Monday, October 5, 2009

American Express boosts national average credit card interest rate

AmEx's decision to boost rates lifted the national average APR on new credit card offers to 12.62 percent this week, according to the Weekly Credit Card Rate Report.The issuer also eliminated balance transfer offers and reduced introductory offer periods on some cards.

While AmEx didn't provide comment on the card changes, its tougher lending terms come amid a regulatory and economic environment that has become more hostile to card issuers. Fitch Ratings reported that credit card charge-off rates advanced again in September, setting a fifth record high in the past six months. Charge-offs occur when banks give up hope of recovering money lent.

Federal Reserve officials this week acknowledged the stricter bank lending terms. On Wednesday, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart highlighted the restricted access to credit, saying in a speech that the "flow of credit through the U.S. banking system is not yet approaching anyone's notion of normal." He added that a "return to robust bank lending is unlikely, at least in the near term."

The Fed can move interest rates on most credit cards by raising or lowering a key interest rate who's name is the federal funds rate. Variable rate credit cards -- which account for the majority of plastic -- have annual percentage rates that are set using the prime rate, which moves up and down in lock step with the federal funds rate. A fed fimds rate hike likely isn't coming anytime soon, either, but when the central bank does raise rates, the upward movement could be sharp.

"Once the Fed has to raise rates, they'll raise them aggressively, but that time isn't imminent. It's not even remotely imminent," says Greg Valliere, chief policy strategist at Soleil Securities in New York City.

Last week, the Fed voted unanimously to leave its federal funds rate at a range of 0 percent to 0.25 percent, a move that keeps the prime rate at 3.25. In his speech, Lockhart said that it could be "some time" before the Fed exits its current policy initiatives, also lending his support to "the maintenance of interest rates at low levels 'for an extended period.'"

Other central bank officials struck a slightly different tone. Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn stated that he "can't predict how rapidly" the Fed will need to boost rates. At a Friday speech in Chicago, Fed Gov. Kevin Warsh indicated that the next change to monetary policy may be "accomplished with greater swiftness than is modern central bank custom."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Protecting From Credit Card Fraud

Credit cards are used as forms of payments now more than ever. There are also more online businesses and most of these businesses accept credit card payments. Therefore, protecting your online business from credit card fraud is vital. For businesses that are offline, the challenges of accepting credit cards as payment can be the same. Fraud is such an ugly word and we want to avoid it at all costs. Thankfully, there are steps you can take, whether your business is online or offline, that will help to eliminate your risk of being a victim.

Steps For Online Business Owners

Although most consumers think being a victim of credit card fraud, particularly when purchasing a product online, it is actually much more likely that the merchant will be the victim rather than the consumer. Here are some tips to help you avoid this.

First, always verify that the address the consumer has given you is correct. Your merchant account probably offers an Address Verification System that will verify that the address you have been given matches the billing address of the cardholder.

If you're shipping a product to a consumer, make sure the shipping address matches the billing address. If it does not, you probably should investigate the transaction.

Be leery of unusual orders. Since a thief would have no idea of the consumers purchasing history with you, if something gets ordered that is completely out of the ordinary check it out. Phone the customer if you can. Even if it's legitimate, they should be grateful that you called.

Take as much information from the buyer as you can when they are filling out the order form. In addition to their name, address, and telephone number, ask for the name of the bank that the card is issued from as well as the 3 or 4 security digits that all cards have now.

State on your web site that you have anti fraud devices in place and operating at all times. This will give the thief pause before entering your web page.

Steps For Offline Business Owners

Since you are actually going to see the person that is trying to use the credit card, your chances of being a victim of fraud are diminished, but problems can still happen. Here are some tips to help protect you and your business from credit card fraud.

Never take a credit card without getting identification. Check the name and signature to see if they match. This will not offend most customers who are on the up and up. Most will even be grateful.

Check the credit card for forgery by knowing what characteristics are found on legitimate cards. Many cards now contain a hologram that changes color in the light. Check the signature panel to make sure the signature cannot be erased. If it can, it's fake. Look for the magnetic strip and make sure it is intact.

You should also use the Address Verification Service. This will help you as well.

Get The Best Credit Card Merchant Account

Looking for the best credit card merchant account? Admittedly, there are a plethora of lenders to choose from when you browse the Internet for merchant account services. But what are you really looking for? Do you want an enhanced business image? Increased public exposure? A larger client base? Additional sales and revenues? Then you’re on the right track! A merchant account can do all this and more when you work with the right company.

Finding a quality lender to work with for the best credit card merchant account is not as difficult as you might think. You can start by asking your local banker for information about its merchant accounts. If you don’t feel the terms are quite right for your company, ask for a referral or check out other local banks yourself. You also might want to try credit unions or reputable lenders to see if you can partner with a financial underwriter in your community. That way you will get to know the company representative and perhaps meet occasionally face to face, which is always a desirable goal in business when feasible. But if not, there are plenty of good lenders to work with.

The best credit card merchant account providers tend to compete with each other to get business owners’ business. In fact, some will offer to meet or beat a competing underwriter’s price. So if you like the terms but not the price at a particular bank, find a lower rate somewhere else and tell the first bank about it. Perhaps you can get your preferred terms and lower costs at the bank of your choice. But if it doesn’t work out for some reason, keep looking for other lenders and shop for the deal that will best suit your company’s growth plan. It’s just a matter of matching your needs with the lender’s capabilities to make a match that satisfies both of you.

What would the best credit card merchant account do for your business? You can start accepting credit card payments immediately when you get approved for a merchant account. Start by installing a simple credit card processor, the kind that swipes a credit card, at your place of business. Then you may want to consider digital telephone credit processing services. Or you might opt to go wireless if you travel to remote destinations to collect payments. You can even put up a company Website as your crowning achievement and accept credit card payments there as well. In a very short time your client base could multiply, along with your profits, all because of your merchant account status. Are your competitors already using technology like this to accept credit card payments? Then you have no time to lose!

Start shopping now for a lender that will approve your application, offer low-fee services, and provide reliable support while you upgrade your company’s business image. Don’t stop with the first company to offer you a merchant account. You deserve the best so don’t settle for less when you apply for your bank merchant account.

Enjoy The Benefits Of A Credit Merchant Account

A credit merchant account can make your business more productive than ever. That’s because a merchant account will let you start accepting credit card payments from customers in any part of the world at any time of the day or night. Could business possibly be better than that when conducted in any other way? That is why you need to know more about potential benefits of a merchant account.

Your credit merchant account will let you grow your business in ways you may not have imagined. For example, in addition to taking credit card payments on location at your store, you can take a wireless credit card processor with you to customers’ residences or places of business and accept payment on the spot. This makes it easier for the customer to pay the charges and not give another thought to the transaction. You, on the other hand, likewise benefit when the bill is paid promptly without the hassle of waiting for payments that may never arrive. You can hire few billing clerks and accounts receivable employees when you accept credit transactions that are processed instantly.

Another way that a credit merchant account can serve your business is when you implement a phone order and payment system. A digital program will let customers call a toll-free number, listen to messages about products and services or select other options, such as “payment” or “catalog request,” and then finish up by processing a credit card for any purchases made during the phone call. You don’t even have to hire someone to answer the phone; the entire process can be automated, although you may want to have a customer service rep available at certain hours of the day if needed.

The credit merchant account benefit that is creating quite a buzz in the business world is the Internet credit card processing option. More companies are putting up a Website in cyberspace to get their names out there and to attract a larger, more global client base. You can enjoy these benefits, too, when you get approved for a credit merchant account and hire a Web designer to create an artistic or thoughtful Website that represents your business to customers around the world. Registering with search engines will bring thousands of visitors to your site by accident, but they may decide to remain when they find exciting features on your home page, such as a survey, a helpful hint, or links to product lists and descriptions. They can shop in any time zone or region in any continent from a computer with Internet access. Think of the possibilities for building a super-size client base!

Give some thought to applying for a merchant credit account from a trusted lender or underwriter. This special account will confer professional merchant status and allow you to collect credit payments in a timely manner instead of working through a time-consuming billing process that may render less fruitful results. Shop soon to compare prices and terms for your credit merchant account.

Don't Get Hacked - Best Practices For Protecting Your Business

You've seen it in the news - 40 million credit cards exposed!

With all the news about web sites being hacked and cyber
thieves stealing credit card numbers and other personal data,
it's no wonder that some shoppers are still hesitant to provide
payment information online. You don't have to be.

Is it enough that users trust you?

Common marketing wisdom shows that one of the most valuable
assets any Internet Marketer has is trust. People go to extreme
measures to build this trust - online pictures, testimonials,
audio - some even go as far as to open storefronts to give
people that "good feeling".

But all of this may simply not be enough.

A recent Harris Interactive survey found that 75 percent of
consumers polled worry that companies will share personal data
with other corporations without permissions, while 70 percent
doubt the security of online transactions and 69 percent fear
that hackers will steal their personal data submitted online.

You see, just because a user trusts you, doesn't necessarily
mean that the customer trusts your website or
your payment processor.

Once you've established rapport with your customer base,
the next step is to build trust in your website.

Whether you collect credit card information yourself, or have
a third party processor handle your transactions for you,
it's crucial that people understand that you are serious
about protecting their privacy and information.

Here's a few things you can do to help out.

*) Install a Secure Server Certificate on your server to close
that "lock" on people's browsers. Even if you don't collect
credit card information, people feel better about having
the information they send to you be secure. Also, consider
using a "top tier" Certificate provider, such as Verisign.
While other providers may have nearly equally secure solutions,
the reason you are buying the certificate is to instill trust
in your customers, which other providers do not necessarily
have in abundance.

*) Have a clear, clean privacy policy statement in addition
to the "legalese" required by the FTC. If you don't
sell addresses, tell people so.

*) Secure your server. I know that this seems obvious, but most
people pay no attention to their webserver or the software
they are running. Knowing what software you have running,
and keeping up-to-date on patches will help significantly.

*) Install an Intrusion Detection System (IDS) I estimate 73%
or more of all websites have no intrusion detection system
in place. What this means is that not only can most websites
be hacked easily, it is very likely that the website owner
has no clue if that they have been compromised.

*) Turn off unneeded services and ports, and uninstall
unused software. The premise here is that the less "stuff"
on your machine, the less chance for exploit. For example,
MySQL listens on the Internet for messages form other servers,
yet most small websites access the database system only from
the machine it is running on. It is very simple to make
MySQL "invisible" to the Internet - making it much more
secure if you don't need to access it from other systems.
There are many, many more simple techniques like this you can
apply to your server to keep hackers out.

In summary, consumers are quickly becoming Internet savvy
and they take their privacy seriously. There is nothing,
and I mean nothing, that can hurt your credibility more
than your customers and potential customers getting SPAM
to email addresses that they provided only to you - in
the best case, they will think that you sold their address.
Responding that no, you didn't sell their address, but someone
hacked your server and stole ALL their personal information
won't make them feel a whole lot better about doing business
with you in the future.

Credit Card Processing

Credit Card Processing Enhances Your Professional Status. When customers know that you accept credit payments, they often are more likely to pay more, return often, and tell their friends if the service is good. This is because a company that makes credit payment options available to clients is telling the world that they care about customers and they are professional enough to invest in systems that will enhance the shopping experience for guests. No one likes that disappointed feeling when, after browsing, you find something you want to buy but then fail to find enough cash in your wallet to purchase it. Writing a check may put you over the balance, and you don’t want to take time to run to the ATM machine to withdraw the money from savings. When customers can pay with a plastic card, they may show their appreciation by returning again and again to shop your store.

Credit Card Processing is Inexpensive. It depends on your current business budget, of course, but you don’t have to sink a lot of money into credit card processing equipment. All you need do is get a merchant account services account, buy or lease a credit card processing unit, and you are good to go. Plug it in or take a wireless unit with you on the road to make credit payments easy, fast, and secure. Plan on paying a per-transaction fee of perhaps 25 cents or a low interest monthly rate that may include minimums. Associated expenses may include discount fees, gateway fees, print statement fees, and membership costs. There may be others as well. Overall, however, the benefits of a merchant account outweigh its costs.

Credit Card Processing is Flexible. You don’t have to be stuck behind the cash register all day to appreciate the advantages of a merchant account’s ability to provide credit card processing. You can take a wireless unit from one destination to another to let clients pay at the point of purchase rather than wait for billing. You may want to invest in a pager that will let you provide instant deliveries or prompt responses to customer inquiries, some of which could lead to direct or indirect sales with the option of credit card payments. You can also set up an online Website to accept credit card payments from potentially billions of customers around the world. It’s all up to you, of course, as to what you’re ready to do in terms of growing your company’s sales. You won’t need extra staff to manage credit card processing, either. In fact, you may be able to operate some credit card processing systems automatically when you opt for the telephone payment system or the Website option. But you will need to have a staff member available at certain times for questions or troubleshooting issues.

Don’t get left behind by competitors who already have merchant account services and customers who expect them. Start browsing now to learn more about Credit Card Processing.

Credit Card Merchant Account Services

Did you know that could possibly multiply your sales receipts within a matter of weeks or months? Of course, other factors will play a role in the overall success of this strategy, but many company owners claim that the simple step of accepting credit card payments increased their income dramatically in a relatively short amount of time. That is why you need to know more about the benefits of credit card merchant services.

Basically, the premise of using credit card merchant account services works like this. You find a trusted lender with experience in merchant accounts. You might even want to check with customers at some of the lending institutions to see if they are satisfied with their merchant account services. You also can find online testimonials, although these may be biased when situated at the Websites of various lenders. You could visit chat rooms devoted to topics like this one that are sure to be discussed among entrepreneurs or start-up business owners. After getting objective feedback on several possible lenders, you can choose the one that seems like the best bet for your company.

It is a simple process to apply for credit card merchant account services. After reducing your possible underwriters to three or four after searching the Internet or checking with colleagues, it then becomes a matter of comparing and contrasting benefits with fees. Some companies are so well known that they can afford to charge more for their merchant account services. Others have recently added this option, so they might reduce, avoid, or omit certain fees in order to get your business. However, you may have to pay these fees after the first year or another type of trial period. Read all the terms carefully so that you understand how the account works, how much it costs, and what the potential glitches might be. Contact the lender with any questions or uncertainties before applying for an account. Then, when approved, you should feel confident that you have made a good investment.

Obtaining credit card merchant account services will let you accept credit card payments from your customers in a variety of ways. If you own or operate a store, for example, they can pay onsite with a credit card processor that you can plug into a wall outlet. But if you deliver goods or services to homes or businesses, you may want to take along a wireless credit card processor. Depending on how your customers like to pay and the level of involvement you want to pursue, you can add a pager and an e-check or debit processor right away or later on, depending on equipment cost and your need.

Being approved for a merchant services account will help you expand the way you do business. Many consumers prefer to pay by credit card, so accepting payments via this method will attract that segment of buyers and increase your volume of sales. Soon your profit margins should increase as well. Start thinking now about adding credit card merchant account services to your business.

Business Plan Basics

You're excited. You have a great idea for a profitable online business. Maybe it is an original idea that has not been marketed online before. Maybe you have come up with a new spin on the ordinary. Whatever it is that has influenced you to start your online business, be sure that you have a plan before you begin. This is not the time to "pick it up as you go". These are some basic things that should be included in your business plan.

The business summary should give a brief description of the entire business and is an integral part of the overall business plan. After you have completed the business summary you should begin to list the objectives or the goals that you want to accomplish through the business. Next and perhaps most importantly, you should develop your marketing plan. The marketing plan will address all the specifics of the business. When developing the marketing strategy you should consider the following:

The target market. The target market is the customers that you expect to see visiting your site. For example will your product be more appealing to college students or those who are in retirement?

Consider the competition for your product when determining the marketing strategy. Choose a product that will be seen as unique and useful. Visit sites that are offering the same or similar products. Find out the cost, and how they are marketing their product. Finds out the pros and cons of their business and try to improve your product based on their flaws.

Research the various methods for advertising online. You should become educated about search engines and how they work since each one is different. Also be sure that you know how to submit your site to search engines. You should be prepared to spend a small amount of money on advertising, but the profits that you will gain from the advertisements will prove to be money well spent.

Think about pricing. Again, look at the competition and see what similar products are selling for. Pricing can play a big role in the success of your product since selling a product well below the average price may lead customer to think that there is a problem with the product or that it is not of the best quality. However, pricing items too high could also detour customers.

Determine the shipping method. Be sure that you know how products will be shipped so that you can have shipping details clearly posted on your site. If you are shipping things of great value, you should consider providing shipping insurance. Also think about shipping outside the country that you live in.

Think about the different methods of payment that you will accept. If your business does not accept credit cards, you should be ready to give up half if not more of your sales. If you decide to accept credit cards will you use a merchant account or will you use a third party credit card processing center? Both will help you get started and the third party processing center will handle all of the business so you don''t have to. You should decide which you will use and also if you will accept checks or money orders. It is essential to have a secure server when taking credit cards.

These few things will help your online business to become a great success and also provide you with peace of mind knowing that you have thoroughly thought about and planned for the opening of your online business.

Best Credit Card Processing Rates

Everyone goes into business to make money, so why spend more of your profits on expensive transaction fees, Website maintenance, service agreements and high credit card processing rates? When you take time to shop for the best deals, you can save quite a bit of money that can be used to good purpose in other parts of your business. Start shopping for the best credit card processing rates and open a merchant account.

You will first need to find a reputable bank or credit union that will agree to extend a merchant account to you for this purpose. To get approved, you will need a solid credit history, a reasonable business plan, and documentation to show that you are able to manage the costs associated with credit card processing rates. Typically, these include an installation fee for credit card processing equipment, a monthly gateway fee for your financial host, a transaction fee of a few cents per each or an overall percentage total each month. You also may be offered Website service that will entail a hosting fee, a service contract cost, and a designer’s or updating service fee. Be sure to carefully read the terms of any contract that you receive. Never sign something that you don’t understand or with which you cannot completely agree. Your company may have to pay for a monthly minimum up to a certain number of transactions, after which the balance for that month do not require additional fees.

Credit card processing rates can vary by company or by processor program. Some companies charge no installation fee, while others require a one-time cost of a few hundred dollars, depending on the program’s complexity. You may have to pay between 15 and 25 cents per transaction, or you could opt to pay a monthly percentage for the entire amount of business generated by your credit card processing unit; this amount often falls below 2%.

It is always a good idea to compare rates among competing financial institutions. If you really like the services offered by one merchant account company but prefer the lower rates of a second company, tell the first one about the competitor’s lower rates, and perhaps the first company will meet or beat the lower cost in order to get your business. At first, you may want to keep the customer’s interests in mind when shopping for credit card processing rates. In other words, passing on the savings of a particular program to your customers will keep them coming back to do business with you. If your rates are too high or not competitive enough, they may decide to take their business elsewhere.

As you plan to set up your new credit card processing service rates, it may help to let them know in advance that this program is coming so they can prepare and perhaps even help to get the word out to other potential customers. Then, after installing your new credit card processor, you should not hear complaints that anyone was blindsided or treated unfairly. If someone does complain, politely remind them of the earlier notices.

When you are ready to start processing credit card payments, don’t be tempted to go for the option with the most features or the most sophisticated set-up. Opt for a system that will best suit your company needs and your customers’ interests, as well as offering the best credit card processing rates.

Apply For A Credit Card Merchant Account Online

Who should ? Why, you should, of course, if you want to grow your business and maximize sales volume! In this day and age, more and more business functions are moving into cyberspace, which means that business owners must be ready to travel to this relatively unknown domain if they want to maintain strong customer ties and stay a step or two ahead of the competition. Don’t worry if you’re not Web savvy; most online processes that are geared to the general consumer are not hard to perform. In fact, most are downright easy.

First, find a lender that you respect that is willing to extend you a credit card merchant account online. This may be the bank where your business interests and accounts currently reside. Or you may choose to shop for another lender with better rates or services. Don’t rush into this decision, however. Plan some time in your schedule to carefully browse the many services offered through a host of financial institutions today. You can browse the Internet by typing in search phrases like “merchant account” or “merchant services” and seeing what Google or your favorite search engine can bring up. Then it becomes a matter of checking out each lender to find the one that will best fit with your business budget or growth objectives. Some companies may seem a little too shady, while others may not have been in business long enough to enjoy a solid reputation. Others may charge a frightful amount for the services you want. Ask around your local business community to see which merchant account providers others are using, and then compare those costs and services with those you find online. You can probably reduce your list to a few of the better underwriters in short order. Then you will need to make the final selection by comparing monthly and annual fees.

Applying for a credit card merchant account online is fast and easy. Just click on the lender’s home page link to “application” (or some variation thereof) and follow the links to the application page. Then type the requested information in each blank. Contact the customer service representative if you do not understand a question or if you are unsure how to answer it. Remember to print a copy of the application if you are able to do so, or keep a copy of the confirmation number if one is provided. Often a company will email a verification of your application’s receipt and tell you when to expect a reply. At least print this page, if nothing else, for your records.

After applying for a credit card merchant account online, sit back and wait to hear about the decision. Often this arrives within a few days or even hours by email, although some are mailed out by post. When you receive approval and open your merchant account, you can begin to accept credit card payments right away. You will be delighted to see how quickly your profits increase as customers begin taking advantage of this valuable service. Don’t wait—consider applying today for your credit card merchant account online.

An introduction to point of sale software

Point of sale software gives business owners a convenient way of checking out customers and of recording sales. It can keep a record of the store inventory, updating it when an order is processed. It can also print out receipts, carry out credit card processing, track customers, etc. Point of sale software eases the flow at checkout terminals, while recording all the information that can help you make better business decisions.

Point of sale software allows users to input via keyboard or mouse, and some even have a touch screen interface. You can install the software on your checkout register.

When checking out a customer you can either input the sales item yourself or use a bar code scanner. The point of sale software will look up the item in the inventory and bring up the price. It can also calculate tax on the item and change for the customer.

POS software can print out receipts and reports. Point of sale software makes your business accounting a lot easier by creating reports on inventory, sales, customers, etc. Since it is already recording each sale, it can easily tell you the sales and revenue of the day.

Point of sale software can also help with credit card processing. Credit cards are the preferred method of payment. People do not want to carry around cash for all their purchases. Credit card is a convenient method of payment and if you do not have credit card processing, your business can lose some of its competitiveness.

Point of sale software receives input from the POS hardware, which is the scanning station for the credit card. The software will process the credit card payment for you. It can check that the card has not expired and is valid. You will need a merchant account for the point of sale software to do its job.

POS software is generally easy to install and easy to use. You will need to know how to update inventory and record a price change for an item. Point of sale software usually provides an easy to use interface to do this. It can make the job of the cashier a lot easier by automating the routine tasks of the day.

There is a wide variety of point of sale software available. You can choose one that fits your budget and meets the needs of your particular business. The software will have compatibility requirements with the point of sale hardware. It will also have operating system requirements such as it might need a Windows or Linux system.

Point of sale software can more than pay for itself over time by making checkout faster and doing your accounting for you. Point of sale software may be the right solution for your business and can provide you with tons of benefits.

Alternatives to Credit Cards

Are you one of those people who only ever got a credit card for the convenience of being able to pay without cash, or because you weren’t aware of any other easy way to borrow money? Millions of us are, thanks to the unavoidable advertising of the credit card industry, and few people realise just how many alternatives to credit cards there are. Let’s take a look at a few.

Debit Cards.

Debit cards are often used in many European countries, but are relatively unheard of elsewhere. Basically, they’re just like credit cards and are accepted everywhere credit cards are accepted - the only difference is that they take any money you spend directly from your
bank account, instead of you getting a bill at the end of the month. You should be aware,though, that you aren’t as well-protected from fraud with a debit card as you would be with a credit card.

Pre-Paid Credit Cards.

These are cards that work just like credit cards, except that you can’t have a negative balance - you have to put money on the card before you can spend it. That means that you ‘top-up’ the card, like you would a mobile phone. This is good if you want to know how much you’re spending, not to mention that you can even give the cards to children. They’re also safer than debit cards, since someone who stole the card could only spend whatever money was on it at the time.

Bank Overdrafts.

A good bank overdraft, used together with a credit card, can be a far better way of borrowing money than using a credit card. Your overdraft limit is set by the bank according to how much you gets paid into your account each month, and you don’t need to pay it off until you want to.

Basically, it just gives your account the facility to go into minus numbers, if you want it to. Many banks charge relatively high interest rates for overdrafts, but rarely as high as a credit card - and they will give much better rates for good customers.

Real Loans.

When you’re buying one big thing at a fixed price (like a car), or you’re going to spend all the money on one type of thing (home improvements, for example), it’s worth budgeting it all out and going to a bank or another loan company. They’ll be able to lend you the money at a much better rate than a credit card would, simply because they know why you’re taking the loan and can set regular monthly payments for you to repay it.

Credit Unions.

Credit unions are like banks, only more local. They are co-operative, owned by their members and run by the community, and are a great place to borrow money. This is because there are limits in law on how much interest credit unions can charge, and they don’t need to make a profit for owners or shareholders, because they don’t have any. It’s well worth checking if there’s one in your area.

ACH or Credit Cards

Most businesses accept credit cards and consider the
process fees a cost of doing business. However by
implementing an ACH payment system you can realize
dramatic savings and increase sales.

ACH refers to the Automated Clearing House and
generically means moving money electronically to
and from checking and savings accounts. An example
would be a check by phone or taking recurring payments
directly from a checking account.

The MAJOR difference between ACH and credit card
processing is that a credit card transaction “captures”
the merchant’s funds from the consumer and essentially
guarantees payment. An ACH transaction is a request to
transfer funds. The transaction may reject for several
reasons with the most common being NSF (non
sufficient funds) or a closed account. The funds are
not guaranteed.

It is the guarantee piece that allows the credit card
company to charge a percentage of the transaction to
cover the risks involved. Typically a transaction will
consist of a discount rate, 2.5% for example and a
transaction fee, typically in the 30 cent range. This
means that every $100 processed incurs about $2.85 in
merchant fees.

Contrast this with an ACH transaction. Typically there
is no discount rate just a .30 (or less) transaction
fee. If you process $25,000 per month using ACH
processing will save around $7500 per year. Certainly
you will have more “failed” sales due to ACH
transaction rejects (eg NSF) but your transaction savings
will far exceed these losses. In addition you will
appeal to a much wider range of consumers. Estimates
vary but MANY people do not have credit cards or are
at their limit on their cards. So the benefits are two
fold-much reduced transaction fees and a new payment
vehicle for your customers.

So consider ACH processing for your business. It will
save you money and win new customers

Thursday, May 28, 2009