A point-of-sale (POS) system. Best for in-store sales. You’ll need a card reader too.
A card reader. Best when you’re out in the field. You can attach it to your phone or tablet.
An online payment gateway system.
If your business is complex enough, a POS system is useful because it can also tie in other things besides credit card processing, like inventory management, appointments, accounting and sales reporting.
Do I need a Merchant Service Provider?
A Merchant Service Provider (MSP) acts as a middleman between a small business and the customer’s credit card or bank. They’re generally recommended when you’re charging higher amounts.
The money may take one or two days to show up in your account, but you’ll generally have good fraud protection. If an MSP makes sense for you, read the contract carefully and check for a strong rating from the Better Business Bureau. Make sure your service comes with good tech support.
What’s a mobile credit card processor?
Processors like the ones you can get from PayPal, Square and Stripe let you take credit cards from anywhere as long as you have a phone or tablet on you. They’re generally easy to use, don’t usually charge monthly or annual account fees and often include some sort of POS system. But you’ll have to keep an eye on how much you get charged for processing. Fraud is also a higher risk, and it can take longer for the money to show up in your account.
How much will I have to pay in fees?
Transaction fees are based on your merchant account provider or mobile credit card processor, the customer’s credit card company and whether you collect payment via credit card or debit card.
Fees vary from company to company, but you’ll likely pay for:
Card processing equipment (purchase or rental)
Monthly, quarterly or annual fees
Transaction fees (anywhere from 10 to 30 cents per transaction)
Percentage of the sale (anywhere from .05% to 5%)
What else should small businesses keep in mind about taking credit cards? Tell us in the comments.