If you run a small business, then you’ve probably considered accepting credit card payments from your customers. With people carrying less and less cash every year, card payments are often more convenient for patrons, and can actually help grow your business. But how do you get a credit card machine?
1. Determine whether or not you would like to open a merchant account.
Accepting credit cards isn't just a matter of simply purchasing a credit card terminal. It also requires enlisting a credit processing service. This typically involves opening what’s called a merchant account, an agreement between a merchant services company and a client detailing the relationship—including costs, duration, and identifying the processing platforms and funding banks the merchant services company will work with to complete each transaction.
The alternative to opening a merchant account is to go through a third-party payment processing service. While this may seem like an enticing option, since most third-party companies are generally less expensive, it's important to make this decision carefully, as these services often offer fewer features and less support for your business.
2. Choose your merchant services provider.
With so many options out there, it can be difficult to know which would be the best. Keep in mind the following tips:
- Do some research.
Before making any decisions, it’s always helpful to first conduct some research. Familiarize yourself with different merchant services providers and their offerings. This will help inform your inquiries when it's time to speak with a representative, which brings us to our next piece of advice.
- Know the right questions to ask.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options to several potential providers, you’ll want to ask the right questions. Inquire about their funding bank, EMV compliance, fees, or any other points you’re curious about. This will help you make a more informed decision than solely basing your choices off the information on their websites.
- Speak with more than one provider.
While you might have a good experience with the first merchant services provider you speak with, don't rush into anything. It’s still a good idea to speak with multiple providers. Doing so will give you a better understanding of how they all compare. Letting providers know you’re considering multiple quotes might also encourage them to give you better terms.
- Ask around.
Talk to other small business owners. Input from those in a similar situation can help you make the right choice for your small business.
Read more about finding the best merchant account for your small business here.
Once you've chosen the right merchant services provider for your business, follow their application process to open a merchant account. When you’re approved, you can start looking into which credit card machine would be right for you. In many cases, these can be obtained directly from your merchant services provider.
3. Decide which machine would be right for your business.
Not all credit card machines are the same, nor right for every business. For example, a company constantly on the go might benefit from a simpler, handheld credit terminal, while a retail store with a permanent location might prefer a more stationary POS (point of sale) system with additional features. No two companies are alike, so it'll be important to assess the needs of your small business before deciding which machine is the perfect fit. If you’re unsure, a representative from your merchant services provider should be able to provide some advice and guidance on what might work best.
Once you’ve made a decision on which credit card machine to use, your merchant services provider will help you activate your system. And just like that, you'll be ready to start accepting credit card payments to help your small business grow!
Are you a small business owner considering accepting credit card payments and acquiring a terminal? Contact MPX to learn more about both.