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Merchant Credit Card Processing – Methods of Accepting Payments

Traditionally, for a business to process credit cards, there had to be a credit card terminal, or point of sale system, physically at the place of business that the customer had to swipe their card through. This method is perfectly acceptable to any business which is a traditional brick-and-mortar setup. However, for businesses which travel to their customers, like plumbers, cable technicians, home repair, mobile auto detailers, and so on, there becomes a problem. It is best to collect the money at the time the service is rendered. For mobile businesses, without a terminal, the customer’s credit card number would have to be written down and charged later which leaves the door open for many problems. Two other types of businesses that need the ability to process credit cards, but cannot physically swipe the customers card are online stores and phone order companies. The aim of this article is to make the reader aware of the various payment acceptance methods of merchant credit card processing.

Retail credit card processing is the standard method of accepting merchant credit card payments. With this method the business has a card terminal, or point of sale system with integrated card reader, physically at their place of business. When a sale is made, the customer swipes their card and the terminal connects to the payment processor via dial up modem or dedicated internet access. This is the most straight forward solution for any standard brick-and-mortar business in which customers come to the store. Examples of stores like this are: convenience stores, auto repair shops, clothing stores, etc.

Wireless credit card processing is a credit card terminal that has the ability to connect wirelessly to a payment processor. Usually these types of terminals connect via an AT&T or Verizon service plan that is included with the monthly price of the terminal. This type of merchant processing is ideal for businesses who travel to their customers. Rather than having to carry cash, worry about theft, invalid card numbers, or bad checks, the customers card can be ran on the spot. If the card is invalid, or has insufficient funds, the terminal reports that immediately. Wireless merchant accounts make doing business on the go much easier. ACH processing

Online merchant accounts are geared mostly toward online businesses. The types of accounts, in their simplest form, come with an online virtual terminal with their payment gateway. Two popular payment gateways that offer virtual terminals are Authorize.net and Linkpoint. The virtual terminal lets a business log in from any internet connection, via a web browser, and type in the customers information into the virtual terminal for processing. The virtual terminal replies immediately to whether the card was successfully processed or not. For online stores, and more advanced users, the payment gateways can be directly integrated via programming and API calls, to an online store. This type of merchant service also works well for mobile businesses because, with a laptop and wireless internet connection, the virtual terminal can be used from anywhere. However, using the virtual terminal, rates are usually higher than using a standard wireless credit card terminal.

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