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According to a 2014 survey, just nine percent of respondents stated that cash was their preferred payment method; 78 percent would rather use a credit card or a debit card to make a purchase. With most people reaching for plastic rather than cash, it’s essential that businesses accept credit cards.

To be able to accept credit and debit card payments, you’ll need to select a credit card processing system for your business. These systems usually require that you purchase the equipment to run the cards, such as a card reader, and pay fees to process your transactions. The costs associated with different systems can vary widely, and different systems accept different payment types, so you should do some research before selecting a card processing system to figure out which best fits your needs.

Fees and Costs

There are a variety of fees that you may have to pay when you use a credit card processing system. Along with a monthly subscription fee, you are likely to also have to pay a percentage of each transaction, and you may also have to pay a monthly statement fee, setup fees and gateway access fees.

What you pay for each transaction is called an interchange fee, and the fees can vary depending on the type of transaction. Along with paying different amounts depending on the card-issuing bank, credit and debit card transactions are often charged at different rates. The amount of your fee may even depend on whether you swipe the card or enter a card number manually.

Monthly statement fees cover the cost of sending you a statement each month, and they usually are around $10. Setup fees can vary widely, and you may also have to spend a significant amount of money on equipment, which can include card readers and registers or terminals. There are also monthly access or gateway fees that you may be required to pay to be able to use a card reader’s payment system. Charges can range from $10 to $30 a month.

Depending on the system you choose, you may have to pay a fairly large amount of money to set it up. Further, the amount it costs to run and use the system can add up quickly even if each fee is fairly small. It’s important to consider how much regular fees will cost you as well as the amount you’ll end up paying based on different levels and types of sales that are run through the credit card system.

Payments Types Accepted

Another consideration should be which types of payments can be accepted. Along with standard options like Visa and Mastercard, many individuals also use American Express and Discover cards. There tend to be higher costs associated with American Express and Discover, so you may want to weigh the expense against the amount of business you may lose if you don’t take these cards.

There are also technological issues to consider. PayPal, Google Wallet and Apple Pay have become popular payment options. Even if you don’t opt to take those payments now, you may want to consider a credit card service provider that will allow you to accept these payment methods in the future.

It’s also a good idea to think about using a card system that can accept chip card payments. While not everyone has a chip card, and chip cards will work with standard card swipe systems, there are new regulations from credit card companies that make it advisable to use chip readers. As of October 2015, card companies have stated that fraudulent charges may be the responsibility of the merchant if the merchant does not use a chip reader to process transactions.

Ease of Use

You may also want to compare how user-friendly different card systems are. Along with handling standard transactions like sales, you’ll probably also need to be able to run reports, issue refunds and split up purchases. Further, you may want to issue gift cards, and all of these things should be easy for you and your employees to handle.