Using Your Laptop to Process Credit Cards vs. Using a Smartphone
Smartphones have exploded onto the scene in the past few years. One of their many functions is credit card processing. So, it’s a slam dunk – all credit card payments should be processed via smartphones, as they’ve virtually taken over the electronic world in many other aspects already, right? Not so fast!
Laptop computers are still a viable option in the credit card processing world. Let’s compare using a laptop to process credit cards with a USB Credit Card Swiper vs. using a smartphone to do so.
Whether you use a USB Swiper and a laptop or a smartphone and a card reader to process credit card transactions, you’ll have the mobility that you are looking for. Both can access the Internet from just about anywhere, allowing you to process credit card transactions on the go.
In terms of mobility, call it a toss-up between using your laptop to process credit cards with a USB Credit Card Swiper and a Smartphone.
A USB Swiper can be attached to a laptop computer and process credit card payments accordingly. Internet service varies greatly in price from carrier to carrier and area to area. As an example, I ran a comparison of Internet prices in San Francisco and received a price range of $24.95 to $116.95.
With a smartphone, you’ll need a data plan to process credit card transactions. The average American smartphone user uses 435MB of data per month. So, you’ll probably need at least this much capacity per month and possibly more, which will cost anywhere from $20 to $70 per month.
Note that T-Mobile is the only major carrier to offer a plan with enough data for the average smartphone user at $20. All others charge at least $30 for a 2MB plan, which is typically the lowest available amount of data that is offered that will cover the average American’s usage.
So, in terms of price, it is largely up to which carrier you choose. Internet service comes with a wider range of prices, but offers more options in terms of price and service than you’ll find with most data plans. Thus, if you’d rather just go with 1 or the other, a laptop will fulfill your credit card processing needs while offering more options than a smartphone – all of which may come at a similar or even lower price than a smartphone data plan. This makes a USB Swiper a strong option to consider for your credit card processing needs.
Have you ever experienced a lost connection while on the Internet? It can be frustrating, especially if you are in the process of accepting a credit card payment.
With a USB Credit Card Swiper and the USBSwiper.com software along with their low rate merchant accounts, your transactions can be stored to be completed at a later time. So, if there is a bad storm and your Internet connection fails, you won’t have to lose any information that you’ve already entered.
Some smartphones do not offer the same capability. So, your smartphone may not save any credit card information if you lose your Internet or phone connection, leading to a wasted effort.
Which is Better For You?
We’ve explored some of the comparisons between using a USB Credit Card Swiper and a smartphone for credit card processing. While smartphones obviously are smaller than laptops, you may have been surprised to learn how a laptop and a USB Credit Card Swiper can compare well to a smartphone credit card reader. The decision is ultimately up to you, but be sure to consider both options carefully before you decide which is best for your credit card processing needs.
For more information on how a USB Swiper program can work for you, click here. For more information on one of the lowest rate smartphone programs, click here.
Online Credit Card Payment Processing
Online credit card payment processing is essential for any business which is interested in having an online presence. Obviously, having a way to collect payments on a business website is probably the most important tool in any online business model. Finding a merchant credit card processor and online system is one of the first decisions that should be made once you begin setting up your website. In order to make a well informed decision, each web owner should have a clear idea of the process, the fess and the various online tools available for their credit card processing system.
Understanding what happens when a customer comes to your website’s order page with their credit card in hand will help you have a better understanding of this process from all aspects. First, the customer will enter in their credit card information. Now the gateway system will actually take this card data and route it to the proper processing site (along with going through some fraud prevention steps).
The next step in the payment processing sequence is that the issuing credit card bank receives the card holder transaction data and correlates the information with the merchant bank processor. At this point, the bank will either approve or decline the transaction and communicate this decision. Assuming a positive acceptance decision, the merchant (your business) provides the goods or services (even if this is handled automatically). Finally, the issuing bank sends the funds through the network to your bank account. (typically done within 24 to 48 hours.
The fees for credit card payment processing services can vary quite a bit, depending upon which company you wish to use as well as which specific features you want to include in your account. Almost all of these companies will use a base percentage for every transaction you process, plus a set amount per transaction. For example, you may be charged a rate of 1.59% plus $0.19 cents per transaction. This means that on a $100 transaction, you would pay a fee of $1.59, plus $0.19, or $1.78 total.
There also may be a number of additional fees involved. Some companies may (or may not) charge set up fees. These can be anywhere from free to several hundred dollars. Sometimes, there will also be additional monthly fees which may include the gateway or other equipment as well as monthly minimums. Sometimes, you will see something called a batch fee, which is charged each time you attempt to run a report of all your charges (usually this is limited to one per day).
Having online tools can help to instill confidence in you business and your credit card payment processing company. A solid online gateway is a needed addition to help facilitate the secure transmission of card and transaction data across websites. You should also consider having a verified merchant seal which implies that you are highly trustworthy.
Of course, your online credit card payment processing service should also use highly regarded fraud protection tools and methods. Having these show that you understand the process and are a cut above ordinary websites.
Point of Sale Solutions
Every retail business should have point of sale solutions for their business. This usually refers to the equipment (both hardware and software) associated with check out counters and registers. Using an integrated system will make your business much more efficient. Hopefully, your business is already equipped with a merchant account and the ability to accept credit cards. Using a POS system can also integrate very well with the merchant account and allow for credit card transactions at the check out stand.
Types of Point of Sale Solutions
The most basic types of point of sale solutions include a simple adding machine and a cash box. Of course, most modern systems are computerized. A typical system will include a display screen for the clerk, possibly a customer display, cash drawer, credit card swiper, printer, bar code scanner and a computer loaded with the POS software.
Systems may also be customized for certain businesses or types of industries. For example, a restaurant may have point of sale solutions which include printing a ticket of the order near the food preparation area so that the kitchen can immediately start preparing the order.
Many of today’s modern point of sale solutions may include some excellent features and functions. These include:
- Real time sale and inventory management
- Customer tracking and management tools
- Advanced reporting
- Built in credit and debit card processing capability
- Ability to process orders from the web
- Can support custom pricing including rentals, layaways, weights, etc…
- Detailed inventory and sales reports
- Integrated customer loyalty and gift card plans
- Employee time clock and labor schedule
- Web based back office and reporting functionality
Of course, each system will have their own set of features and functions. Some point of sale solutions may also integrate with popular accounting software programs to help make all types of functions easier. In some cases, you may even be able to configure a system exactly the way you wish.
Businesses Using Point of Sale Solutions
A number of businesses are currently using point of sale solutions. These include restaurants, grocery stores, boutiques, hardware stores, pizza/sub and other food service establishments.
If you have a retail location, then your business can benefit from having an integrated point of sale solution. If you are not currently accepting credit cards, this is an excellent opportunity to start. Many of these systems will at least be able to direct you to a good merchant processor. These types of systems can help you not only increase sales, but make it more convenient for yourself and your customers. After all, what customer wants to wait in line because the store has not perfected a system of checkout and collecting payment? This system will also help improve your ability to manage and control inventory, labor and a number of other functions.
Merchant Account Basics
A merchant account is simply a special kind of bank account which allows businesses to accept payments via credit and debit cards. There is normally (but not always) either a contract or an agreement of some type between the business and the acquiring bank. Beyond this, there is quite a lot of variety and differences amongst merchant accounts. These differences mostly relate to how your business wishes to accept credit cards. There are different types of merchants, fees and even equipment associated with different types of accounts.
Retail Merchant Accounts
This type of merchant account is geared towards a business with a specific, offline store front. In this case, you will need an actual credit card terminal machine. There are a number of these to choose from, each with different costs and expenses. Many times, the company providing these will only lease them to an individual business but there are also purchase and buy out options. You may also be able to add-on check processing services. There are also systems that have been created that turn your computer or laptop into a credit card terminal.
Mobile Merchant Accounts
If your business is constantly on the move, than having a mobile merchant account may be your best option. In this scenario, maybe you do business from a kiosk or at trade shows, conventions or other meetings. Perhaps you have a number of outside sales people or service providers whom you would like to be able to have process credit card payments directly. If so, this is your option.
This account will give you the ability to link wireless credit card merchant account machines or computer terminals such as laptops to process virtually anywhere. In some cases, you may even be able to have an application added on to your mobile smart phone!
Internet Merchant Accounts
To process payments online, it is essential to have a reliable merchant account. However, in this case you will need some additional, simple software. The most important of these is to use an internet gateway service. This is simply software which allows the secure processing and data encryption (and transfer) of the online credit transactions. In plain language, the gateway is what connects everything together and allows the banks to talk with each other, and then upon approval of the transaction, transferring the funds from your customer’s credit card account to your account.
Sometimes, you may need to pay special attention to whether your merchant account will integrate well with your other software or website. A good example of this would be if you are running a Yahoo online store. In this case, not all merchant accounts will be able to work properly. It is important to understand exactly what your specific requirements are before choosing.
Each type of merchant account will have specific rules and requirements. This also includes a different fee structure and even a different set of needed equipment or software. Before jumping on board, take your time to learn and research about which option may be best for your business.
Low Rate Credit Card Processing
There are many options to choose from today when it comes to low rate credit card processing. Of course, it is important to determine exactly which features and options are the most important to your business. This includes looking into the actual application process, the required fees (both monthly and transactional), what options are actually included with your service, types of fraud protection and support provided.
This is usually where most businesses start when looking for credit card processing. You should evaluate whether or not the processor will accept digital applications or if you will have to hand write and sign them. This can certainly reduce the amount of hassle and paperwork involved in the process. Also take a look at the average approval rating (hopefully above 95%) and the account set up time. Some processors move very fast, setting up accounts the same day.
Most low rate credit card processing companies have a number of different fees. There are monthly fees like those for a gateway (making online ordering possible) and a statement fee. There may also be a monthly minimums. If the total fees for the total transactions that are owed for any month do not exceed some threshold (typically $15 to $25), you will be required to pay the difference to come up to the minimum.
Then, of course, there are also transaction based fees to consider. Each business should carefully consider the average discount rate, plus the additional per transaction fee. These are usually expressed as a certain percentage of the amount charged, plus a flat $0.15 to $0.30 (for example). Sometimes, there will be different rates and fees charged depending upon whether the credit card is present and physically swiped or entered in manually. There are a plethora of fees that companies charge and many are nothing more than mere profit centers so be careful when shopping just based on rates alone as you could find yourself paying much more in additional fees. Sometimes it ends up less expensive to pay higher transaction fees in order to eliminate many of these extra fees that many merchant processors tack on.
There are a number of low rate credit card processing features to consider as well. Does the processor offer a virtual terminal for their merchant account? This is a screen which allows you to manually and securely enter a customer’s personal information for such credit card transactions as phone orders. For these types of transactions, there will also be a payment gateway which allows the transaction to be verified and authenticated. Some merchant processing companies charge extra for these gateways and some do not. Again, be careful and knowledgeable about these when comparing different companies.
Also, consider how fast the transaction will clear, and know exactly when the money for each transaction will be deposited into your bank account.
A number of additional features may be helpful as well. These include having a point of sale credit card swiper and maybe even the ability to process checks electronically. Do they offer shopping cart availability for an e-commerce oriented business?
There are several different types of fraud protection services available. Know whether your credit card processing company is using address verification, SSL (Secure Socket Layer), CVV2 protection and fraud prevention. Also make sure you understand if they are using real time processing.
Finally, consider when and how support is available. Can they be reached 24/7? Do they offer email tech support as well as live chat?