Accepting Credit Cards in a Small Business

Pile of Credit Cards

My husband’s business is still alive, but we’ve had to make some big changes.  For one thing, we have decided that the distance he is willing to drive must be reduced dramatically.  From the beginning when he started his business, he would take any job no matter how far away.  On some jobs that meant more than 100 miles from our home.  People complain about trip charges – one repeat client actually said “It’s not my fault you moved all the way out there.”  (Uh, it’s not our fault you bought your rental home all the way over there, two years after we moved all the way out here).  Mr. A has always been reluctant to impose outright trip charges.  (Although I’ve seen a lot of businesses lately that have no trouble whatsoever charging $1 per mile, coming and going!)  Gasoline costs have always been huge drain on the bottom line for his business and with prices rising to nearly $4 per gallon it is something we must address.

In addition to limiting the miles driven, we’ve also been looking into accepting credit cards since more people have been asking for this option; although so far people have been willing to write a check.  However, since we are limiting the travel distance, there have been less opportunities.  The calls that have been appropriate distance-wise just so happened to be clients wishing to make payment by credit card. We’ve mentioned PayPal because it is an option, but that so far hasn’t been met with much enthusiasm.

The ability to accept credit cards is quite a process as I learned when my employer began looking into accepting credit cards several years ago.  At first we weren’t sure what we needed: could we do it ourselves, or would we need to pay someone?  Should we go with a small local company or a large company that spans the nation?  Do we need to buy a machine to run cards, or can we manage with a virtual terminal?

The first thing we did was look into the option of doing it ourselves.  After a bit of exploration I realized that this could take some time to manage, and not only that but the laws seem to change so frequently.  Someone would need to dedicate time to this additional task.  As I mentioned the other day we’re all overworked at my job, and for once I put my foot down and said no.

I was unwilling to take on yet another task (yay me!) so I suggested we not handle this ourselves but hire professionals.  We checked into the options through Costco, and also through the bank which handles our business bank accounts.   As it turns out our bank manager had a contact for a small local credit card processing company that they highly recommended so we went with them.  The company provided us with a website page which looks similar to our company website. Now people can go online to purchase items or make donations, and we also have a virtual terminal whereby we can process credit cards in house or over the phone.

Now back to Mr. A’s business… we are still tossing around the options and trying to decide if the additional costs are worthwhile.  We’ve been tracking the number of potentially new clients that ask about credit card acceptance and we may eventually go for it.

I am really glad we have PayPal nowadays for this is enough for most of us. Have you ever had to go through the process of accepting credit card payments or has PayPal been all you’ve needed as well?





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10 comments to Accepting Credit Cards in a Small Business

  • If you’re up front about the trip charge, how can anyone complain? Apparently Mr. A is good enough that they prefer him over local businesses.

    There are a couple of ways to handle credit cards without the setup, of you have a smart phone.

    No, I haven’t tried these. I’m never getting money from local people.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    These people are forever complaining. They have probably ticked off the local people, lol. Thanks for the link. What do you mean you’re never getting money from local people?


    Kosmo Reply:

    @Mrs. Accountability, Basically, the profitable portion of my business consists of freelance writing. I don’t actually meet any of my customers face to face, so it would be pointless for me to use these devices 🙂


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Ah, okay. I see what you mean now. 🙂

  • Sam

    I have a (very) small business and I accept credit card payments via my smartphone with a free dongle from Square. If you have an Android or iPhone, you can download the app for free. There is a swipe fee involved, 2.75%, but no monthly or annual fees. The money is generally in my account the next day, unless I do transactions on a Sunday, then it can take two days.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Awesome. I will tell my husband about this option. Thanks!


  • I use Square for in-person transactions and PayPal for online.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Thanks for sharing about this option, I’ll look into it.


  • kim

    I would not take CC unless your volume is really high or you charge the customer for the convenience. Ti is a lot of hassle and work. I own two businesses and I will not take them. Be very careful the charges add up. Also do not be afraid to at trip charges. People respect you more when you respect yourself. It took me a long time to learn that in business.


    Mrs. Accountability Reply:

    Kim, thanks for the feedback. Some people seem to have the ability to charge and not care one whit, but for the person who has a hard time it almost seems others can pick up on that and complain about it. Thanks again.


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