Satisfy The Sopranos: Presenting the Credit Card Merchant Account Mafia

The sopranos and the merchant account industryAmong the toughest things to learn about the credit card merchant account industry, may be the actual industry itself (i.e. the ins and outs, who players are and how are you affected behind the curtain.). The charge card Cosa Nostra doesn’t prefer to function in plain site, so you have to dig much deeper to know everything.

Between your charge card companies, issuing banks, obtaining banks, processors, merchant providers (MSP’s), independent sales organizations (ISO’s), payment gateways and everybody else among, it appears enjoy it would have a college level course to understand all the madness. And just what kills me probably the most, is that lots of the “helpful” a merchant account industry-related sites I’ve visited, just write the entire issue served by a fast quote like, “The average merchant doesn’t need to comprehend the whole process…” Madonn’!!!!

It’s that lack of knowledge that puts retailers inside a defenseless position (as with a corner), departing a dent for that guys up the top to the take full advantage. Even though you don’t make an effort to discover the process, I urge you to definitely a minimum of discover the players. This way, you’ll know who to visit after should you ever encounter any problems. Just make certain you decide to go heavy.

You – “But, all this stuff is soooooo boring Mr. Maverick!”
Me – I understand, I understand, you’re absolutely right, however, you still need learn it…capiche!?

All joking aside, my own mail to invest all of their Saturday studying about charge card processing. Shall We Be Held right? So to help make the whole ordeal a bit more interesting I’ve made the decision to substitute all the key figures within the a merchant account industry with a few traditional fashion Italian mobsters … David Chase-style.

So without further ado, allow me to expose you to the administration:

Table of Contents

Tony Soprano


Boss from the family: Also referred to as “the charge card network” (i.e. Visa and MasterCard).

Tony may be the boss of bosses he sets the guidelines from the game. It’s due to him there are even any transactions (interchange) permitted to make around the roads. He’s the best middle-man…scratch that…he is “THE” man. You simply exist here due to him. You couldn’t conduct business without him, even though you wanted to…so fuggedaboutit.

You are able to tell he’s in charge simply by searching at his internet worth (New york stock exchange:V, New york stock exchange:MA)…BIG EARNER!

Peter Paul “Paulie Walnuts” Gualtieri


Underboss from the Soprano family: Also referred to as “the issuing bank” (i.e. Bank of the usa).

Paulie reports straight to Tony (the charge card network), and it is approved (licensed) to provide Tony’s personally branded (Visa and MasterCard) charge cards straight to the road-level consumer. Paulie extends a credit line together with individuals cards he hands out, using the solid knowning that when the cardholder doesn’t repay the borrowed funds, he’ll break their f*ckin’ kneecaps…figuratively speaking.

Since Paulie vouches for that consumer/cardholder within this equation, he’s also accountable for transferring funds to Silvio Dante (the obtaining bank), with respect to individuals cardholders, for just about any purchases they make from Silvio’s retailers (see below).

Silvio Dante

silvio-dante
Consigliere from the Soprano family: Also referred to as “the obtaining bank” or “acquirer” (i.e. Wells Fargo).

Silvio’s business dealings are strictly using the neighborhood retailers. He’s accountable for having to pay his retailers the cash owed for them by Paulie’s cardholders for purchasing goods and/or services that individuals cardholders make.

To keep the racket running easily, Silvio “fronts” the cash to his retailers before he even will get his dough from Paulie, by having an agreement that Paulie will compensate him lower the street.

Christopher Moltisanti


Caporegime towards the Soprano family: Also referred to as “the charge card processor” or “payment processor” (i.e. FirstData).

Christopher may be the guy who ensures everything examines (authorization, clearing and settlement…ACH) between your consumer, the merchant, Paulie and Silvio. He determines if the consumer is legit, he ensures the cash changes hands and that he records the facts of every transaction was books. You can say he runs the figures.

In the finish of every day, Paulie, Silvio and Christopher get together at Satriale’s Pork Store to switch funds, and shoot the sh*t over a few Mortadella sandwiches and a few Gabagool. When the process runs easily, everyone will get a cut, everyone stays happy.

Furio Giunta


Soldier towards the Soprano family: Also referred to as “the merchant company (MSP),” “merchant account provider (MAP)” or “independent sales organization (ISO)” (i.e. MerchantPlus).

Some might reason that Furio Guinta is definitely an unnecessary middleman, however they could be dead wrong. The thing is, Furio handles all the work the greater level guys shouldn’t cope with (i.e. shakedowns and extortion…I mean…sales and support).

Furio should have authorization from Tony (the charge card network), and direct backing from Silvio (the obtaining bank) to be able to operate…which he is doing, obviously.

From time to time, an ambitious soldier like Furio will attempt and undertake a greater degree of responsibility, by doing a bit of of Christoper’s (the charge card processor’s) work. As long as it doesn’t invade on Christopher’s territory, it’s a-ok.

You

finger-pointing-at-you
You’re a nobody: Also referred to as “the merchant.”

The Customer

consumerism
A lot more of a nobody: Also referred to as “the cardholder.”

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Getting Began being an e-Commerce Merchant: How to setup a web-based Credit Card Merchant Account

ecommerce-payment-processingSo, you’re prepared to expand in to the eCommerce realm, however, you have no idea how to start. You’ve heard all of the hype about internet retail sales figures, and also you want in. Ok now what?

Well, probably the most apparent questions which comes up when one considers moving their online businesses is, “How can i accept payments?” Should you can’t answer that question, you very well may too quit now. 🙁

In the following paragraphs, I’ll construct the fundamental process to get setup by having an eCommerce credit card merchant account (online credit card merchant account), so that you can soon answer that question with full confidence.

Note: I am inclined to use “eCommerce,” “online” and “internet” interchangeably through the article. Hopefully doesn’t confuse you.

Have You Got an eCommerce Shopping Cart Software?

ecommerce software logosPrior to getting began, let’s acquire one more factor taken care of. Should you not have diabetes already, then you’re have to some eCommerce shopping cart software software. That method for you to display your product or service towards the world…wide web.

You will find loads of carts available varying from robust to reveal bones…both free and compensated. The treatment depends on what you need.

I’ve personally used Magento Commerce, and like it. It’s a really effective platform, and pretty intuitive to make use of. On top of that, the basic level version is free of charge. The only real caveat of Magento is it may not be the very best solution for that absolute newbie.

Should you aren’t comfortable enough to choose something as advanced as Magento, then Shopify may be the cart for you personally. It’s not free, however the plus side to choosing Shopify is you get full technical support together with your money. Essential for the beginners.

Like a side note, Magento just lately began their very own “Shopify like” program known as Magento Go. You need to compare the 2 to determine what one you want better.

Selecting the best Online Payment Gateway

payment-gatewayNow that you’ve got your shopping cart software, you’re have to a web-based payment gateway. Many people confuse the payment gateway using the credit card merchant account, but they’re really two various things.

The easiest method to comprehend the eCommerce payment gateway would be to consider it as being the “wiring” involving the shopping cart software and also the credit card merchant account or charge card processor. It’s where all of the important charge card details are transferred throughout a transaction. It’s in which the magic happens. 🙂

Similar to shopping cart software software, you will find a large number of firms that offer payment gateways. You’ve most likely already heard of the largest one known as Authorize.Internet. They’re the 800lb gorilla of the profession, but more costly correctly.

There’s a a number of credit card merchant account providers with great gateways that do not charge on their behalf, like CDGcommerce and Payleap, therefore if you’re trying to reduce monthly charges, then try them out.

One essential factor to keep in mind is you wish to make certain your payment gateway works with your shopping cart software. Usually, it’s better to choose both cart and also the gateway simultaneously in order to avoid any incompatibility issues. The great factor about popular carts like Magento and Shopify is they can integrate with an array of gateways.

Furthermore, gateway providers like CDGcommerce (Quantum Gateway) present an Authorize.Internet “emulation” mode which essentially mimics Authorize.Internet, thus which makes it suitable for any shopping cart software that may integrate with AuthNet.

Selecting the best Online Merchant Account Provider

It is really an easy one. Examine my best providers and discover the organization that provides the very best eCommerce a merchant account. When I pointed out above, CDGcommerce and Payleap are wonderful, much like GoEmerchant and Beanstream.

Of course, make certain you may well ask for interchange-plus prices. Try to choose a service provider that won’t lock you right into a hire a cancellation fee, doesn’t charge a yearly or setup fee, while offering great customer care (you’re gonna require it).

If you want more help working out ways to get a web-based credit card merchant account, tell me.

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The Fast Help guide to PCI DSS Compliance for Small Retailers (Level 4)

pci compliance for small businessA sizable most of companies within the U.S. are thought medium and small sized companies (SMBs). Most SMBs don’t process anymore than 20,000-1,000,000 (some significantly less) transactions each year, categorizing them as Level 4 retailers within the PCI world.

For individuals individuals which have read my article on merchant risk levels, you’ll realize that Level 4 may be the cheapest tier, thus requiring minimal work load for compliance. It is also probably the most vulnerable tier for hackers….go figure.

Within this guide, I will take you step-by-step through what you ought to do in order to become compliant and also the basics of small merchant PCI compliance. I attempted to help keep it as little as possible, although not confident that I been successful. 🙂

For Retail (Card-Present) Retailers

Scan The Body
Most charge card processors require proof that you’ve scanned the body for security threats, otherwise they’ll ask you for a regular monthly PCI non-compliance fee. So, make certain you comply with the other steps below, then get scanned when you are ready for this. I’ve partnered with Trust Guard, so I’m clearly likely to recommend that you will get the body scanned by them, but it’s your call. There are many others available that provide checking services. From what I have seen, Trust Guard is pretty legit though.

Go ahead and take Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)
I discuss the SAQ within my other PCI article, but because a short overview, the self-assessment questionnaire provides you with a fundamental concept of what needs you have to follow in order to be PCI compliant. The SAQ will most likely reiterate exactly what I’m suggesting now, however that doesn’t mean that you could skip it. Similar to the system scan, most processors require that you simply go ahead and take questionnaire, otherwise they’ll assess a non-compliance fee.

Now, adopt these measures:

1. Only use PCI approved PIN transaction security devices (i.e. PIN pads).
By “device” I am talking about PIN pads and charge card terminals. Visit here to find out if your present system is compliant. Otherwise, it’s time for you to upgrade.

2. Only use PCI validated POS (Point-of-Purchase) & payment gateway software.
Visit here to find out if your present software programs are validated. Otherwise, it’s certainly time for you to upgrade. Here’s the right place to locate POS hardware/software, and every one of my best charge card processors offer payment gateways which are PCI compliant.

3. Don’t store any sensitive cardholder data.
As a small company, it’s very easy to ignore that. I recall writing lower charge card information on a notepad later on reference, without realizing how large of the security risk that really was. So, whether in writing or perhaps your hard disk, don’t store any cardholder data. If you are worried that perhaps your charge card terminal or PIN pad is storing card data, just bear in mind that newer equipment either doesn’t keep data, or encrypts it. So, in case your devices are PCI compliant, you will want not worry.

4. Make use of a firewall in your network and Computers.
This one’s pretty easy. Most os’s include some kind of security package with a firewall. Just make certain that you simply regularly determine if it is working, and also you update it if required. Should you not possess a firewall, Norton is fairly good.

5. Make certain your router is password-protected and uses file encryption.
Another easy one. Your router’s instructions will take you step-by-step through the entire process of password protecting and encrypting the router.

6. Use strong passwords. Make sure to change default passwords,
This can be a no-brainer. I personally use password generator to make me some fast and secure passwords. Never make use of the default password for just about any software or hardware.

7. Regularly check PIN entry devices and Computers to make certain nobody has installed rogue software or “skimming” devices.
This is when the machine network scan is useful. Your average person doesn’t really understand how to look for this sort of stuff, so using a company like Trust Guard, you can easily depend on their own expertise.

8. Educate the employees about security and protecting cardholder data.
Don’t get lazy about this one. I’ve got a couple of articles within my PCI Compliance category, so that you can refer the employees for them. You might also need lots of sources when you need it so remember to apply your favorite internet search engine.

For eCommerce (Card-Not-Present) Retailers

Follow each step within the list above (expect for #1. You clearly won’t possess a PIN pad or charge card terminal if you are strictly eCommerce.), and also the following:

Have an SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate helps to ensure that any sensitive data transmitted through your site is encrypted in order to safeguard that data. An apparent place that you’d make use of an SSL could be on the payment page during checkout. There’s a lot of SSL vendors available, but when you’re getting the body scan at Trust Guard, you very well may too get your SSL with them also. 😉

One factor that I’d like to indicate is the fact that a there’s a couple of payment gateways available that may alleviate your PCI needs almost completely. The actual way it works is they possess a feature that enables you to definitely conduct the whole transaction around the providers own servers, not yours. This way, your personal network isn’t even active in the transaction, thus absolving you against the necessity to conserve a secure network. Check out the CDGcommerce instant PCI page to determine what i’m saying. They perform a better job of explaining it than me.

In Conclusion

You may also go to the Small Retailers page around the PCI Security Standards Council website for more information on PCI compliance for small company.

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FreshBooks Versus Invoicera

Freshbooks-vs-Invoicera

FreshBooks is among the best-known names within the cloud invoicing industry. The organization reports over 5 million users in additional than 120 countries, and touts itself because the #1 cloud accounting solution for small companies in The United States. For that purposes want to know ,, though, we’re simply searching in internet marketing being an invoicing and expense tracking service (because it doesn’t provide double-entry bookkeeping).

Invoicera isn’t too known, but it’s still a well known program with more than 2.5 million users all across the globe. Instead of expanding in to the cloud accounting field, the organization has centered on honing and creating a feature-wealthy invoicing platform.

Both programs possess a lot opting for them, and both get 4.5-star ratings on this website. Now, we’re likely to take particular notice at just how they compare.

Table of Contents

Web-located or In your area Installed:

Both FreshBooks and Invoicera are cloud-based. FreshBooks offers apps for iPhone/iPad and Android devices. Invoicera provides an iPhone/iPad application.

Quantity of Users:

Champion: Invoicera

You could have different figures of users, based on your subscription. Here’s an evaluation:

Cost FreshBooks Invoicera
$ 1 1
$19.95 1 5
$29.95 2 5
$39.95 6 10
$99.95 12 Limitless

Prices:

Champion: Invoicera

For those who have 4-5 clients with no probability of getting good, FreshBooks has better prices. For pretty much everybody else, Invoicera wins out, supplying more users, clients, and auto-bill profiles your money can buy.

While it’s not easy to find out comparable prices because of different plan choices, the next chart ought to provide a tough concept of the way the plans fall into line:

Plan Type FreshBooks Invoicera
Free 1 client As much as 3 clients
$9.95 As much as 5 clients As much as 3 clients
Limitless recurring invoices 1 recurring invoice
5 auto-bill profiles auto-bill profiles
$19.95 As much as 25 clients Limitless clients
Limitless recurring invoices 100 recurring invoices
5 auto-bill profiles 15 auto-bill profiles
$29.95 Limitless clients Limitless clients
Limitless recurring invoices 100 recurring invoices
5 auto-bill profiles 15 auto-bill profiles
$39.95 Limitless clients Limitless clients
Limitless recurring invoices Limitless recurring invoices
65 auto-bill profiles 100 auto-bill profiles
$99.95 Limitless clients Limitless clients
Limitless recurring invoices Limitless recurring invoices
755 auto-bill profiles Limitless auto-bill profiles

Simplicity of use:

Champion: Tie

Both FreshBooks and Invoicera are remarkably simple and easy , enjoyable to make use of. Invoicera takes charge – very slightly – in efficiency of interface and layout … but FreshBooks includes a better help section, which means this category winds up a wash.

Product Features:

Champion: Invoicera

Invoicera arrives a obvious champion here. It offers everything you’re prone to want within an invoicing program and more. I had been very, very impressed. I’d have loved to determine full job costing abilities, however i haven’t yet seen individuals in almost any cloud-based invoicing program.

FreshBooks is missing some fundamental functions incorporated in many invoicing programs. Should you email your invoices, you cannot easily mark them as submitted this program you’ll either have to send them an email to alter their status or undergo a multi-step workaround. Worse, you cannot attach files to invoices or estimates. And also the real killer: you cannot personalize a bill. This program offers only two templates, and aside from adding your company’s emblem, there is not much that you can do to alter them. While FreshBooks has a couple of features Invoicera doesn’t, its core functionality is a lot more limited.

Here’s a failure from the key feature variations between your products:

Features FreshBooks Invoicera
Attach Files No Yes
Customizable Invoice Templates No Yes
Invoice Templates 2 6
By hand Mark Invoices as Sent No Yes
Compound Tax Rates No Yes
Custom Domain No Yes
Tasks/Calendar No Yes
Payment Gateways 14 21
Live Bank Feeds Yes No
Time Tracking: Unbillable Hrs Yes No
Email Service Yes (expense) No
Client Support Ticket System Yes No

Integrations:

Champion: FreshBooks

Additionally to payment gateways, FreshBooks offers 50 plus integrations and add-ons. Invoicera offers only 7 add-ons aside from payment gateways. Both companies offer APIs.

Customer Support and Support:

Champion: FreshBooks

FreshBooks wins with a large margin here. I generally received responses to email queries within twenty minutes during business hrs, and representatives were useful and experienced in this program. With Invoicera, I did not get replies to my emails for more than 24 hrs, so when Used to do, there is a good enough language barrier to become a problem. After I requested for clarification, I did not obtain a response for more than per week.

FreshBooks offers live support Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm EST. They offer their email and telephone number.

Invoicera offers live support Monday – Friday, 9am – 9pm IST (10:30pm – 10:30am EST). They offer their email along with a toll-free U.S. number to however, after i known as the amount I acquired an out-of-service message.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: Tie

The 2 information mill very close here, there aren’t everything many complaints for either.

The main complaint on Invoicera is customer support. No real surprise there. There’s also a couple of complaints about bugs within the software, in addition to demands for much better mobile phone applications. Invoicera has stated new mobile phone applications are not far off, but they’re already both past due.

For FreshBooks, complaints focus on misleading marketing (FreshBooks states be accounting software but lacks double-entry bookkeeping abilities) and too little features. Multiple people believe that as FreshBooks attempts to transfer to the cloud accounting space, it’s been falling behind in the core capacity like a billing system.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: Tie

There isn’t any lack of reviews that are positive for either FreshBooks or Invoicera, and getting spent quite a while studying them, I must conclude there isn’t any obvious champion here. In quantity, FreshBooks arrives ahead, but simply because they have double the amount of users Invoicera does, that’s precisely what I’d expect. Also, my sampling is sort of biased for the reason that I’m only checking British language reviews … that we suspect also skews the census in support of FreshBooks.

In quality, the comments are neck-and-neck lots of users are thrilled with every program willing and able to talk about their encounters.

Praise for Invoicera centers around its appearance, simplicity of use, and expansive set of features. FreshBooks will get kudos on simplicity of use and customer support.

Security:

Champion: Tie

Both companies use 256-bit SSL file encryption and also have servers in multiple datacenters. Servers are monitored 24/7, shielded by firewalls, and guarded from unauthorized access.

Final Verdict:

Champion: Invoicera

It’s very difficult to select a champion here which program is the best for you’ll depend largely on the thing you need out of your invoicing program. That stated, I will give Invoicera the win for the moment, mainly because of its incredible set of features and wonderful interface.

I’ll be keeping an eye on both companies and updating this short article because they still develop at this time it wouldn’t take much to shift the total amount in either case. The large caveats for potential Invoicera users would be the integration and customer support issues. Individuals would be the only respects by which Invoicera falls well behind FreshBooks, however the contrast is really marked that it is important to note. Like a stand-alone program, Invoicera is outstanding. However, if you want to integrate with accounting or CRM software – or if you wish to have the ability to depend on customer support – FreshBooks is probably a much better bet.

Wish to compare in additional depth? Check out our reviews … or take a look at FreshBooks and Invoicera yourself using their free trials! So that as always, don’t hesitate to make contact with us with any queries.

Katherine Miller

An itinerant wanderer, Katherine spent yesteryear year in Colorado, Chicago, and Nz. Many years being an independent contractor have familiarized her using the headaches that frequently accompany small company accounting, and she’s managed to get her mission to get the best tools to create things just a little simpler for brand new entrepreneurs. When she’s not busy investigating the intricacies from the latest accounting software, she are available focusing on a singular, trekking up mountain tops, and learning Krav Maga. (Though not often all at one time.)

Katherine Miller

Katherine Miller

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How To Setup Your Accounting Software

How to Setup Your Accounting Software Establishing accounting software programs are like baking a cake. A lot of cakes appear in the world—chocolate, caramel, lemon drizzle Bundt cake, layered cake, cupcake. Each one has another style along with a different recipe. However, there’s still a fundamental formula that lays the building blocks for those cakes. You could be prepared to use flour, sugar, eggs, and some kind of tasty flavoring, mix things up together, and throw in to the oven. How to Setup Your Accounting Software In the same manner, you will find a large number of different accounting software options available. Each one has a unique style and hang of features, and every requires specific steps to put together the program properly. But after reviewing a large number of different accounting software packages, I’ve found that accounting software packages as well as their setup processes aren’t as different because they appear  In this publish, I’ll share my sure-fire recipe for establishing a cpa computer software. It’s not necessary to become Mary Berry to bake a cake, its not necessary to become a CPA to follow along with miracle traffic bot setup recipe. We’ve damaged the procedure lower into five easy steps that anybody can follow.

Ready, set, bake!

Table of Contents

The Simple Accounting Software Setup Recipe:

Prep Time: 10 – fifteen minutes

Baking Time: 2 -3 hrs

Ingredients:

  • Company Information
  • Worker Information
  • Florida Sales Tax Rates
  • Contacts List
  • Vendors List
  • Products/Inventory List
  • Chart of Accounts

Step One: Begin with Settings

Whenever I’m using a new accounting software, I usually come from Settings. Exactly like you must always read a recipe through before you begin baking, I suggest hanging out exploring and comprehending the different settings preferences your accounting program requires before you begin your setup process. Frequently, it’s important to add more contact details and financial information in Settings to start. Then you need to set any appropriate default preferences (like what you would like your invoice templates to appear like or which florida sales tax rates you need to experience your invoices). Many occasions, Settings is how you’ll visit add new users/employees and hang up payroll. It is also where you’ll probably setup payment gateways for accepting invoice payments online. Sometimes you can even find certain capabilities (like time tracking or project management software) that you simply won’t get access to before you enable them through settings. Because of this, it truly is effective explore your software’s settings right from the start which means you don’t miss adding any information or setting whenever-saving preferences.

Step Two: Connect with Your Bank

If you are considering connecting your accounting software to your money, you’ll wish to accomplish that immediately to get ready to go. A hyperlink for this feature is frequently found under Settings, but may also be connected using the banking or expense tracking feature in your accounting software.

Step Three: Connect with Existing Apps

If you are using any third-party programs to operate your company (like MailChimp or TSheets), you’ll wish to integrate these programs together with your accounting software. To remain in keeping with our cake example, integrations would be the extra tasty ingredients needed to boost your fundamental, plain Jane cake batter. Most programs come with an “Integrations” or “Connected Apps” section in both settings or on their own dashboard (I’ve most frequently seen it towards the bottom left-hands corner from the screen) where one can connect your software for your existing apps. Note: Make sure to make sure that your accounting software props up integration before beginning. Our accounting reviews have an Integrations section that links directly their application marketplace.

Step Four: Import Existing Data

Probably the most important areas of establishing your accounting software programs are importing your overall data. If you’re transitioning from your existing software, you are able to frequently export your computer data via .csv file, which will make the importing process much simpler. You’ll wish to import:

  • Contacts
  • Vendors
  • Products
  • Chart of Accounts

Each software may have very specific guidelines regarding how to import these files so make sure to look at your vendor’s help center to learn more. Most programs give a .csv template that you’ll then mimic making use of your own data. Although this process could be a tiresome one, it’s of great benefit within the finish and saves much more time than by hand entering each and every contact or item connected together with your business.

Step Five: Add Extras and Automations

Now we all know we stated this would be a one-size-fits-all recipe, and you now have completed all the fundamental steps to establishing your accounting software. But because we pointed out earlier, although the setup process is comparable across all programs, each accounting software programs are unique. The final factor you’ll wish to accomplish to accomplish the set-up process would be to see why is your software unique. Can there be any information you’ve forgot to add? What are the automations that could save you time later on (like default e-mail or invoice reminders)? These finishing touches could make a big difference towards the end result. Those are the metaphorical icing in your accounting software—they might not be completely essential to the setup process, however they definitely make things more interesting.

Dig In

Cake jokes aside, we all know that establishing new software could be a daunting task. By smashing the process lower into five manageable steps, hopefully you are able to rapidly and simply setup your accounting program and return to business. While these fundamental setup steps affect all accounting solutions, we all know the execution of those steps might vary slightly based on your software. Our final little bit of advice would be to ‘t be afraid to achieve to your software’s support team for added help and guidance. All of our accounting reviews includes a section particularly focused on Customer Support and Support and you’ll discover all the methods to speak to your accounting software company.

And, remember, you could achieve to us with any queries you’ve on the way.

Chelsea Krause

Chelsea Krause is really a author, enthusiastic readers, and investigator. Additionally to loving writing, she grew to become thinking about accounting software due to her constant need to learn something totally new and know how things work. When she’s no longer working or daydreaming about her newest story, she are available consuming obscene levels of coffee, studying anything compiled by C.S. Lewis or Ray Bradbury, kayaking and hiking, or watching The X-Files together with her husband.

Chelsea Krause

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The Top 5 Payment Gateways for Online Credit Card Processing

Online payment gateway

Setting up an eCommerce business involves making a lot of choices, but one important decision you might have overlooked is choosing the best payment gateway to allow your customers to actually make purchases on your site. Pick a good gateway, and you’ll be able to accept just about any payment method imaginable, interface with the online shopping cart of your choice, and, perhaps most importantly, easily be able to migrate your customer payment data to a different system if you later decide to change gateway providers. If you pick a not-so-great gateway, you may someday find yourself with a product that no longer meets the needs of your business – and no easy way to switch to a better one.

If you’re new to eCommerce, your first question might be “Just what the heck is a payment gateway, anyway?” Admittedly, payment gateways are something of a nebulous subject. Merchants are often unsure about what they do, and why they might need one in the first place. They’re also often confused with merchant accounts, which is a related (but separate) merchant service that you’ll also need to accept credit cards and other forms of payment.

We’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. A payment gateway is a software application that establishes a communication link between your eCommerce website and your merchant account provider’s payment processing system. Much like your computer’s BIOS and other operating system functions, payment gateways run in the background, and your customers won’t have to interface with them directly. The primary purpose of a payment gateway is to allow your customers to make purchases on your site using the payment method of their choice. While almost every gateway will support credit card purchases, the better ones will also allow customers to pay using eChecks, debit cards, their PayPal account, and even contactless payment methods such as Apple Pay. Most gateways also maintain a secure database of your customers’ payment method data, shipping and billing addresses, and other information. With this database, returning customers won’t have to re-enter their payment method information every time they make a purchase. This feature naturally translates to increased sales due to the convenience it offers your customers. For more details about payment gateways and how they work, see our article The Complete Guide to Online Credit Card Processing With a Payment Gateway.

Merchant accounts, on the other hand, process payment transactions and disburse the funds to you after a customer makes a purchase. Both retail and eCommerce businesses need a merchant account to accept credit card payments, although today payment service providers (PSPs) such as Square and Stripe can offer basic credit card processing without the need for a full-service merchant account. If your business is strictly retail and you don’t make any sales online, you can stop reading now. You won’t need a payment gateway. eCommerce merchants, on the other hand, will usually need both a payment gateway and a merchant account. This is because their transactions will all be in a card-not-present environment where they won’t be able to verify their customer’s identity or have access to the magstripe or EMV-chip data that helps to prevent fraud in the traditional card-present environment of a retail location.

With so many different choices of merchant account and payment gateway providers on the market, you might wonder what the best way is to set your business up with both of these services. There are two methods you can use: an integrated approach, or a non-integrated approach. Under the integrated approach, you’ll use the same provider for both services. For example, an account with a payment service provider (PSP) like Stripe includes both payment gateway functions and transaction processing services. The non-integrated approach, on the other hand, requires you to sign up for each service separately. The easiest way to do this is to use the payment gateway offered by your merchant account provider. Often this will be a proprietary product, such as the Quantum Gateway provided by CDGcommerce. While most providers will charge you additional fees for a payment gateway, CDGcommerce will let you use their gateway for free. Many providers also offer access to third-party gateways, which may be a better option if you need more advanced features than what the proprietary gateways have to offer or simply want to have more flexibility to change your merchant account provider at some point in the future. The majority of merchant account providers (including CDGcommerce) offer Authorize.Net as one of their payment gateway options. Signing up for the Authorize.Net gateway through your merchant account provider is often less expensive than going with the company directly, as providers can negotiate discounted rates and fees for their customers.

Another way to take the non-integrated approach is to sign up for your merchant account and payment gateway separately. For example, let’s say you’ve found a great merchant account provider that offers significantly lower processing rates than you’ve been able to find elsewhere. Unfortunately, they don’t offer a gateway that includes all the features you need for your business. You can always sign up for a third-party gateway and integrate it into your merchant account. While this may be the best option for some merchants, be aware that there are two disadvantages to this approach. For one thing, you’ll have to make absolutely sure that the two services are fully compatible with each other before you sign up. Also, you will almost always end up paying more money with this approach. Watch out for gateway setup fees and additional per-transaction charges for using a third-party gateway.

So, which approach is right for your business? There’s simply no clear-cut answer to this question, unfortunately. As a general rule, however, smaller businesses will usually save money by signing up with a payment service provider (PSP) that doesn’t charge monthly fees for either transaction processing or the use of their payment gateway. The trade-off, of course, is that you will pay higher per-transaction processing costs, as most PSPs only offer flat-rate pricing. Upgrading to a full-service merchant account and adding in a payment gateway will cost you more in monthly fees, but you’ll usually save money on processing charges – at least if your provider offers interchange-plus pricing. Larger businesses that have a higher monthly processing volume can more easily afford the extra fees and will save money overall because of the lower processing rates available from full-service merchant account providers. Because of the number of variables involved, there is no easy way to determine what your processing volume needs to be for a full-service merchant account plus a gateway to be more cost-effective than simply going with a PSP. We recommend that you take a close look at the total percentage of your transactions each month that goes to paying for merchant services and compare this to what you would pay under a different provider.

How We Chose:

While all payment gateways offer the basic function of processing transactions over the internet, there’s a lot of variability beyond that. The best gateways on the market offer a combination of fair pricing and a robust feature set that will meet the needs of most eCommerce merchants. In evaluating how well each gateway stood up against the competition, we used the following criteria:

  • Pricing: While everyone wants to save money, we firmly believe that pricing should be evaluated in terms of overall value rather than simply trying to find the cheapest option available. Trying to save a few dollars can easily result in being stuck with a product that doesn’t fully meet your needs. Nonetheless, there are some things to look out for. Many gateway providers, for example, charge a gateway setup fee when you first open your account. While this is a one-time charge, it’s mostly a junk fee that you should avoid paying. You’re more likely to get hit with a setup fee if you sign up directly with a gateway provider. Merchant account providers often waive this fee if you get your gateway through them. Monthly gateway fees (usually around $15.00 – $25.00 per month), on the other hand, are very hard to avoid. Unless you sign up with a company like CDGcommerce, which doesn’t charge a monthly fee for their gateway, you can expect to pay this on top of whatever monthly fee you have to pay for your merchant account. Gateway processing charges (typically $0.05 per transaction) are another thing to look out for. Some companies will charge you separately for this, while others will include it in their processing rates. You might also have to pay PCI compliance fees, particularly if you’ve signed up directly with a gateway provider. Usually, however, these fees are included in your merchant account pricing.
  • Contracts: Most payment gateway providers will bill you on a month-to-month basis, with no long-term contract and no early termination fee (ETF) if you close your account. However, your merchant account provider might include both of these provisions, so read all your contract documents very carefully before signing up. It won’t do you much good to be able to drop your payment gateway whenever you want if you’re stuck in a three-year contract for your merchant account.
  • Features: Obviously, you’ll want a gateway that includes the features you’ll need to run your business. Confirming that a gateway will meet your needs, however, isn’t always as easy as it should be. Companies naturally tend to play up the unique features of their services, but in most cases, they won’t disclose the limitations or shortcomings of those services. For starters, you’ll want to confirm that the gateway supports all the payment methods your customers use. For example, almost every gateway on the market will support Visa and MasterCard credit card purchases. Support for less-common cards isn’t as easy to find. If your customers use Diners Club (as unusual as that may be), you’ll want a gateway that supports it. Support for multiple currencies is also important for some merchants, and you’ll obviously need a gateway that supports the specific currencies your customers use. If you prefer a particular online shopping cart for your site, you’ll need a gateway that is certified to integrate with it. If you need to customize the integration between your site and your gateway, access to an API that allows you to do that will be essential. Finally, we recommend that you choose a gateway that allows for easy and convenient data portability in case you need to switch to a different gateway.
  • Security: No eCommerce merchant ever wants to have their site hacked and their customer’s sensitive payment data exposed in a data breach. Your gateway provider doesn’t want this to happen, either, which is why every gateway on the market comes with a number of security and encryption features to keep your account safe. Some of these features, however, are more effective than others. Look for point-to-point encryption (P2PE) and a gateway that meets Level 1 PCI compliance standards. Other features, such as data breach insurance, are also useful to have.
  • Customer support: Like any other software product, payment gateways are prone to occasional hiccups and glitches – often at the most inconvenient times. The eCommerce world runs around the clock and isn’t limited to just regular business hours. For this reason, you’ll want a gateway that’s backed up by 24/7 customer support. While options like email and online chat are nice to have, you really should be able to talk to a customer service representative via telephone when a problem arises.

Before we dive into our specific recommendations, let’s be clear about one thing: there really isn’t a perfect gateway out there that will meet the needs of every merchant. Even the best gateways fall short of perfection in one aspect or another. Nonetheless, there are several gateways that provide a significantly better combination of features and services than others. Here are our recommendations:

Authorize.Net

Authorize.Net logo

Originally founded in 1996, Authorize.Net is one of the oldest and most experienced payment gateway providers in the industry. Thanks to partnerships with a host of merchant account providers, they’ve also cornered the lion’s share of the market for payment gateways. There’s a good chance that your merchant account provider offers Authorize.Net as their payment gateway.

But, does being the biggest gateway provider also make them the best? Well, maybe. With over twenty years in business to perfect their product, they’ve definitely managed to add a lot of bells and whistles to their core product. Their gateway can accept all major credit cards (yes, even Diner’s Club), debit cards, eCheck payments, and even digital payment methods such as PayPal and Apple Pay. They can accept international transactions from just about any country in the world, although your business must be based in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, or Australia. Their Advanced Fraud Detection Suite (AFDS) can protect your site from card-not-present fraud – a common issue with eCommerce. Best of all, their gateway seamlessly integrates with a huge number of third-party eCommerce platforms.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, there are a few things to watch out for. Pricing can be on the high side if you sign up directly with Authorize.Net, with a $49.00 gateway setup fee, a $25.00 monthly gateway fee, and a $25.00 fee for chargebacks. If you already have a merchant account, you’ll still pay an additional $0.10 per transaction for the use of their gateway. International transactions also pay an additional 1.5% for processing. If you don’t have a merchant account, Authorize.Net will set you up with one, but it uses a flat-rate pricing plan of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. While this is the same as what you’d pay for PayPal or most other payment service providers (PSPs), you can get lower rates by signing up with a merchant account provider that offers interchange-plus pricing.

The good news is that you can usually get a better deal on the Authorize.Net gateway by signing up with a partner merchant account provider. Most providers will waive the setup fee, and they’ll often charge a lower monthly gateway fee and per-transaction processing fee (typically $0.05 per transaction). However, Authorize.Net does have one major weakness: data portability. Or, rather, the lack of it. Their Customer Information Manager (CIM) is a powerful feature that allows you to store customer data, including credit card numbers, securely. Unfortunately, it’s difficult and very expensive to download that data and take it with you if you ever decide to switch to a competing payment gateway. This is a serious limitation, especially considering that other providers (such as Braintree) offer you the freedom to take your customer data with you if you want to. You’ll want to very carefully evaluate whether Authorize.Net will be able to meet the long-term needs of your business before you sign up.

PROS:

  • Broad support for multiple payment methods and currencies
  • Strong security and fraud prevention features
  • Month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts

CONS:

  • Pricing is expensive for merchants who sign up with the company directly
  • High flat-rate pricing for optional merchant account
  • Data portability is unusually difficult and expensive

For a more in-depth look at Authorize.Net, check out our full review.

Braintree Payment Solutions:

Braintree Payment Solutions logo

Founded in 2010, Braintree Payments Solutions is now a PayPal company. They offer an integrated approach to eCommerce, with each account including both a payment gateway and a full-service merchant account. It’s available in 44 countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, and most of Europe. Payments can be accepted in over 130 currencies, including Bitcoin if you’re particularly adventurous.

Standard accounts at Braintree follow a pay-as-you-go pricing model, with no account setup fees, monthly fees, or even gateway fees. All transactions are processed at a flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Billing is on a month-to-month basis, with no long-term contracts or early termination fees. While the flat-rate pricing is not particularly cost-effective for larger businesses, the lack of monthly fees makes it a great deal for smaller companies. Braintree addresses this limitation by offering enterprise pricing for larger businesses (presumably with interchange-plus rates), but you’ll have to process over $80,000 per month to qualify for it.

Braintree’s gateway includes some excellent standard features, including its Drop-In UI for customer checkouts and support for recurring billing. It’s also compatible with a huge variety of third-party integrations, including shopping carts, accounting software, and analytics. Developers can further customize the gateway using Braintree’s client and server SDKs. Perhaps the best feature Braintree has to offer is that they provide complete data portability for free. If your needs change and you want to switch to a different provider, you’re free to take your customer data with you.

While Braintree offers an excellent service at a fair price, it’s not for everyone. If you already have a separate merchant account (particularly if you’re stuck in a long-term contract), their gateway-only option is quite expensive at $49.00 per month and $0.10 per transaction processed over the gateway. There’s also almost no support for card-present (i.e., retail) transactions, although they do support a handful of third-party mPOS solutions.

PROS:

  • Pay-as-you-go pricing with no monthly fees
  • Simple flat-rate pricing for standard accounts
  • Free, unrestricted data portability

CONS:

  • No support for eCheck (ACH) payments
  • Gateway-only option is expensive

Check out our full review of Braintree for more information.

PayPal:

PayPal Logo

You might not think of PayPal as a payment gateway provider, but their Payflow Payment Gateway is actually a very capable product. In fact, PayPal offers a host of merchant services for eCommerce businesses, and you can integrate most of them with the merchant account, shopping cart, or another service you’re already using.

Offering PayPal as an additional payment method is the simplest option, as it’s free to set up and there are no monthly fees or long-term contracts. Pricing is pay-as-you-go and based on a flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (4.4% + $0.30 per transaction for international transactions). While this is certainly the least expensive option, realize that as a payment service provider (PSP), PayPal is not giving you a full merchant account. Instead, your account is aggregated with those of other sellers so that you won’t have a unique merchant ID number for your business. The downsides to this arrangement, of course, are that your account won’t be nearly as stable as a merchant account, plus account freezes and holds on your funds are more common. PayPal is rather notorious for withholding seller’s funds at the slightest suspicion of fraud, so it’s better to use them as a backup payment method rather than relying on them entirely for your transaction processing needs.

If you already have a merchant account through a different provider, the Payflow Payment Gateway is designed to integrate with it and expand your payment options. There are two pricing plans for the Payflow gateway: Payflow Link and Payflow Pro. Payflow Link (the best choice for most merchants) is practically free. There are no gateway setup or monthly fees. You pay an extra $0.10 per transaction, and that’s it. You can use a PayPal-hosted payment page or a template embedded on your website. Payflow Pro, on the other hand, offers full customization and additional PCI compliance features. However, it’s rather expensive, with a $99.00 setup fee and a $25.00 monthly fee after that. You’ll also still pay $0.10 per transaction with this option.

PROS:

  • No setup or monthly fees (for Payflow Link)
  • Simple, transparent flat-rate pricing with no hidden fees
  • Easy to setup and begin accepting payments

CONS:

  • Flat-rate processing charges are higher than most merchant accounts offer
  • Elevated risk of account holds, freezes, and terminations
  • Inconsistent quality of customer support

For more detailed information about PayPal, see our complete review here.

PayTrace:

PayTrace logo

While they’re not nearly as well-known as the other heavy hitters in the payment gateway industry, PayTrace offers a solid product with lots of specialized features, particularly for merchants in the B2B sphere. Unlike other merchant services providers who offer a broad range of products and services, PayTrace is a payment gateway provider first and foremost. They don’t offer merchant accounts or any hardware, so you’ll have to go with a third-party provider for these items. Although the PayTrace gateway is their primary product, the company also offers a virtual terminal and a mobile payments app.

PayTrace offers both Basic and Pro pricing plans, with the former being suitable for small eCommerce businesses and the latter offering specialized options for larger B2B merchants. The Basic plan has no setup fee and costs only $15.00 per month after that. You’ll also pay $0.30 per transaction processed over the gateway, which is in addition to any processing charge you pay to your merchant account provider. The Pro plan requires a $75.00 setup fee, and $20.00 per month after that. However, your gateway processing fee drops to $0.10 per transaction. You’ll also be able to process Level II and Level III credit card data, which will save you up to 1.0% in processing charges due to the lower interchange rates for these transactions. Processing Level III data requires some additional data input on your part and is mostly useful for B2B transactions, but if you process a lot of these types of transactions, the savings could be significant.

The PayTrace gateway also supports additional features such as eCheck (ACH) processing and recurring billing. However, these are optional features requiring additional fees, and are only available under the Pro plan. PayTrace bills on a month-to-month basis only, so there’s no long-term contract and no early termination fee to worry about. Be aware, however, that your merchant account provider might not be so generous. As always, we highly recommend that you read all contract documents thoroughly before signing up for a merchant account. The same advice goes for payment gateways, even though gateway providers are generally much more flexible about contract terms.

Like most gateway providers, PayTrace also offers a customer information database so returning customers don’t have to re-enter their payment method data every time they make a purchase. Unfortunately, it’s only available under the Pro pricing plan. Data portability is supported, although PayTrace notes on its website that “only truncated payment information is available for export from the system.”

PROS:

  • Month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts
  • Integrates with most merchant account providers and shopping carts
  • Supports Level II and Level III credit card data for B2B merchants

CONS:

  • High per-transaction processing charge under Basic pricing plan

To learn more about PayTrace, check out our full review.

Stripe Payments:

Stripe logo

Much like Braintree, Stripe Payments is a tech-focused merchant services provider that specializes in serving the eCommerce community. Those services are tightly integrated into their payments system, so the company doesn’t offer a discrete Stripe-branded payment gateway. Instead, it’s built into their overall payments platform and comes with every Stripe account. For small businesses, this is a very affordable approach, as there’s no separate account setup fee, no monthly gateway fees, and no additional per-transaction processing fee. You also don’t have to worry about trying to integrate two or more third-party services into your website. Another advantage is that Stripe includes several additional features for free that most gateway providers charge extra for, including eCheck (ACH) processing and recurring billing.

Stripe’s pay-as-you-go pricing couldn’t be simpler. Credit card transactions are processed at a single flat rate of 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. eChecks are 0.8%, up to a maximum of $5.00. Stripe also supports digital payment methods such as Bitcoin and Apple Pay. Qualified nonprofit corporations get a discount on these rates, and enterprise users (i.e., those processing over $80,000 per month) can also negotiate volume discounts on their processing rates. Like most of its direct competitors, Stripe bills month-to-month only and doesn’t impose long-term contracts or early termination fees.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? If you think that there must be a catch – of course there is. Stripe is a payment service provider (PSP), and so they don’t provide true full-service merchant accounts. Like other PSPs (i.e., Square or PayPal), funding holds and account freezes or terminations are distressingly common. Customer service is another weak point, with almost all communications between Stripe and its merchants being conducted via email.

The best thing about Stripe is that it’s designed specifically for eCommerce merchants. Most providers are more focused on the retail sector, and their support for eCommerce always comes at a higher cost in the form of gateway fees and additional per-transaction charges. With Stripe, new eCommerce merchants get everything they need to start accepting payments as soon as their account is approved. While a Stripe account covers all the basics, you can also add or customize features through their huge API library or supported third-party integrations. Stripe also supports data portability, so you can easily take your customer information with you if you decide to change providers later.

PROS:

  • Pay-as-you-go pricing with no setup or monthly fees
  • Simple, transparent flat-rate pricing structure
  • No long-term contracts or early termination fees
  • Huge API library for developers

CONS:

  • Flat-rate pricing is more expensive than interchange-plus for high-volume merchants
  • Frequent account holds and terminations
  • No telephone customer support

For more information, see our complete review of Stripe Payments here.

Final Thoughts:

If you’ve been reading this far, you’ve probably concluded that selecting a payment gateway provider can be a very complicated decision. While that’s sometimes true, it doesn’t have to be all that difficult. Gateway providers offer a dizzying array of options, customizations, and add-ons, but in most cases, you won’t need all of them. Take a close look at what your business needs are today, and consider how those needs might expand over time as your business grows. For example, if you don’t need recurring billing, there’s no reason to pay extra for it. If your needs change later, you can always add it to your service. Level II and III credit card data processing is another feature that a sales agent might try to upsell you on. Yes, the rates are lower, but you still pay extra to access them, and if you don’t take many B2B transactions, you’ll wind up paying extra for something you don’t use.

You’ll also want to put some thought into whether the integrated or non-integrated approach will work best for you. Payment service providers (PSPs) like PayPal or Stripe are an excellent way to add credit card processing to your business without spending any money up front. However, once your business grows large enough, the high flat-rate pricing will end up costing you more money than you’d pay with a traditional merchant account offering interchange-plus pricing. Since there’s no long-term contract to worry about, it’s relatively easy to make the switch once this happens. However, you’ll probably have to find a merchant account provider and a new gateway.

Although there are no hard and fast rules, we recommend providers such as PayPal or Stripe for new, low-volume eCommerce businesses. Braintree is also a good option, especially if you’d like to get all your merchant services from the same company. When you’re ready to step up to a full-service merchant account, Authorize.Net is a good option. However, we recommend getting their gateway through a third-party provider rather than the company itself due to the generally lower costs. PayTrace is also an excellent choice if you already have a merchant account, especially if you run a lot of B2B transactions.

Much like merchant account providers, there is no single “best” gateway provider. Even the companies we’ve profiled here have their shortcomings. Every business has different needs, and it’s up to you to decide what features your business needs the most. Fortunately, most payment gateway providers offer a similar set of standard features that cover the most common requirements of a majority of businesses. They also provide a very high degree of customization to make their service work with your business, although in many cases you’ll have to have developer skills (or hire one) to implement them. If you’ve had any experience with the providers profiled in this article or you want to highlight a gateway provider we haven’t mentioned, please feel free to tell us about it in the Comments section below.

The post The Top 5 Payment Gateways for Online Credit Card Processing appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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