Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Paypal - Credit Cards Online

Credit card merchant accounts are complicated, why not just use paypal to accept payment?

It's simple. People trust it. It's not that expensive. Paypal's fees start at:
2.9% + $0.30/transaction for under $3K per month
When you're above $100K per month, it's 1.9% and $.30 per transaction.

There are two plans: Website payment standard and website payment pro. With pro, there are PCI compliance issues. I suspect that the difference between the two is whether the customer says on my page to pay or gets passed over to the paypal website to pay.

Credit cards online might be a lot simpler with paypal. I'm definitely paying more than 1.9% plus $.30 per transaction.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Joomla integration with credit cards

The site that I'm looking to add credit card processing to is based on Joomla.  It's funny that of all the the credit card sales people that have called me, none have asked the basic questions that most matter.  Mostly, we want the technology to work smoothly.

There is a joomla component called AEC which is developed (I'm not kidding) by the GlobalNerds.

  It's likely we'll use AEC as our integration module.  So, for our initial credit card processor, we're likely to pick whichever one the AEC people (who are going to the implementation for us) suggests as the simplest.  

AEC is a component that handles integration with subscriptions and payment processing.   Later, to keep costs low as our sales rise, we'll switch to Google Checkout (if they maintain their deal to credit adsense marketing expenses against credit card fees)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Merchant Account Sales People

I am setting up a new website and as part of this, I'm trying to setup a way to take credit cards. The sales people in this industry and I just don't get along. Am I wrong to resent this sort of response to one of my inquiries?

Thanks for inquiring on our services.
Here is a break down of our processing. When you take a Visa/MasterCard/Discover you only pay 2.25 % + .25 per transaction. Our merchant accounts include a 6 dollar statement fee, a 10 dollar gateway fee, and I will not charge you any setup fees, application fees or programming fees. Automatically we setup Visa/MasterCard and Discover, if you are interested in Amex let me know, but they charge about 3% and 5.95 a month.
If you have any questions give me a call. Please print out the attached application. Just fill out and sign the areas I have marked and send it back to me with a voided check of the account that you want your funds deposited.
You name left off....Account Manager

Here's what bugs me. I think the choice of a merchant account vendor, a credit card processing company is a big deal. Once selected, I'm pretty well locked into their technology and system not so much by contract as by momentum.

I'll train my people on their software, I'll store my customers credit cards on their system, and I'll interface with their technology. But, he seems to assume that there is nothing to discuss. He assumes that I think the pricing is a simple as that.

Am I the only one who gets PO'd at this?

Attached to his email there is the:
- the 36 page First Data Merchant Services Program Guide. A dense thorough document.
- the 3 page FDR agreement
and a few other docs.

I will say that one of the other people that I've made inquiries to called me today with a lets-get-this-thing-signed attitude. I asked a few questions about how the technology interfaces and was told that I could speak to technical support after I signed the contract. I asked how their pricing compared to Google Checkout and was told that I'm very confused, that Google was a search engine and was not in the credit card business. I told her that if she didn't have information about her industry and what was going on in it, she shouldn't call me again.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Merchant Account Services Search Engine

This is cool. I just saw a nifty search function on a blog about merchant account services (They're promoting their own).

It is a great informative blog.

I haven't had a chance to test out this search engine but I'm going to.

Oops, I just tried using it like a search engine putting in words like "security", "recurring billing", and "vendors" and either I'm not using it right or it's not working this morning.

What a shame, it looks cool.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Need a credit card vendor

I just rewrote this to put it on a forum.

It looks like our business model for use of the site will be $39.95 by purchase order of check. We will discount it for to $24.95 if you pay online with a credit card or by paypal.

We have grown from zero to 1.5M visits per month this year. We get around 4K weekly registrations. Once we start charging, we are guessing that the number of registrations will drop to 400/week.

At 400/week, $25 each, figure $10K/week. So ~$50K per year. We could be way way off.
This would make it my second largest business. I want to use a different credit card vendor this time.

Email to creditcardsonline101 at gmail dot com, if you are interested.
Here's my initial research.

Authorize.net - No free schedule online . You need to request a quote. 866-437-0476. When you get them on the phone, they quote:
$99 setup and $20/month for authorize.net
$10/month and $.25/transaction for the merchant account services provided by Cybersource.
Visa/Mastercard rates of 2.19% per transaction for qualified cards, 3.39% for nonqual.
Total: assume average rate of 3% plus $.25: $.99 total. BUT, the assumption of an average of 3% is a huge assumption.

Sage Payment Systems: No fee schedule on their site. You have to request a quote. (800) 261-0240.

2 Checkout: 5.5% of the transaction total, plus $0.45. For a $24.95 transaction, this would be: $1.82 or 7.2% of my transaction.

Paypal: 1.9% to 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for domestic transactions. This is true for all credit card types. True for debit cards. One operator told me that the rate these days is 2.9%. The next one said that it was tiered. At volumes above $3K/month, I could get 2.7%. 1.9%. It does not depend on volume. Its $1.02. This is around 4%. 866 775-8151. Their service starts with a voice processing system which I found very annoying. I'm now 7 minutes into trying to get them on the phone. And unlike being on hold, it's constant work trying to respond to their voice response system to identify myself. Weird that people still think these systems are useful for customer service. When you create a business account, it can have multiple users. I asked why there is so much on the net about Paypal locking accounts. The answer was a long talk in which Paypal explained that they need to be secure. They could not provide any details on what number of percent of customer complains would trigger "locking" the account but said that I could get that from merchant solutions. Merchant solutions: 888 215 5506. Excessive rate of charge backs is 40%. At above $100K/month, you get an account manager. It's the same for all visa, mastercard, amex, 1% extra on international transactions including Canada:
  • $0.00 USD - $3,000.00 USD - 2.9% + $0.30 USD
  • $3,000.01 USD - $10,000.00 USD - 2.5% + $0.30 USD
  • $10,000.01 USD - $100,000.00 USD - 2.2% + $0.30 USD
  • $100,000.00 USD - 1.9% + $0.30 USD
Google Checkout: 2% + $0.20 per transaction (plus the expenses up to 10x of my Adwords fees are deducted from my expenses. Since I spend $4K/month on Adwords, this means that the first $40K of revenue is handled without costs. Since my fee with Google Checkout is 2.8%. This could potentially be absolutely free.

Decision Time on a new credit card vendor

It looks like our business model for membership on the site will be: annual recurring billing.

Question 1 - Is there any reason not to just go with paypal. It looks easy to setup. They have a clean API, plenty of support, and their costs seem reasonable?

Question 2 - I don't think an "annual recurring" makes any sense. I think we'll get a lot of chargebacks if we just do a recurring billing after 12 months. And a lot of credit cards will have gone bad.

If you have advice or proposals, you can comment here or email to creditcardsonline101 at gmail.com for more info.

The site that we are looking at putting htis on had 1.4 million visits last month. We're expecting to charge $25/year and have 400 payments per month. Figure a $500K revenue stream the first year. Then it'll grow...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Recurring Revenue & Voice Authorization Required

We have far too many members whose credit card suddenly gets declined. It just kills our business. One of the messages that we get is: "Voice Authorization Required."

We are now trying to get these cases authorized. So we dig out the credit card number and call in for an authorization number. They seem to just want the credit card number, expiration date, and merchant account number.

Anybody have any experience with this ?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

PCI Compliance Webinar

We got this email in the mail inviting us to free online webinar. We've accepted. I'll share what I learn....

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) states that
companies which process, store or transmit payment card data must:

* Build and Maintain a Secure Network
* Protect Cardholder Data
* Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
* Implement Strong Access Control Measures
* Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
* Maintain an Information Security Policy

Non-compliance can result in hefty fines, loss of ability to accept credit
card payment, and liability for fraudulent charges.

Concerned? We can help.

Our PCI experts will review key points of the standard, which companies need
to comply, common misconceptions about covered computing systems, as well as
other information important surrounding the standard. Additionally, we will
also be reviewing the most recent update to the standard, PCI-DSS 1.2, and
how it affects organizations as they move towards, or continue to maintain,
PCI compliance.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A note about society... I just voted.

This is simple. I just voted. In Florida, we can vote early. Today, the polls started opening at 7 am. I voted. You should too.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Researching card updater & voice authorizations

Interesting things that peaked my interest during my cc research on 10/21/08:

http://www.webmasterworld.com/ecommerce/3092104.htm - there is a feature mentioned where every 3 months when a member logs in they are requested to re-authorize their cc info. Pretty cool, especially since they only get it when they log in. Not quite sure where they log into to get the re-auth but i'll ask our vendor if they heard of it.

I read through our vendors site and the voice auths caught my eye. I’m thinking we should try it again. I’m waiting for our vendor to call me back. I'm going to get a cc# from one of the voice auth declines and see whether or not i can get approval on it. would be great if i can.

I followed up with Discover. We don’t qualify for Discover’s merchant updater because we are not a large enough merchant. They won't provide us with anymore info.

Getting started with payment processing

If you are trying to set up a business, particularly an online business ("card not present" in industry jargon meaning you can't see the customer, card, or get a signature) with recurring revenue (meaning a stream of revenue like a subscription from each customer) and the delivery of value online such as education or ebook or software downloads (an "intangible product" in industry jargon meaning that there is no physical product shipped), you mind find that payment processors are not that eager to deal with you. Especially if you want your customers to pay you up front.

This is because of what can and has happened. Many nice little startups have come into being. They have a great new service which customers can have for just $250 per year. They sell maybe two hundred subscriptions over the first year meaning that they collect $250 from two hundred people. Assume, sadly, that they had expected to sell a thousand subscriptions and their business plan and financing (and costs) assumed revenue of $250,000 (a thousand customers) but instead sold $50,000 (two hundred). They might go out of business and there are two customers calling their bank and their credit card vendors trying to get a refund on their $250.

This has happened. A lot. So,, most vendors will not allow new startup companies to take payment for a year up front or even quarterly. They require you to take payment monthly. Oh, and they don't tell you this. They just look at your application to take payment for a year and say it was refused.

I think I applied and was refused by several vendors before someone told me that the next place that I applied to take credit cards, I should tell them that I was going to take payment monthly, not annually. I did and was accepted.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

About this blog and me

About this blog: Credit Cards Online 101 is an effort to explain simply to busy people how a small online business manager should understand payment processing. By "small", I mean companies that have between $250,000 and $25,000,000 in revenue. By online, I mean "card not present" at the time of transaction. Should I explain what I mean by the word busy and manager? Let me tell you about my world and why I'm writing this post at 4 in the morning.

I will zero in on the sale of "intangible services" such as membership or educational services or downloads of ebooks or software. I will also cover the sale of products such as books and and other products that get shipped. I'll probably stay away from electronics or other items that have a "resale" value since that's a different set of problems.

I will also zero in on "recurring billing" which doesn't just mean trying to make money every week and month and year from customers that keep buying from you. It means that you set up a transaction with customers that runs periodically (often monthly). Again, it means that you bill the same customer over and over.

I am trying to explain it since I am trying to understand it. I invite you to come learn with me.

About me: I am a small business owner. I started in my living room in 2003 and by the end of 2004, I was in business, had revenues, and was way short of the stated minimum focus of this blog of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in revenue. At the end of year two, I was still short of the number. In fact, I had not broken into six figures. In year 3, I broke into six figures and in year 5, I broke into figures. Looking back, it was in year 3 that I could have gotten out of survival mode and would have liked to better understand how my lifeblood - online payment processing - worked. And why it was consuming about 4% of my revenues.

I find that to study something, since I am busy, I need to have a way to record my thoughts and questions. Hence this blog. My operations manager will work with me on this project.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Recurring Processing - A clever reprocessing script

I started talking with a domain registration guy this morning (I bought perhaps my 350th domain this morning) and somehow, since I was thinking about credit cards, I started asking him how he processes payments. A few tidbits:

- He swears by a vendor called Infusionsoft as the best for recurring payments. He said that they weren't the cheapest but they were the best at handling recurring billings. When I asked what that meant, he said that it was a good API with information on credit cards that were declined coupled with a great script for automatic reprocessing failed transactions.

- He uses Authorize.net for his one-time transactions.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Best Credit Card Not Present Info Resources Updated

I will periodically publish my list of best resources.

This site - Credit Cards Online 101 (in case this is being used elsewhere)

Credit Card Vendors
Visa info on merchant accounts - the center of info
American Express


Google Checkout

Websites & Blogs
Credit Cards Online 101
Infomerchant - Many articles on relevant topics.
Payment Processing Services is a blogspot blog by Unibul
The Merchant Account Blog is another incredibly useful blog by Merchantequip.
Top ten credit card processing reviews - Great site
Lions site has a top vendor review.
100 Best Merchant Accounts

Good articles:
A single article on how to interpret credit card numbers
Wikipedia has a similar article on credit card number intrepretation.
Taming the Beast has a single article which provides a good intro to the online credit cards.

Useful Resources
- Where's an online list of Visa's rates?
- An online list of Visa 3-D Secure – Compliant Vendor Software List

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Linking an AdWords account with Google Checkout?

The purpose of linking your AdWords accounts to Google Checkout is to earn free transaction processing. To link an AdWords account to Google Checkout:
  • Sign in to Google Checkout.
  • Click the Settings tab.
  • Click AdWords.
  • Enter your AdWords Customer ID in the box and click Request link. A confirmation email will be sent to the notification email address associated with your AdWords account. You, or the person managing your AdWords account for you, must follow the instructions in this email to complete the linking process. If you don't receive the confirmation email, please review our troubleshooting tips.

At this time, U.S. merchants may only link a Checkout account to an AdWords account denominated in U.S. Dollars.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Google Checkout

Google Checkout is a fast, convenient checkout process that brings you more customers and allows them to buy from you with a single login – and you can process their orders and charge their credit or debit cards for free.

I'm quoting from Google Checkout. This sounds a little too amazing to be true. It continues to say:

Process sales for free. Get free transaction processing when you use Google AdWords and pay no monthly, setup or gateway fees.

When you use Google Checkout, you'll only be charged a low 2% + $0.20 per transaction. With Google Checkout, there are no monthly, setup, or gateway service fees. I think this is significantly lower than what I'm paying.

If you advertise with Google AdWords, you will also be eligible for free transaction processing for some or all of your Google Checkout sales each month. For every $1 you spend on AdWords each month, you can process $10 in sales the following month for free through Google Checkout.

OK, lets assume that I spend $5K per month on adwords. So $50K of my processing is free. 3% of $50K is $1.5K. WOW! Does that mean no credit card fees whatsoever?

Here is a fine print question. If I spend $5K on adwords for site a, but I'm processing revenues from site b, does the deal still stand? I think the answer has more to do with google accounts than specific domains....

Can I split my free transaction processing between multiple Google Checkout accounts?
However, you can link multiple AdWords accounts to one Google Checkout account for the purpose of earning free transaction processing

Monday, October 13, 2008

Credit Card Processing Fees

I find this confusing. I have several sets of fees and unless I make an effort to see them all, they're never presented in one place.

I get a monthly statement from the bank which has two sets of fees on them. These are the ones associated with the type of credit card (qualified for discount or non-qualified as in the credit card vendor is proving miles on discounts back to the card-holder....which they are charging us the vendor for).
In addition, my ISO hits my bank account once per month with fees. Overall, these add up to about 3.5% of my revenue which is into 7 figures. Is this appropriate or over priced?

As I look at other approaches, I see at Paypal that the pricing for Payflow Pro is:
Set-up Price $249.00
Monthly Price $59.95
Included Monthly Transactions Up to 1,000
Additional Transactions $0.10 per transaction

But then, The prices listed are for the Payflow gateways only and do not include additional fees that your bank or card association may charge.

I'm guessing that this means that this is in addition to the credit card fees. I'll be looking into this is some real detail in the next month or so.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Best Websites with info on merchant accounts

I will periodically publish my list of best resources.

This site - Credit Cards Online 101 (in case this is being used elsewhere)

Credit Card Vendors
http://usa.visa.com/merchants/ - Visa is the motherload of info
http://www.mastercard.com/us/merchant/ - followed closely by mastercard
https://home.americanexpress.com/homepage/merchant_ne.shtml - Amex too
http://www.discovernetwork.com/paymentsolutions/paymentsolutions.html - Discover

Websites & Blogs
Credit Cards Online 101
Infomerchant - Many articles on relevant topics.
Payment Processing Services is a blogspot blog by Unibul
The Merchant Account Blog is another incredibly useful blog by Merchantequip.
Top ten credit card processing reviews - Great site
Lions site has a top vendor review.
100 Best Merchant Accounts

Good articles:
A single article on how to interpret credit card numbers
Wikipedia has a similar article on credit card number intrepretation.
Taming the Beast has a single article which provides a good intro to the online credit cards.

Useful Resources
- Where's an online list of Visa's rates?
- An online list of Visa 3-D Secure – Compliant Vendor Software List

Monday, October 6, 2008

Recurring Credit Cards - Where's the database

When I started my company, I wanted to outsource almost everything since my infrastructure was weak. I signed up for a merchant account where my technical arrangement was that as soon as a customer entered their credit card info, we past the info to the credit card vendor. In my company's database, we only kept the last four digits of the credit card.

Well a few years have gone by and now, I have a full time CTO and a locked office and a fair amount of infrastructure. There are a number of reasons that I might want to have full access to the credit card database.

1. If I wanted to switch credit card processors, I would have to start with a long discussion to work out the arrangement for transfering the database from my current vendor. I've yet to review my contractual arrangement with him to find out what the rules are about him providing it to me. Also, I sometimes worry about my liability for his security lapses.

2. Credit card expirations. I got thru an elaborate process of getting lists of credit cards that are going to expire every month from my vendor. They are only available starting the first of the month for which it's going to expire. I'm not sure why we don't capture this info ourselves and keep it.

3. Credit card updating process. When customers call to inquire which credit card is onfile, it's a multiscreen process to tell them.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Recurring Billing & Updating Credit Cards

My business runs on monthly recurring billing of $19.95. The bain of our existance, one of our biggest business problems, is credit card declines.

This quarter, I want to understand how the best companies handle this.

In an email from Discover, I read this morning:

Account Updater Service. You and your Merchant Processor may participate in our optional new Account Updater Service, which will enable you to receive periodic electronic files with changes to the Card Accounts that our records indicate participate in Recurring Payments Plans with you. Enrollment information is available from your Relationship Manager or at DiscoverNetwork.com.

WOW, that's exciting - enable you to receive periodic electronic files with changes to the Card Accounts that our records indicate participate in Recurring Payments Plans with you - Does that mean what I think it means? Will they tell us about credit cards that have been updated? Does Visa & Mastercharge have the same thing?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Market Leaders

I've been looking for a list of the credit card vendors by size. Which are top vendors? Not just by revenue or amount of transactions, but who is the best to deal with if you have a website that is doing less than $10M per year? Less than a $1M per year?

I've heard that Sage and Authorize.net are the leaders.
Soon, it's time to segment the market a little to explain the roles.

1. Credit card vendors. These people are brand names: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners Card, and Discovery.

2. Bit Movers. There are technology networks: First Data, Concord

3. The technology of the gateway: Vital, Nova, FDN

4. Merchant Account Vendors - ie banks: BOA, Citibank, WellsFargo, West America West Corps, Wachovia

5. ISO - Independent Sales Agents - These "feet on the street" are affiliated by contract with a bank to sell their merchant services. They are usually registered.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

PCI Compliance

I just received this:

Dear Merchants,

Due to PCI Compliance, we have had to make a change that removes the option for passwords for Online Merchant Center access to never expire.

All Users IDs with passwords that had previously been set to never expire will be prompted to create a new password when logging in on or after Sept 30, 2008. You will be prompted to create a new password, and will be given immediate access to the Online Merchant Center UI. The new passwords will be set to expire every 90 days. All Users are still able to adjust the time frame for password expiration in the Account Profile menu to select expiration time frames of 30,60,or 90 days.

Customer Service

Monday, September 29, 2008

What do you really need in a merchant account?

I just read a great post about what really really matters in a credit card processing system....

As far as processing goes, what is important?
- It needs to work, period!
- God forbid something does go wrong, it needs to get fixed, fast!
- A “fair” price!
It needs to work!

This could not be more true. At one point, I spoke to my vendor who claimed 24/7 support and complained that the phones were answered 24/7. He set up a system where they could be notified by us 24/7 and since then, I've never really considered changing.

Credit Card Merchant Account Info

Here are the best sources of info that I'm finding:

Infomerchant - Many articles on relevant topics.
Payment Processing Services is a blogspot blog by Unibul
The Merchant Account Blog is another incredibly useful blog by Merchantequip.
Top ten credit card processing reviews - Great site
A single article on how to interpret credit card numbers -
Wikipedia has a similar article on credit card number intrepretation.
Taming the Beast has a single article which provides a good intro to the online credit cards.
Lions site has a top vendor review.
100 Best Merchant Accounts

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Blogs about credit card processing

First, I'd like to say that while this site is currently positioned as a blog, this is only phase 1 of a plan to build an entire website with many resources for those setting up and using credit cards online. If you wish to contribute articles, in exchange for links and bylines, contact us.

As part of the prep, I'm trying to build a list of blogs on similiar topics:

I'll start with two incredibily well-written blogs. Both are written to support a vendor but neither one is heavy-handed or slanted. They both claim to be and seem to be genuninely useful sources of information on a wide ranging array of topics. Neither is taking advertisements or providing full directory services.

Payment Processing Services is a blogspot blog supporting Unibul's merchant services. It is a well-written and useful blog which provides useful information on topics such as:
Chargeback monitoring , representation rights for cards not present, and PCI compliance. The blog has been active since May and gets updated on average almost daily. The writing is good and it covers both small and large business topics (the current articles are about credit cards and the airline industry).

The Merchant Account Blog - This is a second really incredibly useful blog. Its also supporting a business services site, Merchant Equipment Store. It's slightly more professional in terms of the blog set-up (it has it's own URL and an apparently custom design although today, the right column is messed up so it appears at the bottom of the page).

More later.....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Card Not Present

If you know what "card not present" means, or you are trying to find out, you've come to the right website. Inside the credit card processing world, we can divide transactions into those in which the card is present or is not present.

"Card present" means that the credit card, and the card holder presumably, is present at the cash register, like in a store or restaurant or any other retail-like environment. The card can be physically swiped and looked at by the store personnel. A driver's license or other picture ID can be requested. This part of the credit card world is not what I'm interested in and is not what this website is about. Thanks for visiting but you should go click on some link that will take you elsewhere. I wouldn't complain if you'd click on one of the pay-per-clicks on your way out and left me a nickel tip but please, only do so if the advertisement truly interests you. You probably, being in a "card present" world, don't really understand the significance of me NOT asking you to click frivolously on those PPC ads so you are missing my wit and the massive economic boom that I am part of. Thanks for visiting. Good bye.

For those of you in the "card not present world", I'd divide you into a few groups. There are some of you who are in the mail order and catalog and telemarketing world or those who are in massive corporate operations. You either are not involved in the card processing or you are a complete professional in it. If you are a professional, your expertise dwarfs mine. Please contribute some free articles of interest to us.

If you are only tangentially involved in credit card processing or if you are a small business type (like me) who relies on credit cards for online payments, then you are in exactly the right place. Over the next few months, I am going to build a website with a directory, glossary, reviews, FAQs, and other useful info for those of us who find penetrating the credit card processing merchant services world unnecessarily difficult.

Thanks for visiting. Please book mark me. And come back soon.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

About me & this blog

I run an online educational services company that bills our members credit cards monthly. I have through the years, struggled to find good information about appropriate rates, level of service, and vendor choices. Finally, I have started researching the topic in some detail.

This blog is first of all, a record of my research. However, there are probably many more people like me who "fall" into a credit card relationship without fully understanding their choices and alternatives.

This website is for them. It's also for the vendors who need a way to tell about what distinguishers their gateway and merchant services offering.

If you would like to contribute an article, please contact me via a comment. The basic rule is that I will consider any professionally written article with useful information for publication in this blog. I'll allow a few appropriate links (up to 3) in the articles plus a byline with an overt commercial advertisement and a link.

I'll also accept advertising and advertising articles although I'll insist that if it's a paid submission, I'll make sure that it's clearly marked (I follow a "I disclose" policy).

Articles by websites that wish to review their different vendors will also be accepted.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Credit Card merchant account from all directions

I run a small online company and we take credit cards. In the last month, a few people have offered (mostly thru automated marketing systems) to help me take payment online. It's an impressive list:

My Bank - Bank of America. Also other banks have offered me services.
Paypal - They say they can be my one stop shop. Of course, they can't do subaccounts or categories and, if there's a customer dispute, they'll freeze all my cash until it's resolved.
Quickbooks - Heh, even my accounting software is marketing to me. It's good software too.
My hosting company - I host sites in several different places. Several have sent me marketing emails offering to clear my credit cards for me.
Google - Google has Google Checkout: Process transactions for free when you advertise with Google. Google Checkout is a fast, convenient checkout process that brings you more customers and allows them to buy from you with a single login – and you can process their orders and charge their credit or debit cards for free.
A number of independent sales agents. I guess they would count as ISAs, independent sales agents.
Several friends of friends. I just bought and sold a house and my real estate agent (my new best friend), introduced me to someone in his local business network who sells credit card merchant services. My daughter's friend's mother now works for a large bank as part of a sales team. Her expertise is payroll services but there's a merchant services salesperson as part of the team. In fact, I was at the dentist today and in her family is a little brother who sells merchant services to doctors...

I guess my point is that there is probably a business situation in which you would want to work with each of these different types of approaches. This blog, with it's articles and forums, once I get it fully going, will be a special source of information on how to compare these different choices.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Taking payment online - good info?

I'm looking for quality articles or comparisons between different vendors and approaches to taking payment online. For instance....

What approach to take to processing payments for your website, blog, or online business?
1. When should you set up yourself with your own merchant account?
2. When should you just use Paypal?
3. When you should piggyback on your hosting companies credit card relationships?

If you set up yourself with your merchant account:
1. How do you pick a vendor?
2. Should you do batch processing or not?
3. Where is the best listing of available merchant account vendors and credit card vendors?