How do I Choose the Best Credit Card Payment Software?

Amanda Lacasse

There are many versions of credit card payment software available that enable a business owner to turn a PC into a credit card payment terminal. Software packages vary in price, options available and types of fees charged for service. Before committing to any particular program, a merchant should analyze his needs, such as whether it is desirable to buy a program with accounting capability, invoice generation or inventory control. In addition, bricks-and-mortar businesses may not need certain options necessary for virtual businesses, such as shopping cart capability. There are also software packages that cater to particular businesses, such as restaurants and beauty salons, which may make choosing credit card payment software easier for those entrepreneurs.

Credit card being swiped through a terminal.
Credit card being swiped through a terminal.

Credit card payment software is a popular choice for many businesses, particularly those that are Internet-based. Though they may be pricier than dedicated credit card payment terminals, these software packages offer many more features. Some recommend a swipe reader be used in conjunction with the program, while others do not. Most work with a high-speed Internet connection, and some are capable of using dial-up or a cell phone connection, while others allow wireless processing for extra flexibility. Most can process major credit cards, and some packages will also accept debit and gift cards.

A credit card.
A credit card.

Cost-conscious merchants should research the costs of set-up and the monthly fees each credit card payment software program requires before making a final choice. Almost all of these systems will require the business owner to have a merchant account, usually set up with the owner's bank or a credit card company. This type of account incurs its own fees, which should also be researched thoroughly. Other common fees related to credit card payment software include transaction fees associated with processing each of the major credit cards, as well as authorization fees and program cancellation fees.

Other issues that may influence a merchant's decision to buy one credit card payment software package over another are the amount of time it takes for payments to clear, the types of fraud protection available and whether an address verification fee is charged. An important aspect to consider is the quality of the customer support that comes with a particular payment software package. Most offer 24/7 assistance via telephone and e-mail, but not all use fax or online chat, which can be a lifesaver when e-mails go unanswered and toll-free phone lines stay jammed for hours.

Some people prefer to make credit card payments with a check.
Some people prefer to make credit card payments with a check.

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