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    12 Replies Latest reply on Jul 2, 2008 1:15 AM by NRU Investor

    How do I start accepting credit cards in my business?

    MRFINANCE Adventurer
      There are many merchant credit card companies accross the US. They will set you up with the credit card machines/terminals that you need. These can be bought or leased.

      One tricky area to watch out for though is the RATES you PAY. Not all rates are equal.
      Some times it pays to get several quotes and ask what the rates will be in ADVANCE.


      vist my site @



      Richton Funding

        • Re: How do I start accepting credit cards in my business?
          nMoncrief Adventurer
          There are many CC processors represented in this forum. Merchants can get instant rates quotes anonymously (no email or phone number required) at I agree that it pays to get multiple quotes. Just be wary of anyone who insists on seeing your current statement before he'll give you a quote. Armed with that information, anyone could give a better rate. You might also place a call to the agent just to see if he answers the phone, or how quickly he calls you back. Getting a good rate is important, but remember that you're paying for service, too. Click the profile for contact info.

          Neil Moncrief
          Creek Financial Services
            • Re: How do I start accepting credit cards in my business?
              amspcs Ranger
              With all due respect, I have to take exception with the suggestion to obtain multiple rate quotes, presumably in search of the 'lowest' rate quotation. There is no such thing as "one rate fits all". The typical merchant will typically pay as many as 4-5-6 or more different rates depending on the nature of the individuial transaction being processed. He needs to know ALL of the rates, not just the tip-of-the-iceberg hook quote.

              In reality, the merchant needs to know much more than just the 'rate' to make an intelligent decision. What about the mid-qualified rate surcharge? Non-qualified rate surcharges? What defines which of these rate buckets any individual transation will fall into, and what will be the unique mix breakdown for the merchant's unique business? What about contractual terms? Early termination fees? Other add-on fees?

              In the real world the lowest rate quote usually translates into the most expensive bottom-line cost of accepting credit cards, not the cheapest as one might expect. This is called 'packaging' --get their attention with a low rate quote, then drop the other foot when they aren't looking. In other words, if a processor knows (and make no mistake, they know) that 30% of a merchants transactions will fall in the "qualified" rate bucket, and the other 70% will fall to higher mid-qual or non-qual rate classifications, it's easy to give a loss-leader lowball quote on the 30% minority, then make it up 3 or 4 times over on the other 70%. It's the oldest numbers game in the industry, and a big mistake for merchants who select their processor only on the basis of the advertised 'rate quote'.

              I also take exception with the suggestion to "be wary of anyone who insists on seeing your current statement before he'll give you a quote". A detailed merchant statement audit by a qualfified and honest processor rep is invaluable and necessary in order to determine the unique transaction mix of a particular merchant in order to customize a rate schedule in those interchange areas in which the particular merchant does most of his business volume

              Here's a quick case study to illustrate what I'm talking about. This involves a South Florida dentist office. His 'qualified' rate quote was excellent, just a few basis points above cost. Unfortunately, only about 25% of all his tranactions were 'qualified'. The rest, 75%, were all rewards cards, business cards, etc., all of which were charged excessively higher mid-qualfied or non-qualified rates. We placed this merchant is a new rate schedule that actually increased his qualified rates, but substantially decreased his mid-and non-qual rate levels, the areas where most of this transactions fell into. As a result, although his qualfied rate is now higher, his overall cost of accepting credit cards has decreased by a significant amount.

              Moral: If you're a merchant, you want the lowest cost of accepting credit cards, NOT necessarily the lowest 'rate'. Do not confuse the two concepts...they are totally different.

            • Re: How do I start accepting credit cards in my business?
              chatterboxj Wayfarer

              The last poster, AMSPCS, was 3/4 of the way there. A merchant has to look at the ENTIRE setup not just the "Hook" rate. Many times this will be a teaser rate or will not apply to their situation. I have seen so many merchants that have been sucked in with a teaser and then pay thousands more a year than they have to.

              Visa and MasterCard have over 100 differant rates for differant cards. A three tier set up is good but you are still not getting the best possible setup. The best setup is Interchange Plus or Cost plus. This is how ALL the big companies are setup, including Wal-Mart.

              Look for a Direct Processor. There are 8 or so processors that move the money around and lots of others that buy the rate from one of them and resell it to you. Some of the Direct processors are Heartland, Global, RBS Link, First Data, Paymentech, and Nova. Once you have a direct processor, THEN compare setups. Service is a HUGE thing to look for. If you need help, do you have a local representative? Is their a US based, english speaking help desk?? (this eliminates 1/2 of the processors off the bat)

              The key is to know your rights and make sure that the company you are dealing with is giving them to you.

              check out the site

              It is not a sale site, just an information site.

              The company I work for (W-2 employee not sub-contracted sales person) is Heartland Payment Systems. They are the ONLY full disclosure pricing provider in the industry. Heartland is a direct processor (no middleman fees like several others represented here) and every month you will see EXACTLY how much went to Visa and Master Card and how much went to HPS to move the money around.

              I am happy to answer any questions and if we can earn your business that is great. If not then you will still be better informed.

              Good Luck!!

              Chad Johnson
              Heartland Payment Systems
                • Re: How do I start accepting credit cards in my business?
                  amspcs Ranger
                  Good post from the previous writer, many valid points. A few,however, merit further comment and clarification:

                  Interchange Plus or Interchange Cost (also known as Passthrough pricing) happens to be our preferred pricing mechanism as well. I agree it is probably the fairest deal for many (but not all) merchants if set up properly and honestly.. However, let's be realistic here. To infer the that ANY processor is going to offer the very same pricing to the typical small business or 'mom and popper' as WalMart or "ALL the big companies" get is absurd. Obviously this is unrealistic and impossible since..a processor grossing a few pennies on every hundred dollars processed for one merchant doing $10,000 per month vs another merchant doing untold hundreds of millions per month represents two entirely different scenerios in terms of pricing, overhead factor, and every other conceivable variable....agreed? It should also be clarified that Interchange Plus is a pricing mechanism, not a rate structure in and of itself. I've seen many a merchant statement featuring 'interchange plus" pricing that are supreme gouge jobs for many reasons.....margins too high, add-on fees, you name it.

                  Re the " lower rates from a Direct Processor" claim. Sounds good but in essence not much more than a contrived sales pitch.. The problem is it grays the difference between "Acquirer" and"Processor",which aren't necessarily the same. All credit card services, no matter who the front or back end processor, originate from an Acquirer who in turn has licenses with the bankcard associations, Visa and MC. The bankcard associations set the rates that are the same for all Acquirers and therefore for all processors, the rate structure is called "Interchange". So when someone is selling off Interchange or Passthrough, whatever you want to call it, the Interchange rate on which the re-sold pricing structure is based is EXACTLY the same since there is only one Interchange, regardless of whether or not it's being resold by a "direct processor" whatever that means or not. For the record, we and countless other Agents have access to and sell the services of those identified as "direct processors" every day with no 'middleman fees" whatsoever, including Global, First Data, Vital, etc., and we sell off true interchange if that's the best solution for the merchant.

                  I need to point out that the claim that Heartland Payment Systems is " the ONLY full disclosure pricing provider in the industry." is what's known in the sales biz as 'puffing', which means it's opinion for selling purposes, not documented fact by any stretch. '. I know Heartland very well and agree they are a first-rate honorable company. But for anyone to claim that they are the ONLY honest guys out there and nobody else honestly discloses their pricing is incorrect. True there are lots of bad guys out there in our industry, but there are many honorable people as well. I consider myself to be in the later category, please don't lump me with the bad guys. As far as full disclusure of rates and terms goes, one of the Acquirer contracts we represent is 40-something pages long ! I can't imagine fuller disclosure.

                  The website mentioned by the previous poster was excellent. I'd also like to direct readers to which also contains a vast amount of useful information regarding credit card processing glossary and terms, FAQ's, ecommerce and rate structure info sites etc.

                  I too would be happy to answer any inquiries. Email to

                  B. Godofsky
                  AMS, Inc.



                • Re: How do I start accepting credit cards in my business?
                  Blademan Newbie
                  All these replies sound like good advice but seem to be posted mostly by those in the CC industry. It may not be a bad idea to investigate the offerings of PayPal, especially if your business will include internet sales.
                  • Re: How do I start accepting credit cards in my business?
                    TBG_Global Newbie
                    All of the comments made are very valid. If you have any past statements, a new processor would need them in order to profile your business and get you the best quote.

                    There are companiie that will allow you to donate some of your processing dollars to a charity of your choice without charging you any extra. The Charity would receive the donation in your name quarterly. It is good advertising without an additional cost.

                    You can contact me at

                    • Re: How do I start accepting credit cards in my business?
                      UBCOA1 Wayfarer
                      Ok, You guys are going to confuse the bejesus out of this Forum Member!

                      It's nice that you all want "help" but keep in mind that terms like "Interchange", "Bin Fees"" etc mean nothing to most merchants.

                      They want the bottom line in Plain English. It sounds like this Forum Member needs to held by the hand and taught from scratch.

                      For the smaller merchant, and I have to assume we are talking about a small business here due to the nature of the question, there are things he needs to know but there is no sense in over complicating it.

                      One response referred to "advance Fees". I dont know who he is with but unless someone is charging Application, Setup Fees what advance fees could he possibly be referring to?

                      My advice is to run away if someone tries to charge you upfront or Advance fees for a merchant account.

                      If you are looking for someone who specializes in dealing with smaller newer merchants than I would be more than happy to talk to you further. You can email me at
                      • Re: How do I start accepting credit cards in my business?
                        NRU Investor Wayfarer
                        Good evening. I know there are alot of companies out there that promise you things that sound good but you have to be very careful. I know that you need to accept credit cards and offer gift cards, but would I would like to do is save you money which is important but last but not least is help you make more money, which is the reason why you went into business. With Alpha Omega Processing powered by NPC we have over 25 years in experience with credit processing. NPC processes 1 out of 4 credit card transactions in the world, and is the 5th largest processing companie in the U.S. We offer annual fees, no application fees, and no contracts. We offer the lowest rates and it will only go down from there,not up. Feel free to call me at 678-371-5049- so that I can get all of your questions answered or you can email me at Give me a call so we can talk about your business and get your business off the ground.

                        Tory Mosley
                        Business Owner Advisor