For many York County businesses, accepting credit cards is a major step toward success. In a number of recent studies, researchers found that customers preferred to shop or do business with companies that accept credit cards by a factor of two to one. And when those customers knock on the door of a business that accepts credit cards, they are likely to spend forty to fifty percent more on each purchase than a customer paying by cash or check.
Bank of York makes it easy to join the ranks of successful York County companies that accept major credit cards. Instead of waiting to speak to a merchant account provider over the phone, simply stop by one of our branches. You'll speak with a real York County business expert who can show you the best way to get started.
What is a Merchant Account?
A 'merchant account' is the tool your business will use to process payments using your customers credit and/or debit cards. Unlike a traditional business bank account, your merchant account won't carry a balance. It simply acts as a place for funds to be authorized and settled before being transferred back to the checking account of your choice.
When your customer uses a major credit or debit card to purchase goods or services, you will use your merchant account to authorize the transfer of funds from their account to yours. If you run a restaurant, a travel agency, or another business where the final amount of the transaction may vary, your merchant account can be permitted to authorize an amount slightly higher than the projected purchase price. That way, you will be able to add a tip or a variable shipping charge without causing your customer to spend beyond his or her limit. Once you have finalized the transaction, you can 'capture' that amount to set the transaction in motion. In most cases, such as traditional retail environments, you can authorize and capture the funds at the same time.
Once funds have been captured to your merchant account, fees for your transaction are deducted from the final sale price. In most cases, you will pay a 'discount fee' &emdash; a percentage of the sale ranging from 1% to 4% &emdash; plus a fixed transaction fee and a gateway fee. Each of these fees pays for the convenience of processing the transaction. The discount fee is split among the banks handling the transaction, and most 'cash back' or points promotions are funded by these fees. The transaction fee is paid directly to the bank that manages your merchant account, and the gateway fee is paid to the company that maintains the data connection to the transaction network.
After fees have been deducted, the remainder of your transaction is 'settled' to the account of your choosing after a few business days. Many businesses choose to set up a dedicated 'clearing account' to handle merchant account deposits. At Bank of York, you can use any of our business checking accounts to collect your merchant account deposits. Visit any of our convenient York County bank branches to learn more about opening a merchant account for your business, so you can start accepting major credit cards right away.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
Accepting credit cards from your customers is easy with Bank of York on your side. Visit our convenient York County bank branches and we'll be happy to review your options. For most business customers, accepting credit cards is a matter of following these seven steps.
- Start with the best product or service you can offer. A business with a track record of quality can often qualify for lower merchant account rates. Companies that sell tangible goods receive a lower discount rate than companies selling services or memberships. However, Bank of York can help you find the best rate plan for your business.
- Decide how you will serve your customers. Will you be accepting orders only in person, or will you invite your customers to place orders online, over the phone, and through mail order? Traditionally, businesses that accept 'card not present' transactions pay a slightly higher discount rate than face-to-face operations. However, studies indicate that customers spend significantly more and shop more frequently with their favorite merchants when they know they can use their favorite credit cards.
- For retail shops, choose a point of sale system and a merchant terminal. Bank of York can help you purchase or lease an affordable merchant terminal that works with your cash register or accounting system. Newer businesses might save money by investing in a point of sale system with an integrated card swiper. However, you can easily add a merchant terminal to any retail operation without requiring a lot of new equipment. Bank of York's business experts can show you the kinds of solutions our customers use to help you find the right system for your business.
- For online businesses, select a payment gateway and an e-commerce system. With a secure online system, your customers can securely place their orders around the clock. A secure payment gateway transmits your customer's private data from your webserver to their bank for approval. Bank of York can help you find compatible solutions for your new merchant account.
- For all merchants, have a telephone handy. From time to time, your merchant terminal or payment gateway will require voice authorization for certain purchases. Or, if you are a low volume seller, you might prefer to use the telephone to process your merchant transactions over the phone. Either way, Bank of York's convenient account access line is available twenty-four hours a day to help you conduct business.
- Post your terms of sale prominently at your business and on your website. You can prevent costly billing errors and chargebacks by clearly stating your return policy and your terms of service wherever you do business with your customers. In some cases, clear return policies can help you qualify for lower discount rates and other perks.
- Open for business! Let Bank of York's business experts help you test your system before you open the doors. We can provide you with test accounts and other training materials to help you and your team process error free transactions.
Accepting Sales in Person
According to recent surveys, many customers spend as much as 50% more per average order when they know they can pay with a credit card. And with check cards becoming more popular, customers that used to pay with cash or checks often prefer the convenience of swiping their plastic. You can join the growing number of successful York County businesses that accept credit cards by requesting a merchant account from Bank of York. Once your new account is set up, you can start taking credit card payments in five easy steps:
- Review your point of sale equipment. Retail stores can easily integrate merchant terminals into their existing cash register systems. While some cash registers offer direct interaction with a merchant terminal, you can still use older machines to track your credit card payments by filing duplicate receipts in your cash drawer. Remote service personnel or sales operations can use sales orders and paper authorization forms to take orders without a live merchant terminal.
- Install a merchant terminal or choose telephone authorization. To qualify for the best merchant discount rates, install a merchant terminal at your sales counter. Customers prefer keeping their cards in view at all times, so a terminal in plain sight is often the best option. If you work on the road, you can always use telephone authorization to manually enter your customer's payment information.
- Manage your paperwork. Newer merchant terminals and cash registers do a lot of the recordkeeping for you. In many cases, you can print or export a report that you can review in your favorite accounting software. You'll be able to reconcile incoming deposits with their matching invoices or sales orders.
- Practice making sales. Before you start accepting live credit cards, it's a good idea to get your staff comfortable with the policies and procedures required by major banks. Bank of York can help you get comfortable with your new merchant account by providing training materials and sample account numbers that you can use in 'test mode'.
- Open for business. Publicize the fact that you accept major credit cards with free logo decals and other promotional material. Bank of York can help you acquire free items, such as credit slip clipboards and restaurant wallets, that make accepting credit cards even easier.
Visit your nearest Bank of York branch today to find out how we can help you make more sales and manage your cash flow with a professional merchant account.
Accepting Sales Online
Accepting sales online may be mystifying to some business owners. Whether you need help understanding e-commerce or whether you're an online expert looking for a better merchant rate, Bank of York can help you. With four convenient branches right here in York County, we offer some of the easiest ways to help your business make more money online.
First, apply for a merchant account through Bank of York. We can get you started by accepting Visa and MasterCard sales in just a few days. Later on, you can add other major credit cards, like American Express and Discover.
Next, choose an e-commerce platform compatible with our merchant gateway. Because we use a widely accepted interchange system, you'll be able to choose from a wide variety of tools to find the system that meets your needs. Whether you want a simple system to let your customers pay their invoices online, or you desire a fully-loaded platform for automated e-commerce, a Bank of York merchant account is your key to receiving secure payments from customers.
Finally, promote your convenient new payment options to customers. Every day, more customers are choosing to handle their bill payment and shopping online. You can capture more business while reducing your company's risk by accepting credit cards online. Speak to one of Bank of York's business experts today to get started.