Safeguarding Your Customers: Tops Tips for Accepting Credit Card Payments Securely


Want to take credit cards? You’re not alone. But, accepting plastic doesn’t come without its risks. Here’s what you need to know about the various types of card terminals and readers, as well as merchant account services.

How A Merchant Account Really Changes Your Business

There are a lot of advertised benefits of accepting credit and debit cards, but most people miss the essential benefit. When you accept cash-only, the maximum sale you can make with a customer is equal to however much the customer has on him. With cash, sales are inherently limited to cash. Sounds obvious, right?

With credit and debit cards, this limit is increased substantially. Instead of carrying cash, your maximum sale is hypothetically as large as the customer’s bank account or credit limit. This means higher sales per transaction, and more transaction volume – both are good for business.

Shopping For a Service Provider

Spend some time searching for a good service provider. Sites, like make this process relatively easy, but you still need to contact potential providers’ customer service, check their BBB rating, and research any complaints.

Merchant Accounts Vs. Merchant Account Services

Most small businesses opt for a merchant account service provider rather than a direct merchant account, especially when they’re first starting out. This is because a merchant account service provider is a middleman that bundles the costs of a direct merchant account and then essentially resells the merchant account to multiple merchants.

This defrays the liability costs, PCI compliance costs, and allows very small businesses to get started when they don’t have the money for a traditional merchant account.


No one likes paying fees, but it’s a part of the industry. In almost every instance, you’re going to end up paying fees based on one of two pricing models:


  • Monthly fee model or;
  • No monthly fee model


The monthly fee model works like this: you pay a monthly service fee for the merchant account services, and you also pay a percentage of each sale to the credit card processing company. On top of this, you pay a flat-fee, called a “per transaction fee.” This fee is paid, as the name suggests, on each transaction.

Some service providers also charge fees for attempted (but failed) transactions, chargebacks, and disputes.

The other model is the no monthly fee model. Here’s how that works: you pay a percentage of the sale price on each transaction to the service provider, plus a per-transaction fee.

Usually, the percentage you pay to the service provider is higher than with the monthly fee model. For example, you might pay a £30 per month service fee under the monthly fee model, but only 1.3 per cent of each sale and £0.15 flat fee per transaction.

With a no monthly fee option, you might pay 3.4pc on each sale, with a £0.30 per transaction fee.

If you’re a low volume seller, the no monthly fee option might be cheaper, depending on your business model. If you’re a higher volume seller, the opposite might be true.

Rosie Matthews is well-briefed on cyber-security issues and is regularly providing guidance to clicks and mortar as well as bricks and mortar retailers. She likes to share her insights online and is a regular contributor for several B2B websites.


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