Many people today simply prefer the convenience of paying by credit card. If you want their business, you must be able to accept their credit-card payments.
In part one of this series we will discuss why you should accept credit cards, and the basics of getting merchant status. Part two will deal with objections you might get, which credit cards to accept, and the check paying option.
Obtaining merchant status, which allows you to accept credit-card payments, might seem like an unnecessary hassle, especially for those in business where the majority of their customers pay by cash or check. But by not accepting credit-card payments, you lose sales. This is especially true if yours is a mail order business, or consulting business. Just look at the majority of business today, all of them accept credit cards, and becoming more and more popular all the time are debit cards.
As many businesses have found, up to 70 percent of people never mail the check, so accepting credit cards is crucial. When the customer places an order, he's excited and eager to buy. Faced with the prospect of sending a check, waiting for it to clear and then awaiting shipment, his interest is likely to wane. In the meantime, you lose sales.
The Basics of Merchant Status
In order to accept credit cards, you need to work with a bank that will transfer the money into your account within a day or two of the sale, and then collect the money from the customer. In return, you pay the bank a commission of 1.5 percent to 5 percent for each credit-card transaction; a set, per-transaction fee; and a setup fee. You will also have to pay monthly support or equipment-rental fees for a point-of-sale terminal-the machine used to swipe the card-depending on the contract.
The fee is based on two things, the average amount per transaction and the total volume for the year.
When you apply for merchant status, the banks evaluate your business based on its sales track record, the type of business it is, your credit record, the business's credit record and your overall financial picture.
Apply for merchant status when you get your start-up financing. This accomplishes several things. First, it shows that you've thought ahead. And you will probably have customers that you wouldn't have otherwise. In fact, some people don't pay with anything but credit cards.
Second, you show you're taking steps to minimize the time and expense involved in recovering bad debts. If someone writes a bad check, for instance, it will cost you time and money to recover the loss. If you swipe a customer's credit card through a point-of-sale terminal, you can be sure you'll get paid. The machine contacts the issuing bank to authorize the transaction and runs the account numbers through a variety of fraud-protection procedures.
In part two of this series we will deal with objections you might get, which credit cards to accept, and the check paying option.
Copyright 2004 DeFiore Enterprises
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