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Guide to card processing

Find out everything you need to know.

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Why take card payments?

There is a wide range of reasons as to why independent businesses must embrace card payment terminals. Quite simply, the move could help to ensure that you broaden your customer base, attracting a new audience by simplifying the transaction process. And by welcoming card payments, you can help to boost impulse buying, thereby ensuring that consumers spend more money, more often.

What's more, owing to the fact that card terminals mean less cash and cheques to deposit, you're likely to incur fewer bank fees. And if you're worried about security, then you needn't be. Once the necessary infrastructure is in place, you can receive instant authorisation that funds from card transactions are being sent directly to your bank account.

What do I need to get started with cards?

Before you can start to enjoy all of these great benefits, you will need to install the necessary card payment processing infrastructure. A merchant bank account is the first thing any business needs to acquire in order to take cards. Using a merchant service account, businesses are able to accept payments from all types of debit or credit card. And contrary to what you may think, opening a merchant account is surprisingly easy.

You will need to provide the merchant service account with some basic details, including business account/current/expected turnover and average transaction values. In addition to this, you will also need to provide details of the frequency of transactions, the nature of your business and the percentage of transactions being taken by card. If taking payments through your website, you will also need to set up a payment gateway.

What are the different ways I can take cards?

Card processing is highly versatile these days and it's possible to accept card payments in-store, online, over the phone and on the move.

Chip and PIN machines are used by millions of businesses around the world to process card payments in-store, with most retailers and restaurants installing these easy to use terminals by their tills or cash registers. Another popular type of card machine is the portable terminal. This features Bluetooth or wireless technology which allows the unit to be used anywhere on your business premises. Mobile terminals, meanwhile, are perfect for businesses that need to take payments on the move. Thanks to cutting-edge GPRS technology, they are able to process transactions immediately from anywhere in the UK that has good phone coverage.

Alternatively, a virtual terminal is the perfect solution if you receive orders via telephone, fax or mail order.

What are the costs involved?

The costs involved with using a merchant service account are determined by which payment processor you sign up with. But regardless of the option you choose, the costs will not be especially large. The good merchant accounts are free to open, because the small transaction fee is enough to cover the cost. You will, however, have to pay a small monthly amount to lease the card terminals.

The merchant fees, meanwhile, are what you pay on each transaction and can be broken down into two categories: percentage and flat rate. And, once again, your choice will be determined by the type of business you run.

How do I get paid?

The funds for the transaction come out of the merchant account, with the sum of the day's sales getting sent out for processing and settlement. Thereafter, the funds are withdrawn from your merchant account and deposited into your business's checking account.

The process takes two business days to complete, meaning you will receive your funds three to five business days after the transaction is first agreed. It will take an average of four to five days for online payments to clear.

How long does it take to get set up?

Given the ever-increasing importance of card payment processing, it is imperative that your independent business – regardless of its size – embraces cutting-edge technology. And while the process itself may seem very complicated when it is broken down phase by phase, it is surprisingly easy to install and, even more importantly, is reassuringly cost-effective.

Card machines

Low cost card machines that are perfect for small business.

Get a free card machine quote for your business in minutes. Order today and you could save up to 40% on your card costs.

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Online payments

Set up a card payment solution for your website today.

We offer website payments from just £9.95/month. Sign up today and you'll be ready to take cards within 24 hours.

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Pay by phone

Accept card payments using your phone and computer.

Set up a phone payment system for just £9.95/month. There are no hardware costs and you can be set up within 24 hours.

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