The Best Credit Card Processing Apps for Quick-Serve Restaurants

It’s time to upgrade the POS for your coffee shop, but you haven’t got a clue what to look for. Maybe you’re not sure you need a full-fledged POS, or you’re worried about the cost — or you don’t want to be locked into a multi-year credit card processing contract. Where do you even start looking for the right solution?

As far as technology needs go, quick-serve businesses like bakeries, cafes, and ice cream parlors straddle the line between retail shop and restaurant. What POS features work for a retail business won’t quite cut it, but there’s no need for many of the features found in a full-service restaurant POS. Credit card processing apps combine the convenience of a POS and a merchant account into one single solution, with the convenience of a flexible (even mobile) setup.

We looked over the options for quick-serve businesses and put together a list of the best options. But first, a few criteria!

Choosing the Best Apps for Quick-Serve Businesses

A lot goes into choosing a credit card processing app — the cost, of course, as well as features. Our primary criteria, the non-negotiable elements, were that the app was a true app, something available on a tablet (and ideally a smartphone), and that it had a built-in payment processing option offered by default. A couple apps on this list do allow you the choice of integrating your own processor, though you should make sure the rates are competitive if the app charges any additional fees.

Additionally, we narrowed down the options based on whether the apps offered features essential for quick-serve businesses like cafes and ice cream parlors to function. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, but there are some core themes to look out for. Check out feature comparison chart below for more information, or read on for our top picks for credit card processing apps!

Toast POS

toast pos reviewToast is an award-winning POS targeting all sorts of restaurants, including quick-serve businesses. It runs exclusively on Android tablets, with an intuitive user interface. It’s definitely feature-rich, with several add-on programs you can opt for (inventory, loyalty, online ordering), making Toast even more functional.

Toast only allows you to use its processing services, and your rates will vary. Plans start at $79/month and allow you up to 2 registers; with higher-tier plans (starting at $99/month), you get unlimited registers. It’s also worth noting that Toast, like Square and PayPal, requires you to use its processing services, and your rates will vary.

Breadcrumb POS

Whereas Toast is entirely Android-based, Breadcrumb POS is an iPad-exclusive system that works as part of Upserve’s larger restaurant management ecosystem. Feature-rich and designed to accommodate many types of businesses, Breadcrumb even integrates with GrubHub for online ordering and delivery.

Breadcrumb’s payment processing arm offers interchange-plus plans for merchants: you’ll pay interchange rates plus a $0.15 fee per each transaction. For very small-value tickets, this could wind up being more expensive than a percentage-based transaction, which is worth taking note of. However, an interchange-plus plan on a month-to-month contract is a good deal.

Breadcrumb’s monthly service fee might make to think twice compared to some of the other options on this list, but the value of the features you get is absolutely worth considering. The Core plan will start you at $99/month, with the mid-tier plan starting at $249.

Square

Square business model and mobile credit card processingSquare‘s free mPOS app, Point of Sale, remains hugely popular with all kinds of businesses. But with its inventory management and reporting, as well as custom tipping features, it has the core features most bakeries, cafes, and other quick-serve businesses need to thrive — plus multiple add-ons (such as loyalty and payroll) to make management even easier. The eCommerce integration even allows people to place orders online and pick them up in person, and there’s a delivery system through Caviar.

Without a doubt, one of Square’s biggest draws is its clear, transparent pricing. A solid 2.75% per swipe is very reasonable and the lack of a per-transaction fee keeps the costs down for businesses with low ticket values. There are no mandatory monthly fees, either — you pay only for the transactions you process, and any add-on services you opt into.

PayPal Here

PayPal Here review: One of the top Square alternativesPayPal’s mPOS solution, PayPal Here, isn’t quite as robust as the full-fledged POS systems that PayPal also integrates with. But it’s a highly mobile app available on multiple platforms, including Windows devices. The app doesn’t have a glut of features the way Square does, but it has all the essentials, from tipping to discounts.

Like Square, one of the big draws — especially if you have a small average ticket size — is its pricing: 2.7% per swipe, with no monthly fees. PayPal’s easy integration with all sorts of eCommerce services and instant access to funds also tend to be big draws for merchants.

ShopKeep

Rather than build a solution that appeals to businesses of all sizes, ShopKeep opted to tailor its POS software to small and medium-sized businesses, a decision that continues to define its capabilities. However, the company does cater to small and medium businesses in a variety of industries, including quick-serve businesses.

Feature rich and highly intuitive, ShopKeep even offers advanced inventory and timekeeping at no extra charge, which definitely adds to the value.

ShopKeep’s payment processing arm offers interchange-plus plans based on your monthly volume, which means possible per-transaction fees. ShopKeep charges $69/month per register, but has no contracts or other monthly fees, all of which are a great deal for merchants.

Must-Have Features for Quick-Serve Businesses

Apart from being a tablet app with integrated processing, I looked at some other features in creating my list. Menu creation is important — and while variants are great, the presence of categories and add-ons was more important. Tipping, kitchen receipt printing, and location management also merited consideration. Check out the table below for detailed information.

Toast Breadcrumb reviewBreadcrumb Square for retail review logo imageSquare PayPal Here Shopkeep
BASIC TECH
Integrated Processing Yes Yes (other options available) Yes Yes Yes (other options available)
Processing Rates (for most swiped/dipped transactions) varies interchange + $0.15 2.75% 2.70% Interchange-Plus based on volume
Monthly Fee $79 and up $99 and up $0 $0 $69 per register
Number of Devices 1-2 for base plan, unlimited for higher plans 1 ($50/additional) Unlimited Unlimited 1 (additional registers $69/month)
Tablet Support Android Apple Apple, Android Apple, Android, Windows Apple
Smartphone support N/A N/A Apple, Android Apple, Android, Windows N/A
Email/SMS Receipts Email/SMS Email Only Email/SMS Email/SMS Email Only
Receipt Printer Connectivity LAN Wi-Fi, Ethernet Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB Bluetooth, LAN, Wireless Bluetooth, Ethernet
Cash Drawer Connectivity Yes Yes (With Printer Connectivity) Yes (Tablet Only, With Printer Connectivity) Yes (With Star Printer Connectivity) Yes (With Printer Connectivity)
FEATURES
Split Tender Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Offline Processing Mode Yes Yes Yes No No
Sub-User/Employee Accounts Yes (free) Yes (free) Yes (monthly fee) Yes (free) Yes (free)
Tips by $ or % No (By % only) No (By % only) Yes Yes Yes
Add Tip after Signing Yes Yes Yes (iPad only) No Yes
Customizable Receipts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Kitchen Ticket Printing Yes Yes Yes (iPad only) No Yes
Multi-location management Yes Yes Yes No Yes
MENU
Bulk Item/Menu Upload No Yes Yes No Yes
Item Counts With Inventory add-on Yes Yes No Yes
Item Add-Ons/Modifiers Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Item Photo No No Yes Yes No
Create Item from App or Dashboard Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Item Grouping/Sub-categories Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

You can also browse our restaurant POS software and mobile payments categories for more solutions!

Final Thoughts

There’s never one right answer to the question “which software is right for me?” The best we can do is say “This is a good choice for lots of businesses” and explain the caveats. As far as credit card processing apps for quick-serve businesses, you need to have a firm number in mind for how much you’re willing to pay, and know which features or abilities the app must have, and go from. Our top picks — Toast, Breadcrumb, Square, PayPal Here, and ShopKeep are all targeted at the industry and so they do have some similarities and core capabilities. But you’ll also find major differences in costs and some features (inventory being a noteworthy one). So know what you need and make sure the system you choose fulfills those basic requirements.

As always, thanks for reading! If you’ve got questions, we’d love to help you out. Check our comment guidelines and leave us a comment!

The post The Best Credit Card Processing Apps for Quick-Serve Restaurants appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Accounting Software For 2018

Best Accounting Software for 2018

What’s better than a table full of New Year’s appetizers? Better than a good glass of champagne? Even better than a midnight kiss to ring in the new year?

Accounting software.

Okay, that’s a stretch. But you can’t blame a girl for trying.

Each new year brings fresh, exciting opportunities. In the accounting world, this translates to shiny new features. This year, in particular, has seen some very impressive feature developments. In fact, a few key advances in functionality have already set three accounting software companies apart from the rest. These changes have generated press attention and positive user feedback, and earned Wave, Quickbooks Online, and Zoho Books a place in this article about the best accounting software for 2018.

Wave

Best Accounting Software 2017

Wave (see our review) is a free, cloud-based software with a beautiful user interface (no wonder we like it right?). The company was founded in 2010 by Kirk Simpson and James Lochrie and is now used by 3 million small business owners.

Wave was built with small business owners in mind. The ability to separate business expenses from personal expenses makes the software a great choice for freelancers and the self-employed as well.

Some of the most notable features in Wave include beautiful invoicing, contact management, accounts payable, expense tracking, basic inventory, and the ability to capture pictures of receipts and convert them into expenses.



But the reason we really love Wave is that these features are always getting better. The software constantly updates to fit the needs of business owners. Last year, Wave became the first accounting software company to offer a fully-integrated lending feature. This lending feature allows users to request loans between $5,000 and $500,000. Loan applications are approved through Wave, and once approved, funds are received as quickly as 24 hours.

This year, Wave continues to roll out the updates. The software offers two new reports, better navigation, and a company file export (which is usually only found with QuickBooks). Wave also plans to add:

  • Multi-currency support
  • A product report
  • An FX report
  • Duplicate transaction detection

Wave’s robust and varied features rival those of even some paid software options, especially considering some of these new updates. This is why Wave is Merchant Maverick’s pick for Best Free Accounting Software for Small Businesses and one of my favorite choices for small business owners.

Although Wave is free and intends to stay that way, there are a few extra costs you should be aware of if you’re considering this software:

  • Payroll – $15/mo +$4/mo per employee
  • Credit Card Processing – 2.9% + $0.30/per transaction
  • Chat support – $9/mo
  • Chat and Phone support – $19/mo

To learn more about Wave, read our full review and be sure to keep your eye open for the next big wave of updates.

QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online (see our review) is an easy-to-use, cloud-based accounting solution with a healthy feature set and a strong reputation. QuickBooks has basically been around since the dawn of time (in terms of accounting software), but the newer, online version has been particularly well-received by users since it is easier to use and more mobile than QuickBooks Desktop Pro.

QuickBooks Online is ideal for all types of business. Scalable pricing plans and diverse functionality make the software fit numerous business needs. Some key features include a clean interface, accounts payable (essentials and plus plan only), budgeting (plus plan only), contact management, beautiful recurring invoices, ample accounting reports, class and location tracking, inventory (plus plan only), and a strong chart of accounts.



For a long time, the most common complaint about QuickBooks Online was that, while it was good, it was not as good as QuickBooks Pro. One of the reasons QuickBooks Online is on the rise in 2018 is that the software is now being updated multiple times every month; in fact, it is finally starting to catch up to QuickBooks Pro.

Last year, QuickBooks underwent a huge design overall and added a key project management feature, as well as inventory reorder points, mileage deductions, invoice and payment trackers, and more.

One of the biggest reasons QuickBooks Online won a spot on this list is its brand-new, built-in lending feature — Get Capital. According to Techcrunch:

QuickBooks users can now get access to small business loans up to about $35,000 for up to six months from inside their bookkeeping software.

QuickBooks Online has won our Best Accounting Software for Small Businesses title. We did recently drop its rating from 5/5 stars to 4.5/5 stars for some usability and navigation difficulties, but with multiple updates coming out each month, we’re hopeful that QuickBooks Online will be back to 5/5 stars in no time. In short, this software really worth keeping an eye on in 2018.

If you are interested in QuickBooks Online, here are the available pricing plans (QuickBooks Online often has sales promotions, so be sure to check these before purchasing):

  • Simple Plan –$15/mo
  • Essentials Plan – $35/mo
  • Plus Plan – $50/mo
  • Payroll – Pricing starts at $39/mo + $2/mo per employee

To learn more, read our full QuickBooks Online review and use the free trial to take advantage of the new features.

Zoho Books

Best Accounting Mobile Apps

Zoho Books (see our review) is an easy-to-use accounting program with unbelievable invoicing features. The Zoho Corporation has been around since 1996. It launched its accounting program, Zoho Books, in 2011.

Zoho Books is ideal for small businesses that want strong accounting and attractive invoice templates at an affordable price. The software is also ideal for international businesses that require multi-currency support and the ability to send invoices in multiple languages.

Zoho Books Review
Zoho Books Review
Zoho Books Review

For a long while, Zoho Books was known to have some of the best invoicing around, but a few key issues were holding the software back. Lately, though, the software has crept up like a dark horse. Recent updates have put Zoho Books almost completely on par with QuickBooks Online in terms of features, which is why we’ve named this software one of the best of 2018.

While Zoho is not incredibly forthcoming about future updates, the company updates their software multiple times each month. In the most recent updates, the company has increased usability, created customizable purchase orders, and added a brand new retail invoices feature.

The software is unbeatable in terms of invoice features and customizations and offers incredibly affordable prices, which makes it worth watching this year.

If you are interested in Zoho Books, here are the three pricing plans available:

  • Basic — $9/mo
  • Standard — $19/mo
  • Professional — $29/mo

There is no payroll available at this time. To learn more or check out this software’s competitive features and recent updates, read our full Zoho Books review and take the free trial for a spin.

How To Choose Accounting Software

Wave, QuickBooks Online, and Zoho Books are all powerful accounting programs with innovative updates and abundant features. And they seem to be getting better and better with time.

But with three great options to choose from, it is difficult to know which is the best choice for your company — especially if you don’t have an existing accounting software. Our Complete Guide to Choosing Online Accounting Software is a helpful tool and a good place to start your search.

If you have an existing accounting solution that doesn’t quite measure up to the programs discussed above, it might be a good time to change allegiance. Your business is your livelihood, and software that fully meets — and exceeds — your business needs is important for success and growth.

If you are already a Wave, QuickBooks Online, or Zoho Books user, congratulations! You’ve made a good decision, and we hope the features rolled out this year serve you well.

Best wishes to all this new year. May 2018 be a season of joy, dreams, and, most importantly, smooth accounting.

Wave QuickBooks Online Zoho Books
Wave Accounting for small business review QuickBooks review Best Accounting Mobile Apps
 
Read Review Read Review Read Review
Visit Site Visit Site Visit Site
Price  $0 $15 – $40/mo $9 – $29/mo
Accounting Method  Accrual  Both accrual and cash-basis Both accrual and cash-basis
Web-based or Installed Web-based Web-based Web-based
Highlights Free
Numerous features
Good customer support
Easy to use
Attractive invoice templates
Impressive features
Advanced inventory features
Numerous integrations
Good tax support
God mobile apps
Competitive pricing plans
Easy to use
Good mobile apps
International invoicing
Excellent customer support

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The Best Credit Card Processing Apps For Mobile And Service Businesses

mobile-card-payment-app-service

Being able to take payments on the go without having to jump through five million hoops is crucial for mobile businesses, whether you’re a service business that visits customers at home or just a small business without a permanent storefront. That’s where credit card processing apps come in: Combining integrated payments and feature-rich POS systems that run on smartphones and tablets, they’re designed to operate anywhere you can get a cellular or Wi-Fi signal.

We took a look at the most promising credit card processing apps for mobile and service businesses, comparing their features as well as their processing rates. Then, we compiled the best options into a list!

Choosing the Best App Features for Mobile & Service Businesses

If your business is primarily service-based or you tend to do more pop-up sales and events than deal with retail storefronts, you probably don’t need (or want) a whole lot of hardware. What you do need is an EMV-friendly reader and a smartphone or tablet to run the system from.

We used two primary criteria in deciding this list: first, the product has to have integrated payment processing, and the app must be available on a tablet (preferably a smartphone as well).

While hardware may not be a priority, knowing which systems can work as a countertop system as well as mobile is helpful. Invoicing, virtual terminals, solid sales tax management, and decent item libraries were also factors. Take a look at our comprehensive comparison chart to figure out which system might work best for your particular needs.

Square for retail review logo imageSquare PayPal Here Shopify Payline Mobile SumUp
BASICS
Integrated Processing Yes Yes Yes (Other options available) Yes Yes
Processing Rates (for most swiped/dipped transactions) 2.75% 2.70% 2.70% Interchange + 0.5% or 0.3% 2.75%
Monthly Fee $0 $0 Plans start at $9/month $0 / $9.95 $0
Number of Devices Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 1
Tablet Support Apple, Android Apple, Android, Windows Apple, Android Apple, Android Apple, Android
Smartphone Support Apple, Android Apple, Android, Windows Apple, Android Apple, Android Apple, Android
Email/SMS Receipts Email/SMS Email/SMS Email Only Yes Email/SMS
Receipt Printer Connectivity Bluetooth, Ethernet, USB Bluetooth, LAN, Wireless Bluetooth, USB, LAN No Bluetooth, LAN
Cash Drawer Connectivity Yes (Tablet Only, With Printer Connectivity) Yes (With Star Printer Connectivity) Yes (iPad Only, with Printer Connectivity) No Yes (with Printer Connectivity)
FEATURES
Split Tender Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Offline Processing Mode Yes No Very Limited No No
Full and Partial Returns Yes Yes Yes (including store credit) Yes Full Only
Sub-User/Employee Accounts Yes (monthly fee) Yes (free) Yes (PINS/accounts) Yes Yes (Limited)
Discounts by $ or % Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Tipping by $ or % Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Multiple Tax Rates Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Adjust Tax Rates In-App Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Customizable Receipts Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Generate Invoices Yes Yes Yes No No
Virtual Terminal Yes Yes (monthly fee) No Yes Yes
INVENTORY
Bulk Item Upload Yes No Yes No No
Item Counts Yes No Yes No No
Item Variants Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Item Add-ons Yes Yes No No No
Item Categories Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Item Photo Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Create Item from App or Dashboard Yes Yes Yes Yes No (App Only)

You can check out our reviews of each service for more information about features, user experience, and more.

Square

Square business model and mobile credit card processingSquare made its name with a mobile processing service that anyone could use, and while the company is definitely catering to larger entities these days, small and mobile businesses still make up a good portion of Square’s merchants. Square’s totally free processing app makes it easy to create an item library of physical products as well as services.

Square’s tax rate settings are easily adjustable from within the mobile app and you can pre-program different rates if you find yourself flipping between different locations often.

In addition, Square offers invoicing, recurring invoicing/storing cards on file, and a free virtual terminal. You can even integrate Square’s appointment booking software seamlessly.

Square will charge you 2.75% per swiped transaction, but invoicing will run you 2.9% + $0.30, and virtual terminal transactions will cost you 3.5% + $0.15.

PayPal Here

PayPal Here review: One of the top Square alternativesPayPal Here is another staple of mobile businesses with a free mobile app. PayPal has the advantage of massive eCommerce support as well as a solid mPOS so you can seamlessly blend different aspects of your business. Plus, your funds are available almost instantly in your PayPal account, and with the PayPal debit card, you can spend them anywhere. The free mobile app isn’t quite as feature-rich as Square’s, but it’s highly capable.

You’ll also find PayPal Here’s tax settings are adjustable within the app and you can easily accommodate different sales tax rates. Like Square, you get free in-app invoicing. However, if you are looking for a virtual terminal or recurring billing, they’re going to run you an additional $30 and $10 per month, respectively, which is a fairly high price tag.

You’ll pay 2.7% per transaction in the app, whereas invoices will run you 2.9% + $0.30. Virtual terminal transactions (not counting the monthly fee) cost 3.1% + $0.15.

Shopify

Shopify started out as just an eCommerce offering but it’s expanded into a multi-channel solution for business. You can get Shopify’s Point of Sale app for as little as $9/month with the Lite plan, or you can upgrade to a countertop-friendly version with the Retail package, and even add on integrations for appointment booking. However, if you don’t /need/ a receipt printer or cash drawer and don’t sell through your own site online, the Lite plan will absolutely get you through.

Shopify isn’t the most advanced credit card processing app out there — for example, it doesn’t support tipping — but overall it has most of the features mobile and service-based businesses need, and its integration with the eCommerce tools is definitely an asset. It even allows invoicing.

Shopify allows you to set a tax rate for a shop location and create overrides and exemptions. One thing I do like that I don’t often see in these sorts of apps is tax rates based on GPS location, which eases the burden on you considerably.

For Shopify Payments (the default processing method), you’re going to pay 2.7% per transaction to start out, though if you opt for the higher-tiered plans you’ll see some savings.

Payline Mobile

Payline is one of our favorite merchant account providers, and we like their mobile solution because it’s available independently of the other offerings and suitable for low-volume businesses, which isn’t common with traditional merchant accounts.

The app is overall solid, with inventory features, tipping, and discounts. While there’s no invoicing feature, the mobile plans do offer access to a virtual terminal. The app is also designed for mobile use only: it doesn’t support retail/countertop processing features like cash drawers or receipt printers. However, Payline supports multiple tax rates for different items as well as a master tax rate for checkout, depending on your needs.

Payline’s mobile products offer interchange-plus pricing, too: the Start plan (formerly Spark Plan) will charge you 0.5% over interchange plus $0.20 per transaction with no monthly fee; the Surge plan charges a 0.3% markup plus $0.20, with a $9.95 monthly fee. The $0.20 per-transaction fee is a little high, but doesn’t put Payline Mobile in the realm of unreasonable pricing. However, it does mean businesses with larger ticket sizes will feel the effects of that per-transaction fee less.

Spark Pay

Capital One’s mobile processing solution Spark Pay is part of the larger “Spark” line of businesses solutions, which includes a fairly advanced online store. However, despite that, Spark Pay the mobile app stands alone, with no integrations.

It has all the major features a merchant would need — tipping, custom discounts, an item library, and support for a countertop setup. Unfortunately, there’s no invoicing, and Spark Pay’s virtual terminal is only in beta mode. You can only set one tax rate in the app as well. However, the major shortcoming is simply that while Spark Pay does offer EMV terminals, there’s not currently an EMV-compliant mobile reader, something that all the other options here do offer.

That said, Spark Pay does offer great customer service, and its pricing is competitive. On the Go plan, there’s no monthly fee and transactions cost 2.65% + $0.05. The Pro plan has a $19 monthly fee, but your rates drop to 1.99% + $0.05.

SumUp

SumUp has been operating in Europe for several years now, but it’s only reached the US in the past year, which definitely makes it the newcomer. The app is overall solid, though more limited than the others on this list.

You do get a free mobile app and free virtual terminal, as well as a fairly unique tool: SMS payments where customers can complete a transaction by opening a link sent through text message.

However, you can only process on one device at a time, so while you can create sub-user accounts, there’s not much of a benefit. SumUp does support multiple tax rates, but tax rates can’t be deleted when they are associated with an item. You’ll have to delete the item first.

The lack of discounts and the ability to make some changes through the dashboard are a bit disappointing — but the fact that you can manage everything from within the app is a major improvement over a platform like Clover Go, which requires you to make many adjustments in the web dashboard.

There are no recurring billing or card-on-file options, though, and no invoicing, either. That said, SumUp charges a simple 2.75% per transaction, and 2.9% + $0.15 for virtual terminal and SMS payments, with no monthly fee.

Final Thoughts

I’m usually pretty hesitant to recommend one product above all others without consideration of the differences from one business to the next. And that’s true here. If you really only have simple needs, any of the options on this list will serve you well. As your needs get more advanced, it’s definitely worth looking at more advanced setups such as Square or PayPal Here. And as always, the price is a major consideration. Make sure you run the numbers and are confident the rates you will pay are competitive.

The good news is that all of these services have a no-monthly-fee option so you can try them out with no risk. I encourage you to check out our complete reviews of any credit card processing app you’re interested in pursuing. And if you have questions, I encourage you to reach out. We’re always here to help, so feel free to leave us a comment!

The post The Best Credit Card Processing Apps For Mobile And Service Businesses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best Charge Cards For Small Businesses

You may have heard the terms used interchangeably in casual conversation, but charge cards and credit cards aren’t the same thing. While small businesses can make great use of both types of cards, charge cards come with a unique set of risks and rewards.

A credit card is a revolving line of credit. A bank extends you a credit line, and you can spend up to your limit, paying interest on any balance you carry beyond the first month. When you pay off your debt, the full line of credit becomes available to you once more.

A charge card, on the other hand, doesn’t come with a credit limit. Instead, it may have a limit that can vary month to month based on a variety of factors ranging from your payment history to prevailing economic conditions. The catch? You need to pay off your entire balance every month. If you don’t, you’ll be hit with fees and interest rates that usually far exceed anything you’d see with a credit card. You will likely forfeit your reward points as well. In some cases, you may be able to spread out your payment on certain purchases through programs like American Express’s Extended Payment Option. Because they’re less likely to earn money on carried balances, charge card companies tend to have higher annual fees.

Note that charge cards aren’t quite as widely accepted as credit cards, so it’s best to have another payment method as a backup.

Think a charge card is right for your business? Here are some of our favorite options.

American Express Platinum

Charge cards are American Express’s wheelhouse, and its Platinum Card is one of the most well-known and prestigious charge cards around. With extremely generous reward tiers and a laundry list of benefits, it’s quite a powerful little piece of plastic for travelers. Be prepared for some sticker shock when you look at the annual fee, however.

American Express Platinum
Annual Fee $550
APR N/A
Signup Bonus 60,000 points
Rewards 5 pts./$1 on flights and hotels through Amex Travel; 2 pts./$1 on other travel
1 pt./$1 on all other purchases
Visit Site

A glance at Amex Platinum will tell you that it’s a card heavily weighted toward people on the go. The 5x reward tier offers an insane return on travel expenses, as long as you can make them through Amex’s first party system. The 2x return on expenses that you don’t book through Amex isn’t too shabby either. Points can be transferred to participating reward programs at variable rates. They can also be used as statement credit as long as you have at least 1,000 points.

The $550 annual fee is pretty brutal, but if you make strategic use of the card’s other perks, it’s not quite as bad as it looks. You’ll get:

  • $15 worth of Uber rides/mo, plus $20 in December
  • $200 airline fee credit
  • Hotel and resort benefits/upgrades
  • $100 TSA fee credit for global entry

If you aren’t a heavy traveler, however, this card is probably not a great investment. Businesses that are less focused on travel and more focused on large purchases may want to consider the business version of the platinum card. It replaces the 2 point tier with a 1.5 point tier for qualifying purchases. You’ll lose the Uber credits and some of the other perks, however. On the bright side, the Platinum Business Card is $100 cheaper per year.

American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards

If the Platinum Card sounds too expensive and travel focused, Amex also offers more general-purpose charge cards. Amex OPEN Business Gold may not come with the incredible 5x reward tier of Platinum, but it’s cheaper and extends a 3x reward tier to a broader variety of purchases.

American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards
Annual Fee $175 ($0 first year)
APR N/A
Signup Bonus 50,000 points
Rewards 3 pts./$1 for the first $100,000 spent on a category of your choice–airfare, advertising, shipping, gas stations, or computer hardware and software; 2 pts./$1 for the first $100,000 spent on the other four categories.
 1 pt./$1 on all other purchase
Visit Site

The American Express OPEN Business Gold Rewards card is one of the more interesting pieces of business plastic on the market. Rather than coming out of the box with a set reward tier structure, it lets you choose one of five different categories to be your 3x reward tier. You don’t even have to worry too much about buyer’s remorse, because the other four categories will still be rewarded at 2x. It gives the card a modular, customizable feel that can be fitted to most types of business.

The $175 annual price tag is still on the steep side, though Amex waives the fee for the first year. Note that you’ll have to spend at least $5,000 during the first month to qualify for the 50,000 point signup bonus, so plan your purchases accordingly if you decide to go with this card.

Overall, Amex OPEN Business Gold provides a pretty good value–and more versatility–at a lower annual price than some of their elite cards. The trade-off is that you won’t be getting the 5x reward tiers, statement credits, and some of the perks that come with a card like Amex Platinum.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

If the Platinum Card looks like overkill and the OPEN Business Rewards Gold Card too unfocused, you may want to consider the Premier Rewards Gold. Like Platinum, it’s oriented around travel, but it comes in at a more affordable annual fee.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card
Annual Fee $195 ($0 first year)
APR N/A
Signup Bonus 25,000 point
Rewards 3 pts./$1 on directly booked flights; 2 pts/$1 at supermarkets, gas stations, and restaurants in the U.S.
 1 pt./$1 for all other purchases
Visit Site

If the Platinum card caters to the well-heeled, international jet-setter, Gold Premier is for the business owner whose work takes them around the US. You’ll still get some nice airline-related perks, so long as you book those flights directly; no Kayak or Priceline bookings. You’ll also get a smaller version of the Platinum card’s airline credit, giving you $100/yr. in statement credits for things like baggage fees, which can offset more than half of the significant annual fee.

Rather than rewarding you for fancy resort spending, the Premier card’s 2x tier is focused on more pragmatic expenses you’re likely to encounter during your domestic travels.

As is usually the case, you’ll need to spend a minimum amount of money in the first three months to get the signup bonus ($2,000 in this case).

As is the case for all Amex charge cards, remember that they’re not as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard credit/debit, so be sure to have a plan B in your wallet.

American Express Plum Card

If the reward programs outlined above sound like more trouble than they’re worth, or if your spending habits and cash flow would make those cards hard to use, there’s another option. Enter American Express’s Plum Card, a charge card that sacrifices lavish words for flexibility.

American Express Plum Card
Annual Fee $250 ($0 the first year)
APR N/A
Signup Bonus None
Rewards 1.5% early payment discount
Visit Site

If a charge card could be “controversial,” the American Express Plum card would be a top contender for that title. Why is that?

While the Plum Card is a technically a charge card, it functions almost more like a cash back credit card. For starters, you’re given 60 days to pay off your balance without incurring a late fee. Pretty neat, right?

Well, there’s a catch. If you pay off your card early, within 10 days of your statement closing date, you’ll get a 1.5% discount on your bill. This is comparable to the 1.5% return you’ll see with most business credit cards that offer cash back, but with a little less leeway for earning your rewards. If you want that type of reward system in a charge card, however, the Plum Card can accommodate you.

Final Thoughts

Charge cards fill an increasingly small but still popular niche, offering some distinct advantages and drawbacks to the businesses that use them. Though business credit cards have been rapidly closing the gap, charge cards still offer some of the highest rewards tiers, albeit with high annual fees.

Looking for other options? Check out our business credit card and personal credit card comparisons.

The post The Best Charge Cards For Small Businesses appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How To Identify The Pricing Model On Your Processing Statement

Credit Card Processing Statement image

“It’s 11 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?”

This was a popular PSA broadcasted to parents in the ’70s and ’80s, back when “stranger danger” was just about the scariest thing out there. Now, I have an equally important PSA for small business owners: “You have your processing statement. Do you know your pricing model?”

The ability to recognize merchant account pricing models (and, most importantly, which one you have) is a crucial step toward understanding your statement, as well as increasing your overall merchant-savvy. We’ve found that many merchants recognize the rates and fees they were quoted for processing, but without any broader context of which pricing model they have. This makes deciphering an already-confusing card processing statement all the more difficult, and makes discerning whether you’re paying too much nearly impossible.

Starting with a statement and working backward to an accurate understanding of how your quoted rates actually kick in is maybe not the ideal introduction to pricing models. Yet, this is most often the way things go, and I’m not surprised. No one goes to “merchant account school” for this stuff, and account providers vary widely in both their skill and willingness to thoroughly explain pricing.

The good news is that small business owners are no strangers to learning on the fly. So, grab a statement or two, and let’s get cracking!

A Quick Primer On Pricing

In broad strokes, the main pricing models are differentiated by the way your merchant account provider handles the wholesale cost of processing (what it must pay to other entities in the processing chain) versus its own markup. There are two separate types of wholesale costs — interchange fees and card association fees — but the differences between pricing models mostly center around how interchange fees are handled.

You’re probably already aware of the vast variety of credit and debit cards in circulation. Each type of card has its own pre-set interchange cost (a percentage of the sale and sometimes a per-transaction fee) that all merchant account providers must pay to the card-issuing bank when that particular card type is used. Over the years, the main merchant account pricing models have developed based on two possible ways of dealing with these wholesale interchange costs:

  1. Pass the interchange costs directly to the merchant and also charge a separate “low” markup.
  2. Blend the interchange costs into one or more “high” overall rates for the merchant that already include a markup.

I’m putting “low” and “high” in quotation marks because we recognize they’re super-relative terms. Not to mention, the exact amount of your rate is only one piece of the puzzle. As a helpful simplification going forward, you can think of “low” as well under 1%, and high as over 1% (often at least 2%, or even much more). The important thing to remember is that a low rate may not include interchange already (look for those costs listed separately), while a high rate likely does.

The “Big Four” Models

The most common pricing models are interchange-plus, membership, flat-rate, and tiered. For more background on the models, check out these helpful articles:

  • Trading Ease For Transparency With Interchange-Plus
  • Tiered Pricing: The Epic Fail Of A Pricing Model
  • Get A 0% Interchange-Plus Markup With Membership Fee Pricing
  • Analyzing The Cost-Effectiveness of Square’s Mobile Processing Solution (flat-rate pricing)

If you’re still a bit foggy on the differences, that’s okay. For now, you can start with your statement and work toward a better understanding of merchant account pricing as a whole. We’ll get there!

Good Indicators, But Not Guarantees

While each pricing model leaves tell-tale signs on a statement, it’s important to note that no “standard” indicator is necessarily a guarantee. Think of the indicators we’ll discuss as good clues, or important signs. In truth, processors may include red herrings in their statements, or invent their own strange hybrid systems. Fortunately, most stick fairly closely to the main pricing models.

Now, we’re finally ready to look at the four main pricing models and their most common statement indicators. The more indicators for a certain model on your statement, the better the odds that’s the model you have. I’ll be using a few snippets of statements as examples, but note that any interchange rates listed are not necessarily the current values. Some of the statements are older. In any case, your statement will never match these completely. No two processors display this stuff in the same way.

Interchange-Plus / Cost-Plus Pricing

All things being equal, interchange-plus statements are the most difficult to read. The big payoff is that you clearly see the difference between wholesale costs and your account provider’s markup on your statements. In this model, the rate you were quoted was just the markup piece — the “plus” in “interchange-plus.” In other words, interchange fees and your account provider’s markup are charged separately. Typically, interchange-plus plans charge both a percentage markup and a flat, per-transaction markup. Here’s what you’ll likely see on your statement:

  • Itemized Interchange Rates: 

    Example A: One small section of a long list of interchange rates. Note that each type of card is charged its own pre-set rate, and passed through to the merchant.

  • Consistent “Low” Percentage Markup: Charged separately from interchange fees.

Example B: Consistent markup of 0.40% listed after each card type’s itemized list of interchange fees. All transactions/card types have the same 0.40% markup.

Example C: In the “Rate” column, a consistent 0.31% markup is shown directly above the itemized interchange rate for each type of card/transaction.

  • Consistent Transaction Fee Markup: This per-transaction markup may be found in the same line items as the percentage markups, or down in a separate “authorization” section.

    Example D: Along with a consistent 0.10% markup across the board (Disc %), there’s a consistent $0.10 transaction fee markup (Disc P/I) for all card/transaction types.

Subscription / Membership Pricing

Membership pricing is sort of a riff on interchange-plus. The wholesale interchange rates are still charged separately from the account provider’s markup. The difference is that the markup comes in the form of one flat monthly subscription fee, and also a small, per-transaction markup. No percentage markup is charged. Here are the main statement indicators of subscription pricing:

  • Itemized Interchange Rates: Similar to Example A above.
  • Consistent Transaction Fee Markup: See Example E below.
  • No Percentage Markup: See Example E below. Note that percentages will still be part of itemized interchange rates (not shown below), but no separate percentage markup is present.

Example E: Consistent $0.11 “Item Rate” charged on all card/transaction types. No “Disc Rate” % markup. This account had a membership fee of $120/month (not pictured).  Interchange rates were itemized separately (not pictured).

Flat-Rate / Blended Pricing

This is the model most commonly offered by third-party payment facilitators (a.k.a. PSPs, merchant aggregators) like PayPal, Stripe, and Square. Occasionally, traditional merchant account providers use it as well. In this all-inclusive model, wholesale charges and the processor’s markup are all blended together into your one, flat processing rate. If a per-transaction fee is part of your rate, this also goes toward covering your provider’s wholesale costs plus any profit margin. Your flat rate covers all types of transactions, from inexpensive signature debit transactions, all the way to expensive business rewards cards. You’ll typically observe:

  • No Itemized Interchange Rates: Your statement is quite simple, but you can’t see the actual wholesale cost behind any of your transactions.
  • Consistent “High” Rate: If any rate is displayed at all, it’s usually just one main rate in the high 2% to mid-3% range, and sometimes you’ll see a per-transaction fee as well. Note that some PSPs charge a couple different high rates based on the type of transactions you run (i.e., keyed or ecommmerce vs. swiped/dipped.)

Tiered / Bundled Pricing

This is another case where you can’t see the itemized interchange rates separate from your processor’s markup on your statement. Instead, your transactions are first grouped into tiers according to the processor’s pre-set criteria. Each group (tier) is then charged a flat rate that already includes the interchange costs for those transactions. If you’ve got a tiered plan but have only been quoted one rate, it’s typically the rate for transactions that fall under the lowest, “qualified” tier. In reality, some transactions may be downgraded to higher priced tiers (mid-qualified and non-qualified). You have no real way of predicting these downgrades ahead of time. Here’s what you’d see:

  • No Itemized Interchange Rates: You generally won’t see a list of interchange charges–because why list them if they’re already blended into your tiered rates?
  • Qualified, Mid-Qualified, Non-Qualified Labels: Any line items with any of these labels (or similar-looking abbreviations) is your biggest clue.

Example F: Transactions are charged 1.75%, 2.75% or 3.25% depending on the tier

  • Multiple Rates, Usually “High”: By definition, a tiered program must have at least two rate levels or tiers shown on the statement. The standard model is three levels: qualified (lowest), mid-qualified (middle), and non-qualified (highest). Note that some providers may create a separate set of three tiers for debit transactions, because these wholesale debit costs are cheaper. The bottom levels of a signature debit tier can actually be “low” (well under 1%) and still account for the interchange cost or act as a loss leader. You’ll need to be sure that there are no other higher rates charged on your statement (and examine other indicators) before you can assume your “low” rate means you’re on interchange-plus! On the other hand, all credit card tiers will likely be well over 1% and in the “high” category, so look for those as a better indicator. When you’re looking for multiple rates on your statement, the mid and non-qualified transactions may be listed right next to the qualified ones, or may be shown as separate surcharges later in the statement (like in Example H below).

Example G: Two “high” rates are charged, 1.75% + $0.10 for credit, and 1.21% + $ 0.20 for debit. These are the two qualified tiers of this plan.

Example H: In the same statement as above, we find a surcharge section. Twenty-two transactions were downgraded to non-qualified (amounting to an extra 2%) and 30 to mid-qualified (an extra 1.47%). Multiple rates for multiple tiers at play!

Final Thoughts

Did you recognize your own pricing model among these main four types? If you made it this far with your statement, I hope you’ve at least developed a strong hunch. While each model has its merits for different situations, you can probably tell we prefer the inherent transparency and comparability of models that separate out the interchange costs from the account provider’s markup. By the same token, we have a hard time getting behind the unpredictable downgrading and surcharging of tiered pricing. I’d encourage you to check out our top merchant account providers if you’re looking for a fresh start. All of them offer transparent interchange-plus or subscription pricing plans.

Parents of the 70s and 80s feared “stranger danger” above all else, but my biggest fear for merchants is that they pay too much or even get scammed because they don’t have a solid understanding of their processing statements. Knowing and recognizing your pricing model is one of your best protections as a merchant. If you’re still unsure about yours, drop us a line and we’ll see if we can help!

The post How To Identify The Pricing Model On Your Processing Statement appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Complete Guide to Credit Card Transaction Fees

Are there days when you wonder if it’s even worth it to accept credit cards at your business? Do those days happen to correspond with the days you receive your monthly card processing statements? Hmm…interesting coincidence.

We know that accepting plastic is usually worth the cost in the end, whether or not you occasionally fantasize about the good ol’ days of all cash. Still, there’s no denying that card processing fees add up fast. It can be hard to determine where they are all coming from and why they are being charged. Some fees are automatically charged monthly, while others are charged consistently on a per-transaction basis. Still others are charged on a per-transaction basis but only under certain circumstances. Is your head already spinning?

Fortunately, Merchant Maverick has great resources on all things related to card processing costs. I’ll direct you to these as we go along. As you may have caught from the title, this post will focus specifically on credit card transaction fees. (Okay, we’ll throw debit cards in there too). Let’s begin by defining what we mean by “transaction fees.”

A broad definition of “transaction fee”

When most people think of “credit card transaction fees,” I’m pretty sure they’re thinking of the following definition: anything you are charged on a per-transaction basis. If you want an introduction to all of these various fees, this article might not be for you. Please see our Complete Guide to Rates and Fees for more generalized rate and fee information first. If, however, you are looking at your processing statement and want to figure out what some of the specific “nickel and dime” transaction fees mean, read on!

A more precise definition

In the payment processing industry, the term “transaction fee” can actually mean something a bit more specific. We often limit the use of the term to fees charged as a flat dollar amount per transaction. These are the fees we will examine in this post. We will not be looking at percentage-based fees here. Percentage-based fees are often referred to as processing “rates” rather than fees.

Why am I charged flat per-transaction fees?

Per-transaction fees are usually less than one dollar. Sometimes, they are even fractions of one cent. So why do they even exist, especially if you’re already getting charged a percentage of each sale? Is this just another excuse for “The Man” to squeeze you dry, $0.0001 at a time?

I find it helpful to think of these fees as what you pay for the privilege of using pieces of the processing system each time you run a card. Whatever costs are involved in transmitting, encrypting, storing, looking up, verifying, authorizing or otherwise handling the transaction and card data ought to be covered by flat per-transaction amounts. After all, data is data, no matter if the transaction was $5 or $5,000. We’re just moving electrons around in either case. In contrast, costs based on the percentage of the volume of the transaction cover the relative risk involved in handling different amounts of money.

Why should I keep a close eye on transaction fees?

Here are a few reasons transaction fees deserve your attention:

  • They are often “small” — sometimes even fractions of a cent — but can add up quickly
  • There are lots of different types
  • They tend to have odd or vague names and abbreviations
  • The names and abbreviations are not necessarily standardized across the industry
  • It’s hard to decipher exactly what function each one serves
  • It’s easy for merchant account providers to sneak in extra, unnecessary ones
  • It’s easy for providers markup existing, legitimate ones

How are transaction fees labeled on a statement?

Honestly, the nomenclature for transaction fees is all over the map. We’ll dive into some of the specific names and abbreviations for individual fees as we go. Fortunately, most statements will at least divide any percentage of volume charges and any per-transaction fees into two separate columns. Here are some common headings for flat per-transaction charges:

  • Item rate
  • Item fee
  • Sale item fee
  • Per item
  • Per item rate
  • Per item fee
  • P/I
  • Disc P/I
  • Tran fee
  • Trans fee

When you match up the main column heading to the individual name or abbreviation of each charge along the left-hand side of a statement, you should have a good idea of what the fee is and how much you’re charged each time. Pay attention to the number of transactions that incurred the fee too. This will often help clarify the fee’s identity and purpose.

Where will I encounter transaction fees?

1. Interchange Rates

The interchange rates (a.k.a., interchange reimbursement fee, wholesale rate, or discount rate) are decided upon by the card networks. Interchange rates differ depending on card and transaction type, but most are composed of a percentage of volume rate and a flat per-transaction fee. Interchange costs are considered non-negotiable for merchants.

2. Your Processor’s Markup

Depending on your pricing model (e.g., tiered, blended, interchange-plus, subscription), your processor’s markup will be handled differently. The markup over interchange may already be lumped in with your overall rate, or interchange may be charged separately from the markup. In other words, whatever is quoted as your “processing rate” may or may not have interchange already included. If you’re not sure which pricing model you have, check out our complete rate and fee guide. What you need to know going forward is that your rate — whether it’s just your provider’s markup or a blend of their markup and interchange — may include a percentage fee and a flat per-transaction fee component. And, depending on the pricing model, it may include just one or the other type of charge.

3. Card Brand Fees

These fees are collected by card networks — Visa, MasterCard, etc. — and most of them are charged on a transactional basis. Like the interchange costs, they’re considered non-negotiable, pass-through costs by your merchant account provider, so watch out to make sure they don’t get marked up! Card association fees may involve a percentage of volume or a flat, per-transaction charge, depending on what the fee is supposed to cover (catching a theme here?).

Dharma, one of our preferred merchant account providers, maintains a handy list of card brand fees. I’ll list just a few examples below. Each card brand tends to have fees that cover the same kind of things, but with frustratingly different names, just to annoy us all. As you might expect, Visa and MasterCard’s fees line up more closely than the other card brands.

  • Assessments: This is the main card brand fee. In fact, sometimes people just use “assessments” as a blanket term for all card brand fees. Visa charges 0.13% + $0.0195 per transaction for all your Visa credit card sales, for example. We might call the second piece — the $0.0195 — a “transaction fee” by our working definition. Sometimes, that flat per-transaction bit is separated out and called the Acquirer Processing Fee (APF). For MasterCard, the flat per transaction part of the assessment is called the Network Access and Brand Usage Fee (NABU). Note that some blended pricing plans may already incorporate these assessment costs into your rate quote.
  • Fees for Transaction Problems: Some card brand transaction fees only kick in if something out of the ordinary happens, such as when there’s been a mistake, mismatch, or omission in the way the transaction was processed. This includes fees with exciting names such as the Zero Floor Limit Fee, Misuse of Authorization Fee, and Transaction Integrity Fee.

4. Authorization & Authorization-Related Fees

All transactions require some kind of authorization. If the card is accepted, the authorization turns into a full-blown transaction. If the card is declined, then an authorization procedure has taken place without a transaction ultimately occurring. This means that you can potentially have more authorizations (and authorization fees) than transactions that actually go through.

So how do processors cover authorization costs? Well, some providers bake any authorization costs into the flat per-transaction fee that comes with your rate quote. In my mind, that’s exactly what any flat per-transaction fee charged by your processor should cover. Nevertheless, the technical difference between a transaction and an authorization is part of the reason why you’ll often see them broken down into separate categories and fees.

If you’re on a pricing plan that has no per-item flat fees, you can bet that authorization costs have been covered by a higher percentage of volume charge, or by some other piece of your plan’s overall fee structure. Meanwhile, there are definitely a few authorization and authorization-related costs that are commonly charged separately:

  • AVS Fee: The Address Verification Service is accessed as part of every keyed-in transaction to provide an additional layer of fraud protection. The card’s billing address is requested and verified before authorization is given. eCommerce and telephone-order businesses must use this service every single time they authorize a transaction. Consequently, many quoted rates for eCommerce and card-not-present transactions already have an AVS charge included as part of the flat per-transaction fee. But some don’t! If you run mostly card-not-present transactions, you’ll definitely want this matter clarified up front. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar merchants will only see an AVS charge on the odd occasion that they must manually key-in the customers’ card info.
  • Gateway Fees: Payment gateways are used to authorize transactions that occur via the internet only. Since not every business needs one, gateways are often separate add-ons to merchant accounts, with separate fees. Gateway fee structures usually involve a monthly fee, and sometimes a flat per-transaction fee as well. You can see how costs could add up quickly for an eCommerce business if there was gateway fee, plus an AVS fee, plus a main transaction fee, plus a separate authorization fee! Thankfully, many eCommerce payment providers will charge a gateway fee in lieu of the AVS fee, or just charge one main “transaction fee” that covers everything. The important thing is to know the exact set-up for your account.
  • Voice Authorization Fee: This is a telephone dial-up service for transaction authorization. When a transaction is outside the normal range of a particular customer’s purchasing behavior, a voice authorization may be triggered. The customer will need to provide additional information over the phone to verify he or she is, in fact, the cardholder. Occasionally, merchants use this service as a backup if their terminal, internet connection, or software isn’t working to authorize transactions. Most businesses will rarely need this service, but it’s typically a per-transaction, flat fee if you do.
  • Other Authorization Fees: You’re gonna hate me for saying this, but there are lots of other authorizations that could be charged in addition to the regular “transaction fee” that’s part of a normal rate quote. Many of these charges come from the large processor behind the scenes of a merchant account, such as First Data, Elavon, or TSYS. This means your smaller merchant account provider might consider them as “pass-through” from their perspective, providing a convenient little excuse not to bring them up. The authorizations are usually named for the way the authorization is communicated, such as over a toll-free number, a “wide area telephone service” (a.k.a. WAT or WATS), a local phone number (LOC), digital data over voice, a dial-up point of sale device, carrier pigeon, stagecoach…you get the idea. So, if that’s the way your transactions are normally processed, you could get charged the corresponding fee every single time.

Final Thoughts: How can I keep my transaction fees under control?

You can’t avoid the fact that when it comes to card processing, multiple entities will whittle away at your profit, one tiny piece at a time. (You were tired of having money anyway, right?) The good news is that with a little time spent educating yourself on transaction fees, you can begin to spot any that are suspiciously high, and perhaps some that shouldn’t be there at all.

Here are a few actions steps, as well as questions to ask your merchant account provider about your transaction fees:

  • Know your pricing model. You should know what type of pricing model you have and which non-negotiable fees (i.e., interchange fees, card brand fees) are already blended into your rates.
  • Before you sign up for a merchant account, ask for a sample processing statement. If they agree to give you one (most good providers will), it may not have every possible transaction fee represented. However, you can still begin to familiarize yourself with their terminology, abbreviations, and categories for fees. It helps to have something concrete in front of you that you can ask questions about. Plus, you’ll have a baseline for spotting unexpected fees later.
  • Ask specifically about transactions fees and authorizations. Don’t be afraid to press your merchant account provider about transaction fees. “Will the transaction fee that’s part of the processing rate I’ve been quoted be the only transaction fee I’ll be charged? Are there any other separate authorization fees I should expect to see on the bulk of my transactions?” POS-WAT or POS-WATS is one that comes up a lot as an extra authorization charge for brick-and-mortar merchants, so you could even ask about that one as an example. If your sales rep can’t adequately answer these questions, ask to be put through to someone who can.
  • Card-not-present merchants: be especially aware of AVS and Gateway fees. All eCommerce and other card-not-present transactions will need to access the Address Verification Service to complete the authorization. This means eCommerce merchants should specifically ask if this fee is already included in your normal transaction fee, or if it will be a separate charge. eCommerce merchants should also inquire as to whether an additional gateway per-transaction fee is part of the pricing plan or if it’s already covered by the main transaction fee in your rate quote. Knowing whether these fees are already included in your rate will also help you better compare costs between providers.
  • Carefully review your statements. Even though this is the Complete Guide to Credit Card Transaction Fees, we couldn’t possibly cover every authorization, strange abbreviation, or totally made-up term your provider may use to identify each of the fees on your statement. Sneaky merchant account providers may mark up card brand fees, or invent tiny transaction fees that add up over time. Then, they’ll name their fees in confusing ways to cover their tracks. If you’re not sure about a certain interchange or card brand fee on your statement, you can usually look it up to see if 1) it’s a valid fee in the first place, and 2) the established price is what you’re being charged. If these wholesale costs were supposed to be blended into your rates, you should still keep an eye out for extra transaction fees charged separately. Compare what you were told when you signed up with what you see on your statement.
  • Watch out for multiple authorizations. Really, you shouldn’t be charged multiple times to authorize one transaction. At most, there may be an extra security step and fee involved (like in the case of AVS for eCommerce transactions). But even in that case, good providers will either charge you one flat per-transaction fee to cover authorization costs, or fully disclose additional fees like AVS, Voice Authorization or a backend processor’s pass-through authorization if it’s charged separately. The most exasperating fees are extra authorizations you were never told about, but that occur on pretty much every transaction. The only way to catch these is to scan your statement carefully for those flat per-transaction charges.

The post The Complete Guide to Credit Card Transaction Fees appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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6 POS Systems That Are Good At Inventory Management

When casually shopping for a new point of sale system it’s easy to focus on things like the software’s price point, its design, and how simple it is to use. But, for any sizable retail or restaurant establishment, one of the most important components of a POS system is its inventory management.

Most of the top systems on the market come with built-in inventory tools, but each one is different in terms of the features and functionality on offer. There’s really no excuse to stick with a system that can’t quickly help you analyze your inventory and determine how to maximize your profits. Read on for a look at a few point of sale systems that have exemplary inventory management functions.

Vend

Vend (see our review) does a lot of things well (that’s why it’s already earned one of our coveted 5-star ratings). It numbers among the most user-friendly systems on the market, requiring very little training to install or operate. Vend is continually updating and integrates with dozens of companies. With a limited free option and plans starting $69 a month, Vend is also budget friendly.

Vend’s inventory management is easy to maneuver without sacrificing functionality. This POS allows you to import a CSV file to easily transfer large amounts of inventory. You can also import existing barcodes or print new ones. There is a wide variety of options for organizing your products, making it possible to build customizable reports. The centralized product catalog is also a nice function.

Vend comes with a built-in way to automate promotions, making it possible to set discounts across multiple stores or create discounts for individual customers. Stock orders can be automatically generated once a certain item dips below a set point. What’s more, Scanner by Vend simplifies stock counts.

Lavu

While Lavu (read our review) is best suited for the restaurant or food service industry, its inventory management feature is robust enough to handle smaller retail stores as well. Lavu has a simple and modern interface and is customizable to your business needs, whether you need table management for a restaurant or are just operating a food cart or cafe. It also starts at just $59 a month with a contract, making it highly affordable. Best of all, its inventory management is top-notch. As you might expect, Lavu has real-time inventory monitoring which immediately informs servers when an item is low or out of stock.

You can choose for purchase orders to automatically update or create them manually. It’s also easy to transfer inventory items from restaurant to restaurant or order items from a warehouse directly from your POS. Lavu provides easy-to-read reports on what items are selling well at individual locations and can track customer trends to help diagnose profitable items.

Hike

Hike (read our review) is an affordable retail system (starting at $49 a month) with surprisingly robust inventory management that could also be utilized for small food carts or cafes. Hike’s mobility makes it a nice option for businesses that want their employees to be able to interact on the floor with customers; its employee management is also strong. The system can handle an unlimited number of products and is custom made to handle large amounts of inventory. Custom barcodes on receipts make it easy to look up products. Virtually everything can be automated, from re-ordering to setting up reminders and shipping items between stores.

Hike’s purchase ordering is intuitive, as is its ability to track orders online. Inventory can be quickly imported in bulk, and a central inventory system makes it possible to keep tabs on your stock across multiple locations from one system. You can schedule a full or partial inventory count in advance to save time as well. There are myriad categories and subcategories that you can place items into, making it easy to search for them.

NCR Silver

NCR Silver Review

NCR is a behemoth of a company, but it has carved out a nice niche in the POS world and continues to impress. NCR Silver (check out our review) offers strong customer support and was created with the business owner in mind, featuring an interface that can get customers through the line quickly. Pricing starts at $79 a month with an annual contract.

NCR is one of the rare products whose inventory management is equally strong for both retail and restaurant establishments. Inventory can be viewed in real-time and, for larger businesses with multiple locations, it’s easy to toggle back and forth from store to store to check product amounts. Like with Hike, many of the inventory functions can be automated to save employee hours. Orders can be made automatically once stock drops below a certain level, and variations for products, like size and color, can easily be added.

For restaurants, forced and optional modifiers can be added to boost sales. The Inventory Snapshot feature also lets you see the total inventory you have on hand at any given moment. NCR Silver’s analytics, predicting item sales and profits from inventory, are also top notch.

Revel

revel systems pos

Revel (read our review) has emerged as one of the big players in the POS world and stays at the forefront of the industry with constant updates and expanding integrations. Featuring a flexible pricing structure, the company is equipped for both restaurant and retail businesses and its inventory management has all of the functions you would want in an easily digestible format.

Revel offers a convenient style matrix for adding large amounts of inventory en masse with customizable category options for easy searches. For restaurants, it’s easy to check out ingredient levels and costs. Revel allows you to create your own purchase orders, including a convenient function where you can note if only a partial order arrives. As with some of the other systems, inventory levels can be viewed in real time and alerts can be set up when products are running low — or you can have the system automatically order new stock. Revel also has an inventory app that can be downloaded, turning your phone into a scanner.

talech

talech review

talech (check out our review) continues to be one of the more underrated POS systems on the market. Like Revel, talech updates constantly and can integrate with virtually every credit card processor. With plans starting at $62 a month with a full year’s payment, it’s also relatively affordable.

This highly customizable and scalable software is a strong option for small to mid-sized food and retail businesses, and one of its biggest pluses is its strong inventory management system. There is an option to create your own barcodes as a PDF, saving money on hardware. The inventory log makes tracking products and assessing their viability simple. Items can also be bundled and sold as a single unit while still tracking and recording each individual item to analyze later. talech is a nice product for businesses with more than one location, as discounts and other pricing changes can all be managed remotely from a single station. While talech isn’t quite as robust in some other features as its competitors, it more than holds its own in terms of inventory management, making it an affordable option.

Final Thoughts

Price, ease-of-use, and aesthetics matter, but depending on what type of business you operate, strong inventory management may actually be the most important feature to look for when shopping for a POS. Before purchasing a new system, do your research and ask as many questions as you can about the inventory features available. Whenever possible, take advantage of free trials.

Good luck, and happy selling!

The post 6 POS Systems That Are Good At Inventory Management appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Corporate Credit Cards VS Standard Business Credit Cards

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If you’re new to the world of business credit cards, you may be surprised by how dissimilar they are to personal credit cards. But there is even another type of credit card, one that caters to larger corporations. And corporate cards can differ from regular business cards just as much as business cards differ from personal cards.

Is a corporate card right for you, or should you stick with a more traditional business credit card? Read on, and we’ll take an in-depth look at the similarities and differences between types of business credit cards.

Table of Contents

Who Qualifies?

Ultimately, the biggest dividing line between small business credit cards and corporate credit cards is your company’s bottom line. In many cases, your business must make at least $4 million in annual revenue to qualify for a corporate credit card.

By contrast, most small business credit cards don’t have stringent revenue qualifications. You just have to be willing to accept the terms and pay any applicable fees.

Additionally, qualification for a corporate credit card will depend on your company’s credit rating rather than your personal credit rating. Small business credit cards issuers, on the other hand, may opt to check your personal credit history, or look at both your personal and business credit scores. To obtain a corporate credit card, your business will need to have a good, established credit history, existing expense policies, and credit card transactions

Who Is Responsible For The Debt?

One of the biggest differences between small business and corporate credit cards is liability.

In most cases, signing up for a small business credit card means making a personal guarantee. A personal guarantee holds the signatory ultimately responsible for paying the debt. That means that if your company goes out of business, the credit card issuer can come after your personal assets.

It’s different with corporate credit cards. In most cases, your business entity is liable for paying all charges on a corporate credit card. (In some rare agreements, the employee who makes the purchase may be liable for the debt, and may also need to pass a personal credit check. Individual liability is becoming increasingly uncommon for corporate credit cards, however.)

Note that using a corporate credit card is not a viable way to build or repair your personal credit since it won’t be reported to a personal credit bureau.

What Are The Advantages Of A Corporate Card?

As we touched on above, one of the biggest advantages of a corporate business card is reduced liability for individuals. It’s far easier to keep up the corporate/personal partition with a corporate card than with a small business credit card.

Beyond liability, there are a number of perks offered by corporate cards. Dedicated service reps allow corporate cardholders to circumvent the normal customer service lines. Many cards also come with some form of emergency assistance benefits for employees or insurance protection for rentals.

Account management is another advantage. Large organizations create a lot of unnecessary work if they try to reimburse each employee for business expenses. A corporate credit card can provide a way to consolidate all of the organization’s travel expenses under one account.

Corporate accounts may also get to play by a different set of rules. These rules can vary greatly between banks. Payment periods may be considerably longer or shorter than a month. The bank may not charge interest at all (though expect late fees if you miss a payment window). Spending limits may also vary.

Corporate cards have rewards programs, not unlike small business cards, but the cost of maintaining a corporate account makes them less of a selling factor.

What Are The Costs?

Both types of business credit cards come with maintenance fees, but in the case of small business credit cards, those fees are mostly small and annual.

On the other hand, corporate cards come with significant costs. Rather than a membership fee, you’ll often be assessed a charge per authorized cardholder. In a large organization, this can add up pretty quickly. Capital One, for example, charges $19 per cardholder.

As mentioned above, corporate credit cards don’t necessarily charge interest, opting instead for late fees (usually a flat percentage of the amount that’s overdue). Your company may or may not be charged a fee for exceeding your credit limit.

Final Thoughts

As your organization grows, you’ll find that new credit options become available to your business. While these offer some distinct advantages, you’ll still want to weigh the pros and cons with your accounting team to determine whether the benefits outweigh the costs.

If a corporate credit card seems like overkill, or if your business isn’t yet big enough to qualify for one, check out our 2018 business credit card guide to see what your other options are.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

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Business Financing: Should You Take Out A Loan, A Credit Card, Or A Line Of Credit?

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When it comes to business financing, merchants have many options to choose from. Three of the most popular sources of financing are small business loans, business credit cards, and lines of credit. All are useful options, but each carries its own separate advantages and disadvantages.

Which is best for your business financing needs: a business loan, line of credit, or business credit card. Or should you get some kind of combination of the three? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know.

Table of Contents

Loan, Credit Line, & Credit Card Uses

Your ultimate intention for borrowed funds is very important when considering the right type of financial product for your business. While there is a lot of overlap, some financial products are better suited to different situations and uses than others.

Here is a table illustrating what each loan or credit card is typically used for:

Loan & Card Uses
Small Business Loan Line Of Credit Business Credit Card
• Business growth projects
• Asset purchasing
• Bridge loans
• Working capital
• Cash flow needs
• Disaster assistance
• Debt consolidation and refinancing
• Business growth projects
• Bridge loans
• Working capital
• Cash flow needs
• Disaster assistance
• Emergency funds
• Everyday purchasing
• Saving money by earning points or cash back
• Working capital
• Cash flow needs
• Emergency funds

Small business loans are a very popular financing option, and it’s easy to see why — they can be used for many business purposes, such as asset purchasing, business growth projects, and debt consolidation or refinancing. However, there are times when lines of credit or a business credit card are better options for your business.

In particular, lines of credit and credit cards are better for situations where you need money quickly or need only a small sum of money. While you wouldn’t take out a business term loan without a fair amount of planning and a fairly long application process, lines of credit and business credit cards are designed so that you have the cash available when you need it; they are better for cash flow problems, emergency funds, and other situations where you don’t have time to apply for a business term loan.

Credit cards have an additional advantage because you can use them to solve cash flow problems by deferring everyday payments to a later date. And, because credit cards offer rewards programs for using the card, you might be able to save a little money via cash back or points simply by using your card.

Naturally, however, there are many overlaps between potential uses for these three types of financing — all are commonly used for working capital and other cash flow needs. You’ll need to consider the scope of your project, as well as the following advantages and disadvantages of each financial product, to decide which is best for your business.

Small Business Loan Pros & Cons

Small business loans are usually installment loans (also called “term loans”), but might also be short-term loans. Loans are dispersed as one lump sum, and repaid in installment over a set period of time.

Loans usually involve high borrowing amounts and lower rates than other options, but they also have long application processes and you might have to pledge a personal guarantee, lien, or other assets in exchange for funding.

Pros

  • High Borrowing Amounts: If you need a large amount of money, a small business loan is your best bet. At a minimum, small business lenders will offer 15% to 25% of your annual revenue, but many lenders are willing to offer more. The size of your loan will depend on your annual revenue and projected revenue, your intended use of proceeds, the creditworthiness of your business, and other factors.
  • Low Rates: Some business loans, such as those offered by a bank or the SBA, will have lower rates of borrowing than credit cards. For example, while credit cards have APRs from 10% to 25% or higher, interest rates for a 7(a) loan from the SBA currently range from about 6.7% to 9.75%. That said, some online loans will have higher fees; use our Small Business Term Loan Calculator to calculate the APRs (and other borrowing metrics) on your potential business loans.
  • Longer Time To Repay: Business term loans carry longer times to repay than lines of credit and business credit cards. Some loans, such as some SBA loans, carry term lengths up to 25 years. For this reason, small business loans can carry small incremental payments, even if you are borrowing a large sum of money.
  • Unsecured & Secured Options: Businesses with collateral can leverage it to borrow money with very low interest rates. On the other hand, if you don’t have specific collateral, you will still be able to find a business term loan; the fees will be a little higher than they would be with a secured loan, but you will still have the money you need to grow your business.

Cons

  • Long Application Process: Business term loans tend to have a more detailed application process than credit cards. You will need to submit a fair amount of documentation and spend some time talking to an underwriter before you’re approved for a loan. Non-traditional online loans tend to have shorter application processes, but you will have to pay higher rates and fees. The application process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the lender you’re working with. As a general rule of thumb, the longer the application process, the better rates and fees you’ll receive.
  • Long-Term Debt: While a small business loan generally entails smaller payments than other options, it also means that you’ll be paying your debt off for a long time. Outstanding debt might make it more difficult to find financing in the future, and you risk not being able to pay it back if something goes wrong with your business.
  • Blanket Liens & Personal Guarantees Required: While you can find loans that don’t require you to put up specific collateral, you’ll likely have to sign a personal guarantee and/or agree to have a blanket lien placed on your business assets.

Head over to our guide to installment loans for more information on small business loans.

Line of Credit Pros & Cons

When you gain access to a credit line, you’ll be able to draw from a sum of money, up to your available limit, at any time — no application required. You only have to pay interest on the amount that you borrow, and once it’s repaid, you’re free to borrow that money again.

Despite the benefits, lines of credit carry some drawbacks: the initial application can be somewhat time-consuming, and if you have variable interest rates they could change over time.

Pros

  • No Application To Borrow: After you gain access to a credit line, you will not have to go through an application process whenever you need funds. Typically, you’ll receive access to requested funds between a few hours and two days, depending on how your lender transfers funds.
  • Low Rate Of Borrowing: Lines of credit have very affordable rates and fees. In general, these will be lower than credit card rates and fees, and might even be lower than those of many small business loans. As you might expect, however, some online lines of credit will carry higher fees than you would be charged by a bank, credit union, or the SBA. To get an idea of what sort of rates you can get from online lines of credit, which have shorter initial application processes but might have higher rates and fees, check out a comparison of our favorite business credit lines.
  • Only Pay Interest On Borrowed Funds: For most lenders, you will only have to pay interest on the money you have withdrawn from your credit line. You will not have to pay interest on the funds you are not using.

Cons

  • Long Initial Application: While you can typically receive requested funds from your credit line within a couple of days, the process to get access to a credit line might not be so easy. Lines of credit can have fairly long application processes, including gathering a lot of financial documents and possibly talking to an underwriter. Some online lenders have shorter application processes (some are even automated and only take a few minutes to complete), but they will have higher rates and smaller credit facilities.
  • Variable Interest Rates: Lines of credit often have variable interest rates, which means that your interest rate will change along with the prime rate or a similar metric. If the prime rate goes up, your interest rate will also increase, and you will have to pay more for borrowing.
  • Potential Revenue Checks Before Borrowing: If you don’t borrow very often, lenders might want to take a look at your finances before letting you draw from your line. This additional check might cause a delay in your funds because you have to gather and send in the documents and await the lender’s decision before you’re allowed to access funds.
  • Blanket Liens & Personal Guarantee Required: To be approved for a credit line, you might have to sign a personal guarantee or agree to a blanket lien placed on your business.

For more information on lines of credit, check out our guide to lines of credit.

Business Credit Card Pros & Cons

Business credit cards are credit cards used for business purposes. You can use these cards to pay for goods and services up to your available credit limit.

Credit cards can offer your business savings in the form of rewards programs, and they can make it easier to keep track of purchases and defer payments to a more convenient time. However, if you don’t pay your card off in a timely manner, interest rates can be quite high.

Pros

  • Rewards Programs: Credit card issuers reward businesses for using their card. Depending on the card you have, you could earn points for travel or other expenses, or earn cash back, simply by using your credit card. In other words, as long as you pay off your debt in a timely manner, using a credit card can save your business a little money.
  • Signup Bonuses: On top of rewards systems, many credit card issuers offer bonuses when you sign up for, including earn points or cash back for putting enough charges on your card within a certain time period, or a 0% APR for a certain amount of time.
  • More Time To Pay: Credit cards are the easiest way to defer payments for everyday purchases to a more convenient date. You can use credit cards to smooth out your cash flow and pay at a time more convenient to your business.
  • Emergency Funds: As long as you don’t make a habit of maxing out your credit card, you’ll always have a little money at your disposal when you happen to need it.

Cons

  • Low Credit Facilities: Credit card issuers don’t typically grant you as large a credit facility as you’d be able to get from a line of credit or business term loan. Additionally, utilizing too much of your credit line can have a negative impact on your credit score, so you will have to consider the consequences of using too much of your available credit line.
  • High Rates: Credit cards tend to have higher interest rates than you might be able to get from a loan or line of credit. Typically, credit card rates range from about 10% to 25%, and rates for credit card advances can be even higher. Additionally, credit card rates are variable, which means that your interest rate will fluctuate along with the prime rate.
  • Fees: Credit cards can carry fees in addition to the interest rate, such as annual fees, late payment fees, balance transfer fees, foreign transaction fees, advance fees, and others. These fees can add up over time, which could impact the amount you actually save by using the credit card.

Final Thoughts

The financing option that’s best for you will depend on the needs and eligibility of the business. Small business loans are most appropriate for business growth projects and other situations in which you need a relatively large sum of money, whereas lines of credit and credit cards work well for situations in which you need a smaller amount of money quickly for business maintenance or growth. You might even find that your business would benefit from a combination of two or even three of these financing options.

Ready to find a loan, credit line, or credit card for your business? Check out these resources:

Bianca Crouse

Bianca is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. As a product of the digital age, she likes absorbing large amounts of information and figures she might as well pass it on. When not staring at a screen, she is probably foraging for food outside, playing board games, or harassing somebody with theories about that movie she just watched.

Bianca Crouse

Bianca Crouse

Bianca Crouse

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Everything You Need To Know About Secured Business Credit Cards

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If you’ve been comparing business credit cards online, there’s a decent chance you’ve come across some secured cards. If you aren’t sure what “secured” means or how to compare secured cards to other business credit cards, we’re here to help.

Read on for everything you need to know about secured business credit cards.

Table of Contents

You Won’t Want A Secured Card Unless You Need One

There may be a few rare cases where this is untrue, but for the most part, a secured credit card is a good option only when unsecured credit cards are unavailable to you.

Secured business credit cards do offer rewards similar to many of their unsecured counterparts. At the same time, your selection of cards will be limited. Not only that, but your interest rates will probably be higher than they would be with a similar unsecured card.

What Makes A Card Secured?

Have you ever lent yourself money? The concept sounds kind of absurd, and in a way it is.

Secured credit cards require you to put down a security deposit when you sign up for them. The bank will then use that security deposit to establish your credit limit. So if you put $200 down, you’ll have a $200 credit limit. If you’re lucky, the bank will apply a small multiplier to your deposit.

Why would you do that? If it helps, you can think of it as a strategic money transfer between your different accounts that maximizes the efficiency of your money.

How Secured Cards Can Help

Secured credit cards are a way for business owners who have recently filed bankruptcies to access revolving lines of credit. Many of these individuals may find it difficult to be approved for an unsecured business credit card.

The security deposit removes the risk from the bank, and the cardholder is able to access rewards and perks similar to those they would get with unsecured business credit cards.

More importantly, a secured business credit card becomes an easy way to repair your credit. Just be aware that banks aren’t always consistent about how they report business credit card activity. Some will report to a consumer credit bureau. Some will report to business credit bureaus. Some will report to both. Some will report to neither. Be sure to find out before you sign up.

How You Should Use A Secured Credit Card

Secured business credit cards usually have very low credit limits, so it’s difficult to get yourself into too much trouble by using them. That said, you should use your secured card judiciously, avoiding spending more in a month than you can pay off that month.

As for what you should spend it on, that depends on the type of card you get. Some cards return a small amount of cashback for every purchase you make. Others use a multi-tiered system that might reward telecommunication expenses at 3 points per dollar and general expenses at 1 point per dollar. You’ll get a better return on your investment if you use the card for purchases that maximize your reward points or cash back.

What Are The Drawbacks?

For starters, secured business credit cards come with all the same risks of unsecured business credit cards. Business credit cards aren’t governed by the same regulations that consumer credit cards are. That means you’ll need to be on guard for surprise rate changes, floating due dates, and fast and loose terms of service.

Secured credit cards come with a few additional risks, however. The big one is higher interest rates. If you pay off your card’s balance every month, you don’t have to give interest rates too much thought (just watch out for that aforementioned floating due date). That said, if you can avoid getting charged usurous fees if you miss a payment, you should. With a little research, you should be able to get a secured credit card with a reasonable APR.

The other things to look out for are miscellaneous fees. It’s not unusual for even unsecured business credit cards to carry annual fees, but secured business cards can come with even more charges, including application fees, maintenance fees, and processing fees. Avoid as many of these as you can.

How Long Should You Have A Secured Business Credit Card?

The answer is, of course, no longer than you need to. You should expect to have to use a secured business credit card for about a year. After that, a bank will usually offer you an unsecured credit card.

In the event that the issuing bank doesn’t offer you a new card, don’t be afraid to ask to be promoted to an unsecured card.

At that point, you should have your security deposit returned to you. Unfortunately, you don’t usually earn interest on your deposit.

Final Thoughts

A secured business credit card should primarily be viewed as a road back to decent credit health. Remember, however, that it isn’t necessarily the best or only path you can take. Some banks also offer high-interest, low-limit unsecured credit cards to customers with poor credit. Avoid offers that pile on the fees, and you should be back to normal unsecured credit card usage in no time.

Looking for a good unsecured card instead? Check out our 2018 business credit card guide.

Chris Motola

Chris Motola is an independent writer, journalist, programmer, and game designer who has mastered the art of using his laptop in no fewer than 541 positions, most of them unergonomic. When he’s not pushing keys or swiping screens, he’s probably out exploring urban or natural environs, experimenting in the kitchen, or delighting/annoying his friends with his ideas and theories.

Chris Motola

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