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3 Easy Steps to Accelerate Your Credit Card Processing System

- By Bob Twain

Have you heard of the game "Would you rather?" In the game you're presented with two, usually awful scenarios, and you have to choose the one you would rather endure.

So…would you rather pull employees from the floor to tend to long check out lines due to a slow credit card approval process? (And risk losing customers that just don't have time to wait.)


Would you rather improve your credit card approval process?

Not really a competition is it?

Here are three easy things you can do to make sure the process is as quick as it can be!

  1. Update your terminal. There is a wide variety of terminals offered to merchants. Swipe terminals, terminals with printers, terminals without, wireless terminals, terminals that connect to your PC and terminals that enable you to use debit cards to name a few. Terminals can have different operating speeds and some can operate significantly faster than others.

    Consider if it takes each customer 90 seconds to process their approval, then that means over the course of 100 customers, you're losing more than 2 hours of productivity-and your customers are waiting in long lines!

    Additionally, some credit card terminals offer reporting features which can save you hours of paperwork at the end of the day.

    To determine which terminal will best fit your needs, speak with your Merchant Services Account Representative. Your Merchant Services Provider is the company that accepts and processes your credit card payments. They should be able to guide you to finding the fastest terminal to meet your needs.

  2. Update your data line. Many credit card terminals operate over a telephone line. This can be a slow process with transaction processing times ranging from seconds to minutes. Consider updating your system to operate over a high speed internet line, on a PC, or via a wireless system.

    If you decide to run your credit card processing via an internet line, you may need an additional service provider called a "Gateway." A gateway is the software provider that provides the internet security between your store and your merchant account or bank.

    Some merchant account providers offer gateway services, while others don't. And some charge extra fees for the gateway service but often times reduce the percentage that they charge per transaction. Compare all fees, and percentages to determine the most cost effective solution for you.

  3. Integrate the approval process into your POS. Many Point of Sale systems offer integrated credit card processing. This is the best option if you're looking to save valuable time for your customers and yourself. Many point of sale software products provide internet connection capabilities, which means faster reporting times. They also support a variety of hardware or terminal options which means that you can choose the fastest and most cost effective option for your needs. AND, they incorporate the information directly into your reports.

    One thing to pay attention to is that not all merchant providers or gateways will be supported by your Point of Sale Software. Check with your Point of Sale representative to find out what companies are available to you.

Because finding a credit card processing company can be a maze of terminology, fees, and contracts, I want to leave you with a few tips to guide you on your search:

Several things to look for when evaluating a credit card processing company or merchant provider:
  • If you have a problem with your processing equipment or questions about your statement, accurate and fast service is important. Customer support should also be available 24-hours, 7-days a week. Your sales agent should also be knowledgeable and accessible; you should be able to call on them when needed.

  • Read the cancellation policy, before you sign anything. If the policy is in your contract, make sure you get a signed addendum waving it. Things happen, and you don't want to be financially penalized because you need to change providers.

  • Don't pinch the pennies too much because you get what you pay for. All processor have to pay the same interchange fees to Visa/MasterCard. This means the profit margins between competitors is relatively close. If it sounds too good…get it in writing and make sure it won't change 60 days later.

  • Do compare transaction rates and percentages. While you shouldn't immediately sign with the provider that has the lowest rate per transaction, the rate should be a consideration. If you do $200,000 a year in credit card transactions and you can lower your rate by just a half a percent, you'll have another thousand dollars in your pocket.

  • Do compare transaction speeds, the amount of time it takes to swipe and receive approval. Some of this depends on your internet connection speed but ultimately you want to the approval to be very quick (in just a couple seconds). So check with the vendor and talk with other references. Ask them how long it takes to cards to get approved on average.

  • Make sure your vendors are compatible with your POS software before you sign anything. Your POS software and your merchant account and gateway need to be compatible. Be sure to check into this before making a final decision.

If you've ever used credit cards in your business or if you're looking for a solution, check out this forum thread and share your experiences: h

To Your Success!

Bob Twain

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