If youre a small business or just starting out, you may not feel ready for a merchant account. Obtaining a merchant account is not usually considered difficult, however, for a newly established business it isnt always feasible to run out and a merchant account immediately. Starting a business is often costly and risky to begin with- you do not need to go out and spend money on optional features (like a merchant account) until you know whether or not your business is going to succeed, and whether or not youll have the need to accept credit cards from customers.
Did you know there are other options and alternative methods for allowing your customers to pay you with credit cards? Companies called third party credit card processors do not require their customers to create merchant accounts, and yet they can be used to allow small or new businesses the ability to accept credit card payments from customers.
Why Worry about Accepting Credit Cards at All?
Its important that you are able to accept credit card payments from customers, however, even if you arent feeling up to getting a traditional merchant account right now. Its been proven that businesses that except credit cards experience higher sales than those that do not accept credit cards. In fact, some companies have reported an increase of 50 to 400% in sales once they began accepting credit cards as a payment method. It also helps to establish a professional image- and for some potential consumers, it generates a feeling of trust. (If the business is established enough to accept credit cards, theyre a quality business that I should shop with!)
Home based businesses and online businesses can take advantage of a third party credit card processor instead of going directly with a merchant account if they wanted to. It allows a business to determine how many customers will make purchases with credit cards, as well as determine if more or higher sales come as a result of accepting credit cards as payments.
A third party credit card processor offers real-time processing online, online virtual terminals for entering manual transactions, no maximum limits for processing amounts in most cases, and the ability to set up recurring billing.
One of the advantages of using a third party credit card processor over establishing a merchant account is that instead of paying a transaction fee or a monthly fee, you pay a percentage of the sales (from 2% to 15%), and only when you actually make sales. Some merchant account providers require that you pay a monthly fee- even if you arent making any credit card sales. By starting out with a third party credit card processor, you can judge how many customers might use the option to pay with credit cards before you go through the process of applying for a merchant account and getting everything set up.
How do third party payment processors work?
Once you have an account with a third party payment processor, youll create links to your products that allow customers to order and pay with credit. The links send the customer to the third-party processing companys server, and they handle the orders for you. Payments are processed by the company, and the sales are credited to your own business- less the third party processors commission. You receive your money from the third party processing company at established payment intervals. Typically, money owed to you from the third party credit card processing company is deposited automatically into a checking or savings account that you have set up for your business and linked to your account with the third party processor.