards is necessary. The majority of customers seem to prefer the convenience of paying by credit or debit card. Merchants simply can’t afford to turn away customers by not accepting this preferred form of payment.


If you are a new business owner or if you need to upgrade to a credit card processing system, there are a few steps that you’ll need to take in order to begin accepting credit and debit card payments. In addition to find a provider for your merchant services, you will also need to purchase some specialized hardware. This will include at least one merchant credit card machine.


What are merchant credit card machines?


If you do any shopping in a physical store, then you have doubtless seen one of the most common credit card machines: the credit card terminal. Any time that you swipe your card to complete a purchase, you are using a credit card terminal. When you hand your card over to the cashier and the cashier types in your information, that is another credit card machine. Other machines include PIN pads, check readers, and printers.


A Variety of Credit Card Machines


In addition to the variety of machines you can purchase, there are also different types of each machine. For example, once you have determined that you want to accept payments from customers at your physical location and over the phone, you know that you need two different types of credit card terminals. You want one that allows your customer to physically swipe their card at the store. You also want a terminal that will allow you to enter the information manually without the card present. These transactions are often referred to as CNP or “card not present” and the hardware for taking these payments differ from the card swipe machines at a checkout register.


You may also want to find variations of machinery that are mobile or that accommodate online purchases and payments. You might choose wireless machines, contactless payment readers or an IP terminal. Maybe you want your customers to have a place to sign their name before a transaction is completed or other forms of security. These options are all available when you know what you want.


With so many choices, how do you know what to look for?


The best way to be sure that you have the best merchant credit card machine for your business is to outline the functions that your business needs, before you begin searching and, again, just before you make a purchase. Here are a few example questions toward determining your business needs:


•             Do you want to accept debit cards, charge cards, gift cards, and International cards in addition to accepting the standard credit cards?

•             Do you need to have the option of entering information when your customer’s card is not present?

•             Do you need machinery that can handle specific tasks such as figuring tips or reversing a transaction?

•             Do you want machinery that can be updated, communicated with, and otherwise adjusted from a remote location?

•             What types of security measures are available through the machinery?

•             How many customers do you hope to serve at one time?

•             Do you need machinery that is extremely user-friendly or will you be comfortable with machinery that can provide you with multiple functions at the expense of some of the simplicity of operation?


Other Factors in Choosing Credit Card Machinery


The cost of each piece of machinery will be a major factor in determining how many and which machines you can purchase for your business. If you own a store with multiple checkout points, then you may need more credit card terminals than you can afford right away. If this is the case, you may want to consider a merchant credit card machine rental. This way you can opt for the machines with better guarantees, customer support backup, and a better reputation with other business owners. The best merchant credit card machine rental is one that allows you to upgrade with a continuity of machinery.


The amount of time that transactions take is also an important consideration. If you and your customers have the luxury of waiting for the transaction to process, then you won’t have to be choosy about your Internet speed and connections or your number of phone lines. However, if you value short transaction times, then you may end up choosing an IP connection.


The reliability of the credit card machine company should always be a strong factor in determining whether or not you’ll make a purchase. Just because a company has done a large volume of ACH processing does not mean that they are standing behind the quality of their products. Take your time finding out how well respected the company is by their past and current customers. Always follow up on the references that they provide for you. Ask specifically about their customer support and how well their products stand up to daily use. Once again, the best merchant credit card machine sales are those which are handled by the best credit card machine company.


Will you be able to install the necessary software and hardware?


Along with any of the credit card machines that you purchase, you will find that there is software to install and some items of hardware that accompany your machine. If you aren’t sure that you know how to install the several items, then find out if the company will send representatives out to get your business running with credit card processing. Once you have each piece of machinery will need to connect to your communication line and then run a test to be sure that all of the software and equipment is operating correctly.


Put Your Credit Card Machines to Work


Once everything is up and running, you should see quick results. Customers enjoy the convenience of using a debit card to check out or to use their credit card for online purchases. When you have opened your business up to those purchases, you will find that new customers come to your site and old customers remain loyal. Choosing the right merchant card machinery will hold great benefits for your business.

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Learn about merchant credit card machines.