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Card Present vs. Card Not Present Merchant Accounts


These days there are numerous ways that merchants are processing credit cards.  Between websites, retail stores, and mobile solutions, merchants are taking payments everywhere.

Merchant account providers have been lagging behind a little bit, and some are still making it difficult on merchants to get up-and-running with both card present and card not present transactions.

Let’s take a closer look at this.

Card Not Present

One of the most widely used features of payment gateways is the ability to process credit card transactions on a website.  In such cases, the card is not physically present at the point of sale (retail location), and as such, there is a higher risk factor involved for the merchant account provider.

For this reason, merchant account providers typically setup the account with a specific set of rules to flag transactions based on given criteria.  This criterion is different for card not present accounts that it is for card present accounts, which is why some providers choose to separate them completely.

Card Present

Any transaction that is physically swiped through a credit card terminal of some kind is considered a card present transaction.  These transactions carry a much lower risk factor than card not present transactions, and as such, you can typically receive lower processing rates and fewer road blocks with these types of accounts.

You can still process card not present transactions with a card present account.  For example, if a customer calls you on the phone and gives you their card details verbally, you can key this information into your terminal and process the card.  These types of transactions will be charged a higher fee, though, and if you start processing more transactions like this than you do physically swiped transactions your merchant account provider will probably step in and try to get you switched to a different type of account.

What if I Need Both?

These days, you probably have a website where you’re selling your products and services.  (If not, I would highly recommend that you let us help you with that.) You may also have a retail location, though, or you might go to trade shows, hold home sales, or any number of other places where you might need to accept credit cards in person.

In this type of scenario, many merchant account providers will require you to carry two separate merchant accounts: one for the card present transactions, and another for the card not present transactions.

Of course, this caries the additional cost of an additional merchant account and gateway package, and on top of that you have to manage and reconcile two separate merchant accounts.  This is not ideal and can drive your accountant crazy.

We at USBSwiper have worked closely with our merchant account partners to provide a single solution that works for both card present and card not present transactions.  If the card is swiped through your USBSwiper credit card terminal or on your mobile device you will get the card present rate.  If the card is keyed in to a terminal or on your website, you’ll get the card not present rate.  All transactions will be included in the same batch, though, and your account will only have to reconcile a single account against your bank statements.


The introduction of eCommerce, both web and mobile, is changing the way merchants are accepting payments, and it can be tough to find a single merchant account that will handle all of your needs.  Don’t double up on your merchant accounts and pay double the fees.  Instead, check out our options. We’ll probably save you money on your rates, too!

USBSwiper 3.71 Released!

What’s happening in 3.71?

USBSwiper 3.71 is a significant release. We have added our new merchant account provider, Group ISO, to our array of merchant account gateways that are compatible with USBSwiper.  We have also made some enhancements to the system based on feedback we’ve received from current customers.

Change Log

  • Group ISO Merchant Account Gateway Added
  • Authorize.Net Card Present Account Compatibility
  • User Interface Enhancements
  • Tip Based Receipts (Optional)
  • User Account Password Recovery
  • Added Ability for Merchants to Include a Custom Message at the Bottom of Receipts

Why is this important?

Group ISO has allowed us to offer very competitive rates for credit card processing.  Using our point of sale solution in combination with a Group ISO merchant account will allow you to process credit cards at an industry low rate on your desktop or laptop computer, on your mobile device (iOS, Android), and on your website.  You no longer need separate merchant accounts to handle all of these transactions from difference sources.

Also, until now our USBSwiper software only supported Authorize.Net accounts that were setup as Card Not Present, and was typically only used as an add-on solution for people using Authorize.Net on their website.  With the release of 3.71, we now support Authorize.Net Card Present accounts.

Other enhancements include the ability to print tip-based receipts (which is a common request from our restaurant owners), password recovery for the software, and plenty of basic user interface improvements.

How Do I Get USBSwiper?

First, you’ll need a compatible merchant account, and then you can purchase one of our card reader + software combo packages.  Our support staff will work with you personally to help you get everything installed and ready to go!

Is There a Simple Way to Swipe and Process Credit Cards Using an e-Commerce Gateway?

PayPal Here and USBSwiper Point of Sale Solution

So you’ve got your e-commerce store all set up and are using as your gateway or even as your merchant account.  If you are a merchant who also sells your products at a brick and mortar store or out in the field at fairs or conventions, in order to take credit cards you have to either log into your website and process them by manually typing in all the data or you will be like many other merchants who invest in a second merchant account.

The first way is tedious as you have to enter all the customer information, credit card number, billing address, etc and when you have a customer waiting on their purchase or have a long line of customers, this method might just cost you a sale or two especially if you mistype a number and the transaction rejects.

The second way adds more expense to your bottom line as you have to pay for a second merchant account and the extra fees that go along with it.

If you are like many customers you might be asking yourself, isn’t there something that I can use directly with my e-commerce gateway account that will also give me simple point of sale functionality without the extra expense?  Is there a credit card reader I can use that will just plug into my computer and allow me to swipe the credit card and get all that information entered with just a swipe?

The answer is YES! With the USBSwiper System you can turn your e-commerce solution into a traditional credit card processing system using just your computer (Windows or MAC), a small USB credit card reader with the USBSwiper Software interface and other optional, inexpensive peripherals such as thermal receipt printers and bar code scanners to give you the functionality of a full point of sale merchant account solution without the added expense of a second merchant account.

As long as you have internet connection you can process credit card transactions in real time. Also, if you lose internet, you can still create invoices and process them later when you’re re-connected. Being software based, the system will also allow you to export data for reporting and tracking as well as many other popular money saving features.


Or call at (224) 677-0283

What Type of Business Would The New Square “Simple Pricing Plan” Be Good For?

Once again Square is trying to shake up the credit card processing Industry.

First it was Square that came out with Flat Rate pricing for mobile credit card processing.  While the plan is simple and many businesses like the simplicity of knowing they have one rate to pay for the credit card processing, that doesn’t really save a business money… especially a business that does a lot of volume or “non-swiped” transactions for which Square will charge a whopping 3.50% plus 15 cents! (Such as phone orders).

Now Square has announced a new One Monthly Price plan that on the surface seems like a good deal.  And for some businesses in a narrow range it may well be.

But let’s examine which businesses this plan may really be good for and which businesses may lose more money with this plan.

Again, some businesses will just love the simplicity of knowing what their processing costs are every month but for many of them that choose this plan; their bottom line will be affected to the negative.

In addition, they are a bit vague as to what constitutes a yearly limit of $250,000 in processing.  For instance, if you look deeper into their site, transactions over $400 are not included in this pricing plan and are always charged at their higher regular rate of 2.75%.  Also their plan is touted that you have a yearly limit of $250,000 in transactions and that once you exceed this limit you will be charged at the regular rate as well.  Essentially, you could process $250,000 in a single month and you would only be charged $275.00 for that month, which is great!  All transactions after that, though, will be at the regular rate of 2.75% for the rest of the year.

Here is the excerpt directly from their site:

“Square monthly pricing allows you to pay one flat, monthly fee of $275 for all accepted cards swiped through the card reader under $400 and up to $250,000 annually. If you exceed $400 per swipe or $250,000 annualized, Square will charge each swiped transaction 2.75%.

All manually-entered transaction still cost 3.5% + 15¢ with monthly pricing.”

The key word there is “annualized” and in many of their FAQ’s they refer to this “annualized” number. But buried in one particular paragraph is this sentence…

“If you do exceed this annualized limit, Square will notify you of this via email. Once you’ve exceeded the monthly pricing limit, you’ll automatically be charged Square’s low fee of 2.75% per swiped transaction for the remainder of the month”

So what Square is really saying is that as soon as you process over $20,833.33 in any given month, have a transaction that is above $400, or key in a transaction manually, those transactions will be processed at the higher rate.

It also means that if you have a low volume month (or months) of let’s say $5,000.00, the meter resets at the beginning of the next month and you are still limited to only $20,833.33 in processing for that month.  You pay the $275 for the low month no matter what and that $15,000 in transactions for that month that would have been part of that $250,000 annualized limit is lost and you will never get to the 250K benefit limit.

Now I am not necessarily saying this is a bad deal, you just need to know who this plan will work for and for whom it will cost more money than it is worth.

Even if you go over the $20,833.00 per month in transactions, there is still going to be a break-even point above that where the $275 per month plan makes a lot of sense.  For instance, let’s do some simple math.  At $20,833 per month for only $275 you are essentially paying 1.32% in transaction fees which is really a great rate for that volume.  As your volume drops however, that rate starts to increase.  So if you only process $13,000 in transactions, that $275 equates to a rate of 2.11%.  Keep in mind you only get that rate for swiped transactions and for transactions under $400. If you have a high ticket item business or readily key in transactions manually, this plan is worthless.  Also if you do process, for example, $13,000 more often than not, there are better rate programs available on the market for mobile that will save you more money such as the Tiered rate program where swiped transactions are priced at 1.64%.  As a matter of fact, if you process $16,800 per month or less, that tiered program will save you more money over the Square one price plan.

The reason I brought up this other program is to create a baseline of rate costs to compare against as you go over the Square $20,833 monthly transaction limitation.   Based on our previous calculation of $20,833.00 for $275 which equated to a rate of 1.32%, you would have saved approximately $66.00 in transactions versus the MobileSwiper Tiered rate program.

$20,833.00 x 1.32% = $275.00

$20,833.00 x 1.64% = $341.66

$341.66 – $275.00 = 66.66

As you begin to process transactions above $20,883.00 for every $1000 in transactions you process, you start to lose $11.10.  (1.11% on each transaction –  2.75% – 1.64%).  Once you get to $26,833.00 in transactions you have used up your $66 in savings and begin to lose money on every transaction.

$20,833.00 x 1.32% = $275.00

$6,000.00 X 2.75% =  $165.00

$275.00 + $165.00 =  $440.00


$26,833.00 X 1.64% = $440.00

What does all this mean to a business?  Well after my analysis, this one rate plan is a good plan for businesses that readily process between $16,000 – $26,833.00 per month in transactions that are less than $400 in size and always swiped.

If you are a small business that processes less than $16,000 per month, are a business that has many sales above $400, key in transactions more than once in a while or process above $26,833.00 per month, this plan is NOT for you.

If your business fits into the categories listed above, if you perform a little investigative work examining other programs in the market, you will find better plans for your bottom line.

PayPal Here Credit Card Reader for Laptop and Desktop Computers – (Windows and MAC!)

PayPal Here and USBSwiper Point of Sale Solution

So you’ve gotten all set up with PayPal’s new PayPal Here credit card processing system for smartphones. You have downloaded the software, received and plugged in the swiper and off you go, right?

You may not have thought about some of the drawbacks to using a cell phone or iPad device to accept and process credit cards and you just might find yourself asking questions like:

  • What do I do if I lose cell phone reception?
  • What If I don’t want to hand my cell phone to a customer for them to sign on it?
  • What if the customer drops my phone and ends up breaking it?
  • Why didn’t anyone tell me that the credit card reader won’t work on my particular model Android device? I now have to either manually type in or key the credit card information into my phone or buy another compatible phone! These manually entered transactions cost a higher 3.50% plus 20 cent processing rate and I’ll also have to pay that same high rate for Non Qualified Credit Cards such as Rewards Cards, Business Cards and more!!

So you might be asking yourself, is there something that is more like a traditional point of sale system that I can still use with my PayPal account where I can still use my smartphone or tablet but also my computer or laptop? A system that I can swipe and process credit cards using a card reader plugged into my laptop or desktop computer and print receipts for the customer to sign just like at a regular store?

The answer is YES! With the USBSwiper System you can have a more traditional credit card processing system using just your computer (Windows or MAC), a small USB credit card reader with the USBSwiper Software interface and just print receipts with my regular printer or other optional, inexpensive peripherals such as small thermal receipt printers and bar code scanners to give you that big store look and feel as well as a bit more piece of mind that you won’t be without your cell phone if someone accidentally breaks it.

As long as you have internet connection you can process credit card transactions in real time. Also, if you lose internet, you can still create invoices and process them later when you’re re-connected.

Because the system is connected to your PayPal account you will still get all the great reporting you are used to and great flat rates from PayPal. Being software based, the system will also allow you to export data for reporting and tracking as well as many other features.


Or call at (224) 677-0283