Accepting Credit Cards Payments For Offline
Any smart business
owner knows that accepting credit cards as a payment option will dramatically
increase revenues. Not only do credit cards offer customers the convenience
and ease of not having to carry around cash or checks, it lends a sense of
professionalism to your establishment as well. The process of applying to
become a credit card merchant can be a bit confusing and frustrating, so
let's take a look at how it all works.
The Credit Card Account
The credit card account that you will use is called a merchant account. These
accounts are different from a regular business checking account in that they
are accounts that have been secured through a bank that offers credit card
processing. This account enables you to process your credit card transactions
through their banking establishment. This is a safe and secure process which
provides both you and the buyer security and protection from the beginning
of the transaction right through to the end.
Since most of the merchant accounts are offered by a third party vendor,
you are not obligated to use any specific bank or institution. You are free
to choose the one that offers the options that will work best for you and
What you do need to pay attention to are the fees. These fees will come in
three different forms. First, the initial setup fee (pretty self-explanatory),
moving on to the percentage fee (the provider will take a percentage of each
transaction based on amount of sale), and then ending with the monthly service
fee. Read the fine print of any contract before signing it. Pay attention
to all three fee categories, not just one.
Also, look for contract obligations. Some providers will offer you great
deals but will want you to sign on with them for a long period of time. You
need to be aware of what, if any, penalties will be charged for getting out
of the contract if things don't work out.
How Do I Actually Get Paid
Obviously, this is pretty important. If a customer has used a credit card,
no money has actually changed hands. Since more and more customers are now
using credit cards, how that money gets into your account and how fast has
become vitally important.
Any of the reputable merchant account providers will provide the business
owner with payment into their account within the first 24 to 48 hours of
the initial transaction. Whether that customer has a balance on that card
is not a concern of yours. The bank will pay you anyway.
If the customer disputes the said transaction, the bank is usually under
no obligation to pay the business owner, especially if that dispute has been
deemed acceptable. If a business owner has a high number of legitimacy claims
against them, the provider may just drop them.
The majority of the time, though, things go as planned and the money shows
up in your account within a day or two.