If you want to accept credit cards but can’t justify a merchant account, consider options such as Square, Clover and PayPal Here. Other options include your invoicing software or a P2P service like Zelle.
Dear Your Business Credit,I run a small career coaching business. Some of my clients want to pay me using credit cards. I’d like to keep them happy. How do I accept credit cards? – Stan
You’re very smart to consider accepting credit cards. It’s a tremendous convenience for customers to be able to pay electronically – and it’s very easy to do.
It could also help boost your revenue significantly. People often come to a career coach when they are between jobs and money is tight for them. Making it easy for them to use your services immediately by putting the charges on a credit card is a great way to help them get back on their feet quickly.
So what is the best way to accept credit cards in a service business?
It’s a little different for retailers and other businesses that do a high volume of credit card transactions. For those types of businesses, getting a merchant account is usually the best way to accept credit cards. A merchant services provider can help merchants identify a plan that is suited to the types of transactions they do and to their customers’ buying habits. That can help to keep costs down.
However, in a career coaching business or other professional services businesses, the volume of transactions may not be high enough to justify getting a merchant account. The pricing for low-volume accounts tends to be less attractive.
What credit card payment processing options are available?
- One convenient way to accept payments is through Square. By attaching a small device to your phone or an iPad that Square provides for free, you can process transactions anywhere with good Wi-Fi. It costs 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction to use Square.
- Clover is a competitor to Square that is also worth investigating. It offers a similar card reader you can plug into your digital devices to accept credit cards. The Clover “Go” reader costs $69.The least expensive plan, “Register Lite,” costs $14 a month and 2.7% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions and 3.5% plus 10 cents for keyed-in transactions.
- Another option is PayPal Here, which offers a free mobile card reader when you sign up. You can also opt for a chip-and-swipe reader or a chip-and-tap reader that comes with a charging stand for $79.99. PayPal Here charges 2.7% per swipe.
Some business owners are reluctant to accept credit cards because they don’t want to pay the fees. Fees may add up if someone is, for instance, paying for 10 coaching sessions at once.
However, it’s important to consider the cost of not accepting credit cards. Will a potential customer opt out of coaching altogether if you don’t make it easy to pay – and miss out on your services as a result? If that’s the case, it may be worthwhile to accept credit cards.
Other options: Your invoicing software, or a P2P service
There is another quick and easy way to accept credit cards – through your invoicing software. If you use QuickBooks, Freshbooks or Xero accounting, you can offer customers the option of paying by credit card by selecting that option on your invoices. If you normally invoice your coaching clients this way, it may be the simplest way to accept credit cards.
For customers who simply want to pay electronically and not specifically by credit card, you might also check out Zelle, a bank-to-bank transfer system that allows a customer to pay you in cash electronically. There are no fees. However, the customer has to have the cash available to do this.
Every customer has different habits when it comes to making payments. The more options you offer, the more likely you’ll get paid on time and build strong cash flow.