Merchant Account Technology
Frequently Asked Questions
Q.: Does Your Business Need a Wireless Credit Card Terminal?
A.: Is your business suffering because you’re unable to accept credit cards while on the road? Or worse, are you losing sales to declined credit cards processed off-location, without the customer or card present? If so, your business may need a wireless credit card terminal.
For mobile businesses (i.e. Transportation and Towing services, Contractors, Delivery services, Direct Sales, Trade Show and Flea Market merchants, etc.), a wireless credit card terminal enhances business mobility and efficiency, simplifies the billing and payment process, and increases sales and revenue. Wireless terminals allow mobile merchants to:
Accept payments from anyone, anywhere, anytime:
•Wireless terminals offer mobile businesses a solution for accepting credit card payments in real time and on-location.
•With connections to multiple cell phone networks, wireless coverage is provided throughout the country.
•To enable continued operation in low-coverage areas, wireless terminals have a “Store and Forward” security feature that provides an offline capture of transactions.
Enjoy efficiency and convenience:
•Wireless terminals deliver a rapid check-out process, with verified transactions received in 2-3 seconds.
•Wireless terminals are compact, and easy to deploy and use.
Reduce the risk of financial losses:
•By accepting payments real-time, you can avoid losing sales from declined credit cards processed off-site.
•By accepting credit cards on-site, you can reduce the risk of carrying large sums of cash or receiving bad checks.
Operate with low processing costs:
•Wireless processing is an affordable solution for mobile merchants; since swiping a credit card with the customer present involves less risk, processing costs are lower compared to manually key-entering card information at a later time.
Wireless credit card terminals offer mobile merchants a simple and dependable payment solution from a handy device. So take advantage of the many benefits and capabilities supplied by a wireless credit card terminal, and start processing mobile credit card transactions today!
Q.: How Does the Credit Card Authorization Process Work?
A.: Ever wonder how credit card authorization really works? Where does the credit card information go once you enter it into a credit card terminal or POS?
When a credit card is swiped and a credit card authorization process is initiated, the information is sent directly to a credit card processor. From there, the information is transmitted to the card-issuing bank through a bankcard association, where the transaction is either approved or declined. Finally, the bankcard association transmits the approval or decline back to the terminal or POS device.
During the credit card authorization process, a card may decline if it is expired or has insufficient funds. The transaction may also be declined if the card has been reported missing or if there has been suspicious activity on it. To further protect your business, banks now require credit card authorization for all paper-based transactions.
In order to process credit cards and initiate a credit card authorization, a business must sign apply for, and receive, a merchant account. Once a merchant account is set up, credit card authorization may take place through the use of an equipment terminal/POS.
Q.: Credit Card Software or Terminal?
A.: Deciding on whether you want to use a credit card terminal or some form of payment processing software to handle card transactions should is usually fairly straightforward. The answer generally depends on the physical environment in which you will be accepting the charges.
Most simply put, the decision usually boils down to whether or not you will have easy access to a computer when you need to charge cards and what kind of transactions systems you already have in place.
If a computer is readily available payment processing software often provides numerous benefits over traditional credit card terminals. Most users love the reporting features available to them and find it helpful to go back and look up a previous transaction. Payment processing software is also usually less expensive and more user friendly than most new credit card terminals.
There are logical reasons why many businesses may be better off with a terminal however. To start with, many businesses already have invested in some sort of cash register or POS system. While some of these can be integrated with payment processing software, many can not. In these cases, it is usually simpler to use a credit card machine rather than cluttering your valuable counter space.
Another circumstance when a terminal may be preferable is when your computer may not always be on or may be in an inconvenient location. If you need to take payments in real-time and can’t be inconvenienced with accessing your PC, then you may be better off with a credit card terminal.
Q.: How Do I Select an Online Payment Gateway?
A.: While many online payment gateway options are feature rich you still want to spend some time comparing them. This article explains how to go about determining the best online payment gateway option for your business.
Some may prove better in different environments and the reasons can sometimes be quite technical. Take the time to read up on the specs and compatibilities of the different online payment gateway packages. If there is any confusion, or you aren’t certain what might be the best product for you, be sure to call and ask your salesperson questions. Any experienced sales person should be able to fit you with the correct product and describe the pros and cons.
If you already have an ecommerce website and a shopping cart, simply mention this to your sales person when you call. Most off-the-shelf shopping cart packages are compatible with all major online payment gateway products. If your company has built its own shopping cart and database systems you may want to consider having your technical person review the documentation for the gateway you choose.
Argus Merchant Services carries all of the major online payment gateways on the market today. You can browse through all of them in our section for payment gateways.
Q.: How Do I Select The Correct Selecting Credit Card Processing Software?
A.: More and more merchants are taking advantage of the powerful credit card processing software products available to them. These are systems for virtually any type of processing environment from retail stores to websites. All have their advantages, but selecting the right credit card processing software for your business is very important. Before making a decision merchants should ask themselves a few questions:
Will you be accepting credit cards over the Internet?
•If so, merchants should lean towards using an online payment gateway in conjunction with their shopping cart. Payment gateways are a type of credit card processing software which is hosted by a third party on a server outside of your business. Your shopping cart, or other payment software, communicates with the payment gateway via the internet and it manages the actual transactions. Merchant Industry sells several payment gateways including: Authorize.net, VeriSign, and LinkPoint. We also offer our own product, MerchantWare Payment Gateway, which has all the features, flexibility and compatibility standard to these products.
How many credit card transactions will you need to handle at any one time?
•For most merchants the answer is usually only one, but some merchants who have more than one user or customer running transactions at the same time will need a more robust credit card processing software solution. If there are multiple internal users and they are on a network you can use PC Charge Pro. If the users are not on a network, then a merchant can use a virtual terminal such as the one offered by Authorize.Net. This virtual terminal will allow users to log in using their web browsers and charge cards from anywhere they have Internet access. Transaction information is centrally located and can be accessed from anywhere.
Will you be charging the same customer's cards on a regular basis?
•Merchants whose customers are frequently reordering or those who bill their customers on a monthly basis may wish to use credit card processing software that stores credit card information and can charge customers at specified intervals. PC Charge Pro has this feature built in and makes it easy to manage charging customers.
If you have any further questions regarding credit card processing software, please feel free to contact our sales team for information and advice on selecting software by calling the number at the top of your screen.
Q.: How Do I Select The Correct Credit Card Equipment?
A.: With so many different types of credit card equipment on the market these days, choosing the correct type for your business can be a confusing task. In order to help guide you towards the correct choices, here are some questions you should ask yourself when shopping for credit card equipment.
Will customers be using their credit or debit cards at my physical business location or will I be collecting the card information through another means?
•If you will be swiping cards directly from your customers, your best option for credit card equipment is probably some sort of credit card terminal and printer combination. If you will not be swiping the cards manually, many merchants will want credit card equipment that is more suited to their specific needs. Software packages are available if there is a PC at the business location or a standard terminal and credit card printer may work just fine.
Is a contactless payment solution the right choice for my business?
•Merchants who have "quick service" retail operations, and whose average ticket is $25 or less, may benefit from Contactless Payment credit card equipment. The "tap and pay" technology has proven to be most valuable for convenience stores, fast food restaurants, pharmacies, movie theaters and other merchants who rely on faster transaction times and shorter wait times for customers. Merchants can also upgrade their existing credit card equipment to a contactless payment reader without disrupting their operations.
Is there a phone line or broadband internet access available at the business location?
•Most businesses have at least one phone line at their business location and, these days, most have some sort of “always on” internet connection. For these businesses, there are many choices for credit card equipment. Most credit card equipment can share a phone line with a fax, or even the main phone if calls are infrequent and some of the newer terminals can utilize broadband internet for even faster transactions. If no phone or intent is available, such as at a trade-show or for delivery companies, etc, merchants should consider either a battery powered credit card terminal or wireless credit card machines that work over the cell phone networks.
Will you be accepting PIN-based debit card transactions?
•For those merchants that think they will be accepting debit cards they should consider adding credit card equipment like a PIN Pad to give their customers additional payment options. As described in this article about debit card processing, accepting PIN based transactions may save you money and add value to your customer’s experience.
How many merchant accounts will you need for your business?
•For almost all businesses the answer is one. There are examples however where multiple merchant accounts are either desirable or a necessity. These merchants will want a piece of credit card equipment that can handle more than one merchant account. There are inexpensive terminals which handle two accounts and more robust units which can handle up to 99. A qualified merchant account sales person should be able to recommend the correct credit card equipment for your specific situation.
Which terminal brands should I consider?
•Since most of the major credit card equipment manufacturers are producing high quality and feature rich products these days, you really can’t go wrong whatever brand you choose. That said, some of the processors may work better with a particular brand of credit card equipment and some newer pieces of equipment are not certified at every processor immediately upon their release. Again, this is a situation where it is best to let your merchant account sales representative guide you as to the best options given your particular processor and needs.
Q.: What Are Contactless Payment Terminals?
A.: Contactless payment terminals have become the present and future of credit card transactions. Also known as "tap and pay," contactless payment provides benefits to retailers and consumers alike, particularly in the areas of speed and convenience.
Contactless payments are simply transactions that do not require physical connection between your customers' credit card and the terminal. Smart chip technology, otherwise known as RFID, is supported by a secure controller, internal memory, and a small built-in antenna that transmits information to a reader through radio frequency.
The primary advantages of a contactless payment reader over traditional swipe cards are speed and convenience. Consumers can just tap the contactless payment terminal, eliminating the need for a transfer of hands with a credit card and a receipt signature. In turn, check-out lines become shorter as transaction times become faster.
Contactless payments are best suited for quick-service retailers, such as convenience stores, fast-food restaurants, movie theaters, pharmacy / drug stores, and gas stations and for those whose average ticket is $25 or less.
Retailers with major POS terminal providers can easily upgrade their existing system with a plug-and-play contactless payment device.
Q.: What is the Retail (Card Present) merchant account type?
A.: A retail business is face-to-face with their customers and can swipe their customers' credit cards through a credit card terminal and process them in real time. Brink â€˜n Mortar retail stores are typical examples of a retail business but they are not the only ones. Merchants who have stands at flea markets and have access to a telephone line and electricity can also be retail if they use a credit card terminal at their stand.
A merchant with a wireless credit card terminal is also considered to be retail. Why? Even though they may be standing on a street corner while processing their transaction they can swipe their customers' credit cards through their credit card terminal and process the sale in real time. As a result they get all of the perks and benefits typically offered to a traditional retail store.
Q.: What is the Card Not Present merchant account type?
A.: Businesses that are not face-to-face with their customers at the time of sale are classified as Card Not Present (CNP) accounts. These businesses typically take payment in any of the following manners:
The one thing they all have in common is that the merchant is not face-to-face with the customer at the point of sale. These transactions are usually keyed into a credit card terminal or POS software.
Another for of CNP business is merchants who perform recurring billing. Although the very first transaction may occur in a retail environment (face-to-face with the merchant and swiping the credit card through a credit card terminal) every recurring transaction afterwards will not be swiped. Because these recurring transactions comprise the majority of the transaction for this merchant they would be considered a CNP merchant.
Q.: What is the Intermet merchant account type?
A.: An Internet business is very similar to a CNP business. The distinguishing characteristic between the two is how the customer's credit card information is acquired. An Internet merchant acquires their customers' credit card information through their website. The customer's information is physically captured and transmitted through the merchant's website.
A business is not considered to be an Internet business for the following reasons:
•A company has .com in their business name
•The website that advertises their products but does not take payment
•Customers place an order over the phone by reading the contents off of the website
•The merchant uses a payment gateway to process their transactions
Although some of the situations listed above are characteristics of an Internet business, unless payment is accepted through the merchant's website, the merchant is considered to be a CNP business.
Q.: What is the Mobile/Wireless merchant account type?
A.: A mobile business is very similar to a retail business. They are face-to-face with their customers at the time of sale. The main difference is that a mobile business does not have the means to process the transaction in real time. Typically this is the result of a telephone line or electricity being available at the point of sale.
To compensate for the lack of resources to process a transaction in real time, a mobile merchant typically uses a manual imprinter to capture an imprint of their customers' credit cards and obtain a signature. This allows them to manually process the transaction at a later point in time. It also offers the mobile merchant additional chargeback protection typically reserved for retail merchants.
Q.: What is the Seasonal Businesses merchant account type?
A.: A seasonal business is only open for a specified period each year. This period is consistent and does not change from year to year. For example, a Xmas decoration store will be open every year from October through December. They won't need their account from January through September. Seasonal businesses can have their accounts closed for the off-months each year during which they will incur no fees including their monthly service charge.
Typical seasonal businesses include:
•Some tradeshow merchants
Seasonal merchants cannot open and close their account at random times. The months they wish to be closed must be determined during the application period. They may vary slightly based on the needs of the merchant but this is on a case-by-case basis. Merchants who were not declared seasonal during the application process typically cannot close their account on a temporary basis.