Most of my local customers in my little jewelry and bead shop plan to pay for their purchases with a cash or check -- that's still the standard here. But visitors out here, who often want to bring home souvenirs, often ask me if I accept credit cards. I'm not currently set up to do so and have been researching various companies off and on.
Today I stumbled across PayPal's merchant account for processing credit card transactions. Does anyone have any experience with this? I haven't dug deeply into the details yet, but found so far the PayPal has a "virtual terminal", where I could enter online the customer's name, credit card number, expiration date, 3-digit id number, and amount of the transaction. The sample screen on the PayPal website looks similar to what you see when you enter your payment info when shopping online. PayPal charges $30 per month for relatively low-volume accounts (under $3,000 per month), plus a per-transaction fee of 3.1% + $0.30. Like the other merchants I've come across, the percentage is lower for higher volume accounts.
I suppose I'd need to have a laptop with modem (which I don't currently own) set up in my shop -- otherwise, I wouldn't know if a transaction is authorized until I get home and log on to the internet. Some of the other companies' solutions I've researched, however, have this same weakness, although they have a swipe machine that at least gives the illusion of obtaining approval. Hopefully, most customers are aware of the status of their credit card accounts and wouldn't present a card that would be declined. But going the get-approval-tonight route carries that risk.
I also suppose there are gizmos that I could attach to my laptop that would allow me to swipe a customer's card instead of typing in the info.
Anyway, would appreciate your thoughts and experiences.
Lisa I know nothing about this stuff really but just wanted to mention that you can use a cell phone with a credit card swiper attached to it as well instead of a laptop. I've seen several merchants at bead shows that travel a lot use them. A cell phone is probably cheaper than getting a laptop.
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Cat, that's a great suggestion, except for the fact that there ain't no such thing out here. Sigh! I do miss having a cell phone, but on the other hand, sometimes it's nice not having them interrupt your life constantly, you know? Instead, I live with government bureaucracy. I requested a landline to be installed in the facility where my bead and jewelry ship is 2-1/2 months ago, and they finally called me yesterday to schedule the installation......
Gosh that really stinks. I guess being in the middle of the ocean somewhere has it's drawbacks. ( I secretly would LOVE not having a cell phone, mine rings constantly and I can't stand it)
Well that was my only thought so I don't know how else to try and help!
Cat :I secretly would LOVE not having a cell phone, mine rings constantly and I can't stand it
You know, it's nice to be able to use my ancient cell phone when we're on vacation -- easier to keep in touch with each other. But often it IS nice to live on a tiny little island with backwards technology. Our tv here is ridiculous -- 5 military channels only. There's an all-day sports channel and an all-day news channel. A family (read that as kids) channel and a movie channel that plays movies at least 2 years old, nothing newer. The 5th channel is a mixture of the most popular shows in the US, delayed a week or so. You already know how "reliable" our internet connection here is. The tv is off the air even more than our internet! So I never bother to turn it on. The only time we turn on the TV is to watch DVD's. We just got Smallville season 8, and Christine and I are having a blast watching it. Also got Supernatural season 4, ditto.
To keep in touch here, we have a 1/2 white board, 1/2 bulletin board posted on the wall in our dining room (my bead room these days, but who's keeping track). It's right where we walk by all the time, between the kitchen and the living room. We "sign out" putting a note on the white board saying where we're going. Also keep often-called phone numbers there and things like the soccer schedule and school calendar on the bulletin board. It has been worth it's weight in gold!
Back on the subject, though, I'm a little surprised no one else has chimed in -- am I the only one who's discovered that PayPal now has merchant accounts for credit card processing?
I didn't realize they had an actual merchant account, but the only place I can really accept credit cards is the bazaars, and the organizers accept all the payments for us and then direct deposit them to our bank accts. The fee doesn't sound too bad for the ease of use though.
That said, I did download the Paypal application for my iPhone, so if I happen to be selling somewhere else (a jewelry party for ex.) someone can log into their paypal acct from my phone and send me a payment.
I also saw the other day that there's a new merchant services app for the iPhone that actually accepts payments, lets a customer do a touch screen signature, and emails a receipt. Way cool, except it's only for US merchants. *sigh*
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Thought I'd post an update here... In another thread we've discussed using ProPay as a credit card merchant service. I've decided to go with them because the upfront costs are by far the lowest I've seen, their per-transaction processing fees are competitive, and their monthly account fee is also super-low (I chose the upgraded account that allows processing of VISA, MC, Disc, and Amex, and paid $60 for a year -- that's not per month, that's per year). I'll be using a "knuckle-buster" manual credit card imprinter (ordered from Mr Imprinter on eBay) and calling ProPay's 1-800 number for approvals. Then at the end of each day, I'll log on to the ProPay website and enter each credit card transaction. ProPay also has a swipe gadget, but it costs around $100 upfront and adds another $5 per month.
Thanks, Megan, for telling us about ProPay!!!
I'll be interested to hear how you like Propay...it seems like a cool company and the $100 for the swipe gadget is a lot less than the others out there. I'm not ready for it yet but I definitely see something like that in my future.
Mikki335:the $100 for the swipe gadget is a lot less than the others out there. I'm not ready for it yet but I definitely see something like that in my future.
You know, I've thought about upgrading quite a bit, but I don't think their current swipe gadget is what I'd want to upgrade to. All it does is record the credit card swipe -- it doesn't have a way to enter the amount of sale, verify the swipe with the last 4 digits, or record the customer's signature. In fact, if I want a signature from my customers, I'd still have to use the knuckle-buster to create a receipt. So I can't see why ProPay's current swipe gadget is any better than manual, kwim?
So, I'll keep my eyes open for ProPay to offer more options for upgrading to electronic gadgets, maybe at some point they'll offer a tool that'll work better for my needs. Meantime, I'm bustin' those knuckles!
When I buy gas on my credit card, it gets swiped, and two copies of the transaction are printed; I sign one and get to keep the other. Shouildn't be that expensive to add to the $100.00 machine - you might ask about that, or about one that will print two colpies on adding machine paper.
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Stan, that's just the thing, ProPay doesn't offer or work with other types of machines. the only one they have for now records a swipe, that's it. Doesn't print anything, no keypad to type in information, nothing. You connect it to your computer and it'll upload all of the credit card swipes, then you have to type in the transaction amount and a couple other things for each transaction. Saves time in keying in your transactions each evening, but that's it. Frankly, it's not worth $100 to me to have a gadget that saves me from typing in credit card numbers.
I too have signed up with ProPay and will be using the knucklebuster as Megan recommended. I'm just waiting to get my account verified (long story).
The swipe gadget would not be worth the cost to me. I type 80 wpm in my sleep - I can just as easily type in the numbers on-line or on the telephone and save myself the hundred bucks to buy beads!
Just my two cents.........!
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Saving $100 so I can spend it on beads? Count me in!
I have also been researching credit card vendors and have found these two, neither of which I have signed up for yet, but here is the info.
www.charge.com free set & application fee, instant approval, free software and tech support, accept credit, debit, internet checks, transaction fee is 0.15 plus 1.26% for face to face transactions or 0.15 plus 1.79% for internet entry. This is ProPay.
If you have Quickbooks for your bookkeeping go into their site and research. I started but there seems to be more then one product they offer. One was free set up $12.95 monthly fee, 0.30 + 1.9% for card swipe and 0.30 + 2.90% for keyed entries. I might have to talk to them as it seems there are several different ways to set up. But they can feed transactions directly into your Quickbooks program. www.intuit.com or 800-558-9558.
I was researching the various services as I am considering home parties for my jewelry. My concern is that since I do off loom weaving I would not be having parties every week, because of the time it takes to make pieces. And paying a monthly fee for a service that I might not use that frequently is a concern.
Hope this helps some or at least gives two other avenues to research.
I'm jumping in here a bit late, but thought I'd share some info I found during my initial research. I found the following website that compares merchant service vendors (but doesn't include ProPay or PayPal: http://credit-card-processing-review.toptenreviews.com/. I have no idea if these people are truly neutral in these reviews or not.
I did some research on wireless services and the machine alone is completely outragous (credible resources seem to start around $600 new.) I don't see any options to rent equipment, but that seems like it would be a good business for someone to get into.
When people refer to knuckle busters, I assume they're talking about the old tech machines where you use the multi copy carbon slips and imprint the card info by running a bar across the info. I looked on ebay for Mr. Imprinter, but couldn't find that source. Several are available for about $10 including 100 slips. I assume that's a decent deal. (timberlakejustin was one vendor I found.) Feel free to guide me to a reliable source, if anyone has one.
I went to the ProPay site and see the Premium service for $60 a year, but it also has a long list of documents that have to be submitted for anything other than a basic membership (which has a $1000 a month limit.) Here they are:
I don't have all this info to provide, do I don't know if ProPay is a viable option for me or not. (I've been strictly a cash business so far and haven't started a bank account strictly for my business.) I also am hesitant to deposit any kind of reserve into an account. If anyone has experience with this process and can tell me if this is difficult for a new business to get approved, I would appreciate the info.
I need to get this set up in time for an early November event. I would appreciate any help people can provide.