Checklist for credit card processing services
So, you’ve decided it’s time to accept credit cards at your small business. That’s a great idea, since credit cards continue to replace cash as consumers’ preferred method of payment. In addition to traditional cards, consumers also expect to be able to use newer payment types like contactless mobile payments, and to be able to easily and securely pay for purchases instore, online, and on the go.
Signing up for credit card processing services isn’t difficult, but all the options and information can be a bit confusing and perhaps overwhelming. To make it easier to understand, we’ve gathered the information you need to know about getting set up to take credit card payments including the documentation you’ll need, how long it will take to get started, and the features you should consider with your new system.
Guide for setting up payment processing
- First, think about how you want to accept card payments – at a terminal in store, on your website, via contactless mobile payment options (such as Apple, Android and Samsung Pay), at remote locations, or a mixture of all these options. It is helpful to research different providers and ask other merchants in your industry for recommendations. Be sure to find out the benefits of each payment type so you can determine which offerings are best for your business.
- Then research and select a payment processor and sign up for a merchant services account. Here are some important things to consider:
- Available payment technology and security solutions. Be sure to ask about upgrade options to meet future needs.
- Training offered (manuals, online videos, phone support, etc.).
- Customer support options and track record.
- Other services including but not limited to merchant financing, funding schedule, loyalty programs, gift cards, and PCI compliance assistance.
- Transaction fees and other potential charges including but not limited to setup, monthly minimum, chargeback and cancellation fees.
- Also, be sure to ask for customer references so you can find out what current customers think of the service.
- Start using your new account. Today’s advanced payment systems are very quick and easy to set up and use. Your payments provider should provide training on how to use the equipment, along with relevant training materials, and instructions for accessing support if you ever need it.
Keep in mind your payment processor can and should act as a consultant to your business. In this role, your provider should help make the set-up process painless, and also help you evaluate all the options that may benefit your business now and in the future. This can include integrated payment options, consumer data analysis services, loyalty and gift card programs, and more. Leading processors can also provide valuable insights into how payments can positively affect your business, based on the industry you operate in.
What documents are needed?
Signing up for payment processing is actually quite simple. You will need to complete an application with the following information:
- Your name, address and contact info
- Business legal name (and DBA, if applicable)
- Business establishment date
- Business contact info and website address
- Amount expected to process each month
- Average transaction size
- Copy of a voided check
- Copy of a business license
Although this is generally all the information that is required, on some occasions the processor will request additional information to approve your application. This information could include:
- Business financial information
- If you’re a small business, you may need to provide personal financial information and an agreement to undergo a credit check and sign a personal guarantee
How long will approval take?
While the time period for approval varies by processor, you should be able to get approved within a week.
Here’s how the application approval process works:
- You complete the application.
- The processor reviews your application and contacts you if anything is missing or needs clarification.
- The processor then sends your application to their Underwriting Department, which either approves your application or requests additional information.
- If more information is needed, once submitted it will be reviewed and you will receive a decision quickly.
- Once approved, your payment processor will help you choose the right equipment, assist in setting it up, and make sure you know how to use it properly.
A quality payment processor will work with you every step of the way and make this process quite easy.
What features are available and should I consider?
Once your merchant services account is approved, it’s time to decide exactly what features you want for your small business. As mentioned, your processor should work closely with you to understand your business needs, explain your options, and help you determine the best investment for your business. Here are some features to consider:
How and where do you want to accept payment?
- On site with contactless mobile payments
- Remote sites away from your store
- A combination of the above
- Credit card swipers and terminals, whether standalone or connected to your register, are the easiest way to accept credit and debit cards. While not as sophisticated as smart terminals, these terminals are fast and include the same high level of security.
- These more advanced systems typically support the full range of payment options today and allow for more sophisticated software to integrate with your other business operations such as inventory management, accounting, and reporting, and provide valuable customer analytics to help with customer service and marketing efforts.
Mobile device as point of sale
A small attachment turns your mobile phone or tablet into a point of sale device. With this option, you can accept payments anywhere you’d like that has wifi or cellular data access– whether walking around your store or remotely at events, festivals, or fairs.
Keep in mind the importance of security in your payment system. A mandate from the card networks implemented on October 1, 2015, shifted fraud chargeback liability to merchants who accept EMV chip cards on a terminal that is not EMV-enabled. In addition to EMV technology, other payment security solutions to look for include encryption, which protects data during the transaction authorization process, and tokenization, which protects data at rest for future transactions.
Loyalty and gift programs
Many payment systems provide access to gift card and loyalty programs, marketing tools that have proven effective for merchants in most every industry.
If you don’t accept credit card payments, there’s never been a better time to start. The new technology behind credit card processing services meets the rapidly growing demand for credit and debit card use and does so in all the various ways consumers desire. If your small business is not accepting credit and debit cards, you’re missing out on valuable sales opportunities. Fortunately, as we’ve just discussed, if you work with a quality credit card processing company, you can set up an account and start accepting non-cash payments in just days.