With card payments on the rise and lots of different solutions available it’s important to consider all options before your business starts accepting card payments.
The Guardian revealed that “A record number of payments took place by credit and debit cards in June this year, due to the continued popularity of contactless transactions.”
“UK Finance, the new trade body for the banking industry, said almost 1.4bn card payments were made during the month. The 12% increase was the biggest annual growth in the number of payments since June 2008.”
The 3 types of card payment solutions
The first step in choosing the best card payment solution is to identify how your customers prefer to pay for your products/services. Face to face payments are the most popular and there are 3 main types of card machines to choose from (countertop, portable, mobile). If you have an online store then you will need to set up a payment gateway which allows you to take card payments online. Finally, if you want to process card payments over the phone, you will need a virtual terminal which is essentially an online version of a card machine.
The second step is to find out how much revenue your business generates per month. This will help during the pricing process as the majority of merchant services providers will charge you based on the transaction volume you are projected to receive on a monthly basis.
If you choose to accept card payments by using credit card machines you should decide on the number of terminals you need and consider features or functionality such as built in memory, battery life, type of receipt printer and how the terminal reads credit or debit cards for example (Chip and Pin or contactless). Here is a full guide to help you choose the right card machine for your business.
Here are the most popular terminals:
- Mobile card machines
Mobile card machines are ideal for businesses on the go such as Taxi drivers, market traders and tradesman. These mobile card machines are quick, reliable and work anywhere; as long as you have a mobile phone with a roaming SIM card.
- Portable card machines
Portable card machines are great in situations where the customer is not always in the same location as you so that the card machine can be given to them for payment. The portable card device will operate within a certain radius of its base unit, which connects to your phone line or internet connection to a countertop card machine.
- Countertop card machines
Countertop machines are great for businesses that sell from fixed locations such as shops, cafes, hotels, restaurants and reception desks. All you need is a phone line or broadband to hook to and the added benefit of having a sleek body, so you only need a small desk space near the till to store them.
Things to consider before choosing a payment gateway
The payment gateway acts as an online card machine allowing you to accept transactions over your website securely. And security is one of the most important elements you should consider. Also, make sure your payment gateway has a good uptime, meaning that it should be up and running 24/7 to allow customers to be able to buy your products or services from anywhere in the world no matter which timezone they are in.
Things to consider before choosing a virtual terminal
Although over the phone payments are not as popular as they used to be, some businesses still count on them to process card payments. Since the virtual terminal operates the same way as the payment gateway, security and 24 hour uptime / functionality must be the first two points to consider before buying this product.
Other things to consider
Have you ever paid for goods by card and had to wait for ages or have had to pay cash because the line has gone down? Your business needs to make sure this doesn’t happen because you don’t want to lose business. Credit card terminals may have state-of-the-art technology built in and with your analogue phone line no longer the most popular method, you need a stable internet connection that is fast and efficient.
Terminals with wireless technology such as WiFi and cellular service also work well and should be considered if a hardwired phone internet connection is unavailable.
In addition to credit and debit card processing, you should also consider additional services such as:
Gift cards – Many shops use and sell gift cards containing a value to use specified businesses; these are popular because they provide an excellent way of introducing a brand to customers and retaining them.
Electronic checks – Not many people pay for goods by cheque nowadays. However, there are a few people who still pay by cheque and if your business is one of those you should look into the possibility of investing in this payment method to protect you from any bounced cheques.