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Nov 11 2014

Flat Rates vs. Interchange Plus

Too Many Fees!

Flat rates of 2.50%-2.90% are all the rave these days. No hassles to set up, no fees to deal with, it’s a no brainer, right? Especially since merchant service providers have a list of fees longer than the menu at Starbucks. Nobody wants to pay all those fees, and since the Durbin Amendment, they just keep added more and more. Well, truth is, even though you’re set up with just a flat rate, you’re already paying them. How do you think PayPal, Google, Square, and all the other came up with their rates? They have to cover those fees too, so they used the law of averages as to what cards you’ll take, to set their rates.

What You Didn’t Realize.

Let’s say you’re a retailer, with a small to mid-sized average sale. Chances are the majority of the cards you take are debit cards. Also, most likely the majority of the cards you take are “regulated debit” cards, due the the Durbin Amendment I mentioned above. If you’re in a large metro area, like Houston, almost all are regulated. What does that mean? It means the wholesale rate of those cards are .05% $ 0.22. How does 2.75% look now? With the proper pricing method, you could be accepting those cards at under 1/2 of 1%, depending on what a provider offers you. Debit cards are always the lowest card rate out there, and the above mentioned aggregators count on that being most of what you take.

While They Play Elimination.

Over the last few years, very few card rates have gone up on the wholesale, yet PayPal went to 2.90% during that time. I can only guess at why the increase, but I have my suspicions it was due to American Express not giving them a break on the cost, as well as all the new card fees. American Express has now come down, but PayPal hasn’t. Square is still trying to find their way through the industry, and will eventually have to raise, after they make a name for themselves. Amazon has enough diversity to absorb most of this with other sources of income, but that’s what they all use to keep their rates as low as they can. They all have a long fight ahead, to see which comes out on top. I’m guessing it won’t be any of them.

A Short View to Prosperity

OK, so how do you get away from the aggregators, and to a merchant service provider, and get a better deal? First off, there’s only one pricing method to consider. It goes by Interchange Plus, Wholesale Plus, Pass-thru, or True Pricing. I usually tell people to Google Interchange Plus, as that’s the most common name. What you’ll see when you do, is it’s a flat rate tied directly to the wholesale rate of every card. So instead of getting one flat rate to cover over 200 card rates, you get a flat rate added to each cards wholesale rate. Instead of paying a variance in markup like above with a flat rate for all, you get a flat rate for each. This can bring your debit cards down under 1/2 of 1% like I mentioned, and most of your credit rates will be around 1.80%-2.4%, depending on your business type, and the average size of your ticket. If you’re taking mostly debit cards at under 1/2 of 1%, then the over all cost to you, due to the credit cards you take, is pulled way down by the debit cards. Bringing your overall average to well under the 2.50%-2.90%. In some cases, again, depending on the size of your average ticket, to under 2% over all cost.

As You Grow your Business, The Only Way Is Down

How to compare merchant service providers statement to the cost of one of the aggregators above. There’s really only one rate you need to know when it comes to accepting credit cards, your “Effective rate”. This is the rate you actually pay, after everything’s included. Let’s use Square for an example. Last I looked it was 2.75% swiped, but 3.5% & $.15 keyed in. To find out exactly what effective rate you paid, you’d take your total cost that Square charged you any given month, and divide that by the total volume in sales you ran. This is your effective rate, your total cost for accepting cards. It works the same way with a merchant service provider’s statement. So after the long list of fees are added together, and divided by the total sales, you can be a lot lower on your effective rate with a merchant service provider, than you can with one of the aggregators above. So in short, your effective rate is really the only rate that matters, with any type of setup. The more debit cards you take, the lower your effective rate will be.

So even though the flat rates sound good, simple, and less headache, they’re actually costing your business more overall. You could probably use that money elsewhere I’m guessing.

May 21 2012

The 5 Best Credit Cards for Business Owners

As a small business owner, you know how important it is to have access to funds when you need them. When you allow your customers to pay on account, you often have to survive without the capital you’ve already earned for as long as sixty days. Since lenders have some of the strictest terms for both new and seasoned small businesses, finding and qualifying for business loans can be extremely difficult.

That difficulty is why small business credit cards have become the most practical alternative to business loans, invoice factoring and other financing options. To help you out, we’ve researched and compiled which credit cards offer the best bonuses and advantages for business owners like you: (read more…)

May 16 2012

Mobile Credit Card Processing is More Affordable than Ever

Here’s a recap of what Jeff had to say about processing transactions without being tied down to a wired terminal:

It wasn’t that long ago when a telephone line and electrical outlet were the two keys to keeping credit card processing fees down. If you were in a setting that didn’t provide access to these necessities, you ended up needing a special wireless terminal. While they were dependable and offered convenient features like printing receipts, many business owners were still turned off by the heftier price tag.

The good news is instead of paying six to eight hundred dollars for one of these terminals, as well as $20 or more a month for the required cellular service, it’s now possible to process credit card transactions with your existing cellphone. This is done through an app, linked to a virtual terminal that’s DSS – PCI compliant. By taking advantage of this feature from eProcessing Network, you can enjoy wireless processing without making a big investment in special hardware.

What’s really cool about this option is it gives you a lot of special features like:

  • The ability to accept a card anywhere, and have the funds in your bank account the next day
  • Allowing customers to use your phone’s screen to sign for their transactions
  • Having customer information, and card on file for marketing and convenience
  • Spreadsheet downloads for tracking sale, or merging with your accounting program.
  • Recurring billing, for maintenance plans, memberships, etc.

Best of all, you get to enjoy this setup for a cost that generally falls below $100.

If going wireless sounds good to you, get in touch with us today so we can help you get up and running in no time!

May 14 2012

How to Ensure Customers Trust Your Website

A solution like a virtual terminal from Authorize.net makes it easy to accept and process online payments. However, there’s still one hurdle you have to overcome. Before visitors to your website pull out their credit card and make a purchase, they have to be certain that their personal and financial information is going to be 100% safe.

The key to preventing visitors from ditching your website before completing a purchase is to ensure they trust you. While this may sound like a tall order to fulfill, the good news is there are actually quite a few ways you can convey the fact that you run a trustworthy business:

Prominently Display a Phone Number

As a technologically adept business owner, you probably stopped drawing a distinction between “online businesses” and “real businesses” a long time ago. However, for a large percent of the population, this is still a significant concern. Luckily, there’s an easy way to show visitors who fall into this category that you’re a real business. All you need to do is prominently display a phone number on each page of your site. Even if visitors don’t actually pick up the phone and call you, knowing they can will make them feel good about your site.

Add Personality to Your About Page

It’s human nature to desire connections with other people. You can leverage this desire by using your About page to create human appeal instead of the impression of a faceless business. Increasing the effectiveness of this page can be as simple as adding a few personalized sentences about yourself or your employees. And if you’re not convinced that anyone actually looks at your About page, checking out your analytics data is quite likely to surprise you!

Include a Recognizable Badge

Multiple studies have confirmed that people feel more comfortable making purchases from sites that include a badge they recognize. Options that fall into this category include the BBB, McAfee Secure and TRUSTe badges. The one caveat to this addition is the studies found that more wasn’t necessarily better, so it’s best to pick the most relevant badge for your specific business.

Use Real Pictures and Testimonials

Given the fact that even smartphones now include quality digital cameras, there’s no reason to plaster cheesy stock photos on your website. Instead, as with your About page, real pictures give your business a face. And while testimonials are very powerful, don’t worry about polishing them to perfection. When news leaked that Zappos used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service to proofread and correct their customer reviews, the overwhelming response was that this extra step actually decreased the trust levels of potential customers.

By taking advantage of these simple but very effective tips, you can give your website exactly what it needs to close more sales!

May 7 2012

5 Advantages of Recurring Billing

Although it may come as a surprise to others, business owners like you understand that one of the hardest parts of running a company can be getting paid. Even when you’re providing a quality product or service at a reasonable price, there are still a wide range of obstacles that can make it difficult to receive what you’re owed in a timely manner.

(read more…)

May 1 2012

What Merchants Need to Know About Processing Check and Debit Cards

Wondering what options you have for processing debit and check cards? Jeff has the answers:

There are two ways for your business to process transactions from customers who want to pay with a debit or check card. The method you choose can either be based on a PIN or a signature:

PIN

When a customer is ready to make a purchase, they simply enter their personal identification number on a keypad after using their debit card.

Signature

Customers make their purchase by swiping their card and then signing the receipt that’s printed out.

Which One’s Best?

If this was 2002, we would advise you to process all of these transactions via the PIN method. The reason is during that time, it was significantly cheaper than the second option. However, because the last decade has seen changes made to the general pricing structure of these transactions, that’s no longer the case.

About five years ago, the cost to merchants to process signature based transactions dropped. And for the last five years, the cost of processing transactions with a PIN has actually risen. The end result is that for most businesses, using signatures to process these transactions will result in the largest savings.

The one caveat to this scenario is if you’re processing transactions that are over $50, you may save a bit of money by choosing the PIN method. However, that’s going to change in October of this year. The reason is there’s new legislation that will once again impact the pricing structure of how check and debit card transactions are processed.

Since that’s just six months away, if you’re currently deciding how your business is going to handle payments, chances are it’s going to make the most sense to go with signatures.

If you have questions about how October’s changes will impact your specific business, Jeff will be happy to answer them for you.

Apr 23 2012

Answers to Your Questions About Authorize.net Fees and More

If you’re looking for a credit card processor, Authorize.net may be one of the options that you’re considering. With their virtual terminal, all you need to process credit cards is a computer and an Internet connection. What’s great about this approach to processing is it gives you more flexibility than options that tie you to a specific terminal machine.

What Features Does the Virtual Terminal Offer? (read more…)

Apr 18 2012

Your Guide to Researching Credit Card Processing Companies

Choosing a credit card processing company is an important decision. While the right company can help your business grow, the wrong one can create one headache after another. Since you don’t want to base this decision solely on what a company has on their own site, Jeff has some great advice about how to do your research:

Although it may seem too simple to be effective, Googling the name of the processing company you’re considering is actually a very useful tactic. The reason this research strategy works so well is because Google gives a nice mix of information in a single location. From reviews on blogs to customer discussions in forums, you can read real experiences from actual customers. Some of the sites where you can expect to find especially useful information include RipoffReport.com, ComplaintsBoard.com and Scam.com. While some of these sites may appear as a result of just one or two disgruntled customers, if you discover that there are a significant number of negative reviews, it should raise a red flag about that processor.

The reason you owe it to yourself and your business to take some time to research via Google is because the credit card processing industry is filled with a lot of selling practices that are fairly deceptive. Whether it’s sales reps promising more than their company can actually deliver or a company website that doesn’t paint a full picture, reading others’ experiences will help you avoid these costly pitfalls.

Keep in mind that if you’re already working with a company, it’s still worth your time to Google them. Not only can this help you uncover information that may lead to you deciding to make a switch, but you may also find out about a great feature or offer that you would have otherwise missed.

Another quick addition to the research process is to go to a company’s website and see if they have a BBB logo. If they do, actually click the logo so you can go to their BBB information page. This will give you more information about the company, as well as the ability to read any complaints that have been filed.

One other tip is when you type a credit card processor’s name into Google, see what other searches are automatically suggested. If you notice a specific issue, just click the phrase to easily see what comes up about it.

Mar 27 2012

3 Things You Need to Know About Accepting Mobile Payments

In the past, credit card payments could only be accepted with the help of a bulky machine. As a result, merchants were tied down to the location where they had their machine installed. Fortunately, as technology has progressed, it has made it easier to accept credit card payments

. (read more…)

Mar 16 2012

Learn How Check 21 Can Save You Time and Money

Do these problems sound all too familiar?

  • Seeing checks piled up on your desk
  • Trying to sort, organize and total them
  • Taking them to the bank and waiting in line to make a deposit

If so, learn how Check 21 can make things much easier for you:

Here’s a quick summary of what Jeff explains in the video:

This service makes it possible for you to remotely deposit checks directly from your desktop or laptop computer. You can make deposits into both your personal and business accounts. This extremely convenient option is made possible by a check scanner. This specialized device makes it easy to quickly scan both the front and back of any check that you want to deposit.

Another advantage of Check 21 is it allows you to have access to your checks the very next business day. Given the fact that the industry standard is a waiting period of 2 to 3 days, business owners who switch to Veritrans are thrilled to discover this significant improvement.

How Much Does Check 21 Cost?

Once you pay for the hardware that is used to make remote check processing possible, the only other cost will be a small transaction fee. However, the reason that these costs do not deter most businesses from taking advantage of this service is because they are a fraction of the cost of manually depositing checks. When you calculate how much of your valuable time or an employee’s time it takes to organize the checks, fill out deposit forms, drive to the bank and wait in line for a teller, you will find that your initial investment in Check 21 can actually pay for itself in a relatively short amount of time.

Is Check 21 a Good Fit for Your Business?

While we will be happy to have a one-on-one consultation with you to see if Check 21 is the right fit for your business, Jeff mentioned a few examples of businesses that are a perfect fit for this service. They include:

  • Apartment complexes
  • Management offices
  • Plumbing supplies
  • Wholesale businesses

If your business receives a significant number of checks through a drop box or by mail, it’s definitely worth crunching the numbers to see how much money Check 21 can help you save!

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