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Credit Card Processing for Small Businesses

credit-card-processingThese days, the ability to accept credit cards is an absolute necessity for even the smallest of businesses.

Consumers are using credit and debit cards for more and more of their purchases. In fact, chances are good that a sizable portion of any business’s customers do not even carry cash on a regular basis.

If these people have a choice between giving their business to a company that accepts credit cards, and stopping by an ATM in order to patronize one that does not accept them, it is pretty easy to guess which one they are going to choose.

Of course, as a business owner, you want to make it as easy as possible for your clients to spend their money on your business’s products or services. And accepting credit cards is an excellent way to do just that. But there are quite a few credit card processing options out there to choose from.

What are they, and what should small-business owners consider when choosing one?

Option #1: Going Mobile

Mobile applications have revolutionized the business world in more ways than one, and credit card processing is no exception. These services allow business owners to collect credit card payments via smartphones or tablets, wherever mobile data service is available.

These mobile credit card processing services are a real boon for those who do business on the go, such as those who perform repairs in clients’ homes, or those who sell their goods and services at public events, like trade shows, festivals, and conventions.

The fees charged by these companies vary, but they tend to be fairly similar to those charged by merchant account services companies. Their services are generally easy to use, and the convenience and portability factor is a definite benefit.

Option #2: Third-Party Online Processing

Online credit card processing is not just for auction websites anymore. Any type of business can use online services for credit card processing. They are ideal for companies that do a substantial portion of their business online, and many offer mobile payment processing options similar to the mobile-centric payment processors.

Third party online credit card processors do not typically require business owners to set up a merchant services account. This makes it easy for business owners who have yet to build business credit ratings to accept credit card payments.

That being said, third-party processors redirect online customers to their websites in order to make payments, and some customers may be suspicious of this, or find it unprofessional.

Option #3: Merchant Account Services

This option is currently the most utilized method of accepting credit cards. A merchant account is usually set up through a bank, which typically provides the business with the credit card swiper machine that can either be purchased or rented. Merchant account services can be quite costly, though fees vary by provider.

They do, however, offer businesses everything they need to process credit and debit card payments.

Do Your Homework

The fees charged by credit card processors vary widely so it is wise to shop around and read the fine print. Business owners should make sure they understand the terms of their credit card processing company’s services before they make any commitments.


John R. Klaras is a serial entrepreneur and small business professional, a writer, and an educator by trade. With nearly a decade of experience in the telecommunications industry, he is currently in the process of building a burgeoning new microbusiness. He has written for leading companies in a wide variety of verticals, including travel, finance, motorsports, and real estate.