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Accepting credit cards is fundamental to every business.   It is estimated that small business owners who do not accept credit cards lose $7,000 - $10,000 in sales annually.  But be careful, and do it the right way by avoiding these merchant processing faux pas.

  1. Taking cards over the phone.

Sometimes this is unavoidable, but if you ever have a choice, card-present transactions are always cheaper.

  1. Skip information fields.

If a field asking for a zip code or any other information appears during a transaction, don’t skip it. Fill it in.  This extra information is for added security and will also provide you a lower rate.

3.  “Is this credit or debit?”

Some cards can be run as either a debit or a credit.  If you are able to accept a card as a debit, it will cost you less in processing fees than if you run it as a credit card.  So make sure you ask; it could really pay off.

  1. Be aware of authorization procedures

A “decline” code indicates that the card issuer does not approve the transaction. Do not continue to attempt authorization on the card by reducing the amount requested or repeating the request. When you receive a decline code, you should return the card to the customer and ask for another form of payment.

If you are suspicious of a card transaction, contact your voice authorization center and request a “Code 10” authorization.  The operator will ask you a series of yes or no questions without alerting the cardholder.  Then you will be given information on how to proceed with the transaction.

  1. Don’t forget to double-check

After swiping a card, check to see if the embossed card number and the displayed account number are the same.  Print the full account number on all phone and mail orders. Ask telephone customers to read back the entire card number to verify the number is correct.  Ask to see ID if the card says “Check ID” on the back.    All of these precautions will help you avoid chargebacks, which can be costly.

  1. Customer Service phone number and return information

It is better for your customers to resolve disputes by phone rather than through the chargeback process, so make sure your customer service phone number is printed on their receipt as well as your return and exchange policy.

  1. Problem customers

Keep a database of problem customers and block specific credit card numbers to avoid future high-risk transactions.

  1. Never alter a sales draft.

  2. Whenever a card does not successfully swipe and you have to key in a transaction, manually imprint the card and ensure the signature and all transaction information is transferred to the imprinted draft. Make sure the manual draft is imprinted with the merchant name and location.

  3.  Always compare the cardholder's signature to the signature on the back of the card. If the signature panel is blank, have the cardholder sign it. If the cardholder refuses, you should not accept that credit card, but request another form of payment.

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Posted in credit card processing, Credit Cards, Merchant Account, online payment processing, Online Payment Solutions, Payment Processing on Jul 23, 2013