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

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

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

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

For Retail (Card-Present) Retailers

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

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

Now, adopt these measures:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For eCommerce (Card-Not-Present) Retailers

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

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

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

In Conclusion

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

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Exactly what is a Monthly Minimum and just how Do you use it?

monthly minimumSo you have the very best charge card processing rates around, you’ve purchased your terminal rather of leasing, and you’re prepared to begin saving big in your payment like a responsible, well-informed merchant. BUT, before getting too excited, allow me to demonstrate the way a monthly minimum fee could double your charge card processing expenses.

Most retailers believe that reduced rates are the most crucial attribute to consider inside a processor when attempting to lessen cost. As well as for individuals processing a higher amount of cards each month, this is often true. For lower volume or sporadic processing, however, there is little mean more for you than the usual monthly minimum. Regrettably this remains probably the most confusing and misinterpreted figures for beginning retailers, then one that lots of sales people will mislead you about.

But exactly what is a monthly minimum? To begin, here’s exactly what the monthly minimum is not:

  • The minimum amount of cash you have to process every month
  • The minimum amount you’ll have to pay your processor

The 2nd guess is close, though. Here’s what it’s:

  • A regular monthly minimum may be the minimum amount you have to pay in processing charges towards the provider.

If you don’t achieve this minimum number, you’ll be billed the main difference like a fine. Only your processing charges count toward this, NOT your statement fee, gateway fee, PCI compliance fee, chargeback charges and so forth. These can be compensated on the top from the monthly minimum.

Consider it just like a phone plan with monthly minutes. By accepting a regular monthly the least $25 (the standard), you’re prepaying for, say, $10,000 in processing minutes. Whether they are being used or otherwise, you’ve compensated on their behalf. And you know what? They don’t rollover. Utilize it or lose it. Performs this seem like a good deal for you? Me neither. Especially not when you are able find lots of providers offering interchange-plus without any monthly minimum needed.

Monthly Minimums and Interchange-Plus

99.9% of times, interchange-plus rocks and could save you money. Allow me to demonstrate the missing .1%.

Should you not understand what interchange-plus prices is that you simply should look at this article, but here’s the gist: With interchange-plus, you pay a markup percentage within the actual cost to operate a transaction with the card systems (known as interchange). So that your charges are only about .10 to .30% having a transaction fee of $.00 to $.10. The rest of the processing cost (averaging at approximately 1.8%) goes straight to the credit card systems.

For those who have a regular monthly minimum with an interchange-plus account, you best be processing a large amount of money. Keep in mind that just the processing charges compensated for your provider count toward the monthly minimum. So lets if you have an interchange-plus plan at .25% and $.00 per transaction. You’ll have to process over $10,000 every month to prevent having to pay a regular monthly minimum fine for those who have a $25 monthly minimum.

How to determine Your Minimum Processing Cost

Now think about this. Your average retail credit card merchant account has got the following scheduled charges:

  • Statement fee: $10
  • PCI compliance fee: $8 (presuming $96 yearly)
  • IRS reporting fee: $2 (presuming $24 yearly)

This is exactly what a generally affordable retail credit card merchant account will need in monthly charges, equaling about $20 altogether. This is exactly what you’ll pay even though you don’t process just one transaction. Well, for those who have a $25 monthly minimum, this shoots as much as $45 monthly as the minimum monthly charge, greater than doubling your cost just for maintaining your account open.

Even though you process $2,500, you’ve still tossed away $13.75. This could improve your rate by .55% per dollar!

Avoid Monthly Minimums

My advice for you: avoid monthly minimum charges. Lots of sales people will claim you need to have this charge to be able to be eligible for a cost-plus (pass-through) prices. Don’t accept this. The monthly minimum is even harder to achieve with interchange-plus prices since just the markup counts toward the minimum (unlike tiered plans, that are generally more costly).

Here’s a short listing of suppliers that offer interchange-plus with no monthly minimum:

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osCommerce Versus Zen Cart

OSCommerce vs Zen cart

Because they are liberated to download and community-powered, free shopping carts could be attractive choices for retailers, especially individuals people with a few coding skills. Two well-established types of free carts where you can create and operate a web-based store are osCommerce and Zen Cart. Most widely known among the original PHP/MySQL free carts, osCommerce has been utilized to produce many 1000 online retailers since its beginning in 2000. osCommerce earned industry cred throughout the many years after it had been introduced but soon acquired some stiff competition.

Constructed with the bones of osCommerce, Zen Cart launched in 2003 with increased features than its predecessor, including coupons and product critiques. The PHP/MySQL cart boasts greater than 100,000 users, with lots of loyal programmers attesting to the quality. But like osCommerce, Zen Cart isn’t without its weaknesses.

Do not have time for you to read a whole article? Check out our best search engine optimization for any couple of quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer care, superb website templates, and simple-to-use software, all for any reasonable cost.

Otherwise, continue reading in my comparison of two most widely known free shopping cart software platforms available on the market.

Table of Contents

Web-Located or Licensed:

Both osCommerce and Zen Cart are free, self-located shopping carts that is free of charge to download.

Software and hardware Needs:

If you use osCommerce or Zen Cart, you’ll result in supplying or having to pay for secure hosting for the online shop. Observe that several website hosts offer installation services. Read information regarding osCommerce’s hosting needs here and Zen Cart’s needs here.

Prices:

Champion: Tie

When I pointed out above, as opposed to web-located shopping carts, both osCommerce and Zen Cart are free, meaning they’re liberated to download and employ to produce your store. But an email psychic reading selling remember that it’ll cost a minimum of some funds to make use of osCommerce or Zen Cart. Since they’re downloadable, both require hosting, design templates, possible additional security, a free account to process charge card orders, and add-ons to complete your shop. And based on your level of confidence dealing with code you may want to bring an artist and/or developer aboard.

Simplicity of use:

Champion: Zen Cart

Since neither osCommerce or Zen Cart are turnkey, cloud-based solutions, you’ll wish to pour coffee and create a substantial slice of time for you to spend in every cart’s admin before moving out. This is where you’ll craft your store’s design, add features, integrate shippers and payment processors, and add groups, products, and customers.

Within my research and testing of osCommerce I stumbled upon some reports of developers who’d little trouble installing the cart. But there are many more professionals who declare that, a minimum of following the install is finished, osCommerce is really a bear with regards to customizing, loading add-ons featuring, and making updates.

I discovered osCommerce’s admin to become an unwelcoming mixture of excessively complex and clunky and missed what I’m accustomed to since standards elements with lots of competitors, including easily filterable products and significant reporting data.

However, with Zen Cart’s admin I discovered it tough to understand wherever to join in. Almost twelve top level groups enter a lot more subcategories which should be easily folded into other areas from the admin. It appears like all backend element earned its very own drop lower tab in Zen Cart, including a choice value manager and music genre page.

It’s just a little ironic that Zen Cart arrives without lots of feature bloat, yet keeps a backend that’s filled with sections I can’t think of the average merchant will have to access.

But overall, Zen Cart provides a template system which makes establishing styles more intuitive, plus its products and groups are simple to input and keep.

Product Features:

Champion: Zen Cart

With osCommerce, the lion’s share of the store’s features can come via add-ons. Note these plug-ins vary in quality and easy installation. After dowloading osCommere, you’ll have immediate access to a number of features like multi-currency support, social tools, as well as an address book. Then anticipate to browse from numerous plug-ins to include additional functionality. And realize that generally, osCommerce’s backend inventory management could be complicated and it is Search engine optimization notoriously untidy, producing lengthy URLS which are not internet search engine friendly.

Zen Cart comes as they are with several more features than osCommerce. You’ll begin with the basics, including adding products (including dig downloads) and groups and defining shipping carriers, currency, and payment processors. I love that you will find sufficient helpful features to complete your store with Zen Cart–other these include newsletters, coupons, multiple language and currency support, product critiques, along with a product showcase–without getting to invest time installing lots of potentially difficult add-ons.

Confused or at a loss for your choices? If you want help sifting through ecommerce shopping cart software software solution we’re here to assist. Take a look at Merchant Maverick’s talking to services.

Website Design:

Champion: Zen Cart

While you may make some fundamental alterations in osCommerce’s underwhelming templates, going beyond altering posts and fonts could be a complete headache. If you are no experienced designer or developer then believe me, you shouldn’t visit. And even though you may have mid-range coding skills it will take several making updates for your theme that will take virtually no time whatsoever to accomplish on another carts. I discovered osCommerce’s admin to become a counterproductive eyesore that’s difficult to search and navigate. Still, following a learning curve it will get the task done. Discover for yourself by looking into this demo from the backend.

Regrettably, you aren’t likely to do far better within the design department with Zen Cart’s frontend theme, but with respect to the products you sell or even the scope of the shop you might be able to brighten some misconception enough to make do via template alterations and buttons and graphics plug-ins. Zen Cart’s dated admin is way from clever and doesn’t provide a live editor or useful built-in reporting tools, but it’s a workhorse that newbies can start to understand with some time to training.

Take a look at styles submitted by osCommerce users here and free Zen Cart skins here. Then compare live osCommerce stores and live Zen Cart stores. It shouldn’t take lengthy to determine that, typically, Zen Cart’s (highly customized) choices are a great deal fresher and much more visually interesting than osCommerce has.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: osCommerce

Most major shopping cart software platforms maintain application stores that provide functionality additionally as to the comes as they are. Think marketing, Search engine optimization, and accounting tools. But couple of or no carts come anywhere near to maintaining the amount of integrations provided by osCommerce. Its add-on store is busting in the seams using more than 7,000 plug-ins which includes virtually any other imaginable. See the full database here.

While Zen Cart has already established a couple of less many years to accrue as numerous integrations as osCommerce, it provides users use of greater than 1,500 plug-ins, varying from worldwide shipping modules to admin, marketing, and language extras. We discuss Zen Cart’s extras in greater detail within our full review, and you should check out the Zen Cart plugins page here.

I gave osCommerce the win within the integrations bracket the way it offers so much more extras than Zen Cart. But I’m awarding it with some caution, which pertains to both carts, really: the standard and easy installation really varies. Because of so many free, community developed plug-ins you and your developer should anticipate to trobleshoot and fix integration hiccups–osCommerce users report trouble dealing with some add-ons, and Zen Cart users are cautioned to become careful about customizing plugins since they might be glitchy, particularly when upgrading to a different form of the woking platform.

Payment Processing:

Champion: Tie

Both osCommerce and Zen Cart support a far more than ample quantity of US-based and overseas merchant services and payment processors, including PayPal. Browse osCommerce’s current processor extensions, for example Authorize.internet, PAYMILL, and FirstData, here and Zen Cart’s, including Braintree, Dwolla, and Checkout by Amazon . com, here. Another general note about dealing with free shopping cart software platforms: You’ll wish to work with your developer or take special care you to ultimately maintain security and PCI compliance, since making certain safe shopping not just benefits your clients but additionally protects your company.

If you want help navigating the payment processor marketplace, take a look at our Credit Card Merchant Account Comparison page or call us for any consultation.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Zen Cart

osCommerce users can look for solutions using a forum and documentation or search for more general PHP/mysql-related questions online. Additionally, if you opt to buy a $65 annual osCommerce “community sponsorship” you are able to submit tickets and garner use of live chat from 9 a.m. to six p.m. Central European Time (CET). That’s 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. EST, so anticipate to trobleshoot and fix in the center of the night time or morning hours.

As I like this osCommerce offers compensated live chat access (even when it winds up staying at very inconvenient occasions for all of us-based users) overall I discovered Zen Cart to possess better support sources. The forum is the best choice for getting an issue clarified rapidly by another person within the Zen Cart community. You may also search a wiki for instructions about installing, upgrading, and customizing your store. For those who have more questions, searching tutorials and FAQs, watch YouTube videos, or perhaps dig right into a thick instructions.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: Zen Cart

After hrs of research, testing, and gathering input from people who’ve interacted with platforms, a variety of common complaints emerged for osCommerce and Zen Cart I discovered outdoors source carts to talk about some common negatives: Repeating gripes from osCommerce and Zen Cart users focus on the platforms as well as their templates being outdated as well as their software excessively complex in comparison to various other lately folded out free carts like Spree Commerce and PrestaShop.

osCommerce developers reported several hacker attacks, including some that needed retailers to totally rebuild stores–these occurrences function as a good indication to strengthen security and backup your computer data. Other common osCommerce negatives include remedial Search engine optimization and spotty technical support.

Zen Cart users also report underwhelming Search engine optimization and marketing tools, couple of effective free mobile add-ons, and trouble maintaining stores using more than 1,000 products. Like osCommerce, Zen Cart users state that the cart could be buggy and it is difficult to upgrade without losing information.

If you wish to look for other complaints about osCommerce or Zen Cart, make sure to google osCommerce/Zen Cart reviews, osCommerce/Zen Cart complaints, osCommerce/Zen Cart comments, osCommerce/Zen Cart scam, osCommerce/Zen Cart testimonials, etc.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: Zen Cart

The greatest positive facet of both osCommerce and Zen Cart? That one’s apparent: both platforms can download. Furthermore, users of every report liking the truth that osCommerce and Zen Cart maintain accessible forums.

osCommerce users are usually tolerant of the cart offering several 1000 add-ons, as well as better that lots of have the freedom. Others commented about how, a minimum of initially, cellular phone is straightforward for users with a few coding understanding and like this rather of coming with unneeded features it’s light and could be customized along the way.

However in comparison, Zen Cart users convey more praises to sing. May possibly not come be as polished and have as intuitive an admin as commercial competitors, but Zen Cart has some similar features without charging retailers a 1-time or fee every month. Users like this it’s customizable with lots of plug-ins and it is relatively stable, along with the proven fact that the cart offers choices for worldwide sales.

Final Verdict:

Champion: Zen Cart

For me, if you would like the opportunity to easily sell products on Facebook, rank highly without having to clock in lots of hrs of Search engine optimization work, and provide customers a method to purchase products from the store that’s been enhanced for tablets and smartphones, neither osCommerce or Zen Cart ought to be your most powerful contenders.

But when you would like the opportunity to totally personalize an outlet, manage hosting, and interact inside a community of developers trying to improve a shopping cart software under a wide open source umbrella that fosters collaboration and nimbleness, our two contenders might be for you personally.

osCommerce is simple to set up and received cred as a trendsetter if this launched greater than a decade ago. But it doesn’t offer as numerous built-in features as Zen Cart and stores created by osCommerce need to depend on deep customizations to prevent searching boxy and dated.

Zen Cart offers CSS-based templates that provide designers some versatility and for me turn it into a more appealing and reliable option for the developer crowd. Zen Cart is updated more osCommerce and offers clearer documentation and troubleshooting sources. Although both carts have obvious negatives, I discovered Zen Cart to provide less major design and simplicity of use challenges than osCommerce. It is also an inexpensive option if you are a moderately experienced developer, however a indication the benefit of a totally free download can put on off pretty rapidly if you need to fork hundreds of or several 1000s of dollars to a professional to be able to start filling orders.

You are able to download osCommerce here and Zen Cart here. I suggest making the effort to check drive both carts before figuring out if either may be the right match for the online shop. Out on another forget to look at our complete osCommerce and Zen Cart reviews for that full lowdown.

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Obtain a % Interchange-Plus Markup with Membership Fee Prices

zero-percentSo we’ve spoken about tiered prices and we’ve spoken about interchange-plus prices. Fundamental essentials two most widely used prices models, and also you most likely know – if you’ve read our articles – that interchange-plus prices is nearly always a much better deal along with a most honest arrangement for retailers. But there is a new prices model increasing: the flat rate plus interchange system, which I am inclined to call membership fee prices. It’s an alternative of interchange-plus, but is very different. Rather of charging the normal maintenance fee, percentage markup and per transaction fee, this latest variety of provider just charges a regular monthly membership fee along with a per transaction fee, that is evidently a % markup. These providers will usually provide a couple of different plans, each with various value-added services. Usually, the plans with greater membership charges have a lower per transaction fee, thus supplying less expensive for retailers who process more transactions every month. It’s a fascinating concept, but here’s the actual question from the hour: Can the membership fee prices structure for payment processing contend with standard interchange-plus markups? Rapid response is yes, yes they are able to. I’ll demonstrate how.

How to locate Membership Fee Prices for Payment Processing

When i first saw this kind of prices arrangement from Heartland Payments, that provides a $60 monthly plus interchange arrange for low-volume retailers (under 50K each year). Should you browse the review, you will see my math describing why this isn’t really a great deal for many retailers. Still, it had been a fascinating proposition in my experience. Next I saw this from Transparent A Merchant Account. Transparent does a far better job of supplying value for any wider selection of retailers than Heartland does using their low-volume option. Value-added services just like a payments gateway/virtual terminal make these plans better still values. Other product early termination charges either, which is excellent to determine. Then I stumbled upon Payment Depot, who – for me – offers the best membership fee prices model presently open to retailers no matter processing volume. Like Transparent, Payment Depot includes value-added services to help make the plans much more alluring, together with nixing early termination charges. They’re going one step beyond Transparent, however, by getting rid of PCI compliance charges and processing limits. This can lead to some serious savings and value for the largest spectrum of retailers possible.

How Come a set amount Plus Interchange Seem Sensible?

Here’s things i model of this prices structure. Most processors ask you for a portion fee, meaning bigger transactions cost retailers more to process. But, whenever you consider it, bigger transactions don’t always cost the company more to process. Getting to handle a 1000 a dollar transactions is, the truth is, much more costly than coping with one $1000 transaction. How come most processors charge a portion markup on transactions? So far as I will tell, there’s two reasons:

  1. Because there’s a larger risk associated with bigger transactions. If your customer disputes a $1000 transaction and you choose to skip town around the bill, the processor remains using the task of having to pay it for you personally and taking you to definitely collections. It’s more likely to possess one $1000 transaction go sour than a single 1000 a dollar transactions. For any and the higher chances, some would say, a larger reward is requisite for the organization footing that risk.
  2. Since this is just “How It’s Done,” and it enables the processing company to create a bigger profit on companies which are processing high dollar volumes, even should they have comparatively couple of separate transactions. Generally the companies rich in dollar volumes are ready to pay for greater than companies with small dollar volumes, therefore it makes some sense to charge these companies more for his or her processing. Also, the credit card systems charge a portion fee along with a transaction fee (via interchange/assessments), therefore it just makes intuitive sense for that processor to complete exactly the same.

There’s merit to those rationales, but card payment processing providers like Payment Depot are showing that it is easy to change this protocol. By having to pay a set amount for account maintenance and accessibility card systems, the arena is leveled (to make use of Payment Depot’s tagline). A transaction fee covers the elevated price of handling a large amount of transactions, but doesn’t penalize retailers for processing large tickets. While processing a bigger dollar volume having a low transaction volume will make the most savings using this type of prices plan, even small-ticket retailers will find solid value based on their overall dollar volume. You’ll need to do the mathematics for particular processing habits, or make contact with we and us might help.

Is Membership Fee Prices the way forward for Payment Processing?

The issue of sustainability remains, obviously, since providers like Transparent A Merchant Account and Payment Depot are relatively recent in this area. But, personally, although I’m always careful and skeptical, I see great potential within this prices model. If these businesses are earning enough profit to state afloat without charging a portion markup, this could indeed be considered a revolutionary change for prices within the payment processing sector. Time will inform, until then I’m excited to determine how things go, and Hopefully retailers can give this prices model a go. Should you choose, please report on their behavior in my experience! I’d like to hear your experience. What is your opinion? Comment together with your insights.

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Exactly what the FANF Is Visa Charging You?!

visa fanfSome charges are avoidable – and a few aren’t. When selecting and using a payment company, you have to be able to determine which charges you pay to create profit, and that are really from the charge card systems. Where will the Visa FANF fee squeeze into all of this?

Within our article on interchange-plus prices, we demonstrated you the way a portion of the processing rate would go to cover the particular price of processing which the rest would go to the company to pay for their very own costs and generate some profit. Apart from your rates, you may have many different charges in your processing statement that provide exactly the same purpose – since the cost suffered by the company and generating profit. PCI compliance charges are a good illustration of this – where it can be hard to inform what portion is really required to cover cost, and just what portion is simply a profit producer for the provider

The Visa FANF (Fixed Acquirer Network Fee) is extremely different. This fee really generates no profits for the provider whatsoever. There isn’t any sense attempting to negotiate it, because – like interchange and assessment charges – your processor has simply no control of it.

What’s the FANF Fee?

Simply put: Visa devised the FANF (formerly referred to as Network Participation Fee or NPF) to compensate for lost revenue in the so-known as Durbin Amendment that instated new rules regarding payment processing. Sounds pretty stupid? Well, it’s. It’s a junk fee which i would let you know to refuse in the event that was a choice. As the US Department of Justice antitrust division opened up a brand new analysis this year on Visa’s debit transactions practices – incorporated the FANF fee – the charge still stands at this time. Unless of course you need to generate a protest or perhaps a rally, there is not much that you can do.

What’s Going To the Visa FANF Fee Set You Back?

The Fixed Acquirer Network Fee is calculated monthly, but billed quarterly for that preceding quarter. In case your business are operating in a card present atmosphere (i.e., your clients can be found once the transactions occur), your cost is going to be minimal generally. If you are operating inside a card not preset atmosphere, then your fee gets to be more substantial. (Junk food also falls into this category for whatever reason.)

Visa makes fee calculation just a little complicated. Your fee is determined by the next factors:

  • Should you be employed in a card present atmosphere (aside from junk food), does your Merchant Category Code (MCC) correspond using their listing of “high volume” groups? If that’s the case, count on paying a little more. See below.
  • Should you be employed in a card present atmosphere (aside from junk food), then the number of locations have you got? More locations equals greater fee.
  • Should you be employed in a card not present atmosphere (or junk food), then what’s your monthly product sales? Greater processing volume equals greater fee.
  • Are you currently a charitable or social service organization (MCC 8398)? If that’s the case, your FANF fee could be waived.

High volume MCCs include:

  • 3000-3299, 4511 Airlines
  • 3300-3499, 7512 Auto Rental
  • 3500-3999, 7011 Lodging
  • 4411 Steamship / Cruise Companies
  • 4829 Wire Transfer Money Order
  • 5200 Home Supply Warehouse Stores
  • 5300 Wholesale Clubs
  • 5309 Duty Free Stores
  • 5310 Discount Stores
  • 5311 Shops
  • 5411 Supermarkets and Supermarkets
  • 5511 Vehicle and Truck Dealers / New / Used
  • 5532 Automotive Tire Stores
  • 5541 Service Stations (Without or with Ancillary Services
  • 5542 Automated Fuel Dispensers
  • 5651 Family Clothes Shops
  • 5655 Sports / Riding Apparel Stores
  • 5712 Furniture / Equipment Stores
  • 5732 Electronic Stores
  • 5912 Drugstores and Pharmacies
  • 5943 Stationery Stores
  • 7012 Timeshares
  • 7832 Movie Theaters

According to these details, you should use the next FANF charts to calculate your fee:

1. Card Present Companies (Not “High Volume”) 

2. “High Volume” Card Present Businesses 

3.  Card Not Present Companies (and Junk Food)

The Conclusion on Visa FANF

Processors don’t prefer to disclose this fee, most likely because retailers think that it’s negotiable or don’t understand that all processors need to pass on the very same cost here. This regrettably leads to numerous pissed off and confused retailers once they check this out on their own statement the very first time. With thin margins, one hundred dollars each year can produce a difference on the top from the charges you already pay. While there’s nothing that you can do to avert this fee, you are able to avoid other charges like tiered prices surcharges, PCI compliance charges and early termination charges.

In credit processing as well as in everything, remember to achieve the tranquility to simply accept what you cannot change, the courage to alter what you can, and knowledge to understand the main difference. You will save lots of headaches.

Best of luck, and take a look at our greatest rated payment processors!

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Magento Versus Zen Cart

Magento-vs-Zencart

If you are thinking about using free shopping cart software software to produce or migrate a current online shop, odds are you’re whether confident coder or will be ready to employ a professional to build up your shop. Either in situation, you’ll be thinking about two popular free platforms: Magento and Zen Cart.

Launched about ten years ago, Zen Cart is really a PHP/MySQL platform that branched removed from osCommerce. osCommerce was among the first free carts hitting the scene in 2000 (take a look at our osCommerce and Zen Cart comparison here.) Using more than 100,000 users under its belt, Zen Cart’s consistent performance, active forums, and relatively simple to complete installation process turn it into a serious contender which has earned many loyal users. However, many developers complain that although the program is a great candidate for code newbies, its less malleable PHP coding framework shows aging process.

Magento is completely customizable, elegant, flooded with features…and has a steep learning curve. An intricate open cart solution, Magento has been utilized by greater than 150,000 retailers because it launched greater than 5 years ago and it is a finest fit for mid to large-size companies who are able to afford help to obtain their store launched and maintained. I recommend getting a pro developer that has effectively labored with Magento prior to getting began, in addition to a designer based on your developer’s set of skills.

Observe that the next article compares Zen Cart to Magento CE, Magento’s free, free option.

Do not have time for you to read a whole article? Check out our best search engine optimization for any couple of quick recommendations. Every option we present here offers excellent customer care, superb website templates, and simple-to-use software, all for any reasonable cost.

Otherwise, keep studying to understand how Magento and Zen Cart perform within our mind-to-mind comparison.

Table of Contents

Web-Located or Licensed:

Both Magento and Zen Cart are free, self-located shopping carts that is free of charge to download or use.

Software and hardware Needs:

Since they’re both free, downloadable platforms, it’s important to find hosting for the Magento or Zen Cart store. Read information regarding Magento’s hosting requirements here and discover Zen Cart’s guidelines here.

Prices:

Champion: Tie

Both Magento CE and Zen Cart are free shopping cart software platforms that won’t cost you a factor to download. However when planning just how much to plan for your store’s creation and launch, bear in mind that it’s important to purchase hosting, charge card processing, (possibly) a design template, security to make sure PCI compliance, and (possibly) a developer and designer. It’s easy to understand the way it can finish up squandering your at least as much to produce an ecommerce site by having an free cart like Magento or Zen Cart instead of a cloud-based option which includes hosting and expenses through the month, like BigCommerce or Shopify.

Simplicity of use:

Champion: Zen Cart

When I just pointed out above, free shopping carts will vary creatures than web-based competitors for example Shopify that include hosting, templates, and security as they are. Both Zen Cart and Magento require technical understanding and a minimum of mid-level coding competency to set up and personalize. If it is not after this you you’ll want to locate a developer to obtain your shop ready to go and train staff regarding how to add inventory, manage customers, fill orders, etc.

I discovered Zen Cart’s admin to become counterproductive, with increased drop downs than needed. Zen Cart’s template system for defining the feel of your shop (its as they are template is particularly underwhelming, so customizing its PHP code is essential) is sensible after committing serious amounts of it, but anticipate to search and peck to locate standard elements like product options and tax settings. That stated, when your store is live you’ll most likely have previously mastered in which the areas of Zen Cart’s admin which are highly relevant to you reside (also known as adding products and managing orders) and may ignore admin tabs like “index listing,” “default page status,” and “option value manager.”

You’ll need to know that some developers describe Zen Cart’s code as sloppy which its periodic software updates can lead to lost design and integration customizations. But overall its PHP-based code helps it to be simpler to get going rapidly, a minimum of when compared with Magento.

Magento’s complex code is notoriously difficult to master, and it is short stack of support tools make partnering by having an experienced pro crucial, particularly if you’re shelling out cash before you’re in a position to start earning it back by finishing sales. Magento’s backend isn’t a lot more streamlined than Zen Cart’s, with confusing system settings and admin pages that aren’t always in which you expect these to be. Intend to spend some time finding out how to add orders and keep your store.

Product Features:

Champion: Magento

Overall, I discovered Magento to provide a better developed, better quality group of features which are crucial for creating effective online retailers. For instance, only Magento is enhanced for smartphones and tablets, that is a must for reducing abandoned carts, especially since a lot of us are browsing and purchasing on cellular devices. Also, Magento arrives with more powerful fundamental Search engine optimization tools. Plus, I love that it may support several store from one admin–that’s a less frequent feature overall in web-based, downloadable, or free shopping carts.

Zen Cart does present some features you will not find after installing Magento, including gift cards along with a (dated) WYSIWYG tool. But Magento’s product comparison feature, coupon system (Zen Cart offers light coupon functionality), wishlists, and uber important one page checkout tend to be more types of extras making it soar beyond Zen Cart within the features department.

For more information concerning the feature teams of both carts, take a look at our complete Magento review here and Zen Cart review here. If you are confused or at a loss for your choices and would really like help sifting through shopping cart software software we’re here to assist. Take a look at Merchant Maverick’s talking to services.

Website Design:

Champion: Magento

There isn’t any doubt that both Magento and Zen Cart can establish completely functional shops, but getting there’s most likely likely to mean dealing with a thick pile of customizations or purchasing a theme. It’s one more reason to utilize a professional if you are not confident nipping and tucking code.

When you can tweak the headers, colors, fonts, along with other fundamental elements of design with Zen Cart’s as they are theme, I counsel beginning having a different skin since its default choice is, to become diplomatic, very dated. Take a look at more Zen Cart free themes to get an understanding of what’s available. Or, you are able to employ a designer to carry out a custom look that’s totally unique, that is things i recommend.

Compared, Magento has been utilized to create what, for me, tend to be more elegant stores (browse some Magento live stores here and Zen Cart live stores here to check.) This minimal free Modern Theme for Magento is miles over the skin which comes standard with Zen Cart in looks and usefulness. Plus, Magento’s template system streamlines customizing skins. Take a look at various other Magento templates here.

Integrations and Add-Ons:

Champion: Magento

Magento arrives with several helpful features as they are, but you’ll wish to browse its countless free and fee-based integrations too. Take a look at its full plug-in list here by selecting “Community” under “Platform” around the left side from the screen. Extras are sortable by rating, relevance, and cost.

As opposed to Magento, which arrives with lots of more features after it’s downloaded, intend to depend on Zen Cart’s plugins to complete your store’s set of features. Zen Cart offers retailers an enormous database in excess of 1,500 integrations, including admin tools varying from bulk order plugins to advanced login features, language packages, social networking and marketing extras, and prices tools. A thing of warning: We found reports claiming that some Zen Cart plugins really are a bear to personalize and aren’t suitable for new versions.

I love that Magento’s application store lets users leave feedback about plugins which each integration earns a “popularity score.” Individuals factors should in no way be the sole reason you choose to make use of an add-on, but a minimum of the scores provide a frame of reference. Overall, I discovered Magento’s integrations to become more curated, reliable, and helpful.

Payment Processing:

Champion: Magento

While it isn’t suitable for as many gateways as some cloud-based shopping cart software platforms, Magento integrates with an array of gateways and third-party processors including PayPal.

Zen Cart integrates with lots of processors too, including Dwolla and Braintree, and supports plug-ins for a lot of more gateways. Also, when i pointed out above Zen Cart supports gift cards as they are while Magento doesn’t. However, Magento does support one-page checkout and guest checkout (each of which for me are essentials that internet buyers have started to expect) while Zen Cart doesn’t.

If you want help navigating the payment processor landscape, take a look at our Credit Card Merchant Account Comparison page or call us for any consultation.

Customer Support and Tech Support Team:

Champion: Zen Cart

Magento CE users depend on its active, almost 2 million member forum when questions show up pre and post stores are live, so bookmark the page for reference. Overall, I didn’t have positive interactions with Magento support–answers to questions I sent staff via email or Facebook weren’t clarified. Also, users are convinced that Magento’s documentation is thin, however it does keep growing.

To contrast, Zen Cart offers several additional tools for help which go beyond its 135,000 member forum, including tutorials and FAQs, YouTube videos, along with a wiki since the installation process and upgrades. Or you prefer holding a reference guide with you you may also order Zen Cart’s instructions.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Champion: Zen Cart

Retailers and developers have lots to complain about with Magento and Zen Cart. After hrs of research and time spent culling user feedback, we could find out the following common negative trends about each cart.

A vintage complaint about Magento is the fact that it’s slow and clunky. Another common gripe concentrates on the Magento customer care department and documentation, with are essentially nonexistent in the CS edition except for a properly-used forum. Other Magento users aren’t happy that developer charges, security, hosting, and processing charges allow it to be an costly option, leveling out the advantages of that download free pretty rapidly.

Zen Cart users frequently complain about its outdated admin design, lagging marketing and Search engine optimization features, and not seamless version upgrades that may result in lost data. Also, some state that the cart is glitchy, miss good choices for mobile integrations, and wish the opportunity to offer customers one-page checkout. Overall, we found more negatives concerning the better-known and harder to understand Magento.

If you wish to look for other complaints about Magento or Zen Cart, make sure to google Magento/Zen Cart reviews, Magento/Zen Cart complaints, Magento/Zen Cart comments, Magento/Zen Cart scam, Magento/Zen Cart testimonials, etc.

Positive Testimonials and reviews:

Champion: Magento

We collected assorted positive reports about Zen Cart, varying from kudos because of its solid uptime record, great support sources, and broad group of add-ons. Other Zen Cart retailers verify its customizable admin and worldwide achieve.

But we found more users singing the praises of Magento, with lots of programmers building totally unique, effective stores which are scalable, specifically for medium and enormous size e-tailers. Magento users like its meaty attributes, which rivals some fee-based located competitors, and therefore are happy that it arrives with various coupon and promotions options and may support mobile sales and multiple stores.

Final Verdict:

Champion: Magento

Zen Cart gives retailers the opportunity to build relationships an active user community that aims to constantly improve its functionality. It is also fast, lighter, and much easier to navigate than Magento and may take a shorter period to understand. Consider it started 10 years ago, some smarter, leaner free competitors like Spree Commerce and PrestaShop have challenged Zen Cart’s comparatively dated admin and lagging marketing, mobile, and Search engine optimization integrations.

Magento is really a workhorse that may create effective, beautiful stores, however it needs a real commitment. It’ll likely try taking some cold income and also the right team of developers to unveil a effective store, but Magento’s capability to scale enough to aid companies which are big names is definitely an appealing plus: The Harper’s Bazaar and Fiji Water web stores are generally operated by Magento. I additionally found it packed with some of the very features cloud-based carts charge money to make use of. When compared with Zen Cart, Magento is really a fight tested and much more impressive bit of software–if you really can afford it.

Prepared to take both ecommerce shopping carts try it out? Download Magento here and Zen Cart here to find out if either choice is the best fit for the business. Also, take a look at our full Magento and Zen Cart reviews for that full lowdown.

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The Very Best (and Worst) Canadian Credit Card Merchant Account Providers

Canadian merchant services reviews

Canadians are some nice people. I ought to know, when i have Canadian relatives visiting every so often – and you’ll never hear them say a poor word about anything or anybody. However, I actually do possess a bad word to say of Canada – well, not Canadians by itself (and definitely not my Ontarian cousins!) but about Canadian charge card processors: Sorry, guys. You suck.

To become fair, it’s less that Canadian credit card merchant account providers are terrible obviously it’s just there are insufficient high quality ones. Whereas in america there exists a large amount of decent charge card processing options, there aren’t many trustworthy processors to select from in Canada. There are just a few that I would suggest, as well as from individuals, there’s just one will be able to with confidence say is a superb option (Helcim). The worst option, knowing by all of the negative reviews that people receive, is most likely Pivotal Payments.

This information will cover all of the Canadian charge card processors worth mentioning, giving a short rundown of every option. We’ll in addition have a section focused on “alternative” payment means of Canadian residents that process under $5k monthly.

Table of Contents

Best Canadian Processor: Helcim

If you’ve read we member Tom DeSimone’s glowing overview of Calgary-based Helcim (see our review), it shojuld not be a surprise that we’re singling out this processor as Canada’s best. There’s virtually no better processor for Canadian companies – plus they supply the same kick-butt degree of service in america too.

Here are a few of Helcim’s highlights:

  • All interchange-plus prices (also known as Cost+)
  • Excellent customer care
  • Extensive fee disclosures
  • Amazing educational sources, including charts demonstrating different interchange rate scenarios
  • No termination charges
  • No monthly minimum
  • No setup/application charges
  • No PCI compliance charges

Something I like about Helcim may be the truly helpful educational sources they offer, including articles on navigating the deceitful charge card processing industry generally, as well as an extensive knowledgebase detailing how Helcim works. Even though you don’t choose this processor, it’s not necessarily a bad idea to teach yourself by studying a few of their articles, including The Top Five Methods Utilized by Charge Card Processors and Look out for Hidden Charges Billed by Most Processors.

With Helcim, fairness is the specific game. Helcim charges reasonable prices and it has probably the most transparent sales policies associated with a processor available, Canadian or else. Things are completely organized up for grabs, with very-obvious fee disclosures so you’re no more hit having a bill just like a punch within the stomach. This kind of fairness and transparency is what’s missing in many processors, and hopefully the requires a cue from all of these guys. Try them out here.

Virtually, the only real good factor I must say about Pivotal Payments is they offer a merchant account in Canada. While they’re located in Melville, New You are able to, they likewise have a workplace in Quebec, which makes them among the couple of processors open to Canadian retailers. In situation you’re wondering if there’s a noticeable difference between the (bad) service they offer in america and also the (bad) service they offer in Canada, there’s not really. As Tom DeSimone place it in the review:

Canadian and US-based retailers obtain the same sub-componen service from Pivotal, no matter locale.

Oh, and that i guess yet another good factor about the subject is that they provide interchange-plus prices, should you request it. Otherwise, it’s mostly not so good news. Here are the lowlights of the processor.

Lowlights:

  • Deceitful credit card terminal leases
  • Failure to reveal all terms associated with their early termination fee (ETF)
  • Bad customer support
  • Sporadic sales experience

Hidden charges (including an earlier termination fee), deceitful terms (retailers complain of having stuck in extended terminal lease charges), and poor customer support are only a couple of explanations why this Canadian charge card processor receives terrible testimonials. For more information on why and the way much they suck, read our overview of Pivotal Payments, or simply skip lower towards the comments with that article to see about all of the completely uncomfortable encounters individuals have had with this particular company.

Average Canadian Processors: Chase Paymentech and Moneris Solutions

Chase Paymentech

If you are searching for any decent processor offering service in Canada, Chase Paymentech is a nice solid choice. They provide affordable rates and also have a good status in the market. However, having a big company like Chase, you aren’t likely to receive the amount of customer service you’ll having a smaller sized processor like Helcim. Some customers also complain of costly and unfair terminal (charge card machine) lease contracts with Chase Paymentech.

The great:

  • Month-to-month contracts with no cancellation charges (For your information: This can be a fairly recent offering)
  • No PCI compliance charges
  • Helpful educational sources
  • Interchange-plus plans and periodic downtime provided to most retailers

The not-so-great:

  • No rates or charges disclosed online
  • Deceptive terminal leases 
  • Some customers (greater volume retailers and resellers of Chase merchant services) might be susceptible to early cancellation charges
  • So-so customer support

Should you possess a Canadian business and like the thought of using a model of camera like Chase, go on and try them out.

Moneris Solutions

Toronto-based Moneris Solutions is definitely an amalgam from the charge card processing aspects of Royal Bank of Canada and also the Bank of Montreal. So, it’s some hefty industry experience behind it. Basically we like Moneris’s services a great deal, plus they disclose many of their terms online, customers who don’t read the small print prior to signing anything could get burned.

The great:

  • Thorough, informative website
  • Terrific variety of services and POS products
  • Reliable merchant support
  • Periodic downtime

The type of terrible:

  • Early termination fee, sometimes including liquidated damages
  • Utilization of misleading sales ploys (e.g., offering $300 gift certificate for registering – with a lot of strings attached)

Again, while Moneris provides a wide selection of solid services and merchandise, they’ve been recognized to charge early termination charges that may total 1000s of dollars when they choose to hit you with liquidated damages. Safeguard yourself from by having to pay close focus on the termination portion of your contract (usually toward the finish of the document). Customers have told us that Moneris’s sales people aren’t always upfront so not have confidence in them to describe all of the specifics from the contract, particularly the ETF.

On Moneris’s services and the way to avoid their sneaky charges within our review.

Alternative Payments

Should you process under about $5K/month, in Canada or elsewhere, it will work better to choose what we should call a “third-party payment processor.” Third-party processors like PayPal permit you to accept charge cards without getting to obtain a credit card merchant account yourself. The only real disadvantage to the likes of PayPal is the fact that their transaction charges are greater than individuals of traditional merchant services. Around the vibrant side, third-party processors are usually contract-fee don’t have any fee every month (except for PayPal, that charges an acceptable fee every month for additional services). Make reference to this short article for more information.

Listed here are a couple of third-party payment processors that people like:

  • Square – Solely for retail brick-and-mortar companies
  • PayPal – Offers brick-and-mortar, mobile, an internet-based payments
  • Stripe – Solely for on the internet and mobile payments
  • 2Checkout – Solely for on the internet and mobile payments

Conclusion

I really hope I could provide advisable of the greatest Canadian credit card merchant account providers and those you need to avoid. To reiterate, Helcim is the greatest and Pivotal Payments may be the worst Chase Paymentech and Moneris Solutions are somewhere in the centre. And when you process merely a couple of 1000 dollars monthly, you’re best processing charge card payments utilizing a third-party payment processor like Square or Stripe rather of the traditional credit card merchant account.

Got something to include about Canadian payment processors? Seem your voice within the comments!

Shannon Vissers

Shannon is really a freelance author and editor located in North Park, CA. Shannon type of wants an apple iphone 7, but she’s not necessarily prepared to lose the headphone jack.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

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Is The POS System Secure?

Neptune Holding Trident Shield RetroBe careful, retailers: Dubbed “PoSeidon” by ‘cisco’ Security Solutions, this adware and spyware is really a new kind of trojan viruses that particularly targets POS (reason for purchase) systems, nabbing the charge card information of the unsuspecting customers.

‘cisco’ mentioned inside a March 2015 are convinced that POS adware and spyware attacks are rising, affecting companies both small and big. One particualr recent high-profile PoS charge card data breach may be the BlackPOS adware and spyware strain, which uncovered greater than 40 freaking million Target customers’ debit and charge card information in 2013.

Concerned? You ought to be, while you could ultimately take place responsible for the thievery of the customers’ data when your POS system become infected. Continue reading to learn to safeguard your company in the PoSeidon virus, and the way to minimize your chance of POS system data breach generally.

The PoSeidon Point-of-Purchase Virus

During card-present payment processing, sensitive charge card information will come in plain text within the memory from the POS system. Like the majority of point-of-purchase trojans, PoSeidon utilizes a technique referred to as “memory scraping,” checking the RAM of infected POS terminals to locate these unencrypted strings that match charge card information.

Once this post is retrieved, it’s offered to dubious cybercriminals who might, say, encode it right into a magnetic stripe and employ it with a brand new card.

Senior technical leader for Cisco’s Talos Security Intelligence and Research Group Craig Johnson told SCMagazine.com that PoSeidon sticks out using their company similar POS adware and spyware in that it’s self-updatable.

Furthermore, states Johnson, “It has interesting evasions using the mixture of XOR, Base64, etc., and contains direct communication using the exfiltration servers, instead of common PoS adware and spyware, which logs and stores for future exfiltration from another system.”

OK, so do you not worry — you do not really should understand exactly what guy just stated. The takeaway here’s that PoSeidon is much more sophisticated than previous POS adware and spyware programs. Though PoSeidon isn’t the be-all, finish-all POS adware and spyware, this lucrative kind of crime isn’t disappearing, either. After PoSeidon, the following, smarter incarnation of POS bug will certainly seem to take its place.

PCI Security Standards

Fortunately, there’s something that you can do to safeguard your POS system from data breaches, and one of these simple involves something known as PCI compliance. Being PCI-compliant doesn’t cause you to impervious to attacks like PoSeidon, however it helps.

PCI DSS means Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. They are standards set through the PCI Security Standards Council, and retailers are needed to follow along with them to be able to remain compliant.

You’ll have to find information about exactly what you ought to do in order to remain PCI complaint based on your particular kind of business (for instance, it’s much simpler to become PCI-complaint like a small e-commerce site versus. like a brick-and-mortar store), but basically, the factors need you to do all you are able to safeguard the cardholder data you process. One factor every merchant can perform is use PCI-complaint terminal equipment.

Take a look at our blog publish on PCI compliance to obtain the online sources you have to make certain your company is complaint with PCI standards.

How Cloud-Based POS Software Might Help

Another essential action retailers may take to secure their customers’ data against security breaches — most likely the most significant factor — can be used cloud-based POS software.

With cloud-based POS software, the credit card data and customer information is taken off both hands entirely —  this sensitive information is stored encrypted within the cloud, instead of your POS system. This will make an information breach a lot more difficult, and virtually impossible utilizing a PoSeidon-type virus.

Cloud-based POS software also enables the machine to remain up-to-date easier, which further helps safeguard you against new adware and spyware along with other issues. And contains a lot of other benefits, for example allowing the company owner to log to the cloud POS system remotely.

For any good overview around the cope with cloud-based POS software, take a look at our very readable article about them.

How Can Nick Cards Impact Data Security?

EMV nick or “chip card” technology adds another layer of information security. Also known as “smart cards,” they are credit/an atm card keep cardholder’s data on the micro-processor nick as opposed to a magnetic strip.

Very few US retailers accept nick cards at the moment, however this will probably change, like a new law regarding nick card fraud liability adopts effect in October 2015 (more about that here).

What exactly do nick cards relate to data security? Welp, they’ve dynamic (altering) card information rather of merely one string of figures, making replicating them a lot more difficult. When they won’t prevent data thievery, they’ll allow it to be so the stolen data itself cannot easily be employed to make counterfeit cards and fraudulent transactions.

So, you do not always have to improve your terminals to update nick cards right this second, but EMV nick transactions are inherently safer than non nick-outfitted debit or credit cards (a minimum of, with regards to card-present transactions). Because the technology gets to be more popular, it will likely be to your advantage like a merchant to simply accept nick card payments and therefore lower your fraud liability risk.

Conclusion

The PoSeidon virus demonstrates the significance of data to safeguard all companies, on the internet and off. Because the technology utilized by data thieves is constantly on the advance, also must merchants’ POS systems. Brick-and-mortar companies frequently think that they’re not in danger of data breaches, but Target, Lowe’s, Kmart, along with other large and small retailers have discovered hard way precisely how vulnerable they’re.

With regards to protecting your company from data breaches, getting an up-to-date POS product is important. Utilizing a cloud-based system, maintaining PCI compliance, and getting ready to accept nick cards when it’s time will help mitigate this risk.

To help you get headed within the right direction, check out the most popular cloud-based POS systems.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon is really a freelance author and editor located in North Park, CA. Shannon type of wants an apple iphone 7, but she’s not necessarily prepared to lose the headphone jack.

Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

“”

Just How Much Does Square Charge?

How much does Square charge? Image description: Tablet with Square app and reader
Square will get lots of love from retailers due to its obvious, affordable prices. Square bills itself as charging 2.75% per transaction, no matter card type. That’s true, but prices Square is a little more complicated than that because of the number of services the organization offers retailers. Just how much does Square charge?

That honestly depends upon that which you expect to do with Square. Are you currently only processing transactions personally? Would you sell online? Do you apply the virtual terminal or card-on-file features? Would you like the software add-ons? As the flat-rate prices is clear to see theoretically, when you begin mixing all of the features together it will get a little more confusing.

We’ll enter into prices here in just a minute, however, listed here are a couple of items to bear in mind about Square’s payment processing:

  1. Square charges exactly the same rate for all sorts of cards, including American Express. While which means you pay a significant markup over interchange for the typical MasterCard or Visa card, additionally, it means that you reduce American Express and lots of business/rewards cards.
  2. Square is really a third-party payments processor. Which means it aggregates everyone’s accounts into one giant credit card merchant account. It’s quite simple to register, but because a tradeoff, you face a rather greater chance of a free account hold or termination.
  3. Square deducts its charges in the total worth of your transaction — including tax and tip. The charges are deducted prior to the funds ever hit your money (rather of deducting a whole month’s price of charges at the same time).
  4. Square processes an atm card just like charge cards. There’s no PIN debit option.

Table of Contents

Square Charges By Transaction Type

Based on in which the transaction happensOrthe kind of transaction, you can pay 1 of 3 rates with Square:

  • 2.75%
  • 2.9% + $.30
  • 3.5% + $.15

I am not going to enter heavy number crunching here. If you wish to learn to calculate your charges, I suggest checking the cost comparison article Used to do, Is Square Truly the Least expensive Processor for the Business?

That will highlight how you can calculate your charges too observe how Square stacks facing an interchange-plus prices plan.

For the time being, though, let’s take a look at what you’ll purchase Square’s services within couple of different conditions.

Should you mainly sell personally, you’re likely to pay 2.75% for most your transactions. That’s fairly foreseeable over a tiered prices plan or perhaps interchange-plus plan. You do not need to bother about what types of cards you’re accepting since you spend the money for same its them. Which includes:

  • NFC: Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay
  • Prepaid Gift Certificates

However, if one makes lots of internet sales, you’re likely to pay 2.9% + $.30, that is pretty standard. It’s exactly the same rate billed by PayPal, Stripe, as well as Authorize.internet. Including the following online transactions:

  • eCommerce Transactions
  • eCommerce Card on record
  • Invoices

The final prices category is other Card Not Present (CNP) transactions, that Square charges 3.5% + $.15. Getting the opportunity to keep your card on record and hang up recurring invoicing can certainly be a good thing for many types of business, mainly in the Business to business space. Others might not take advantage of these.

  • Keyed Transactions
  • Card on record
  • Virtual Terminal

Additional Charges for implementing Square

Just how much does Square charge its its administrative services? Normally, this is when I’d continue about any extra charges. PCI compliance, chargebacks, etc. However, I’m just likely to have a direct quote from Square’s Help Center to describe:

No hidden charges! There aren’t any charges for:
Activation
Installing the Square Reason for Purchase application
Early termination
Interchange
Chargebacks
Refunds
Account inactivity
PCI compliance

Seriously, that’s a fairly awesome deal for many retailers. Every other merchant will still ask you for charges for any refund, at the minimum. Most charges you a charge for any chargeback, too — on the top of what’s deducted to pay for the transaction.

Square boasts $250 monthly in chargeback protection. This only pertains to qualified transactions, however. However if you simply do encounter a chargeback also it does come under the needs, Square covers the price of the chargeback, meaning it will not subtract /anything/ from your bank account.

There’s one circumstance under that you pay an additional fee, and it is entirely optional. Square deposits most funds inside your account within 48 hrs. However, if you want your hard earned money sooner, you are able to choose a scheduled deposit or instant deposit. It’ll set you back 1% from the transfer value, if you transfer $250, you’ll pay $2.50, departing you with $247.50.

Theoretically, you will get your hard earned money almost once you result in the request. However, actual processing occasions still rely on your bank. Square can initiate the transfer, however your bank can always take hrs or perhaps a day-to publish. Getting a financial institution that processes transfers rapidly is certainly a benefit.

Add-On Services

So we’ve now covered what you’d invest in your typical Square transaction along with the supplemental charges (more particularly, the shortage thereof). There’s yet another group of potential costs to understand more about, and that’s software add-ons.

You receive a lot using the fundamental Square Reason for Purchase application, but you will get much more using the software add-ons: everything from appointment booking to e-mail marketing.

I encourage you to look at our Square review for any more in depth consider the Reason for Purchase application features. You may also take a look at our other Square articles:

Square for Retail: $60 per register monthly

Square’s search-focused, inventory-heavy POS application, Square for Retail, was created with physical stores. It supports bar code printing and checking, too vendor management and buy orders. You could get inventory from inside the application, you don’t need to by hand update the counts. However, there are several limitations: the application isn’t as robust because the free Reason for Purchase application, and the price of goods reporting leaves many retailers dissatisfied. However, Retail does include Worker Management at no additional cost.

Worker Management: $5 per worker monthly

Worker management is Square’s time keeping add-on. Additionally, it supports user permissions to be able to restrict use of certain features as necessary. The permissions levels are customizable, too, so you aren’t locked into specific roles and talents. Worker management includes some advice reconciliation feature. Worker management is incorporated at no extra charge in Square for Retail.

Payroll: $25 monthly plus $5 per worker/contractor monthly

Payroll isn’t obtainable in every condition yet, but it’s obtainable in most of them. Browse the list here. For any $25 monthly base subscription plus $5 per worker monthly, you’ll get time keeping, direct deposit, records of your time off and sick days, payroll tax filing, workers compensation and much more. Square supports hourly wages, salaries, and flat payments, too. In addition, there’s a contractors-only plan that merely costs $5 monthly per contractor no monthly subscription needed.

It’s important to note that although you need to do get time keeping with Payroll, you do not obtain the other Worker Management features. For your, you’ll need to sign up for both services.

Appointments: $30 monthly for just one person, $50 monthly for just two-5 people, $90 monthly for limitless

Should you operate a salon or any other appointment-based business, Square’s appointing booking software integrates seamlessly with the remainder of Square’s services. They’ll even supply you with a free website so customers can book appointments 24/7. You are able to request pre-payment, send reminders, and much more.

Loyalty: $25 per location monthly

Square’s digital loyalty program enables you to reward customers for repeat visits. The rewards plan is customizable, so that you can choose the rewards and hang the parameters to earn them. The entire system runs from inside the purpose of Purchase application and you may sign people up at checkout.

Marketing: $15/month

A part of Square’s Reason for Purchase application may be the customer database where one can collect customer information making notes. That database also feeds into Square’s marketing service, so that you can keep records of the items customers buy so when. Use that information to focus on all of them with specific campaigns having a segmented database.

Conclusion: Just How Much Does Square Charge, Really?

Unlike a tiered prices plan or perhaps an interchange-plus plan, Square bills you the speed regardless of what kind of card you process. However, based on which kind of transaction, you’re likely to pay either 2.75%, 2.9% + $.30, or 3.5% + $.15. It’ll depend on you to definitely figure what number of transactions fall under which category and perform the math based by yourself processing history.

Still, Square causes it to be a great deal simpler to determine precisely what you’re having to pay. There aren’t any hidden charges, with no mandatory charges whatsoever (aside from processing rates). If you go searching for instant deposit, you’ll pay 1% for every transaction. Apart from that, the only real other charges Square expenditure is because of its monthly subscription services, that are entirely optional.

Remember to look at our Square and Square for Retail reviews to find out if Square can be a good fit for you personally. For those who have more questions regarding Square, you can publish them below! We’re always here to assist.

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Manley is definitely an independent author and editor who loves e-commerce, internet marketing, technology, and social networking. Not so long ago, she earned a journalism degree, but she continued to uncover that they could work at home, researching, editing, and covering the items she found most fascinating. When she’s not associated with her laptop, Melissa usually can be based in the kitchen, studying a magazine, or doing something from the nerdy persuasion.

Melissa Johnson

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The Top 5 Payment Gateways for Online Credit Card Processing

Online payment gateway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How We Chose:

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

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

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

Authorize.Net

Authorize.Net logo

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

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

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

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

PROS:

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

CONS:

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

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

Braintree Payment Solutions:

Braintree Payment Solutions logo

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

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

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

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

PROS:

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

CONS:

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

Check out our full review of Braintree for more information.

PayPal:

PayPal Logo

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

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

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

PROS:

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

CONS:

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

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

PayTrace:

PayTrace logo

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

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

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

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

PROS:

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

CONS:

  • High per-transaction processing charge under Basic pricing plan

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

Stripe Payments:

Stripe logo

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

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

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

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

PROS:

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

CONS:

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

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

Final Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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