07/03/2014 15:08

Using a merchant service account to accept payments for your small business can seem like a daunting and confusing task, but it doesn’t have to be!  Once you are up and running with a merchant service account provider that you like, you will be able to enjoy the ease of card payment acceptance.  However, two parts of merchant service accounts that give some small business owners trouble are non-payments and ecommerce.  Learn how to overcome these potentially obstacles and you will be on your way to payment acceptance bliss!    

Most small businesses can benefit from allowing their customers to set up subscriptions or recurring payments.  However, businesses can lose out when the payment does not go through.  One potential cause for this problem is when the customer’s card expires or is cancelled and they do not update you.  Customers should make sure they have a system in place to make sure that service is stopped until payments is made.  If the payment is declined and work continues, you are basically giving your services away for free.  Also, trying to retroactively get payment from a customer can be difficult and time consuming.  This is definitely an annoying part of a merchant service account that you should try to avoid by being prepared. 

E-commerce technologies allow merchants to accept payment at anytime, and anywhere.  While this is convenient for customers and businesses alike, it can also be confusing because not all credit card processing services work with merchant service accounts.  This process can include getting a merchant service account with a bank, setting up a payment gateway and then find payment software.  This can mean multiple set up fees and accounts.  What a headache!

To avoid this, you can find a merchant service account that does all of these services for you.  There are many all-inclusive options that are great for small businesses and much more convenient.  

06/12/2014 15:26

How many times have you been frustrated or given up trying to please someone with a gift that they always return to the store. Consumers feel this frustration everyday, causing them to turn to the convenience and flexibility of gift cards. Gift cards are the answer for gift giving in today's fast-paced and budget-conscience world.

Gift card programs for small businesses have proven to improve your bottom line due to the fact that nearly two-thirds of customers spend more than the value of the card. Furthermore, studies have shown that 93% of gift card recipients would rather receive a $25 gift card than a gift with a value over $50, demonstrating the increasing value of gift card solutions among customers.

Most merchant services offering gift card solutions have many styles and designs to greatly enhance your business. With proper marketing tools, your gift cards are like mini-billboards carried around in your customer's wallets. According to your budget, you can choose from standard style and design, or customize your card to maximize your competitive advantage. 

Customers view gift cards as a beneficial feature of your business that promotes goodwill, which gets generated back to your business. When someone gives your gift card, it implies an endorsement of your products and services.

With the popularity of gift cards, marketing tools have been established and research has been stepped-up to keep up with the growing market. By investing in gift card programs for small businesses, you are making the choice to build your business through one of the newest and most profitable options available today.

05/28/2014 13:30

2012 research data showed that the total number of credit cards in use in the U.S are valued at $1.5 billion. With rewards and cash back incentives offered by credit providers, it is no wonder that on average, 70% of the U.S holds a credit card. A credit examiner report stated that the annual purchase volume was $2.1 trillion. Given the data, small businesses are seeking efficient and low cost means of credit and debit transactions. Due to the latest innovations, credit card transactions have morphed in a various range of options. So, what is the best credit and debit card machine for small businesses?

Traditional retail counter-top processing credit, EBT, and even checks are usually the default choice. This option is ideal for on-site business transactions. These debit card machines have rapport with the market of transactions and have built a good relationship with companies. However, with technology advancing more quickly each year, these providers face the dilemma of their services becoming primitive.

With the new options for debit card machine, you can accept payment anywhere. Whether you are a plumber, hairdresser, florist or Chinese food deliverer, you can offer your customers a better payment acceptance experience. There are many options when selecting debit card machines.


  • Free device
  • Fee to customers
  • Syncs with QuickBooks
  • Payments are automatically entered into QuickBooks


  • Free reader
  • Square reports offers sales reports
  • Pay only when you sell at 2.75%
  • No monthly fee


  • 2.7% per swipe for merchant
  • Live customer service
  • 1% Cash back on signed purchases
  • Also keeps track of your cash payments

Although the above debit care machines are great, I will have to go with the Clover Station as the best. This debit card machine is a versatile product that offers good features whether you are a small or large business. It is innovative and is easy going, simple, and ready to use.

The Clover Station

  • All-in-One Hardware
  •  Point-of-Sale Software
  • App Marketplace
  • Merchant Account
  • U.S. Based Customer Support, 24/7/365

I hope that these reviews are helpful!  When choosing the right debit card machine, take into consideration your business and customer needs.

03/28/2014 09:59

Whether your business is a one person establishment or large retail store, the benefits of retail merchant services are numerous. Deciding to implement retail merchant services can help your business prosper by allowing your customers the ultimate in payment convenience. 


When setting up a retail merchant services account for the first time, there are some terms you should become familiar with in order to get the most out of your service. You will see these terms when making transactions, looking over retail merchant account reports, and when troubleshooting any issues that may occur. 


Common Retail Merchant Service Terminology


Authorization Code: This code is usually a six or seven digit number which appears on transactions that were sent through your terminal. This code can help merchants and banks identify certain transactions and their result; therefore, they should be kept for future reference if a transaction issue does arise.


AVS: AVS refers to address verification service. When processing a sale, the merchant may sometimes be prompted to enter a street address or zip code of the cardholder for verification purposes. If the address or zip does not correlate with the information provided by the customer, there may be a problem executing the transaction.


Batch Processing: Batching or batch processing refers to the pay out of a batch of transactions at once. At the end of the day, most merchants batch out their total sales; which finalizes the transactions and begins the process of settling the out for deposit in the business bank account.


CVV: This refers to the three digit code on the back of a credit card which further verifies that the card is present at your location during a dial-in or call-in sale. CVV stands for "card verification value."


Chargeback: A chargeback can occur if a credit card holder disputes a sale that occurred at your location. If a dispute of sale is issued by a cardholder, the funds will be withdrawn from your business bank account. Typically, a merchant has ten days to respond to the chargeback in an effort to settle the dispute, otherwise the funds will not be returned to the merchant. 


Knowing these terms can help your successfully navigate retail merchant services account. As a general rule of thumb, always ask your provider to explain how their individual retail merchant services work, how to read and interpret statements, and how to handle issues related to fraud.

02/28/2014 14:58

It is crucial for payment processing to be fast and dependable, but also safe for both small businesses and their consumers.  The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) was put in place to do just that, to ensure secure credit card processing.


Small businesses have been tasked with protecting their customer’s data, but that does not mean they can’t enlist the help of a secure credit card processing solution.  Many payment processing solutions provide services that allow small businesses to comply with PCI regulations much easily and quickly. 


Secure credit card processing tools come in a variety of forms, from hardware to software.  Typically, these solutions utilize encryption technology that hides credit card numbers via tokenization.  During the tokenization process, the credit card number is concealed with a randomly assigned code, or token. The token is then passed on to the merchant; releasing the merchant from having any liability associated with storing credit card data, since they are never actually stored the real credit card number.  This tokenization solution allows small businesses to utilize credit card data with reduced risk and remain compliant with PCI Standards.


Small businesses can also make sure that they choose a merchant services provider that provides the latest information regarding secure credit card processing technological advancements.  For example, Europay, MasterCard and Visa, or EMV regulations in addition to smart card adoption are an emerging trend in the credit card security processing space.  Small businesses that want to stay ahead of the curve should being to plan how smart cards can be integrated into their current payment processing strategy.  Examples of these emerging chip-based secure credit card processing technologies include EMV, which provide security to card-present payments in both physical and virtual card landscape. 

12/17/2013 15:38

All successful businesses these days need to be able to offer secure credit card processing - especially online businesses.  However, finding a secure credit card processing provider can be daunting. Here are some tips that clearly explain the different types of credit card processing solutions so you can easily research for yourself the best solution for your small business.

First, establish a gateway account.  A gateway account acts as a sort of open door to all online commerce. You have a number of choices, but make sure whomever you choose has the following qualifications:

  • Fast customer support. All reputable companies have option for you to ask questions either online or over the phone. You do not want to be stuck without help when your business is on the line.
  • PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) Compliant. If you are a small business accepting credit cards, you have to comply with PCI Security Council standards.
  • Generates reports. Make sure your provider gives you this option, allowing your business to track sales and statistical trends.
  • SSL (Secure Socket Layer). This safeguard makes sure that your customers’ transactions are fully protected. All reputable credit card processors offer this.
  • Full ecommerce integration. This includes the ability to email receipts, offer shopping carts and support recurring payments. This allows you to sell your services and/or goods both online and at a bricks-and-mortar store.

Second, create a merchant account. Your gateway provider may offer this service as well, but it never hurts to shop the competition and find the best solution for your business. Make sure you ask about:

  • Fraud protection: Your credit card processor should have the capability to verify addresses, provide SSL (see above), and verify CVV— the three digit number on the back of credit cards.
  • How long: You need to know what the provider offers as far as digital application and setup time. Most small businesses want to hit the ground running, with minimal amounts of hassle and paperwork. One to two days processing time is the industry standard.
  • Payment gateway: Ask your provider if they have their own gateway service or if they partner with another organization.  All reputable processors have a relationship with
  • Monthly fees and transactions costs: Credit card companies make their money by charging a percentage of each transaction. Although the percentage amounts may seem small, they can really start to add up.
  • Shopping carts: Secure credit card processing companies make you have their shopping cart applications installed on your ecommerce site.
  • Credit card swipers. There are many new products on the market that allow you to run credit cards right from your smartphone.
  • Virtual terminal: If you need something more affordable than a swipe machine, consider a virtual terminal. They work with all major credit cards and do not require setup fees or a merchant account.

Finding a secure credit card processor is not rocket science, but regardless of which company you go with, make sure you read the fine print in the agreement.  Since most contracts lock you in for at least three years, and many charge heavy early termination fees, you will want to make sure you have done your homework. 

11/14/2013 14:54

As a small business owner, you may have decided to reduce expense by becoming a cash-only operation. But did you realize that your decision to avoid merchant services credit card processing fees could also reduce your potential for higher sales? That is especially important as the holiday seasons approaches.

For small business owners who don't accept plastic --15 million of them in the United States, as documented in a recent Intuit study-- eliminating credit card fees probably seems like an easy choice. It is one of the simplest ways to reduce operating costs. If you have a merchant services credit card processing account, you can simply drop it. If you do not have the service, you can opt not to get it in the first place.

Businesses do save expense money when they eliminate credit card processing, but the decision could minimize long-term profit potential. The 15 million businesses that reject merchant services credit card processing are missing their share of an estimated $100 billion dollars in credit card sales. It is also estimated that customers spend far more when they use the plastic option. 

The good old-fashioned cash option VS. merchant services credit card processing

A recent article, "Cash-only business owners risk $100 billion mistake," described cash-only merchants as " in the past." The article quoted statistics from a Javelin Strategy & Research study that determined 27 percent of in-person customer sales were made with cash, while 66 percent used credit or debit cards. 

For some businesses the choice to go cash-only was an expense decision. One merchant felt credit cards didn't fit his coffee shop's mom-and-pop image. After six years in business, he finally decided utilize merchant services credit card processing, because he could see how it affected his bottom line.

His no-plastic policy had been the reason for 75% of his negative Yelp reviews. Also, he realized that those customers who didn't have cash on hand simply patronized his competitors who did accept credit/debit cards, e-checks or POS payments.  

The holiday shoppers are coming

Customers are already out shopping for holiday gifts. Your retail location might offer the goods and services they are looking for, but if nearly two-thirds of your potential customers prefer shopping where the merchant accepts credit cards, debit cards or other modern methods of payment, all of those customers could walk right past your shop? 

If you are a no plastic, cash-only merchant, perhaps it is time to rethink your position.  Consider merchant services credit card processing.

10/24/2013 16:35

Starting your own business can be daunting. Endless to-do lists, financial advice and business plans surround entrepreneurs searching to build their own empire of sorts. One crucial decision in the operational planning stage is whether to create a merchant account that accepts credit cards. Small businesses are notorious in not accepting plastic forms of payment. But why? Mainly due to involved fees, numerous small businesses see credit card acceptance as a financial burden. However, a substantial shift may occur in the near future, as more consumers are less likely to purchase products with cash, and numerous services offer effective small business solutions.

small business credit card transactionRecent statistics show consumer payment preferences are shifting already.  Intuit  reports 55% of America’s 27 million small businesses will not accept credit card payments. However, Community Merchants USA discovered plastic is responsible for 66% of all POS (Point of Sale) transactions. Only accounting for 27% of nationwide purchases, cash sales are expected to dip below 24% by 2017 (Source: Aside from the statistical writing on the wall, the advantages of accepting credit cards are increasing. Small businesses can benefit from additional growth through the increased likelihood of spontaneous purchases and probable upticks in loyalty program accounts. Progressive technology and easy merchant  account setup has simplified credit card processing, so small business transactions are fast, accurate and secure. With practices such as mobile bill pay and online shopping becoming more of an industry standard, it is unlikely small business credit card acceptance will not join this financial bandwagon in the near future.