A Guide To Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles

 

Square made its name offering a free mobile credit card swiper, but the company has expanded so much in the past few years that there is now a massive array of hardware options, catering to all types of businesses. You can still get mobile card readers from Square if you don’t need more than just a phone or tablet and a swiper, but you can also get a countertop POS system complete with a customer-facing display, or a slim, portable credit card terminal with a phone-sized high-resolution screen and built-in receipt printer. And if you’d like to print paper receipts and have an automated cash drawer, Square offers a wide range of compatible hardware. You can even save some money by opting for one of Square’s ready-made bundles of hardware.

Let’s take a look at Square’s hardware options, including its mobile readers, POS systems, and POS kits. We’ll start with simplest options and move on to the most comprehensive kits. We’ll also talk about what you can do to control your costs and manage your cash flow with Square’s financing.

If you’re still curious about Square’s offerings, we also recommend checking out our complete, in-depth review of Square, which covers hardware as well as the software.

Square Mobile Card Readers

Square’s mobile card readers are meant to work with smartphones and tablets — unlike with some of the company’s “all in one” hardware solutions, if you go with a card reader it’s a “bring your own device” situation. Square’s mobile readers are ideal for businesses that are always on the go — farmer’s market stalls, service businesses, food trucks, etc. These card readers work with any of Square’s POS apps as well. However, compatibility with specific tablets or smartphones will vary — and you should check before you buy that a card reader is compatible with your device. Square has a helpful compatibility checker tool on its website for this purpose.

Square Magstripe Readers

Square has been offering free basic magstripe readers for years. The boxy design hasn’t changed significantly over the years and it’s simple to use. Recently, the company added a Lightning connector variant in addition to the 3.5mm headphone jack connector. Square used to sell a 3.5mm adapter, but that’s no longer available (because it’s no longer necessary). However, I will say that adapters from other makers will work for the same purpose.

New Square merchants get 1 free card reader; additional card readers sell for a very reasonable $10. Unlike PayPal Here, Square doesn’t impose any limits or restrictions on transactions processed with a magstripe reader — there’s no limit to the number of swiped transactions you can process before you trigger a hold. That’s a nice touch. However, if you do process large transactions or do a significant volume of credit card payments you should definitely look at upgrading to a chip card-capable reader.

Magstripe Reader Quick Facts 

  • Free for new merchants
  • $10 retail price
  • 3.5mm headphone jack or lightning port connectors
  • Supports magstripe transactions

Square Chip Card Reader

 

Square’s first chip card reader wasn’t particularly fancy, or even all that different from its elder sibling: it was boxy, with a headphone jack connector. And it has since fallen out of favor — partly thanks to Apple and its removal of the headphone jack on its iPhones. However, this entry-level chip card reader is still available at a reasonable price — ideal for merchants who want to accept chip cards but also save some money.

Square doesn’t offer a lightning connector variant for the Chip Card Reader, but as I mentioned, a Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adapter would work for iPhone users. This reader also requires the occasional battery charge because of the addition of the chip reader.

Chip Card Reader Fast Facts 

  • $35
  • 3.5 mm headphone jack connector
  • Requires battery charging
  • Supports magstripe and chip card transactions

Square Contactless + Chip Reader

Square’s Contactless + Chip Reader is a departure from Square’s earlier mobile credit card readers. First, it connects via Bluetooth. Second, it doesn’t support magstripe transactions at all. Instead, Square includes one of its free magstripe reader in the box as well. (To be honest, this design kind of disappoints me, but I figure that the Contactless + Chip Reader was designed to add EMV support to the Square Stand, which already has an integrated magstripe reader. So building magstripe support into the Contactless + Chip Reader was a moot point. Still, for merchants who don’t have a Square Stand, this might prove to be a small annoyance if the chip reader can’t read a card properly.)

Square also sells a charging dock, which can be plugged into a wall, or into the Square Stand’s USB hub. It sells for $29 separately. You can use it in a countertop retail environment and let customers insert their payment cards themselves, or you can set the dock aside and grab the reader by itself whenever you need to make a transaction.

Contactless + Chip Reader Fast Facts 

  • $49
  • Charging dock sold separately ($29)
  • Bluetooth connection
  • Supports chip card and contactless transactions
  • Basic magstripe reader also included

Square Countertop POS Devices

If you’d like something a little bit more permanent and stationary in your POS setup, Square offer options tailored to different environments. The offerings here get a little more complex, so bear with me!

Square Stand

The Square Stand has been one of the company’s core offerings for a long time — it is a tablet stand with a built-in card reader, all for a reasonable price (at launch, it cost $99). It swivels, it has minimal cords, and it looks good. Square has improved it slightly with the bundling of the Contactless + Chip Reader. That brings the price to $169.

Square doesn’t include a receipt printer for the Stand, but a printer is available in hardware bundles. Likewise, Square doesn’t include an iPad with the Stand, but you can purchase one directly from Square for an additional $329. Keep in mind that the current edition of the Square Stand only works for the most recent iPad models. If you have an older iPad, you can order a legacy stand from Square for $99, but the Contactless + Chip Reader requires iOS 9.3.5 or higher, and that version of iOS isn’t supported on an iPad 2 or other earlier models.

Because the Square Stand runs an iPad, it can also support merchants using Square Point of Sale, Square for Retail, or Square for Restaurants. There are an assortment of recommended hardware bundles for the Square stand, but if you prefer to build your own setup, you will be happy to know that the Square Stand supports USB, Ethernet, WiFi and Bluetooth printers, as well as other devices.

Square Stand Fast Facts 

  • Accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions
  • $169 (iPad sold separately)
  • Includes Contactless + Chip Reader (integrated magstripe reader in stand)
  • Compatible with Square Point of Sale, Square for Restaurants, Square for Retail, Square Appointments

Square Terminal

Square Terminal (read our review), the newest addition to Square’s lineup of hardware, takes the concept of the Square Stand and the traditional credit card terminal and combines them into one portable machine. The display is large enough to be a fully functioning POS (it runs Square Point of Sale, the free app). It accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions. It even has a built-in thermal receipt printer.

While you can operate Terminal by keeping it plugged in, Square promises the battery will last all day if you prefer to go wireless. You also get a cleverly-designed power brick and USB hub to connect accessories, such as the USB barcode scanner and cash drawer. Bluetooth accessories aren’t supported, so the USB hub will be important for some merchants.

While Terminal runs Square Point of Sale, it also offers some compatibility with the iPad-based premium POS app, Square for Restaurants. Specifically, Terminal can be used for tableside ordering and payments. It doesn’t support all of Square for Restaurant’s features, though, so it’s important that you make sure Terminal will really fit your needs.

Square Terminal Fast Facts 

  • Accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions
  • $399
  • $300 processing credit for new merchants
  • 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Compatible with Square Point of Sale (limited compatibility with Square for Restaurants)

Square Register

 

Square Register (read our review) definitely targets a higher-end market, with a price tag of $999 — not counting a cash drawer, receipt printer, or barcode scanner. However, for that price, you get a 13.25-inch screen running Square Point of Sale, as well as a 7-inch consumer-facing screen with integrated support for magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions.

Square Register runs an Android-based version of Square Point of Sale, which means it’s not compatible with Square for Retail. However, you can take advantage of the back-end features if you opt to subscribe to Square for Retail. Specifically, that means access to the reporting features, including cost of goods sold and profitability reports. Square Register also integrates perfectly with Square Loyalty and allows customers to see the status of their loyalty accounts.

All in all, Square Register is an absolutely gorgeous piece of hardware that would look great in a retail space. The addition of the customer-facing display, combined with all of the supported hardware, brings Register on par with more traditional countertop POS systems.

Square Register Fast Facts

  • Accepts magstripe, chip card, and contactless transactions
  • $999
  • 2.5% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Compatible with Square Point of Sale (back end features compatible with Square for Retail)

Square POS Bundles

Square’s POS Kits are available for the Square Stand and Square Register — but if you’d prefer to use a different tablet stand for an iPad, Square also offers some alternatives. It would be a bit redundant and very overwhelming to go through every single bundle that Square offers, so let’s focus on what they offer, broadly speaking.

Square will first ask you to pick a category for your business. The options are limited — just food and beverages, beauty and wellness, or retail. However, those three categories cover a lot of industries. And honestly, you shouldn’t worry too much about picking the right category because the offerings will be similar. Check the options in each category and see which bundle you like.

After you’ve chosen an industry category, Square will also ask you about your Internet setup, specifically whether your business has a router. If you are relying on cellular data, obviously, there’s no router involved. But this question primarily affects what kind of printer Square includes in its bundles.

The biggest advantage to choosing a Square POS kit is the cost savings. Buying individual accessories from Square will cost more than buying a bundle. Square lists the prices as “starting at” for most bundles, but that’s usually because you have the option of purchasing an iPad direct from Square. (Note that you can only get the most recent model of iPad. Square offers POS bundles that support the iPad 2, for example, but you’ll have to acquire the iPad separately.)

Let’s start by looking at what the Square Register and Square Stand bundles look like, versus the alternative tablet stands.

Square Stand POS Kit

 

Square Stand on its own is pretty affordable, but if you opt for the bundle with the stand over buying individual components, you’ll save a small amount. Square suggests running the Stand with a router setup, which includes a USB hub for accessories, rather than wireless options. Your Square Stand Kit includes the following:

  • Receipt printer paper (25 rolls)
  • USB Receipt Printer
  • 16 in. Printer-Driven Cash Drawer
  • Square Stand for Contactless and Chip

If you decide against the Square Stand Kit, keep in mind that you can use any piece of hardware that works with an iPad running Square Point of Sale, as well as USB-enabled devices. That includes barcode scanners and receipt and kitchen printers in addition to cash drawers.

Square Register POS Kit

The POS kit for Square Register will add $530 to the cost, but it will save you $67 over buying the parts individually. (Also take note: You can’t order just the hardware bundle separate from the Register.)

In addition to the Register itself, the kit includes:

  • 16 in. USB Cash Drawer
  • USB Receipt Printer
  • Receipt printer paper (25 rolls)
  • Square Register

Square only recommends the Register kit for businesses with routers, not mobile setups. That’s not too surprising because it’s clearly not a mobile setup. Register does support some USB and Ethernet printers (and one WiFi printer), but it does not support as many devices as the Square Stand or just a standalone iPad. Square also offers compatible kitchen printers, which aren’t included in the bundles for food and beverage businesses, surprisingly.

Other Square POS Kits

If you’d still like to use Square on a tablet — but without the Register or Square Stand — you can get a selection of Heckler brand tablet stands designed for iPads, as well as Galaxy Tab A devices. They contain the following:

  • A tablet stand
  • A printer (Ethernet or Bluetooth)
  • Cash drawer
  • Receipt printer paper
  • Card reader (Magstripe or Contactless + Chip)

Prices vary by the tablet stand model, as well as whether the kit includes an Ethernet or wireless printer. Which card reader Square includes depends on the model of iPad (remember, early models of iPad can’t upgrade to the iOS version required to support the Contactless + Chip Reader). And again, you can mix and match tablet stands and other devices to create a custom setup, though you will ultimately pay more than if you chose one of Square’s pre-made bundles.

Other Square Accessories

When you check out Square’s hardware shop, you can also browse standalone accessories for Square’s products. I like that the site has added the ability to filter compatible accessories by the POS device. The available accessories include kitchen printers, USB and Bluetooth barcode scanners, WiFi routers, and more. However, these are far from your only options. Square actually supports an extensive array of hardware in addition to the options available directly through its own shop. And it’s great about publishing that list of confirmed, supported devices.

Should You Finance Your Square Hardware Purchase?

There’s one last factor to consider when shopping for hardware from Square: the cost. If you are worried about the price of Square’s hardware, or the overall price of accessories, you’ll be glad to know that Square offers financing on purchases of $49 or more. Generally, the limit is $5,000, but you can apply for an increased limit. Depending on the total sum you’re financing, Square offers payback terms of 3, 6, 12 and 24 months.

Square will deduct your payments from your total processing volume before disbursing funds to your bank, so you don’t have to worry about making monthly payments. Eligibility depends on a credit check, and the financing program isn’t available in all U.S. states yet. However, if you are eligible, this could be a great option.

Square’s markup for financing is incredibly reasonable, and the program is managed by Square directly so you don’t have to worry about a shady third-party stepping in. If you can’t afford the upfront investment in hardware, Square’s financing can help you manage your cash flow better. And I like that it’s not a leasing program — when you’re done paying off the hardware, you own it.

Which Square Hardware Is Right For You?

If your business is primarily on the go, you can get a cheap, affordable mobile card reader. If you’d like a countertop setup, there’s Square Terminal with its very small profile, Square Stand for a good entry-level piece of hardware, and of course, Square Register. Plus, the bundled kits from Square allow you to easily add a cash drawer, receipt printer, and any other hardware you need. The number of options can seem overwhelming, but it really comes down to how portable you need your hardware to be and what you can afford.

One of my absolute favorite things about Square is that the company offers a huge array of very affordable hardware for all types of businesses. Some companies might only offer a few options, use expensive leases, or charge an arm and a leg just for a single terminal. You don’t have to worry about that with Square. The price is right and there are hardware options to suit every business that work with all of Square’s Point of Sale apps. That’s a very powerful reason to go with Square already. Throw in the affordable credit card processing and the great customer service, and it’s easy to see why Square is a favorite among small businesses.

If you’re still just learning about Square, be sure to read our complete Square Review! You can also check out our Square Point of Sale, Square for Retail, and Square for Restaurants reviews to learn more about the point of sale systems.

Thanks for reading! Leave us your thoughts and your questions in the comments below!

The post A Guide To Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Retail Business Loans And Financing Options

Owning a retail business isn’t without its challenges. Whether you’re growing rapidly and need extra money for expansion or you’re in the middle of a slow season that’s impacted your cash flow, one thing is clear: you need money for your business to operate smoothly.

Sure, pulling the money you need from your own bank account is ideal, but this isn’t always possible. Maybe the money’s not there … or maybe you don’t want to put yourself in a bind by tying up your funds. In these situations, what do you do when you need a financial helping hand? Take a cue from other smart retailers and find a retail business loan that’s right for you.

There comes a time when most small businesses have to take out a loan, and retail businesses are no exception. The key is to understand your options to find the best, most affordable loan that you can use to take your store to the next level, cover an unexpected emergency, or even get your business off the ground. Read on to learn more about the retail business loan and financing options available for any situation.

The Best Loans For Retail Businesses

Financing Need Best Loan Type Recommended Lender
Business Expansion SBA Loan SmartBiz
Purchasing Equipment Equipment Financing Lendio
Emergency Funding Short-Term Loan LoanBuilder & IOU Financial
Cash Flow Shortages Business Credit Cards Ink Business Preferred from Chase
Purchasing Inventory Line of Credit OnDeck
Purchasing a Point of Sale System POS Financing CDGcommerce

1. Business Expansion

Business is booming, and you’re ready for an expansion. Maybe you’re an online retailer and you’ve decided it’s time to open your first brick-and-mortar store. Perhaps you want to open an additional location, or you want to do a complete overhaul of your facilities. No matter what the situation, your retail business is growing, which is exciting … but also very expensive.

Instead of hindering your growth by draining your checking account, consider applying for a loan that provides the funds you need, but spread out into affordable monthly payments.

Small Business Administration 7(a) Loans

The Small Business Administration is a government organization that provides resources to small business owners just like you. One of the most popular resources the SBA offers small business owners is low-cost loan options. Although there are several great programs to consider, the SBA 7(a) loan is one of the most popular among small business owners.

The SBA 7(a) loan is a loan that can be used for essentially any business purpose. This includes business expansion, the purchase of equipment, to use as working capital, or to even save money by paying off high-interest debt.

Through the 7(a) program, you can receive up to $5 million. Because up to 85% of the loan proceeds are backed by the government, SBA-approved lenders (known as intermediaries) are more willing to give these loans out. This is ideal if you’ve been unable to qualify for traditional loan options.

SBA 7(a) loans have low interest rates capped at a maximum of 4.75% — added to the prime rate — based on the loan amount and your repayment terms. Repayment terms are available up to 10 years for most uses, while loan proceeds being used for commercial real estate come with maximum terms of 25 years. SBA 7(a) loans are available to qualified borrowers with a credit score in the high 600s.

Recommended Option: SmartBiz

The SBA 7(a) loan sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? If you’re interested in this loan, you could visit an intermediary lender in your area, such as a bank or credit union. However, this process can often be a hassle for the busy retail business owner. Simplify the process of applying for an SBA 7(a) loan by working with SmartBiz.

With SmartBiz, you can fill out an easy online questionnaire to find out if you’re qualified for an SBA loan. Once you’re prequalified, the service will match you with a lender and assign a relationship manager to help you through the application process.

Getting approved and funded takes several weeks for most applicants. Other times, the process may drag out over several months if more information is needed by your lender. Even though the waiting time to receive this type of loan exceeds that of other financing options, the low overall cost and the flexibility that comes with the 7(a) loan is often worth the wait for many small business owners.

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2. Purchasing Equipment

Your technology and equipment are seriously outdated. Or maybe your business is growing so fast that your problem is not replacing equipment, but adding more. Instead of spending thousands out of pocket, there’s a more affordable solution when you need to replace or purchase long-term equipment: equipment financing.

Equipment Financing

Equipment financing is a type of business financing used to purchase new equipment for your business. With equipment financing, you’ll be able to take possession of much-needed new equipment immediately without paying the entire cost up front.

With an equipment loan, you’ll pay a down payment that is usually 10% to 20% of the total cost of the equipment. The remaining amount, along with interest and fees charged by the lender, will be loaned to you and is paid back through scheduled payments over a longer period of time. At the end of your repayment period, you will own the equipment. This makes the purchase of new or replacement equipment much more affordable.

Equipment leases are another form of equipment financing. With equipment leasing, you’re essentially paying to use the equipment. At the end of your lease, you can return the equipment and take out another lease on the latest model. Unlike a loan, you will never own the equipment unless you pay a lump sum at the end of the lease. However, if you upgrade equipment frequently or want a lower down payment, a lease may be the right option for you.

Recommended Option: Lendio

If equipment financing sounds like the right loan option for your business, find a lender using Lendio. Lendio is a loan-matching service that connects you with the right lender that offers loans to best fit your needs.

Equipment financing through Lendio lenders is available in amounts from $5,000 up to $5 million. Terms of up to 5 years are available. Interest rates for the most qualified buyers start at 7.5%.

Column Heading Data

Credit limit:

$5,000 – $5,000,000

Term length:

1 – 5 years

Interest rate:

7.5%+

Origination fee:

By lender

Collateral:

Usually the equipment being financed

When using Lendio, you’ll fill out an application and within 72 hours, you’ll receive loan offers from multiple lenders. This allows you to review your options to find the most affordable loan with the best repayment terms.

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3. Emergency Funding

Even if you’re on top of your business and finances, there may come a time when an unexpected emergency arises. It happens to the best of us, usually when we are least prepared for it. If an emergency pops up and you need extra cash immediately, a short-term loan could offer just what you’re looking for.

Short-Term Loans

A short-term loan is exactly what the name suggests: a loan that comes with short terms of 1 year or less. These loans have their benefits for small business owners. Borrowers with low credit scores, a short time in business, or with low annual revenues often qualify. However, the biggest benefit is how quickly you can receive the money with a short-term loan. With some lenders, you can apply, be approved, and have the money in your bank account in just 24 hours.

However, short-term loans don’t come without their drawbacks. This fast form of financing comes at a cost. Short-term loans do not have interest rates, but instead, use something called a factor rate. This fee is paid back along with the principal balance over a short period of time. Often, this factor fee, along with other costs such as origination fees, can make these loans more expensive than long-term options. However, when you’re in a financial bind and need money quickly to keep your retail business running smoothly, a short-term loan may be your best option.

Recommended Options: PayPal LoanBuilder & IOU Financial

PayPal’s LoanBuilder provides short-term funding up to $500,000, which can be repaid over a period of 13 to 52 weeks based on the amount of the loan received. The LoanBuilder application takes just 10 minutes to complete. Once approved, you can receive your funds as soon as the next business day.

Qualified borrowers must be in business for 9 months and have at least $42,000 in annual revenue. All borrowers must have a minimum credit score of 550.

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Check Eligibility

Another short-term loan option is IOU Financial. This lender offers loans up to $300,000. Requirements include being in business for a minimum of one year, bringing in revenue of at least $100,000, and making at least 10 deposits per month into your business bank account.

Repayment terms are available from 6 to 18 months, and once your loan is 40% paid off, you can renew if additional funding is needed. Repayments are made through fixed daily or weekly payments.

4. Cash Flow Shortages

From time to time, a retail business may face cash flow shortages due to a slow season or other challenges. When this happens, daily operations may be affected. You have the same expenses, but your revenues are down, posing a financial challenge for your business. You don’t have to sit back and let these situations drag your business down. Instead, a business credit card can help you fill in these gaps.

Business Credit Cards

A business credit card provides you with a revolving line of credit that you can use to pay your suppliers, vendors, and other expenses. The issuer of the credit card will provide you with a credit limit. You can spend up to and including that limit, using the card as often as you need.

A business credit card allows you to make an instant purchase without having to wait for approval from the lender. You’ll only pay interest on the amount of the credit line that has been used. Payments are made monthly and are applied to the interest and the balance on your card.

One great feature about business credit cards is that many offer rewards programs. With qualifying business purchases, you can earn cash back or points that can be redeemed toward rewards.

Recommended Option: Ink Business Preferred from Chase

The Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card is a top choice among retailers and other business owners because of its great rewards program. If you spend $5,000 within three months of opening your account, you receive 80,000 bonus points. For every purchase, you’ll continue to rack up points.

This credit card also offers additional benefits not offered by other credit card issuers, such as cell phone protection. This card comes with a variable APR of 17.99% to 22.99% with a $95 annual fee.

This credit card is reserved for borrowers with good to excellent credit. Check out our other top picks in business credit cards.

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% – 22.99%, Variable

5. Purchasing Inventory

You need inventory, and you need it now. If you need to purchase inventory to keep your business running and time is of the essence, a business line of credit may be just what you need out of a small business loan.

Line Of Credit

With a line of credit, a lender issues you a credit limit. You can make multiple draws up to and including this limit whenever you want. The funds will typically be in your account within a few business days, although some lenders offer immediate transfers.

Interest is only applied to the portion of the funds that have been withdrawn. Interest rates vary by creditworthiness, with the most qualified borrowers receiving rates around 6% while high-risk borrowers may see rates of 20% or more.

Payments are made on a scheduled basis and are applied toward the principal and interest. Repayment terms and schedules vary by lender.

Recommended Option: OnDeck

OnDeck is an alternative lender that provides lines of credit to business owners. Lines of credit up to $100,000 are available to eligible borrowers. Repayment terms up to 12 months are available. Rates are as low as 13.99%, and weekly payments are automatically deducted from your business bank account.

OnDeck is known for its fast application process and low borrower requirements. Borrowers of this loan must have a credit score of at least 600, have been in business for at least 1 year, and have a minimum revenue of $100,000 per year.

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6. Purchasing A Point Of Sale System

POS hardware

 

If you own a retail business, you already know the importance of a point of sale system. This centralized system allows you to keep track of inventory, receive payments, and provide receipts for purchases.

Whether you’ve opened a new store or you want to upgrade your outdated system, you can receive a new POS system without paying a lot of money up front with POS financing options.

POS Financing

POS financing allows you to purchase or lease a POS system without paying the full amount up front. Depending on the company you work with, full financing options for all hardware and software may be available.

In addition to POS financing, you may also consider a credit card processing app. These are usually more affordable, are less complicated, and don’t require lengthy contracts. This option is best for smaller retail businesses, while larger businesses should stick with a full POS system.

Recommended Option: CDGcommerce

CDGCommerce is a retail credit card processing company that offers affordable point of sale systems. The company offers the Harbortouch Echo featuring the CDG POS+ app that can be rented for just $49.00 per month. An annual equipment insurance fee is also required at a cost of $79.00, but compared to the costs of purchasing a system, these fees are quite affordable.

Ready to upgrade but unsure of which POS is right for you? Read on to learn more about choosing the right retail POS system for your business.

When You Want To Start A Retail Business

All of these options are great for established retail businesses, but what if you haven’t even gotten your business off the ground yet? For most aspiring business owners, financing is the barrier that is holding them back.

It may be difficult to qualify for a startup loan. After all, you don’t have the sales, revenues, and financial documents to back up your success. When you want to start a business, you have to get creative with your funding options.

If you want to apply for a business loan, you can look to options such as the SBA Microloan program, which provides up to $50,000 to small business owners. These low-cost loans aren’t easy to obtain, though. You’ll need to make sure that you’re prepared for the lengthy application process by preparing your personal financial documents, creating a detailed business plan, and outlining future projections. Your score must be in the high 600s to qualify.

SBA 504 Loans

Borrowing Amount

$500 – $50,000

Term Lengths

Up to 6 years

Interest Rates

6.5% – 13%

Borrowing Fees

Possible fees from the loan issuer

Personal Guarantee

Guarantee required from anybody who owns at least 20% of the business

Collateral

Collateral normally required, but depends on the lender

Down Payment

  • No down payment for most businesses
  • Possible 20% down payment for startups
  • Possible 10% down payment for business acquisition loan

Other startup loan options are available, such as online lenders like Fundwise Capital. For borrowers with a poor credit history, there are other alternative loan options but these often come at a much higher cost.

If you have a high personal credit score, you can also consider taking out a personal loan to fund your startup costs. With a personal loan, your income and personal credit score will be considered. This could potentially help you score a lower cost loan that can be used to start your retail business.

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Interest Rate Min. Credit Score Next Steps

$2K – $25K 2 – 4 years 15.49% to 30% 600 Apply Now

$1K – $50K 3 or 5 years 8.16% – 27.99% 620 Apply Now

$2K – $35K 3 or 5 years 6.95% – 35.99% APR 640 Apply Now

lending club logo

$1K – $40K 3 or 5 years 5.32% – 30.99% 640 Compare

Ways To Improve Your Chances Of A Successful Application

Improve Business Loan Application

Once you’re ready to apply for your business loan, you can do some prep work in advance to expedite the process. Before you even start filling out an application, the first step is to know your credit score and determine whether it is high enough to qualify for the loan you’re seeking.

You can receive your free credit score online to find out where you stand. Review your credit report carefully for any errors. If there are any negative items on your report, be prepared to explain those to your lender.

If your credit score is low and your funding need isn’t urgent, you may consider taking a few easy steps to raise your credit score. You’ll be rewarded with lower interest rates, better terms, and more financing options.

You can also prepare your paperwork and documentation in advance. Although requirements vary by lender and the type of loan you’ve selected, you’ll generally need a few items, including:

  • Bank Statements
  • Personal Financial Statements
  • Business Balance Sheet
  • Profit & Loss Statement
  • Income Statements
  • Business Licenses
  • Articles Of Incorporation

When the time comes to apply for your loan, you’ll need to know exactly how much you need and why you need the loan. It’s also important to remember that most loans require a blanket lien or personal guarantee. Most lenders require a personal guarantee to be signed by anyone with at least 20% ownership in the business, so be prepared to have all owners ready to sign the contract as needed.

Finally, when you do apply for your loan, be sure to make yourself available to the lender. Sometimes, lenders require additional documentation or have questions about your application. Taking the time to work with your lender will help you finish the process smoothly.

Final Thoughts

Getting a business loan can be tough, whether you’re an established retail business owner or just getting started. However, there are plenty of options available if you take the time to do your research, go into the application process prepared, and have a good reason for taking out the loan which will improve the return on investment for your business.

The post Retail Business Loans And Financing Options appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Credit Cards For New Business Owners

If you’re a new business owner, getting a credit card sounds like an awesome idea. Credit cards help you build credit, save you money with rewards, and enable you to make large purchases without needing cash on hand.

But as a new business owner, you may be wary of applying for a credit card because your company lacks credit history. The good news? Many card issuers will take your personal credit history into account. This means that if you’ve maintained a good personal credit score, you have an excellent chance of qualifying for a business credit card. The even better news? There are plenty of options even for those with limited credit history or poor credit scores.

We’ve researched some of best credit card options for new business owners and listed them below. Read on through to determine which one is right for you!

Comparison Of The Best Credit Cards For New Business Owners

Best for Card
Cash back SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
Travel rewards Chase Ink Business PreferredSM
No annual fee Chase Ink Business CashSM
0% introductory rate Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
Fair credit Capital One Spark Classic For Business
Bad credit Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Best Card For Cash Back Rewards: SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express



Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.24% – 21.24%, Variable

Offering up to 5% cash back on some purchases, the SimplyCash Business Credit Card from American Express is hard to beat. It also provides you with some choice when it comes to cash back categories, meaning that you can customize this card to fit your spending habits.

This nifty card gives you 5% back on purchase made at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers (up to $50,000 spent per calendar year). You’ll then get to pick one category from the below list of eight options to earn 3% cash back:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

As with the 5% categories, you’ll earn the 3% cash back up until you spend $50,000 in a calendar year (after which you’ll receive 1% back). All other purchases will net you 1% cash back.

SimplyCash Plus gives you the ability to buy above your credit limit. There is no annual fee, and 0% intro APR for the first nine months.

Need a more detailed breakdown? Visit our full review.

Best Card For Travel Rewards: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.99% – 22.99%, Variable

While this card from Chase is simply a rewards card, it packs in a lot of bonuses for those that travel frequently.

To start, Ink Business Preferred users get three points per dollar spent on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, and on advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year (up to $150,000 spent). All other purchases get one point per dollar spent. You’ll then be able to redeem your points for 25% more when you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Beyond those basic rewards, Chase also lets you transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to nine airline and four hotel reward programs. If you need something other than travel rewards, you’ll also be able to redeem points for Amazon.com purchases, gift cards, and cash back, making this an extremely versatile card.

If you want more information on this card, check out Merchant Maverick’s complete review.

Best Card With No Annual Fee: Chase Ink Business Cash

Chase Ink Business Cash



Apply Now

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


15.24% – 21.24%, Variable

This card from Chase lets you earn up to 5% cash back when you make purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone services (up to the first $25,000 spent). You can also earn 2% back when spending at gas stations and restaurants (up to the first $25,000 spent). Everything else earns you 1% back.

The cherry on top of all those rewards is that you won’t have to worry about paying an annual fee—this means you’ll end up with savings no matter how much you spend yearly.

The Ink Business Cash also features a 0% intro APR rate for the first 12 months, a very generous offer. Chase is currently offering a welcome bonus of $500 cash back when you spend $3,000 within your first three months of opening an account.

If you want all the deets, read our full review.

Best Card With A 0% Introductory Rate: Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express



Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 20.99%, Variable

If you need to make a big purchase but can’t pay it all up front, having a card with 0% APR is very helpful because you won’t accrue interest. With a 0% intro APR for the first 15 months, the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express has one of the longest 0% intro rates.

On top of that generous intro APR period, the Blue Business Plus also packs in some solid rewards. As a base, you’ll earn two points per dollar spent up to $50,000 yearly, and then one point per dollar thereafter.

Amex also grants you expanded buying power, which enables you to spend above your credit limit. Additionally, this card does not carry an annual fee.

Get the full breakdown on the Blue Business Plus with the complete review from Merchant Maverick.

Best Card For Fair Credit: Capital One Spark Classic for Business

Capital One Spark Classic For Business


Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


24.74%, Variable

One of the easiest small business credit cards to get, the Capital One Spark Classic for Business was made for those who want to build their credit. Despite being aimed at those with lower credit, this card still offers some decent perks.

To start, its base rewards dole out an unlimited 1% cash back without any sort of annual fee. This means you’ll be saving money no matter what your yearly spending rate is. Additionally, you’ll be able to add employee credit cards at no additional cost. Capital One requires no foreign transaction fees—great if your business needs overseas travel.

For the in-depth rundown on Spark Classic, head on over to our full review.

Best Card For Bad Credit: Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card


business credit cards fair credit
Compare

Annual Fee:


$25

 

Purchase APR:


Prime + 11.90%

One of the lone secured cards for business, the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is an appealing option for those looking to boost a low credit score. Wells Fargo targets this card for those just starting a business, businesses with little or no credit, and those with past credit problems.

You also have a couple of reward options: get 1.5% cash back or one point per dollar spent, which can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, airline tickets, and more. Besides the base bonuses, you won’t need to worry about paying program or foreign fees. However, you’ll need to fork over $25 annually, and you can add up to 10 employee cards.

Want more low credit options? Check out our breakdown of the best business credit cards for those with bad credit.

FAQs About New Business Credit Cards

Do I need business credit to get a business credit card?

No, when you apply for a business credit card, issuers will also consider your personal credit history, which can be used to guarantee repayment.

What business information do I need to supply to get a credit card?

When applying for a business card, issuers usually request your company’s business tax identification number. If you don’t have one, you can often supply your personal social security number instead. They’ll likely ask you for your business’s legal structure, its ownership type, and its age. It’s also not uncommon for issuers to request your annual revenue, how much you spend, and which country your business is located in.

Can I still get a business credit card if I’m not registered as a business?

Yes, you don’t need to be officially registered as a business to get a business credit card. Find out more with our guide to business cards for the self-employed.

Can I get a new business credit card without signing a personal guarantee?

Usually, no. If you’re a new small business owner, you’ll most likely have to sign a personal guarantee.

Can I use personal credit cards for business?

Yes, there are a number of reasons why you might prefer a personal card, from better legal protection to better potential rewards. We go into more depth on the subject in our personal credit card guide.

Comparison Of The Best Credit Cards For New Business Owners

Card Name Best For Next Steps

SimplyCash Plus Business Credit Card from American Express

Cash back

Compare

Chase Ink Business Preferred

Travel rewards

Apply Now

Chase Ink Business Cash

No annual fee

Apply Now

Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express

0% introductory rate

Compare

Capital One Spark Classic For Business

Fair credit

Compare

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Bad credit

Compare

The post Best Credit Cards For New Business Owners appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Complete Guide to PayPal’s Fees, Rates, and Pricing

As a consumer mobile wallet, PayPal is darn-near ubiquitous. But with more than 17 million merchants worldwide calling PayPal their payments processor, it’s also a massive force in the merchant services industry. So if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to get set up with credit card payments, whether for a POS system or online, PayPal is probably going to be on your radar, and with good reason.

But should you choose PayPal as your payments processor, and what will it cost? The good news is that PayPal offers transparent, pay-as-you-go pricing with no monthly fees, no account termination fees, or other hidden costs. You can predict fairly well what you’ll pay with PayPal, and all payment processing fees are deducted before PayPal deposits funds in your account.

The one major drawback is that PayPal is a third-party processor, also referred to as an aggregator. That means the company essentially onboards merchants as sub-users of one, giant merchant account that includes the entirety of PayPal’s merchant base. This means that the company does minimal underwriting before approving an account. You don’t need to provide much info beyond confirming your identity to open an account. However, this does mean you face a greater amount of scrutiny after opening an account, and PayPal can terminate your account or place a hold on funds with no notice to you.

That sounds worrisome, but the reality is it only happens to a small percentage of merchants. You can also take steps to protect yourself by recognizing the common red flags that processors look for and avoiding them. Check out our article on how to avoid merchant accounts holds and terminations to learn more.

PayPal obviously isn’t the right choice for everyone. There are restrictions on the types of products merchants can offer, and it doesn’t support certain business models. High-risk businesses should look somewhere else for a merchant account. However, most merchants should be fine with a PayPal account for payment processing.

Read on for a closer look at what you can expect to pay with PayPal as your business’ credit card processor! You can also check out our PayPal and PayPal Here reviews for a focused look at the products and services.

Payment Processing Fees

The major concern for most merchants who use (or are considering using) PayPal are the payment processing costs, so we’ll start there. PayPal offers predictable, flat-rate pricing for all merchants. You don’t have to worry about higher interchange for American Express cards, or MCCs, or qualified vs non-qualified transactions. Your exact rate will depend on the type of transaction.

Merchants who use PayPal’s mPOS app, PayPal Here, or integrate with one of PayPal’s POS partners (such as Vend), will pay the following for in-person transactions:

  • 2.7% per swiped, dipped or tapped transaction
  • 3.5 + $0.15 per keyed transaction

For online transactions, including monthly subscription charges, donations, and digital invoices, PayPal charges the following:

  • 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction

That’s it. Really. The simplicity of PayPal’s pricing is one of the biggest draws for merchants. You can predict fairly easily what your pricing will be and, because PayPal deducts its fees before depositing funds in your account, you don’t have to worry about an end-of-the-month invoice or going over a limit and incurring additional fees.

What About Alternative Payment Processing Rates?

If you’re wondering whether PayPal offers any sort of alternative payment plans, the answer is yes. Merchants with an average transaction size under $10 can opt for the micropayments plan. PayPal also offers a nonprofit discount for online transactions to qualified 501(c)(3) nonprofits.

  • Micropayments Plan: 5% + $0.05 per transaction. (Note: This rate applies to all transactions, even those above $10)
  • Nonprofit Discount (Online Only): 2.2% + $0.30 per transaction

If you integrate with one of PayPal’s partner POS systems, such as Vend or TouchBistro, you may be eligible for special discounts  (presumably volume-based) or other promotions. However, these offers aren’t clearly disclosed, just advertised on the POS software sites.

Other PayPal Fees For Payment Processing

While PayPal does charge a few extra fees relating to payment processing, they aren’t many. But these are what you might come across:

  • 1.5% Cross-Border Transaction Fee: For US merchants who accept online payments from buyers out of the country, or in-person transactions involving a card from outside the US, PayPal charges a 1.5% cross-border fee. That means, for example, that a US merchant accepting a Canadian card at a POS terminal will pay 4% of the transaction value to PayPal.
  • 2.5% Currency Conversion Fee:  If PayPal has to convert the currency before it deposits the funds in your account, you’ll pay another 2.5% conversion fee. Whether you have to pay the conversion fee depends on the customer’s bank and whether it will handle the currency conversion (usually at a cost to the customer).
  • $20 Chargeback Fee: Chargeback fees are pretty standard, and if a customer files a chargeback against you, PayPal will assess a $20 fee in addition to withdrawing the funds to cover the transaction amount.
  • Refund Fee: In the event of a refund, PayPal will refund the percentage-based fee from the transaction to you, but keep the fixed fee. For most in-person transactions that means you’ll pay nothing. However, refunds on keyed transactions mean you’ll pay $0.15. Refunds on online or invoiced transactions will cost $0.30. PayPal can be a bit confusing about how this works in its transaction summaries, but be aware that you will pay a fee for most refunded transactions, albeit a small one.
  • 1% Instant Transfer Fee: If you’d like to move your PayPal balance to a bank account immediately, you can do that — for a fee. PayPal charges merchants 1% of the transfer value, capped at $10 per transfer, but your funds will be available typically within 30 minutes (s0 long as your bank’s system isn’t incredibly slow). You’ll have to connect an eligible debit card to support instant transfers as well. However, if you prefer to have instant access to funds without paying a fee, don’t forget that PayPal offers a business debit card that’s linked to your PayPal balance, too.

Software Fees

One of the big draws for PayPal is the lack of software fees. Instead of paying a monthly fee for PayPal’s ecommerce features, you pay only the payment transaction costs (in most circumstances — but we’ll come back to this in a moment). While you’ll need to arrange for your own domain and web hosting, you can implement PayPal’s “buy” and “donate” buttons with no additional costs. You can send digital invoices for free and only pay the transaction cost when the invoice is paid.

Likewise, access to PayPal’s mPOS app, PayPal Here (read our review) is also free. However, if you opt to integrate PayPal into a POS app, invoicing software, or another platform, you’ll be responsible for those software costs. PayPal doesn’t charge anything for use of the integration.

Also, take note: PayPal doesn’t charge merchants any PCI compliance fees, account maintenance fees, customer service fees, or termination/account closure fees.

However, PayPal does offer a couple of advanced software options that come with additional costs:

  • PayPal Payments Pro: The “Pro” plan from PayPal has two advantages. One, it includes a virtual terminal to accept payments over the phone by keying in a card from a browser window.  Two, it allows merchants to keep the checkout process on their own website rather than redirecting to PayPal to complete a transaction. This does come with a couple of concerns. For one, you’re not automatically PCI compliant and you’ll need to take additional steps to handle your PCI compliance. Two, $30/month for a virtual terminal is pretty pricey considering you’ll still pay higher rates than swiped/dipped/tapped transactions. Square and Shopify both offer free virtual terminals. Also, opting for PayPal Payments Pro and the Virtual Terminal will mean a few different transaction fees to worry about:
    • 3.5% American Express Fee: Any Amex cards will process at the higher 3.5% rate if you’re on the Pro plan.
    • 3.1% + $0.30 Virtual Terminal Fee: Any transactions processed through PayPal’s Virtual Terminal process at 3.1% + $0.30, plus the international transaction fee if applicable.
  • Recurring Billing: If you’d like to sell subscriptions (software, gift boxes, etc.), PayPal does offer a set of recurring billing tools. Recurring payments are available with PayPal’s Express Checkout Option at no additional charge, but if you have PayPal Payments Pro and want advanced tools, they’ll cost you $10/month. This doesn’t apply to “Donate” buttons, which have their own option for donors to choose between a one-time or recurring donation.

  • Mass Payouts: If you need to distribute funds to multiple parties, PayPal’s Mass Payouts feature might be an appealing option. You have two options here: using PayPal’s API to handle the command, or uploading a spreadsheet. Which method you choose affects how much you pay — if you opt to upload a spreadsheet through PayPal’s website, you’ll pay 2% per transaction, capped at a maximum $1 USD, which is pretty reasonable. If you opt for the API, you’ll pay a flat fee of $0.25 USD per payment. This is a great way to distribute payments to contractors, for example, or manage marketplace payments if you use PayPal’s platform.

PayPal Hardware Costs

Unless you’re integrating PayPal with a POS system or using the free mPOS, PayPal Here, you won’t have to worry about hardware costs. But if you do, you’ll have a few options for card readers:

  • Chip & Swipe Reader: PayPal’s entry-level chip reader sells for $24.99. In addition to EMV capabilities it supports magstripe transactions, but no contactless payments. However, it does connect to phones and tablets via Bluetooth and comes with a convenient mounting clip.
  • Chip & Tap Reader: To get a credit card reader that supports magstripe, EMV, and contactless payments, you’ll need the Chip and Tap reader, which sells for $59.99. We’ve already reviewed this reader as well as the optional charging dock ($30 separately, or bundled for $79.99), with a very positive rating. Again, the Chip and Tap reader connects via Bluetooth. In addition to the charging dock, it comes with a convenient mounting clip.
  • Chip Card Reader: The Chip Card Reader was the first EMV-enabled card reader PayPal offered, and it’s still the only hardware option for merchants who want to integrate with one of PayPal’s POS partners. It sells for $99 on the PayPal site, with an optional charging dock. Given the price point, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that this all-in-one reader connects via Bluetooth.

  • Mobile Card Reader: PayPal used to offer its entry-level swipe-only reader for free, but now it sells for $15 because PayPal, like most processors, really wants you to start accepting EMV. Use of the mobile reader comes with limitations on accounts, so if you do a decent volume of credit card transactions and don’t want to encounter any holds on your funds, you should avoid the mobile reader at all costs:

*Key-in transactions and sales over $500 in a 7-day period made with the Mobile Card Reader are subject to an automatic 30-day reserve where funds are held in your PayPal account to cover the high risk associated with these types of transactions. For increased protection from fraudulent transactions, we recommend using a chip card reader. All PayPal accounts are subject to policies that can lead to account restrictions in the form of holds, limitations, or reserves. Additional information about these policies can be found in the PayPal User Agreement.

Apart from the cardreaders, PayPal doesn’t offer any proprietary hardware. If you need a countertop register setup, you can choose from an array of tablet stands, receipt printers, and cash drawers. A few select models are confirmed to work, while many others are “unofficially supported” in that they’re likely to work in most cases. The PayPal Here app doesn’t officially support any external barcode scanners (it supports in-app scanning using the device’s camera), but Bluetooth-enabled scanners may work with your setup.

Is PayPal Actually a Good Value?

We’ve talked pretty extensively about the cost of using PayPal, but we haven’t really talked about value. Because value is so much more than just the actual, physical cost. Value encompasses convenience, customer service, and other extra factors that could easily justify paying more than the absolute lowest prices.

PayPal isn’t the absolute cheapest processor out there — especially not for businesses that handle more than $10,000/month in credit card transactions. Larger businesses may be eligible for merchant accounts with volume discounts. For low-volume businesses, PayPal often does offer more competitive pricing because of the lack of monthly fees. The flat-rate pricing, especially for in-person transactions, can mean cost savings over interchange-plus.

But the real value in PayPal is the massive consumer trust and convenience. Just about everyone recognizes the PayPal name, and with 200+ million consumer users around the world, it’s safe to say a lot of people have PayPal accounts. The barriers to entry are minimal — you don’t need a huge amount of technological experience to implement PayPal for in-person or online payments. As long as you aren’t using PayPal Payments Pro, you don’t even have to worry about PCI compliance. PayPal handles it for you, at no additional cost.

Apart from the issue of account terminations or funding holds, the only other consistent complaint about PayPal is its customer service, and reports vary. Some merchants say they’ve never had a problem with customer service. Others say that their support reps have been downright unhelpful when they’ve called in. Fortunately, PayPal offers extensive self-help resources so you should be able to deal with most technical issues without having to contact PayPal directly.

I can’t say unequivocally that PayPal is right for everyone. It’s not. But it is a really good option for a lot of merchants, especially low-volume businesses that are just starting out. For a closer look at PayPal and all its services, we recommend checking out our PayPal and PayPal Here reviews.

If you’re not sure PayPal is right for you, I suggest looking at our Square vs. PayPal article, as the two companies are fairly similar in their business models and offerings.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you, so please drop us a comment!

The post The Complete Guide to PayPal’s Fees, Rates, and Pricing appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The 10 Best Restaurant Management Software Apps

It’s almost 2019, if you can believe it, and more than fall leaves or pumpkin spice lattes, tech fans like myself relish the smell of a freshly unboxed smartphone (thanks to Apple’s annual September unveiling). But it’s not just consumers who love mobile tech; businesses do too.  As mobile technology becomes more powerful, businesses — including restaurants — enjoy increasingly robust mobile hardware which can handle more powerful and nuanced software functions.

Indeed, restaurant managers, in particular, have an increasing number of mobile management applications at their disposal. From tablet-based POS systems that accept mobile payments to online reservation services that let customers reserve a table with an app, more restaurant management functions are being conducted online and on mobile devices. But with all the restaurant apps out there, how do you know which ones you should use? Think of it kind of like cooking: if you use too much or too little of an ingredient, it ruins the dish. Similarly, if you use too many management apps, there’s too much overlap in services (not to mention the fact that you’ll run out of bandwidth and money), and if you use just one or two services, you may miss out on critical features.

To help you out, I’ve put together this list of the top restaurant management apps in terms of both quality and popularity. From employee management to accounting to raw ingredient tracking, modern mobile restaurant software can help you with every restaurant management task you can imagine.

I’ve divided these top 10 best restaurant management apps into restaurant point of sale (POS) software apps—which are often complete restaurant management systems with few if any third-party add-ons required— and other restaurant management apps which offer more specific, targeted functionality.

Restaurant POS Systems

Toast TouchBistro Breadcrumb ShopKeep Lightspeed Restaurant

Toast

TouchBistro

Breadcrumb POS by Upserve

ShopKeep

Lightspeed Restaurant

ShopKeep alternatives for restaurants

Visit Site 

Review

Visit Site 

Review

Compare 

Review

Visit Site 

Review

Visit Site 

Review

Monthly fee

$79+

$69+

$99+

Get a quote

$69+

Cloud-based or Locally Installed

Cloud-based

Locally installed

Cloud-based

Hybrid

Cloud-based

Compatible credit card processors

Toast only

TouchBistro Payments, Square, PayPal, Moneris, Cayan, Chase Paymentech & more

Upserve Payments only

Shopkeep Payments & some others; contact your processor to see if they are supported

Cayan or Mercury in US; iZettle in Europe

Business size

Small to large

Small to medium

Small to large

Small to medium

Small to medium

The awesome thing about today’s app-based restaurant point of sale systems is that they are often complete restaurant management systems. Or if they do not include essential restaurant management functions, they will typically have integrations that work together with other restaurant management apps (for accounting, staff scheduling, inventory management, etc.). As such, your restaurant POS system is a good basis on which to build any other add-ons to your restaurant application suite.

1. Toast

Review Visit Site

Highlights

  • Android-based restaurant POS
  • All-in-one restaurant management system
  • Advanced inventory management
  • Add-ons for kitchen display system, kiosk POS, online ordering, delivery management, and more

Try it out: Schedule a Toast demo

Toast is a complete, Android-based restaurant point of sale system and restaurant management system for restaurants of any size. With strong front-end and back-end features, Toast not only takes payments with integrated payment processing, but also tracks your sales, labor, and inventory, organizing that information into useful, internet-accessible reports.

With mobile POS tablets, servers can send orders directly to the kitchen and even process payments right from the table. Kitchen display system and kiosk ordering are some other high-tech add-ons available for purchase from Toast.

Useful Features:

  • Customer data management system
  • Menu creation with comprehensive modifier system
  • Labor management including employee time tracking
  • Inventory management system that includes a recipe costing tool, food cost calculator, and menu engineering chart that shows you your best-selling and most profitable menu items
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Online ordering (extra monthly charge)
  • Delivery management system (extra monthly charge)
  • Customer loyalty program (extra monthly charge)
  • Gift cards (extra monthly charge)

Integrations With Other Restaurant Software:

  • Compeat
  • PeachWorks
  • CTUIT
  • CrunchTime
  • PayTronix
  • Bevager
  • GrubHub (online ordering and delivery)
  • Samsung Pay
  • Kitchensync

Toast also has an open API which lets you create your own applications, should you be so inclined.

The Quick & Dirty:

Pricing for this complete POS and restaurant management system starts at $79/month. Overall, Toast is a good option for restaurants that want a complete restaurant POS and management system and prefer a non-iPad POS.

2. TouchBistro

ShopKeep alternatives for restaurants

 

Review Visit Site

Highlights

  • iPad POS system for restaurants
  • Affordable
  • Locally installed
  • Compatible with multiple payment processors
  • Table management with reservations add-on

Get started with TouchBistro: Get a custom quote

TouchBistro is a bestselling iPad POS app for restaurants. While it isn’t an “all-in-one” restaurant management system like Toast, it’s cost-effective, easy to use, and very good at what it does. TouchBistro runs as an app on via one or more iPads, with multi-iPad setups keeping in sync via a local Apple server.

TouchBistro does have some online reports allowing you to view your restaurant metrics anywhere with an internet connection, but it does not require a WiFi connection to operate, other than to process credit card payments. TouchBistro integrates with multiple payment processors.

Useful Features:

  • Tableside ordering
  • Table management with visual layout
  • Menu management
  • Kiosk option
  • Employee management
  • Loyalty program (extra monthly charge)
  • Reservations function with TouchBistro Pro

Integrations With Other Restaurant Management Software:

  • 7Shifts
  • Xero
  • Shogo
  • Square
  • Quickbooks
  • JUST EAT (for online ordering)

The Quick & Dirty:

In summation, TouchBistro a very capable iPad POS for small-to-medium restaurants that are budget-conscious and may not have a powerful internet connection. Pricing starts at $69/month.

3. BreadCrumb POS By Upserve

Review

Highlights

  • All-in-one restaurant POS and restaurant management system
  • iPad-based
  • Fully cloud-based
  • Fully integrated online ordering
  • Must use Upserve for payment processing

Compare: Compare Breadcrumb with other top-rated iPad POS software

Breadcrumb is an all-in-one restaurant management and iPad POS system which could perhaps be considered the iPad-based answer to Toast. Comprehensive restaurant-centric management features that let you manage tables, employees, and menu items with a few finger taps make this restaurant software application suitable for any full-service or quick-service restaurant, no matter the size.

Breadcrumb is fully cloud-based and requires no on-premise server. In-house payment processing is provided exclusively by Breadcrumb’s parent company, Upserve.

Useful Features:

  • Customizable interface
  • “Offline” mode allows you to continue using POS and taking payments if internet goes down
  • Table management with color coding and meal progression graphic
  • Choice between “Server” mode with table view and “Quickserve” mode for bartenders and other quick orders
  • Fully-integrated online ordering system
  • Detailed online reporting suite
  • 24/7 support

Integrations With Other Restaurant Software:

  • Grubhub
  • Shogo
  • Restaurant 365
  • CTUIT
  • Peachworks
  • 7Shifts

The Quick & Dirty:

Breadcrumb pricing starts at $99/month. Again, it’s a solid all-in-one restaurant POS system for iPad with an array of restaurant features. When compared to Toast, however, Breadcrumb might come up slightly short in some respects, such as inventory management. However, Breadcrumb offers integrations with third-party restaurant apps to help fill in any functionality gaps.

4. ShopKeep

Review Visit Site

Highlights

  • Powerful retail and restaurant tools
  • Available on iPad (Analytics app on iOS)
  • Multiple hardware options available
  • Pricing based on custom quotes 
  • Loyalty program only as add-on

Excellent all-around POS: Get your custom quote

While it can be used for either restaurant or retail environments, ShopKeep is a great all-around POS software system that’s reasonably priced and extremely easy to use. Aimed at small businesses in particular, this iPad POS software has a pleasant, Apple-centric interface with convenient register buttons for the most popular menu items. ShopKeep uses a “hybrid” data storage system in which data is stored locally on your restaurant’s iPads, and then syncs back to the cloud when there is an internet connection.

As with the other restaurant POS apps on this list, ShopKeep has integrations to make up for any restaurant management features it doesn’t have, such as advanced inventory management and online ordering.

Useful Features:

  • Integrated ShopKeep Payments payment processing
  • Comprehensive register functionality
  • Extensive back-office reporting suite
  • Raw ingredient inventory management
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Staff management tools
  • ShopKeep Pocket App to track restaurant metrics from iPhone or Android

Integrations With Other Restaurant Software:

  • MailChimp
  • ChowBot (online ordering and delivery)
  • Quickbooks
  • AppCard

The Quick & Dirty:

ShopKeep is an affordable and capable iPad POS that works well for small restaurants of any type. ShopKeep pricing is customized based on your individual business’s needs and is comparable to TouchBistro or Lightspeed Restaurant. Note that while Shopkeep does provide fairly priced in-house payment processing via Shopkeep Payments, you can also use an outside payment processor.

5. Lightspeed Restaurant 

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Highlights

  • Affordable iPad POS for restaurants
  • Fully cloud-based
  • Also works on iPhone and iPod touch
  • Best for small-to-medium restaurants

Try out Lightspeed Restaurant: Free trial offer

Lightspeed Restaurant is an app-based iPad POS system built specifically for—you guessed it—restaurants. Lightspeed is not the most complete restaurant POS out there, but it is highly mobile-friendly and certainly delivers a lot of bang for your buck.

The Lightspeed Restaurant app requires iOS 9.3 or later to operate and you can access the backend via any internet-connected web browser. In addition to iPads, Lightspeed can even be used on an iPhone or iPod touch, though using the app on those two devices is best for basic features such as clocking in and quick orders.

Useful Features:

  • Intricate employee management
  • Raw ingredient tracking
  • Tableside ordering lets servers show pictures of menu items to customers
  • Floor planner
  • 24/7 phone support excluding holidays
  • Ability to set up timed promotions
  • In-depth reports

Integrations With Other Restaurant Management Software:

  • Resengo
  • Orderlord
  • QuickBooks
  • Xero
  • MarketMan
  • AppCard
  • Multiple online ordering services

The Quick & Dirty:

Lightspeed Restaurant pricing starts at $69/month. This cloud-based iPad POS app is perfect for small-to-medium restaurants of any type.

Other Restaurant Management Apps

What follows are some more restaurant management apps. Rather than the complete restaurant management tool that POS systems provide, these apps have a limited, specific function — like reservations or email marketing — and may integrate with your POS system or be used separately.

opentable

6. OpenTable

OpenTable is an online reservation and waitlist system that’s convenient to use for both restaurateurs and customers. You can access the app on your smartphone or tablet to view or change reservations, and to see your waitlist in real time. OpenTable is a highly useful tool for restaurant managers and waitstaff alike.

Useful Features:

  • Guests can make online reservations from your website, the OpenTable app or website, or third-party
  • Monitor status of each table in your restaurant
  • Shift management tool

POS Integrations:

  • Aloha
  • Micros
  • POSitouch
  • Heartland Dinerware
  • Squirrel Systems
  • Toast (coming soon)

The Quick & Dirty:

OpenTable is online reservation software for restaurants of any type, especially favored by trendy, upscale bars and eateries. OpenTable’s “Connect” option has limited features but only costs between $0.25 and $2.50 for each booked guest. The “GuestCenter” option with more advanced restaurant management features and POS integration is $249/month + $1 per reservation.

7. Fivestars

fivestars logo

Fivestars is a mobile rewards program for local businesses such as restaurants. Customers sign up for Fivestars’ loyalty program either at your restaurant or via the Fivestars mobile app and start earning rewards and receiving promotional offers via text, email, or push notification. Your staff then redeems your customers’ rewards and offers from your POS or a mobile device.

Fivestars also has a lot of cool marketing features that vary depending on which plan you choose. Whether you want to encourage repeat business or gain a competitive edge on other restaurants in your area, Fivestars will help you do both.

Useful Features:

  • Automated rewards and promotions
  • Send one-time offer anytime your sales need a boost
  • Multiple options for setting up rewards system, e.g., customers could earn points per-dollar, per-visit, etc.
  • Social media integration
  • Customer data collection

POS Integrations:

  • Clover Station
  • Clover Mini
  • QuickBooks POS
  • Harbortouch
  • Aloha
  • Aldelo
  • Windows POS

The Quick & Dirty:

Fivestars online loyalty software is especially popular among cafes and coffee shops, but it’s also used by full-service restaurants, bars, bakeries, smoothie shops, and every other type of brick-and-mortar eatery. Fivestars’ starter plan—which includes two customer-facing tablets, POS integration, the Autopilot program, onboarding and three training sessions—is $279 per month.

Best Accounting Mobile Apps

8. QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks is essential accounting software for small businesses, and restaurants are no exception. In recent years, this quintessential business software has become has become more online and mobile-friendly, with the introduction of QuickBooks Online and excellent mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Besides making accounting tasks simple and affordable for independently owned restaurants, cloud-based Quickbooks Online also integrates with most modern restaurant POS systems.

Useful Features:

  • True double-entry accounting
  • Live bank feeds for easy bank reconciliation
  • Unlimited estimates and invoices
  • Accounts payable with ability to create purchase orders and convert them to bills
  • Easy-to-use payroll and other employee management features (for additional cost)

POS Integrations:

Quickbooks Online integrates with most restaurant POS systems. Usually, the question is not whether Quickbooks integrates with your POS, but rather, the quality of the Quickbooks/POS integration. A direct, seamless integration is ideal. Here you can read about 7 POS system that have direct integrations with Quickbooks.

The Quick & Dirty:

QuickBooks online is cloud-based accounting software for any internet connected device. Depending on which features you need, QuickBooks online will set you back between $15 and $50/month.

Xero logo

9. Xero

Xero is a QuickBooks alternative which many restauranteurs around the world use every day to manage their restaurant’s accounting tasks. Just like QB Online, Xero has both iOS and Android apps and can be accessed via any internet-connected device. Xero also integrates with many cloud-based restaurant point of sale systems.

Xero doesn’t have as many features as QuickBooks; for example, payroll support is limited to only 37 states and there is no job-costing feature. However, Xero also costs a lot less than QuickBooks.

Useful Features:

  • Accounts payable feature with recurring bills and purchase orders
  • Unlimited users with extensive user permissions controls
  • Double-entry accounting
  • Excellent customer service
  • Easier to use than QuickBooks (in most respects)
  • 500+ integrations

POS Integrations:

While Quickbooks is the most popular accounting software system, Xero is catching up and most major POS systems integrate with Xero as well as Quickbooks. Some of these systems include:

  • Square for Restaurants
  • Nobly POS
  • TouchBistro
  • Lightspeed
  • Vend
  • Shopify POS

The Quick & Dirty:

With pricing starting at just $9/month, online accounting app Xero is a more affordable QB alternative for restaurants that don’t need every advanced accounting feature.

10. MailChimp mailchimp logo

MailChimp is email marketing software you can use to boost the online marketing efforts of your restaurant. While most POS apps include some email features, they are usually somewhat lacking. With a fully featured email marketing program like MailChimp, you can set up automated email campaigns to build customer loyalty, advertise promotions, and grow your social media following.

MailChimp is entirely cloud-based; the company also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android devices.

Useful Features:

  • 23 basic templates and hundreds of theme templates
  • Easy list segmentation
  • Advanced email campaign reporting
  • Robust free plan includes up to 2,000 subscribers and sends up to 12,000 emails per month.

POS Integrations:

  • Revel Systems
  • Shopkeep
  • Lightspeed
  • Epos Now

The Quick & Dirty:

MailChimp has a very decent free plan and paid plans start at $25/month, scaling up depending on how large your list is (and how many features you want). This easy-to-use ESP supports both small start-ups and large corporations.

Final Thoughts

A successful restaurant business has the same basic ingredients it did 20 years ago or even 200 years ago: delicious food, happy customers, excellent service, and organized behind-the-scenes processes to keep everything running smoothly. However, the tools used to achieve restaurant success have changed with advances in technology. Everything from taking payments, to advertising, to bookkeeping, to employee management has been digitized.

One important job of restaurant management that can’t be replaced with automation is the restaurant manager herself. Being awesome at your job, I’m sure you will do a great job selecting the management apps that work for your unique restaurant business. Have fun with the selection process and make sure you utilize free trials of all of these apps so you can be sure the restaurant management software you choose works great for your needs before you commit.

The post The 10 Best Restaurant Management Software Apps appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Business Credit Cards With The Best Reward Programs

In many cases, a good rewards program sets a credit card apart from its peers. Businesses can then take advantage of a rewards program to save money and earn bonuses. Depending on how much a business spends, it could net thousands of dollars in rewards every year.

However, not every rewards program fits every business. For instance, some rewards programs grant more points at hotels—a boon for businesses that require frequent travel. Meanwhile, others give extra rewards for purchasing office supplies—a great fit for businesses that are always improving their workspaces. There is simply so much variety.

After noticing this complexity, we at Merchant Maverick decided to do a thorough breakdown of the business credit cards with the best rewards programs. Read on through below!

Best For Cash Back Rewards: American Express SimplyCash Plus

American Express SimplyCash Plus



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


13.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Put plainly, cash back business cards are an easy and convenient way to save money. With a cash back card, you earn back a certain percentage of what you spent each time you make a purchase. Cash back cards have the added bonus of usually being less complicated than points reward structures.

Why It’s Our Pick:

If you make frequent purchases at office supply stores and on wireless telephones, the American Express SimplyCash Plus is a no-brainer. That’s because this card features 5% cash back via statement credit for purchases within both categories (up to $50,000).

On top of that, American Express lets you pick one category on which to get 3% cash back (up to $50,000), allowing you to tailor the card to fit your business. Available categories in the 3% range include airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals, gas stations, restaurants, advertising, shipping, computer hardware, software, and cloud computing.

Besides those tiers, SimplyCash Plus offers 1% on all other purchases. In addition, there’s no annual fee and 0% APR for the first nine months. To get full details, visit Merchant Maverick’s in-depth review.

Honorable Mention: Chase Ink Business Cash

Chase Ink Business Cash



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Like SimplyCash Plus, Chase Ink Business Cash offers 5% on purchases at office supply stores. Instead of just wireless telephones, this card also features 5% on internet, cable, and phone purchases. However, the rewards cap out at $25,000 instead of $50,000. Additionally, Chase has set the second reward tier at 2% cash back (up to $25,000) and it’s only for gas stations and restaurants. All other purchases receive 1% cash back.

Still, this is a solid option if you’re looking for something different than what American Express is offering. Plus, it features no annual fee and a 0% APR for 12 months. Check out our complete review for all the details.

For more cash back cards, check out our best picks.

Best Airlines & Travel Rewards Program: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

If your business requires lots of travel you may want to get a business credit card that includes benefits for airlines and travel. Getting a card with specific travel benefits could reap greater rewards than you’d get from just a standard cash back card.

Chase Ink Business Preferred gets our top pick for travel business credit card because you earn three points per $1 spent on travel (as well as on shipping, internet/cable/phone services, and online advertising). On top of that, points are worth 25% more if you redeem them for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Additionally, you can transfer your points on a 1:1 basis to other travel programs, such as United MileagePlus and Marriott Rewards. Get the full picture via Merchant Maverick’s review.

To compare more travel cards, we’ve got you covered with our list of the best business travel cards.

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card


starwood luxury amex
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Annual Fee:


$450

 

Purchase APR:


17.49% – 26.49%, Variable

Businesses that spend a decent chunk of change on hotels may want to look for something even more specific than a generic travel rewards card. That’s because a card geared toward hotel rewards can offer you better rewards when used properly.

The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card is our top pick because it doles out six points per $1 spent at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels. Beyond that, you can earn three points per $1 spent at restaurants and airlines. Points can then be redeemed for free nights at SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels, as well as for flights and car rentals. Learn more by reading our review.

Best Rewards Points Program: American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards

American Express Business Gold Rewards


amex business gold rewards review
Compare

Annual Fee:


$0 the first year, then $175

 

Purchase APR:


N/A (This is a charge card)

Going with a points-based system (instead of one that gives cash back) can be an excellent option should the points be redeemable for a service you frequently use. For instance, if you have a card that allows you to redeem your points on a specific hotel, you could be able to save money on bookings or get free room upgrades.

The American OPEN Business Gold Rewards charge card features an enticing and well-rounded points program. You get three points per $1 spent on the category of your choosing (out of airfare, advertising, gas stations, shipping, and computer hardware, software, and cloud computing), two points per $1 for each the four categories you didn’t choose, and one point per $1 on everything else. Points can be redeemed at an array of airlines, hotels, and merchants. Do note, however, that because this is a charge card, you’ll have to pay off your balance every month. Read Merchant Maverick’s review for more info.

Best Overall Rewards Program With No Annual Fee: American Express Blue Business Plus

American Express Blue Business Plus



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 20.99%, Variable

If you’re looking for a well-rounded rewards program with no annual fee, it’s hard to go wrong with the American Express Blue Business Plus. This card packs in two points per $1 spent (up to $50,000) on all purchases, making it very attractive to businesses that buy from a range of categories. After you pass the $50,000 threshold, you earn one point per $1. Beyond rewards, it features 0% APR for the first 15 months. Get squared away with all the facts in our review.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is my personal credit score used to determine approval?

Yes, almost all issuers check with consumer credit bureaus when you apply for a business card.

How can I build my business credit fast?

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to build credit fast. As long as you pay off your debts and keep your accounts from running delinquent, your credit score should rise. Find out more by reading the Merchant Maverick guide to building business credit.

Do I lose rewards on returned purchases?

In most cases, you will lose your rewards on returned purchases. However, you may be able to keep rewards points if you accept in-store credit for the returned item.

Will I lose rewards points if I pay my credit card balance early?

In most situations, you earn your points based on when you bought an item or service. It doesn’t matter when you pay your balance; you should still earn your reward points when paying the balance early.

How do I redeem my credit card rewards?

It depends on the rewards program. Some allow you to request cash back via statement credit or check. Others offer points you can redeem for gift cards, physical items, flights, car rentals, or hotel rooms.

Now What?

If you want to compare more credit cards for small businesses, visit our comparison page. Those with good credit may also want to check out the best business cards for good credit. Making a big purchase? Read up on our list of the best 0% intro APR cards.

The post Business Credit Cards With The Best Reward Programs appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Credit Card Offers For Businesses: September 2018

When you’re dedicating most of your waking hours to running your own business, sorting and evaluating the plethora of credit card offers that come your way isn’t going to be high on your list of priorities. With new cards and new welcome offers being introduced with dizzying frequency, keeping track of the best business credit card deals out there requires time and effort.

Well, calm your weary soul, for we at Merchant Maverick are here to take the hassle out of the credit card hunt. Let us show you the best business credit card offers out there for whatever it is you’re looking for. Looking for a great business credit card with a lengthy 0% APR period? The card with the best rewards program? The card that’s best for cash back?

Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered. Let’s sort the wheat from the chaff to find the credit card offers that best suit your business needs, whatever those needs may be.

Best No Annual Fee

Chase Ink Business Cash



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

The Chase Ink Business CashSM card is a remarkable value for a business credit card with no annual fee. You’ll earn 5% cash back on the first $25,000 a year spent at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services. These categories align nicely with the sort of everyday spending done by the average business owner. Additionally, you’ll get 2% cash back on the first $25,000 per year spent at gas stations and restaurants, along with 1% cash back on everything else (and on all purchases in these categories past the $25K/year higher earning limit).

Many cards with such generous bonus earning potential carry an annual fee, leaving you to weigh the benefits of the card against the annual fee. With the Ink Business Cash, no such calculations are necessary, as there is no annual fee. You’ll also be the recipient of a $500 bonus if you spend at least $3,000 on purchases within your first three months of card ownership.

This bonus, along with the cash back you earn in the course of your spending, can be converted to Chase Ultimate Rewards points if you also have a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points such as the Ink Business Preferred card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Do this, and your points will be worth slightly more than twice their cash back amount — a remarkable value.

Runner-Up

Capital One Spark Classic For Business


 

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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


24.74%, Variable

Looking for a great business credit card with no annual fee, but lack the 690+ credit score needed to qualify for the card? Consider the Capital One® Spark® Classic for Business instead. While you’ll be earning cash back at the unsexy rate of 1% on all purchases, the Spark Classic for Business has one attractive aspect most business credit cards lack: you can qualify for the card with a credit score of just 630.

While the card does carry a relatively high 24.74% variable APR on purchases, that’s still a better deal for you than the sort of high-interest loan marketed to business owners with fair credit. Just try to pay the balance in full each month.

Best 0% APR

American Express Blue Business Plus



Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

American Express Blue BusinessSM Plus currently carries the most impressive introductory APR offered by any business card in this troubled land: 0% for 15 months. That’s 65 weeks. 1.25 years. You get the picture — the Blue Business Plus gives you a nice long stretch of time in which to make business purchases without racking up any interest charges. For this, we must doff our caps to the suits at Amex.

Thankfully for you, that’s not the only benefit of the Blue Business Plus.

The card’s primary benefit is the 2X points you’ll be earning on your first $50,000 worth of purchases per year. Most cash back credit cards offer around 1.5 points per dollar, so you’ll be making out like a bandit on your first $50K in purchases each year. If you exceed $50K in annual purchases, the points earning rate reverts to a more pedestrian 1 point per dollar, so if your needs dictate that your annual spending will exceed the $50K annual limit for earning 2X points, you’ll want to consider either getting a different card or pairing this card with another rewards card.

Your Amex Blue Business Plus rewards points can be redeemed for travel, shopping, or a statement credit.

Best Rewards Program

American Express SimplyCash Plus



Compare

Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


13.99% – 20.99%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

The American Express SimplyCash® Plus business card is our pick for best rewards program due to the customizable reward structure. With the SimplyCash Plus, you earn 5% cash back on your first $50K per year on charges at office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. Now, here’s where the customization comes in.

The SimplyCash Plus card offers 3% cash back on your first $50K per year in purchases in a category of your choosing. You can choose from between one of the following eight categories:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • Hotel rooms purchased directly from hotels
  • Car rentals purchased from select car rental companies
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

Here’s the chance for a business owner whose spending may not align with the bonus cash back categories provided by other cards to use a cash back card tailored to his or her specific needs. You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other spending and on spending above $50K/year on the bonus categories. On the downside, this card currently has no welcome offer.

Runner-Up

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

Chase Ink Business PreferredSM is another card with a robust rewards program. Using this card will earn you 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 per year spent on travel, shipping purchases, internet/cable/phone services, and advertising purchases made with social media and search engines (and 1 point per dollar on everything else). It’s a card meant to reward the business with a high volume of spending on many of the most common business spending categories, as the high-earning limit on spending of $150K/year vastly exceeds most such limits in the business rewards card space (typically $30-50K/year).

Another factor boosting the appeal of the Ink Business Preferred rewards program is the fact that if you redeem your points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards, your points will be worth 25% more than they would otherwise be worth. You can also transfer your points to certain other travel rewards programs (such as United MileagePlus and Marriott Rewards) on a 1:1 point basis.

Best For Points

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

Chase Ink Business PreferredSM comes out on top for this category as well. It’s not only because of the points-earning potential of the card (earning 3 points per dollar spent on the first $150,000 spent on the bonus spending categories per year will earn you a whopping 450,000 points annually, and from there you can earn even more points at the 1 pt/$1 level). It’s due to the fact that your points are worth 25% more than the standard value of 1 cent per point if you redeem them for travel. It’s also due to the fact that you can transfer your points to other travel rewards programs on a 1:1 point basis.

Best For Travel

American Express Business Platinum


amex business platinum review
Compare

Annual Fee:


$450

 

Purchase APR:


N/A (This is a charge card)

Why It’s Our Pick

The American Express Business Platinum® card isn’t a card for the business owner who travels only infrequently. But if you’re a heavy-duty business traveler interested in fancy luxuries (like getting to hang out in exclusive airport lounges), this is the card for you!

First off, this card is a charge card, meaning you can’t carry a balance from month to month — your entire balance comes due on your statement date. Furthermore, the card carries a $450 annual fee. This is sure to put off all but the most prolific business travelers. For the rest of you, here’s where the card’s value lies: You’ll earn a juicy 5 points to the dollar on flights and prepaid hotels purchased on Amex’s travel website, amextravel.com.

You’ll also earn 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year) and one point per dollar on all other eligible purchases. However, the value doesn’t stop there. Here’s what else you’ll get with the Amex Business Platinum:

  • Get access to over 1,100 airport lounges worldwide via the American Express Global Lounge Collection
  • Receive a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85)
  • Use Membership Rewards Pay with Points for a First or Business class flight with any airline available through Amex Travel and get 35% of the points back
  • Get $200 per year in statement credits for incidental fees with the qualifying airline of your choice
  • No foreign transaction fees

Not too shabby, eh?

Runner-Up

Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard


bofa business advantage travel rewards
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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 22.99%, Variable

 

Want a travel-oriented business credit card without an exorbitant annual fee? The Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® may have an irritatingly long name, but it provides a solid set of travel perks and benefits, and there’s no annual fee at all.

With the BofA® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard®, you’ll earn 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all purchases with no limits to the amount you can earn. But wait! It gets better. Earn 3 points per dollar spent when you book your travel (car, hotel, airline) through the Bank of America Travel Center (powered by Orbitz).

Here’s what else the Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® gets you:

  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars or baggage fees; option for cash back and gift cards
  • No blackout dates and no travel restrictions when booking your trip
  • Business Advantage Relationship Rewards clients get a 25% – 75% rewards bonus on the base earn of every purchase
  • No foreign transaction fee

When you enroll in the Business Advantage Relationships Rewards program to get that rewards bonus, you can earn up to 2.62 points to the dollar on your regular non-travel purchases if you play your cards right, which means all the more points you can redeem for statement credits to pay for your travel!

Best For Balance Transfers

Capital One Spark Cash For Business


capital one spark cash select
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Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

The Capital One® Spark® Cash for Business card charges no fees on balance transfers, and beyond that, it’s a great cash back card as well.

The beauty of Spark Cash for Business is the fact that you’ll earn an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases — one of the only cards offering such a high flat cash back rate. If you want to avoid extra charges for balance transfers while earning 2% cash back on everything you buy, this card has your number. However, there is a $95 annual fee after the first year, and there’s no introductory 0% APR for balance transfers. If a 0% intro APR for balance transfers is more important to you than fee-free balance transfers, check out Ink Business Cash, as its 12-month 0% APR period goes for balance transfers as well as purchases.

Best For Cash Back

Bank of America Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 22.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

For this section, we wanted to highlight the Bank of America® Business Advantage Cash Rewards Mastercard®. For no annual fee, you’ll get 3% cash back on your first $250,000 per year in purchases at gas stations and office supply stores (and 1% cash back afterwards), 2% cash back on purchases at restaurants, and 1% cash back on everything else.

The $250,000 limit on your highest earning categories goes well beyond the limit placed on the high earning categories of most cards, making this a great cash back business card choice for the business gearing up to do some truly heavy spending in the specified categories. What’s more, just as with the BofA Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard, Business Advantage Relationship Rewards clients get a 25% – 75% rewards bonus on the base earn of every purchase.

Best Sign-Up Bonus Offer

Chase Ink Business Preferred



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Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

Why It’s Our Pick

We’ve gone over some of the reasons why we like the Chase Ink Business PreferredSM card so much. Here’s another reason: the card carries a sign-up bonus that is uniquely valuable for the industry. Sign up for the Ink Business Preferred and you’ll be in line to receive a bonus of 80,000 points if you spend at least $5,000 within the first three months of opening your account. This offer is worth about $800 under normal circumstances but is worth $1,000 if you redeem your points for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards.

While you’ll have to balance out this uniquely valuable sign-up bonus with the fact that this card carries a $95 annual fee (not waived for the first year), the fact remains that few cards offer as generous of a bonus offer as the Ink Business Preferred — even if you subtract the annual fee from the bonus.

Now What?

We hope that this article has helped you find the business credit card that best suits your particular needs, whatever they may be. To learn more about the current business credit card scene, check out our post on the best business credit cards of 2018 or compare business credit cards.

The post Best Credit Card Offers For Businesses: September 2018 appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Picked For You: Best Business Credit Cards For Good Credit

If you’re sitting with a credit score above 700, you could be missing out on some worthy credit card offers for your business. This means that you may not be maximizing your potential rewards, benefits, limits, or APR. Luckily, at Merchant Maverick, we have already done the heavy lifting and picked out the best business credit cards for a variety of business owners with good credit. You can take a peek at our selections below.

Best For Travel Rewards: Chase Ink Business Preferred

Chase Ink Business Preferred



Apply Now 

Annual Fee:


$95

 

Purchase APR:


17.74% – 22.74%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

Chase’s flagship business card, Ink Business Preferred, is the clear winner if you travel a lot. That’s because reward points are worth 25% more if redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Additionally, points can be transferred to other travel programs on a 1:1 point basis, meaning you could eke out more than 1.25 cents per point. On top of all that, Chase also packs this card with no foreign transaction fees, a plus for those going overseas.

With bonus rewards for redemption on travel and 1:1 point transfers for travel programs, Chase Ink Business Preferred stands above other cards when it comes to travel rewards. Find out more with our in-depth review.

Best For No Annual Fee: Chase Ink Business Unlimited

Chase Ink Business Unlimited


chase ink business unlimited
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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.99% – 20.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

Besides featuring that tantalizing no annual fee, Chase Ink Business Unlimited boasts a range of rewards and benefits that make it one attractive card. To start, this card offers an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, a generous reward scheme that stays simple. Additionally, its welcome offer hands over $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months.

Beyond those rewards, Chase Ink Business Unlimited provides a 0% intro APR for the first 12 months, and you can add employee cards at no additional cost. Get Merchant Maverick’s full breakdown by reading our detailed review.

Best For High Limit: Capital One Spark Cash for Business

Capital One Spark Cash For Business


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Annual Fee:


$95 ($0 the first year)

 

Purchase APR:


18.74, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

While your credit limit ultimately depends on your credit score and business finances, Capital One Spark Cash for Business provides a range of rewards and benefits that make it appealing to those with excellent credit. Its base rewards program features an unlimited 2% cash back on all purchases. This very generous offer should catch the eye of most businesses looking at getting a new credit card. Of course, there is a $95 annual fee, but high spenders should be able to recoup that loss quickly.

This all comes with the caveat that you’ll be bringing excellent credit to the table; Capital One requires that you have had a loan or credit card for three-plus years with a credit limit in excess of $5,000 before getting a Spark Cash for Business card. For a deeper look at Capital One’s card, venture on over to Merchant Maverick’s full review.

Best For Low APR: American Express SimplyCash Plus

American Express SimplyCash Plus



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


13.99% – 20.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

Depending on your credit score, the American Express SimplyCash Plus card can get you a lower APR than industry standard. It posts a variable APR that currently sits at 13.99%, 18.99% or 20.99%. Of course, only those with excellent credit will be able to benefit from the lower ranges.

Beyond that potentially low APR, SimplyCash Plus features no annual fee and 0% intro APR for the first nine months. You can also get up to 5% cash back at office supply stores and on wireless telephone purchases, and 3% back on the purchase category of your choosing. If you want the full picture on SimplyCash Plus, head on over to our fully featured review.

Best For Cash Back: Chase Ink Business Cash

Chase Ink Business Cash



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


14.99% – 20.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

The Chase Ink Business Cash really holds its own when it comes to cash back rewards. This card offers 5% back on purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable, and phone purchases up to a combined $25,000 in purchases each account anniversary year. There’s also a 2% back at gas stations and restaurants up to a combined $25,000 in purchases each account anniversary year. On top of those hefty rewards, there’s 1% cash back on all other purchases.

After hitting the cap in both the 5% and 2% tiers, you’ll drop down to 1% cash back in both. Maxing out both tiers will net you $1,750 back. Rewards can be redeemed via cash back, or through credits applied to Amazon purchases, gift cards, or travel. If you think that Chase Ink Business Cash is right for you but you want to learn more, head on over to Merchant Maverick’s detailed review.

Best For Balance Transfer: American Express Blue Business Plus

American Express Blue Business Plus



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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


12.99% – 20.99%, Variable

 

Why It’s Our Pick

American Express’ Blue Business Plus features a 0% intro APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers. In addition, the balance transfer fee sits at a low 3% or $3—whichever winds up higher—making this card attractive to businesses that need to transfer debt over to a new card.

It boasts a potentially lower-than-industry-standard variable APR once your 15 months of 0% APR are up. For rewards, it provides two points per $1 up to $50,000 spent, and then one point per $1 after you hit that cap. You can also take advantage of expanded buying power with Blue Business Plus, allowing you to purchase above your credit limit. Read up on further details with our in-depth review.

Frequently Asked Questions About Business Credit Cards

Should I Apply For More Than One Card At A Time?

While nothing is preventing you from applying for more than one card at a time, that doesn’t mean you should. Every time you apply for a credit card, you will receive a hard inquiry on your credit report. Multiple hard inquiries in a short space of time could negatively affect your credit score, at least temporarily. This is because credit score bureaus might think that you actually want multiple cards, something they see as a potential indicator to financial woes.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s usually best to not apply for multiple cards at once. Instead, take your time to find the right card for you. If the above cards don’t seem to fit your business, check out our small business credit card comparison for further tips on picking out which card best suits you.

How Long Does It Take To Be Approved With Good Credit?

How long it takes to be approved for a credit card depends on several factors, the biggest being how you apply. If you apply online or over the phone and you’re carrying that good credit score, you could be approved within a matter of seconds. Of course, should other hitches arise—such as your personal information being tagged as fraudulent—it may take longer to receive the credit card company’s decision.

If you mail in your application, a decision could take anywhere from seven to 10 business days no matter how good your credit score is.

Is There A “Best Time” To Apply For A Credit Card?

Generally, you’ll want to wait several months after you received a hard inquiry on your credit score. Hard inquiries can occur when you apply for credit cards, loans, housing, and other services. As I mentioned above, multiple hard inquiries in a short space of time could negatively affect your credit score, at least temporarily. Credit score bureaus might think that you actually want multiple cards, something they see as a potential indicator to financial woes.

You may also want to wait until you’ve been pre-approved for a card, a process that’s offered by many credit card issuers. Getting pre-approved for a card lets you know that you have solid chance to actually get approved without placing a hard inquiry on your account.

You might also decide to wait to apply for a credit card until your business needs to make a big purchase. That way you can get a card with a 0% introductory APR, allowing you to pay the purchase off over multiple months without worrying about racking up interest.

Does A Business Credit Card Affect My Personal Credit Score?

It depends. Almost all issuers check with consumer credit bureaus when applying for a business card. In some instances—if your account is frequently delinquent, for example—issuers may report your activity on a business account to consumer credit bureaus.

All told, as long as your keep your business account in good standing and you keep from slipping up, your personal credit score should be fine.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed reading through this breakdown of the best business credit cards for those with good credit. If nothing else, hopefully you learned a thing or two!

Check out our detailed list of the best business credit cards for 2018 to get an even deeper look at some awesome cards. If your credit score isn’t quite high enough for the above cards, we recommend you check out our ultimate guide to improving your business credit score. Or, if you decide you need to go the charge card route, we’ve got you covered on your best options.

The post Picked For You: Best Business Credit Cards For Good Credit appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Guide To Buying ShopKeep Hardware

There are a lot of reason why ShopKeep is among our most recommended point of sale systems for small businesses. This product remains one of the more affordable options on the market while giving you a wide variety of features to help your retail or restaurant establishment function efficiently. Chances are, if you’ve decided to go with ShopKeep or are heavily leaning in that direction, you appreciate convenience. You don’t want to spend any more time than absolutely necessary sweating some of the seemingly mundane aspects of starting a business — such as researching and purchasing all of the necessary hardware you might need.

Fortunately, ShopKeep makes this process easy as well. ShopKeep offers an impressive array of hardware bundles and individual items from some of the top-rated companies around all for purchase through their website, making it possible to get absolutely everything you need in one convenient stop. Here’s a brief overview of the hardware that ShopKeep has to offer.

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Hardware Delivery & Shipping

To get started, ShopKeep will ship all hardware within the continental United States for free with no minimum purchase and all orders generally arrive within 7 business days. They will also ship to Hawaii, Alaska, and Canada for an additional fee.

ShopKeep has a generous replacement policy, offering to replace any new equipment that fails to work properly within one year. The same agreement applies to refurbished hardware for 90 days. You may also return any hardware, no questions asked, within 30 days of purchasing it to receive a full refund. Shipping back to ShopKeep is free.

Get Started With ShopKeep

Hardware Bundles

ShopKeep offers some convenient Starter Kits to get your business up and running quickly.

  • Basic Starter Kit for iPad: $809 or $839 if you choose Bluetooth printer
    • 14×16  Cash Drawer
    • Epson 2″ Ethernet Printer or Epson 2″ Bluetooth Printer (
    • iPad Air Stand
    • Ethernet Credit Card Reader
    • Compatible with Apple iPad Air/Air 2 and Apple iPad Pro 9.7″
  • Basic Quick Service Starter Kit for iPad: $1166 or $1196 if you choose Bluetooth printer
    • 14×16 Cash Drawer
    • Epson 2″ Ethernet Printer or Epson 2″ Bluetooth Printer
    • iPad Air Stand
    • Ethernet Credit Card Reader
    • Epson Kitchen Printer
    • Ethernet Cable
    • Compatible with Apple iPad Air/Air 2 and Apple iPad Pro 9.7″
  • Basic Restaurant and Bar Hardware Kit for iPad: $1166 or $1196 if you choose Bluetooth printer
    • 14×16 Cash Drawer
    • Epson 2″ Ethernet Printer or Espon 2″ Bluetooth Printer
    • iPad Air Stand
    • Ethernet Credit Card Reader
    • Epson Kitchen Printer
    • Ethernet Cable
    • Compatible with Apple iPad Air/Air 2 and Apple iPad Pro 9.7″
  • Basic Retail Hardware Kit for iPad: $1297 or $1327 if you choose Bluetooth printer
    • 14×16 Cash Drawer
    • Epson 2″ Ethernet Printer or Epson 2″ Bluetooth Printer
    • iPad Air Stand
    • Ethernet Credit Card Reader
    • 1D Laser Barcode Scanner
    • Compatible with Apple iPad Air/Air 2 and Apple iPad Pro 9.7″
  • Complete Quick Service Hardware Kit for iPad: $1369 or $1399 if you chose Bluetooth printer
    • 14×16 Cash Drawer
    • Epson 2″ Ethernet Printer or Epson 2″ Bluetooth Printer
    • iPad Air Stand
    • Epson Kitchen Printer
    • Ethernet Cable
    • Cash Drawer Mount
    • Thermal Paper – 50 Roll Case
    • 1-Ply Bond Paper – 50 Roll Case
    • Ethernet Credit Card Reader
    • Compatible with Apple iPad Air/Air 2 and Apple iPad Pro 9.7″
  • Complete Restaurant and Bar Hardware Kit for iPad: $1369 or $1399 if you choose Bluetooth printer
    • 14×16 Cash Drawer
    • Epson 2″ Ethernet Printer or Epson 2″ Bluetooth Printer
    • iPad Air Stand
    • Epson Kitchen Printer
    • Ethernet Cable
    • Standard Duty Cash Drawer Mount
    • Thermal Paper – 50 Roll Case
    • 1-Ply Bond Paper – 50 Roll Case
    • Ethernet Credit Card Reader
    • Compatible with Apple iPad Air/Air 2 and Apple iPad Pro 9.7″
  • Complete Retail Hardware Kit for iPad: $1519 or $1549 if you choose Bluetooth printer
    • 14×16  Cash Drawer
    • Epson 2″ Ethernet Printer or Epson 2″ Bluetooth Printer
    • iPad Air Stand
    • 1D Laser Barcode Scanner
    • 7 Series USB Charging Cradle
    • Cash Drawer Mount
    • Thermal Paper – 50 Roll Case
    • 1″ x 1.5″ Barcode Labels
    • Label Printer
    • Ethernet Credit Card Reader
    • Compatible with Apple iPad Air/Air 2 and Apple iPad Pro 9.7″
  • Mobile Register Kit: $198
    • iPad Mini Handheld Enclosure
    • Lightning Credit Card Swiper
    • Compatible with iPad Mini 2/3
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Get a complete POS hardware bundle for free! For new customers only, while supplies last. Act soon – expires 9/30/2018. Get Started

A La Carte Hardware Options

Of course you can also purchase hardware a la carte if you don’t need everything in one of the packages or already have existing hardware that is compatible with ShopKeep.

Card Readers:

  • Magtek Lightning Credit Card Swiper: $99
  • Ingenico Credit Card Reader (EMV Enabled): $329
  • Ingenico Bluetooth Credit Card Reader
  • Vault Credit Card Reader Stand: $49

Printers:

  • Epson Bluetooth Printer: $269
  • Epson Ethernet Printer: $239
  • Epson Kitchen Printer: $331
  • DYMO Label Printer: $119

Cash Drawers:

  • APG 13×13 drawer: $109
  • APG 14×16 drawer: $112
  • APG 16×16 drawer: $139
  • Cash drawer mount: $35
  • Cash drawer till: $29
  • Cash drawer till cover: $29

Barcode Scanners:

  • Socket Mobile 1D Scanner: $269
  • Socket Mobile 2D Imager Barcode Scanner: $449
  • Socket Mobile 7 Series USB Charging Cradle: $79
  • Socket Mobile 2D Imager Stand: $149

iPad Enclosures;

  • iPad Mini Handheld Enclosure: $99
  • iPad Mini Stand: $109
  • iPad Pro Stand: $139
  • iPad Stand: $129
  • Freeform Made iPad POS Stand: $199

You can also purchase gift cards, labels, printer and receipt paper, and a variety of USB and ethernet codes directly through ShopKeep.

Get Started With ShopKeep

Ready To Buy ShopKeep Hardware?

No matter how equipped or completely green you are as you’re starting your business, ShopKeep has you covered. Not only do they provide you with a wide variety of hardware options, they are stocked with some of the most trusted and best-reviewed brands on the market.

If you’ve decided to go with ShopKeep, you’ve already made an informed decision for your POS needs. They also make it very difficult to go wrong when selecting all of your necessary hardware. Hopefully, we’ve just simplified the process slightly.

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Get a complete POS hardware bundle for free! For new customers only, while supplies last. Act soon – expires 9/30/2018. Get Started

The post Guide To Buying ShopKeep Hardware appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Offshore Merchant Account Providers

Offshore Merchant Account Providers

Ordinary payment processing is complicated. But finding good offshore, international, or high-risk payment solutions can be a real nightmare. If you fall into one of these categories, you’ve likely had your merchant account applications denied at least a few times. Even worse, perhaps you’ve had your processing service terminated and your money withheld from you for months. We understand your struggle. We’ve seen hundreds of businesses go through the exact same thing, and we’re here to help you find the perfect offshore merchant account for your high-risk business.

If you’re just looking for a run-of-the-mill high-risk merchant account for your business, you’ll want to check out our article The Best High-Risk Merchant Account Providers. The high-risk category often includes business types that you wouldn’t normally associate with the term “high-risk,” such as airlines or online furniture sales. While these types of businesses are usually treated as high-risk by banks and processors, they can usually be approved for a domestic merchant account by working with a high-risk specialist.

For our purposes, we’ll use the terms offshore merchant account and international merchant account interchangeably, as they mean the same thing. Both terms refer to a merchant account that is underwritten by a bank or processor that is situated in a different country from the one where the business is located. The most common reasons for needing an offshore account include the following:

  • You do a significant amount of business in a foreign country and need to accept payments in the local currency.
  • Your business has offices in multiple countries, and you need separate merchant accounts for each location.
  • Your business is considered to be so risky that you cannot obtain a regular high-risk merchant account in your own country.

Below, we’ll discuss the factors to evaluate when considering an offshore merchant account and several special features that you’ll want to include in your service. We’ll also profile four offshore merchant account providers that we feel offer superior service and overall value in comparison to their competitors.

Factors To Consider When Selecting An Offshore Merchant Account

While many offshore merchant account providers also specialize in high-risk accounts more generally, not all high-risk processors work with international merchants or provide offshore accounts for domestic merchants. Many high-risk specialists only work with US-based businesses, and only provide accounts through US-based banks and processors. Before you apply for an offshore account, you’ll want to confirm that the company you’re considering works with businesses located in your country. This information might be spelled out explicitly on the provider’s website, or you might have to talk to their sales staff to get a confirmation.

Providers that specialize in setting up offshore merchant accounts can usually get you an account in just about any country around the world, though obviously, there are exceptions. As a US-based merchant, don’t expect to set up your offshore account in a place like Afghanistan or North Korea. It’s simply not going to happen. With the exception of countries limited by political considerations or a high level of instability, however, the possibilities are wide open.

In most cases, you should aim to get an account in a country where you expect to do a significant amount of business. On the other hand, if your business is going to operate exclusively in the United States, an offshore account serves mainly as a last resort for getting a merchant account when you simply can’t get approved for a domestic high-risk account. Banking regulations are more relaxed in certain other countries, and the willingness on the part of banks and processors to work with high-risk businesses is also more favorable. At the same time, you should be aware that setting up an offshore account under these circumstances, while it might be your only option for accepting credit cards, can present some serious risks to you as well. Your ability to pursue a legal remedy against a foreign bank or processor might be severely limited – or even nonexistent. At a minimum, you should consider legally registering your business in the country where your account will be located. Even with legal standing in the country, however, be aware that it might be extremely inconvenient and expensive to pursue a legal action outside of your own country.

There’s also an increased risk that you could become the victim of fraud or identity theft. Banks in other countries collect the same personal data about you and your business that US-based banks do, but they don’t always do as good a job of protecting it. You’ll want to keep an especially close eye on your merchant account, your business account, and any personal accounts about which you’ve released information to get approved for an offshore merchant account.

High-risk merchant accounts are notorious for including higher processing rates and account fees, and offshore accounts can be even worse. Providers know you’re particularly desperate and some, but not all, will take advantage of your situation by charging you as much as they think they can get away with. We recommend that you shop around and compare multiple quotes when looking for an offshore account. Don’t accept the first offer from a bank or processor just because they’re the first one that hasn’t rejected your application due to the nature of your business.

Note that merchant account providers who market offshore accounts often downplay or fail to mention these risk factors, so it’s up to you to look out for yourself. Do your own independent research, compare multiple offers, and thoroughly review all contract documents before you sign up for an account.

Special Features Of Offshore Merchant Accounts

For the most part, you’ll want the same services and features for an offshore account that you would want for a traditional merchant account. This includes processing hardware such as credit card terminals and POS systems for retail merchants, and a robust payment gateway for eCommerce merchants. You’ll also want an online account dashboard of some kind that allows you to monitor your sales in real-time. While online account access is now a standard feature in the United States, you might not always find this feature with an offshore account. Mail-order and telephone-order (MOTO) businesses often find a virtual terminal to be the most cost-effective method for inputting transactions. Depending on the needs of your business, a smartphone- or tablet-based mobile processing system might also be important. Almost all providers offer some type of mobile processing system these days, either as a proprietary product or through a partnership with a third-party provider. Be aware that very few mobile processing systems have begun to offer EMV-compatible card readers, and you’ll often be stuck with a magstripe-only reader.

In addition to these basic merchant account features, there are several special features that your offshore merchant account might (or might not) include. How important these features are to your business will be determined by how you intend to use your account. Extra features to look for in an offshore merchant account include the following:

  • Multi-Currency Support: If you’re going to do business in a foreign country, it only makes sense that you’ll want your customers to be able to pay in their local currency. Multi-currency accounts allow you to maintain balances in multiple currencies and can save you a ton of money in currency conversion costs.
  • Currency Conversion Services: Having an offshore account will invariably require you to convert funds into your own local currency at some point. Most offshore account providers include built-in currency conversion services that allow you to convert foreign funds when it comes time to transfer them to your business account. While these services can sometimes offer you much lower conversion fees than what a bank would charge you, it still pays to shop around for the best deal on this service. You might save money by using an international transfer service such as TransferWise or OFX.
  • Expanded Anti-Fraud Features: Offshore merchant accounts invariably involve a higher degree of risk of fraud than their traditional counterparts, so you’ll want as many extra services to avoid it as you can get. Most offshore account providers offer a number of enhanced anti-fraud features as a standard part of their service. These features automatically detect suspicious activity, hopefully stopping any fraudulent activity before it can affect your business. Providers are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) features to improve their ability to detect potential fraud beyond what would be possible with a traditional algorithm.

With these considerations in mind, let’s take a brief look at four of our overall favorite offshore merchant account providers:

Durango Merchant Services

Durango Merchant Services is a small merchant account provider headquartered in Durango, Colorado. Established in 1999, the company specializes in providing high-risk and offshore merchant accounts to hard-to-place businesses. They work with a wide variety of banks and processors to find a suitable account for almost any business. While they can’t place 100% of the merchants who apply to them, their track record is very good, and their sales process is so transparent and honest that we’ve even seen praise for the company from merchants who’ve been turned down for an account.

If you need an offshore account, Durango has you covered. Their accounts include multicurrency support as well as enhanced anti-fraud features to keep you protected. They can set up accounts in countries as diverse as Germany, Panama, Spain, and many others.

Durango doesn’t try to set you up with expensive leases when it comes to processing equipment. Instead, they offer a variety of terminals for sale right on their website. Options include both wired and wireless models, with some offerings that support NFC payments. They also sell the iPS Mobile Card Terminal, which connects to a smartphone to provide mobile payments capability in conjunction with the iProcess mobile app. If you’re using a virtual terminal, they sell the MagTek DynaMag, a USB-connected magstripe card reader that attaches to your computer. Unfortunately, it’s Windows-only. Durango currently doesn’t offer any POS systems for sale.

The company supports eCommerce through its proprietary Durango Pay payment gateway, which integrates with the numerous processors the company uses and includes support for most of the popular online shopping carts. Durango’s gateway also features an Authorize.Net Emulator, which allows it to interface with any shopping cart that works with Authorize.Net (see our review).

Because Durango works with such a wide variety of third-party processors to set you up with an offshore merchant account, they don’t list rates or fees on their website. These will vary tremendously depending on which processor they set you up with. While we normally like to see more transparency from merchant account providers, in this case, it’s understandable. Depending on your qualifications, you can expect either an interchange-plus pricing plan or a tiered one. Merchant accounts through Durango don’t seem to have standardized fees. Again, these will depend on the terms that your backend processor imposes.

Durango assigns a dedicated account manager to every one of their merchants, which means you’ll be talking to the same person every time you have an issue. While this can sometimes be problematic outside of regular business hours and when your account manager isn’t available, overall it provides a much higher level of service than you’ll get from a random customer service representative.

Pros

  • Direct sales of processing equipment
  • Reasonable rates and fees based on your business and your backend processor
  • Dedicated account manager for customer service and support

Cons

  • No support for POS systems
  • USB card reader not compatible with Mac computers

For more information about Durango Merchant Services, read our complete review.

SMB Global

SMB Global logo

SMB Global is a new high-risk provider that was spun off from one of our favorite providers, Payline Data in 2016. Headquartered in South Jordan, Utah, the company specializes in providing merchant accounts to high-risk and offshore businesses. Using a variety of backend processors, they’re able to approve a merchant account for almost any high-risk business (including those selling CBD oils). They have an excellent reputation for fair prices and top-notch customer service.

As a newly-established business, SMB Global is still a little rough around the edges, lacking a mobile processing system and credit card terminals for retail merchants. At the same time, they offer a full range of services for eCommerce merchants, including a choice between the NMI Gateway and Authorize.Net.

Because they work with so many banks and processors to get you approved for an account, the company doesn’t offer any pricing information. Processing rates, account fees, and contract terms will all vary widely depending on which backend processor is handling your account. While we highly recommend that you request an interchange-plus pricing plan, be prepared to have to accept a tiered plan instead, particularly if you haven’t been in business for very long. Likewise, you can also expect to have a standard three-year contract with an automatic renewal clause and an early termination fee if you close your account early. As a high-risk merchant, you should be prepared to have a rolling reserve included in your account agreement.

SMB Global requires a minimum processing volume of $50,000 per month for an offshore merchant account, although they will occasionally waive this requirement if your business has a very strong financial history. Offshore accounts support multi-currency processing, allowing you to avoid cross-border fees. They also feature dynamic currency conversion, letting your customers pay in either their local currency or the currency in which you bill them.

Pros

  • Offers international merchant accounts to a wide variety of industries
  • Reasonable pricing and contract terms
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • No mobile app
  • No information available about credit card terminals or POS systems

For a more detailed look at SMB Global, be sure to check out our full review.

Host Merchant Services

Host Merchant Services is a relative newcomer to the merchant accounts business, first opening in 2009. The company is headquartered in Newark, Delaware and has a second office in Naples, Florida. While they primarily cater to traditional, low-risk businesses, they can accommodate several categories of high-risk businesses and also offer offshore accounts. Their interchange-plus-only pricing and a full range of products and services make them an excellent choice – if you can get approved. A former web hosting company, HMS is ideally suited for eCommerce merchants. They use TSYS as their primary backend processor, but can also work with several international banks and processors to get you an account.

For retail merchants, HMS offers a variety of Verifone and Equinox (formerly Hypercom) terminals. Terminals are offered for sale, and the company does not lease its equipment. While prices are not disclosed on the HMS website, you should be able to negotiate a very reasonable deal on terminals, especially if you need more than one. If you already have a compatible terminal, they’ll reprogram it for free.

HMS also offers a variety of POS systems that utilize either tablets or touchscreen displays. Choices range from an 8” tablet-based system up to a 17” touchscreen monitor. The company’s Starter, Plus, TouchStation Plus, and Custom POS options should meet the requirements of just about any business that needs or wants a POS system.

If you need a mobile processing capability for your business, HMS has you covered, offering the ProcessNow mobile payments system via a partnership with TSYS. ProcessNow works with either iOS or Android phones, but the current card reader is magstripe-only and requires a headphone jack to plug into.

As a tech-focused company, eCommerce is HMS’ specialty. The company has recently introduced their proprietary Transaction Express payment gateway, which includes a free virtual terminal. HMS also supports a large number of third-party gateways, including Authorize.Net.

HMS uses interchange-plus pricing exclusively for its low-risk merchants, but you might have to pay tiered rates if you have an offshore account. While they don’t disclose their rates on their website, they’re based primarily on monthly processing volume and are very competitive. Fees are not disclosed either, but include a $24.00 annual fee, a $14.99 monthly account fee (which includes PCI compliance), a variable payment gateway fee ($5.00 per month for Transaction Express, $7.50 per month plus $0.05 per transaction for Authorize.Net) and the usual incidental fees (i.e., chargebacks, voice authorizations, etc.). High-risk and offshore merchants should expect to pay higher fees than these, and possibly additional fees as well. In particular, be prepared to have a rolling reserve included as part of your account.

HMS provides customer service and support via 24/7 telephone and email. Chat is available via the HMS website during regular business hours. They also feature an extensive collection of articles and blog posts on their site for customer education. Support quality appears to be well-above-average, based on the almost complete absence of complaints about it on the BBB and other consumer protection websites. If your business falls into one of the categories of high-risk activities that the company can accommodate, HMS is an excellent choice for an offshore merchant account.

Pros

  • Full range of products and services for retail and eCommerce businesses
  • Exclusive interchange-plus pricing plans (for low-risk businesses)
  • Excellent customer service and support

Cons

  • Rates and fees not disclosed on website
  • Can only accommodate a small number of high-risk business categories
  • Mobile card reader not EMV-compliant

For more information, see our complete review.

Easy Pay Direct

Easy Pay Direct logo

Easy Pay Direct is headquartered in Austin, Texas and has been in business since 2000. The company’s primary product is their proprietary EPD Gateway, but they also provide full-service merchant accounts for international, high-risk, and traditional non-high-risk merchants. High-risk merchants will have to pay a premium in terms of processing rates and account fees, whether they’re partnered with a domestic or offshore bank or processor. However, the additional expense is entirely reasonable under the circumstances.

Like most offshore merchant account specialists, Easy Pay Direct works with a variety of banks and processors, both domestic and international, to find one that’s a match for the needs of your business. You’ll have to pay a $99 account setup fee to get started, but considering the extra effort required to underwrite a high-risk or offshore account, we feel the expense is justified in this case. Processing rates will be under a tiered pricing plan, but you should still have some room to negotiate your rates, especially if you have a high monthly processing volume. Contracts generally follow the industry standard, or a three-year initial term that automatically renews for one-year periods after that. One very positive feature about Easy Pay Direct’s contracts is that they do not have an early termination fee, even for high-risk businesses. While this isn’t quite the same thing as true month-to-month billing, it does make it much easier to close your account without penalty if you have to.

One helpful feature offered by Easy Pay Direct is called load balancing, where a business can divide its incoming funds among multiple merchant accounts. This is particularly helpful for high-risk businesses that often exceed the monthly processing volume limits imposed by the processor underwriting their account. Just be aware that you’ll usually have to pay separate monthly fees for each account, so it might not be cost-effective for some merchants. Also, be aware that you might not need this feature if you opt for an offshore account. Underwriting guidelines in some (but by no means all) foreign countries are more relaxed, and you might not have a monthly processing limit imposed on your account at all.

Although Easy Pay Direct doesn’t get as much attention as other, better-known processors, it’s a solid choice for merchants in the high-risk category or those who need an offshore account. We particularly recommend the company for high-risk eCommerce businesses due to the robust feature set of their EPD Gateway.

Pros

  • Load balancing feature for high-risk merchants
  • No equipment leases
  • No early termination fee

Cons

  • $99 account setup fee
  • Three-year contract with automatic renewal clause

Check out our full review of Easy Pay Direct for more information.

Final Thoughts

Having a hard-to-place business doesn’t mean you have to run your company through Bitcoin. You can accept credit card payments just like any other business by finding a payment processor that will set you up with the right acquiring banks. At the same time, you need to be fully aware that, for a US-based business, signing up for an offshore merchant account is a risky endeavor. You’ll want to be very cautious and carefully research any provider you consider, even the ones we’ve recommended above. Take extra care to protect your sensitive personal financial data and be sure your account includes additional fraud prevention features. You might also want to consider registering your business in the country where your merchant account is located – just in case. Having a merchant account in Panama might sound very tempting if you’ve been repeatedly turned down by domestic providers, but it will be very expensive to have to travel there in person if you later run into legal troubles with your account provider.

Of the four offshore merchant account providers we’ve reviewed above, Durango Merchant Services is undoubtedly the best all-around provider of the group. They disclose more detailed information about offshore accounts than any of the other providers. SMB Global is also an excellent choice. While the company itself is very new, they have an impressive track record from their days operating as the high-risk division of Payline Data. Finally, both Easy Pay Direct and Host Merchant Services offer a solid line-up of products and services for both eCommerce and retail merchants. If you need an offshore account to break into the world of accepting credit cards, they both have everything you need to get started.

Finally, we can’t caution you strongly enough that selecting and setting up an offshore merchant account involves a higher level of risk on your part, and you’ll need to be extra cautious in choosing a company to go with. Relaxed underwriting guidelines and a general lack of monthly processing limits make offshore accounts very tempting to merchants who’ve had a hard time getting their business approved for a traditional account, but these advantages come at a price. If anything goes wrong in your relationship with your provider, you might face some real challenges in pursuing a legal remedy. You should also be aware that if this happens, the US-based provider that brokered your account will not be able to help you in most cases.

Do your homework! Research your provider thoroughly and review all contract documents very carefully before signing up. While these steps won’t eliminate the chance of things going sideways somewhere down the road, they will shift the odds considerably in your favor.

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