Merchant Services

Make the most of your credit card terminal

A generation of store owners is conditioned to believe that a credit card merchant account has limited features, runs at the speed of an old fax modem, and is almost more trouble than it is worth. In reality, the world of merchant services goes far beyond credit card acceptance, and an overhaul of your account could yield big savings opportunities.

Credit Card Processing ServicesFirst, common card processing services really can't be overlooked, since so many people are switching to debit and credit cards as their exclusive way of making payments. A lot of small business owners will only use corporate cards to make purchases for hotels, groceries, office supplies, and anything that will rack up enough points to pay for a flight out of town. Even though mom and pop stores hate it when you pay with plastic, they don't seem to mind loading up their own accounts at everyone else's little store. For decades, the appeal of a customer brandishing cards is the fact that they spend more, due to some psychological effect that really ought to have its own name. To wit: paper money is held more tightly, and is "real" when you buy stuff with it, and creates the connotation of limited resources and scarcity. Once the money in your wallet is gone, you have to go somewhere to get more, and that implies inconvenience. Older generations did not have ready access to ATMs and remember having to wait in line at banks, so the subconscious idea of having to wait around and get more cash implies an imposition. In contrast, a credit limit exists in an intangible realm. Even when you pay for the card you are writing a check, not counting out greenbacks. You may put the transaction on your account even if you have enough cash in your pocket, and feel smart for doing so. Entire store chains have been built on this concept, but the rise of debit-transactions and showrooming are causing the flagships of mall commerce to slowly collapse under their own "sign up for a card and save 10%" weight.

Innovative Ways To Cut Corners

Powerful Financial Tools Come With A Merchant Services Account

Most merchants have no idea about the power that comes with their processing account. You can take the most popular forms of payment in the world. A single business may authorize cards from hundreds of different issuing banks every month, and a marvelous process debits those accounts and forwards the money to you. Even the cost of processing is comparable to the cost of handling cash when you consider armored car services, the time spent counting money, or the taken out of someone's day by taking it to the bank themselves.

Some popular services include virtual terminals for phone authorizations, payment gateways for internet sales, check readers and Check21 services, debit card acceptance with PIN pads, and remote deposit capture. An entire subsector of the payments industry revolves around fleet cards and procurement cards, which use Level II and Level III processing to provide much more information about purchased items for expense controls and automatic declines of irrelevant items. Beyond Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and AMEX, cards like WEX and Voyager are used by truckers and traveling salespeople for essentials on the road. For some service related companies, acceptance of a special purchasing or procurement card may turn them into "the only game in town" in rural areas.

Gift cards are another wildly popular way to keep customer dollars in the store and encourage more shopping. Companies of any size have the power to create professional loyalty and gift cards, which will connote a better branded presence as well as a great way to cash in during holidays.

Another overlooked services channel is support for POS systems. Point-of-sale technology combines inventory management with ordering and payment settlement functions to streamline large and small businesses alike. In fact, many fixed-rate providers are offering free POS software in order to get access to processing services. Restaurants, retailers, and even coffee shops can benefit from advanced POS features that prompt ordering while revealing the products that people want to buy.

If your company is in need of some short term dollars, but has bad credit and can't wait for a bank loan, then merchant cash advance services serve as a loan against your processing volume. Company owners can get multiple advances "stacked" on top of one another, and the success of your company may repay the fronted monies faster. Naturally there are some dangers in taking business cash advances, in that you could be paying real interest rates in the double and triple digits, and if your company fails you could be personally liable for the dollars taken out, and some have said that they should have just closed up shop instead of drowning themselves in red ink, but not all circumstances are the same and some small companies have recovered from recessions. If you are considering a merchant cash advance, you should do some math to figure out how much selling volume you will need to pay it off and how much you need for currrent expenses. Consider whether you are in a blighted area, since sometimes it is not just a recession but a dead neighborhood that keeps away shoppers, and if too many nearby stores have gone bust then people may be avoiding your location. This even happens in shopping malls when your little shop finds itself at the end of a line of vacant storefronts.