How to Process a Credit Card
These days, every business should be accepting all major credit cards(at the very least Visa and Mastercard, but it is a good idea to accept Discover and American Express as well). It is a good rule of thumb that it should always be as simple as humanly possible for a patron to be able give you their money, and really, what is simpler than swiping a credit card? Here is a list of all you will need to get set up with a Merchant account and start accepting credit as payment!
*If you see and Merchant Service terms and don't know what they mean, check out our glossary for detailed explanations!
Get your Merchant Services account up and running
- You will need to open a Merchant Service account. You can do this filling out a simple form and speaking with an agent who can help you get set up with an account that fits your needs.
- Once an agent contacts you, be prepared to answer the following questions: Are you currently accepting credit cards? If so who is your merchant? Why do you want a (new) merchant account? What is your monthly volume? How long have you been in business? What is your credit like? What type of business do you run/ what service/product do you provide? Do you have a URL for your business? If so, what is it?
- After providing an agent with this important information, you will be asked to produce documents to be submitted. These can include but are not limited to:The last 3 months's bank statements, Your business license, Your tax id (if this cannot be provided you will need to give your social security number), Date of birth, A voided check or bank letter for the account where you would like the money to be deposited, A copy of your W-9 or SS-4
- You will be sent an electronic receipt for you to sign and return so that your Merchant account can begin being processed. Be sure to find out about your rates and any fees associated with charging credit cards and/or returning a payment (charge back) onto the Visa.
- Congratulations, you've been approved! Now it is time to get yourself a terminal. Depending on your business and how you will be accepting the credit card payments, there are a few options for your terminals. If you have an online business you will need a virtual terminal, or payment gateway. This will allow customers to enter their credit card numbers, expiration date, and security code via your website in order for you to receive payment. If you will be accepting the cards in person you will need a physical terminal where you can swipe credit cards or manually punch in the numbers. Smaller businesses may want to go with a Dial Only terminal which runs at a slightly slower speed but is offered for a a lower price. For a larger business or those looking for faster processing, you will want to go with an IP & Dial terminal. You can find great models made my by Verifone, Hypercom, Dejavoo. If you are a business on the go (i.e. delivery, trade-show, manual laborer, tradesmen etc) you may want to consider getting a Smartphone Card Reader. This portable device attaches to your phone and scans cards using your wireless network. They are very reasonably priced and can be purchased for a one time fee (no monthly rental fees!). If you are unsure of which terminal is right for you, just ask your service provider and they will be able to guide you in the process.
Get paid via Credit Cards
Now you have your account and your terminal, but how do you actually process that Visa or Mastercard and start getting paid??
Getting your Merchant account set up can be a fast, easy, inexpensive process if you work with the right agent and know the right questions to ask and steps to follow. So don't delay any longer...get the process started here!
- You total you customer's purchase for checkout. This includes price, tax, shipping (if applicable) and tip (if applicable).
- If the transaction is happening in person and the card is present you should visually authenticate the card by checking for signatures and asking for ID when appropriate. If the transaction is virtual, addition information such as the CVC number will need to be provided in order to authenticate the card.
- When the card is present you will need to either physically run the credit card or punch in the account number. The terminal will dial up to verify the card and approve or deny the transaction. This will check that the account is active, there is enough funds to pay for the total charge, and there are no suspicious activity on the card. When the card is approve the payment will be processed.
- At the end of each day, you as the merchant will be responsible for batching all payments. This means all of the transactions made that day need to be totaled and submitted as one “batch”
- And now for the good stuff, getting paid... You should receive your payment for each batch as a lump sum within 2-3 business days. Each days batch will be deposited as one amount into the account you have a provided. It is important to know all processing fees associated with transactions because the amount deposited will have any such fees deducted from it.