Information on Merchant Accounts,
Ecommerce and Credit Card Processing

November 15th, 2023 by J B

The Holidays are upon us. Tips for avoiding fraud this holiday season.

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Credit card fraud is a serious issue that can cause significant financial losses to businesses. During the holiday season, fraudsters take advantage of the increased volume of transactions to steal credit card information and/or defraud businesses. Here are some steps businesses can take to protect themselves from credit card fraud during the holidays:

  1. Always use EMV or NFC payments: EMV-enabled cards (chip cards) and NFC (contactless cards and devices) are more secure than magnetic-stripe cards because a one-of-a-kind code is created for each transaction. Transactions processed as EMV or NFC protect the business from losses due to stolen credit cards by the card issuers. The chargeback liability for accepting stolen EMV or NFC transactions falls on the card issuer and not the business.
  2. Be aware of potential fraudsters: Watch for customers who seem not to be price-sensitive or looking to make purchases that are outside of your normal transactions. Fraudsters are not price-sensitive and tend to want to maximize what they spend as it’s not their money they are spending. These fraudsters will usually come in ready to purchase way more than normal customers and don’t care about things like shipping or delivery costs. The holiday season helps them blend in a bit more as spending per customer tends to go up during the season.
  3. E-commerce businesses (CVV&AVS): Unlike EMV, merchants who do not physically have access to the customers’ cards are fully liable for accepting any stolen transactions. That’s why it is important to make sure your website requires CVV numbers and Address Verification (AVS). While these are not foolproof, they do give you a bit of peace of mind that the person making the purchase at least knows the CVV code and what address the card is billed to. While not possible for many businesses, shipping to only the billing address on the card may offer you a bit more protection. If there is a dispute, having proof of delivery to the customer’s billing address offers you more protection.
  4. Keep track of purchase prices: Return fraud can be a larger-than-normal issue around the start of the year. As people take advantage of seasonal discounts only to later return products for the full non-discounted value. Even without a receipt, many stores will offer store credit for returns. However, if you don’t know at what price the item was originally sold for, you may be crediting more than should for the item. Having a Point-of-Sale system that logs customers by name or ID along with a detailed list of items would allow you to look up customer purchases even if they don’t have a receipt.

And arguably the best two for last:

  1. Fraud at Point-of-Sale: It seems obvious that you would restrict access to your point-of-sale, but that’s not just a physical thing. Fraudsters will many times try to manipulate you or your employees to do something with your point-of-sale device that puts you in jeopardy of not receiving funds or receiving an unwinnable chargeback. If a customer tells you that they need special approval or you need to enter a special code or approval number on your device, do not accept the transaction without first talking to your processor. The only valid approval codes come through your processor, either directly during the NORMAL transaction process or through a process your processor tells you to go through. Approval codes do not come from customers or the number on the back of the card.
  2. Knowing your customers: You know your business and its customers, so if you start feeling that a customer or an order feels off, at least stop and think. Sure, on some sales, it’s going to be small enough that it’s not worth risking a relationship with a potential customer, while on others you might want to ask for a more secure form of payment. Legitimate customers tend to understand, while fraudsters tend to push harder and harder about doing a transaction their way. If a customer is pushing to get something done their way, have an excuse or two. Maybe it’s a store policy, your processor told you not to, or maybe your payment device is not working.

The good news is there is a relatively small number of fraudsters, and most are looking for the easiest targets possible. These are just a few things to consider and watch out for, and by doing so, you have made your company a harder target. Train your employees on what to look out for and get ready for the holiday season!!!

September 20th, 2023 by J B

When it comes to payment processing what are Monthly Minimums?

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As a business owner, navigating the world of credit card processing can be a bit like deciphering a complex code. One of the puzzling terms you might encounter is the “monthly minimum fee.” Don’t fret – we are going to shed some light on this often-misunderstood aspect of payment processing.

Understanding Monthly Minimum Fees

When you set up a merchant account to accept credit card payments, you’ll encounter various fees. Among them, the monthly minimum fee plays a unique role.  Simply put, it’s a fee that safeguards the payment processor from losses on accounts that process little to no volume every month, but more on that later in the article.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Setting the Threshold: Your credit card processor will specify a minimum dollar amount that you must reach in transaction processing fees each month to avoid incurring the monthly minimum fee. This threshold varies between providers but typically falls within the range of $25 to $50 per month.
  2. Monthly Calculation: At the end of each month, your processor calculates the total transaction processing fees generated by your business. If this amount meets or exceeds the minimum threshold, you won’t be charged a monthly minimum fee.
  3. The Safety Net: Here’s where the monthly minimum fee acts as a safety net. If your total processing fees for the month fall short of the minimum threshold – let’s say you had $0.00 in fees – you’d be billed the full monthly minimum amount. However, if you generated $20.00 in fees and your processor set a $25 monthly minimum, you’d only be charged the additional $5 needed to reach the minimum threshold.

Why Monthly Minimum Fees Exist

You might wonder why these fees exist in the first place. Well, they serve a couple of important purposes:

  1. Provider’s Operational Costs: Credit card processors have their own costs to cover, including customer support, account management, and maintaining the infrastructure that facilitates credit card transactions. The monthly minimum fee helps ensure that all accounts are covering the costs of maintaining an open account.
  2. They can Reduce Fixed Expenses: Fixed expenses like service fees or statement fees stay the same month to month regardless of processing volume.  Monthly Miniums are sometimes used to lower or eliminate fixed monthly costs on a merchant account.  Since the Monthly Min decreases based on volume it can be more cost effective depending on your processing volume.

How to Approach Monthly Minimum Fees

Now that you understand the basics, here’s how to approach monthly minimum fees:

  1. Read Your Agreement: Carefully review your merchant account agreement to understand the specific terms and conditions related to monthly minimum and fixed monthly fees. Different providers may have different thresholds and fee structures.
  2. Consider Your Business: Think about your business’s transaction patterns. If you consistently process a high volume of credit card payments, you might be better off requesting a higher monthly minimum to remove fixed monthly fees or to even get a discount on your processing fees.  If you are processing sporadically or with very low monthly volume, you might prefer to have smaller fixed monthly fees, but pay a little more per transaction.

In conclusion, monthly minimum fees are a mechanism to ensure a minimum level of revenue for your credit card processor and can help provide stability in your payment processing expenses. By understanding how they work and considering your business’s unique needs, you can make informed decisions that benefit both your bottom line and your customers’ payment experience.

July 31st, 2023 by J B

Dual Pricing: The Future of Payment Processing

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

Dual pricing is a pricing strategy that allows merchants to offer different prices for the same product or service depending on the payment method used by the customer. Dual pricing has been around for tens of years and most used by gas stations.  This strategy is becoming increasingly popular among merchants as it helps to effectively lower payment processing costs.

The concept of dual pricing is simple. Merchants offer a lower price for customers who pay with cash or debit cards and a higher price for customers who pay with credit cards. This is because credit card transactions are more expensive for merchants due to the fees charged by credit card companies.

For many merchants Dual Pricing wasn’t due largely to the time and expense is setting up and operating such a program. These days with highly effective low-cost Point of Sale systems implementing Dual Pricing is quick and easy, and the POS maintains and tracks everything in real-time so you don’t have to.

Dual pricing can be beneficial for both merchants and customers. For merchants, it helps to reduce payment processing costs, which can be a significant expense for businesses. By offering a lower price for cash or debit card payments, merchants can encourage customers to use these payment methods, which are less expensive to process.

For customers, dual pricing can be an opportunity to save money. By paying with cash or debit cards, customers can take advantage of lower prices offered by merchants. This can be especially beneficial for customers who are on a tight budget or who are looking for ways to save money.

However, it is important to note that dual pricing is not without its drawbacks. Some customers may feel that they are being penalized for using credit cards, which can lead to negative feelings toward the merchant. Additionally, some customers may not have access to cash or debit cards, which can limit their ability to take advantage of lower prices.

Despite these drawbacks, dual pricing remains a popular pricing strategy among merchants. By offering different prices for different payment methods, merchants can effectively lower payment processing costs while still providing value to their customers.  Now that Cash Discounting and Dual Pricing have become more publicly available many cardholders have grown more accustomed to it leading more and more businesses to adopt these methods.

In conclusion, dual pricing is a simple yet effective pricing strategy that can help merchants to reduce payment processing costs while still providing value to their customers. By offering lower prices for cash or debit card payments, merchants can encourage customers to use these payment methods, which are less expensive to process. While dual pricing may not be suitable for all businesses, it is certainly worth considering as a way to reduce expenses and increase profitability.

June 8th, 2023 by J B

Can I accept Debit cards?

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

It’s one of those questions that comes up all the time with businesses, and the answer is generally yes. As consumers, we have an understanding of debit and credit cards. Debit is attached to a bank account while credit is attached to some line of credit.

When it comes to businesses looking to accept debit cards, many times they think they have to be able to accept PIN debit in order to take payments from those cards. The truth is, most, if not all, debit cards can process transactions on either the credit or debit networks.

Credit and debit cards display logos of the networks they work through. For cards that work through a credit network, you will find the Visa, MasterCard, or Discover logo on the card. If a card is also set up to work through a debit network, you will find logos such as Nyce, Star, or Plus.

While basically any business set up to accept credit cards is capable of taking a payment from normal debit cards, not all debit cards are accessible to those businesses. For example, EBT cards require businesses to not only be approved by the state but also require those transactions to operate on the debit networks as they use the PIN number to authenticate the transaction. There are other industry-based payment systems, such as Wright Express (WEX Inc.), which also use the PIN debit network to handle their transactions.

In both of those scenarios, most businesses wouldn’t be able to accept those cards even if they were set up to accept PIN debit transactions as they do not fit into the scope of what those payment types are used for.

Many businesses ask if they should accept PIN debit, and I think that’s more of a decision for the business. If you need to operate through the debit networks to make use of specialty payment systems, then the obvious answer is yes. Assuming your business doesn’t need to use such systems, then it comes down to preference. We believe it’s ideal for businesses to offer as many payment options as possible to their customers, and the cost can be relatively similar to credit transactions. The only real hurdle is that you may need some additional hardware, like a customer-facing PIN pad, which for some businesses seems like a needless expense to accept a payment card that they can already accept.

Some businesses have no need to accept PIN debit transactions, like eCommerce businesses. PIN debit is a card-present transaction, meaning the consumer needs to be physically present at the point of sale. eCommerce and other card-not-present businesses do not meet the requirements to accept that payment type.

The situation is similar for restaurants, many of which do tip adjustments and do not process their payments in front of the customer. Since you cannot tip adjust a PIN debit transaction, any gratuity must be added to the sales total prior to completing the transaction. That prevents restaurants, including counter service in most cases, from having the ability to accept PIN debit. This is particularly true for restaurants where servers take the customer’s card away from the table to process the transaction.

Our thinking is that if you have a business where you can take card-present transactions with the consumer at the point of sale, you should consider accepting PIN debit transactions. Having additional payment options available for your customers doesn’t hurt

May 8th, 2023 by J B

Thinking about going completely cashless?

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

Going cashless has become a popular trend in recent years, with more and more businesses adopting digital payment systems. While cashless payments offer several benefits, such as convenience and increased security, they also come with some drawbacks that small businesses should be aware of before making the switch. In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of cashless payments for small businesses.

Pros of Cashless Payments for Small Businesses

1.            Convenience: Cashless payments eliminate the need for customers to carry cash, making transactions faster and more convenient. This is especially true for businesses that offer online or mobile payments, as customers can make purchases from anywhere at any time.

2.            Increased Security: Cashless payments reduce the risk of theft and fraud. Digital payments are encrypted and secure, and many payment processors offer fraud detection and prevention tools to help businesses protect against fraudulent transactions.

3.            Better Record Keeping: Cashless payments make it easier for businesses to keep track of transactions and manage their finances. Digital payment systems automatically record transactions and generate reports, making it easier to reconcile accounts and prepare financial statements.

4.            Improved Customer Experience: Cashless payments offer a more streamlined checkout process, reducing wait times and improving the overall customer experience. This can lead to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Cons of Cashless Payments for Small Businesses

1.            Cost: Cashless payment systems often come with fees and transaction charges that can add up quickly. Small businesses with low transaction volumes may find it difficult to justify the cost of implementing a cashless payment system.

2.            Exclusion: Cashless payments can exclude customers who don’t have access to digital payment methods, such as credit or debit cards. This can be a problem for small businesses that serve low-income communities or elderly populations.

3.            Technical Issues: Cashless payment systems rely on technology, which can be prone to glitches and outages. If a payment system goes down, it can disrupt business operations and lead to lost sales.

4.            Cybersecurity Risks: Cashless payments can be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats, such as hacking and data breaches. Small businesses that handle sensitive customer data must take extra precautions to protect against these risks.


While going completely cashless offers several benefits for small businesses, it also comes with some drawbacks. Before making the switch to being completely cashless, small business owners should carefully consider their customers and how they might react to such a change.  While most of the cons can easily be outweighed, the customer experience should be the focus.  If going completely cashless is something you are thinking about, try posting signs around the business explaining to customers that you are considering it and asking for feedback prior to making any such change.  Take that feedback from customers and use that to help guide your decision.

April 4th, 2023 by J B

Are you paying too much; part 2

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

In our previous article we were looked at calculating your effective rate and getting a baseline for current payments cost per dollar of processing volume. In this article we will cover things like average tickets and how they can have a profound effect on your processing costs and of course on your effective rate.

Lets start by diving into you average ticket. Each transaction through your merchant account is effected by two different costs, a discount fee based on the dollar volume and a flat transaction fee. The higher the dollar amount of each transaction the more your costs are effected by the discount rate. The lower the dollar amount of your transaction the more you costs are effected by the flat transaction fee. Basically the lower your average ticket the more important it is to focus on lowering your flat transactional fees.

Lets take a look at an example just looking at the interchange costs. This example will be on the higher end but it illustrates the point nicely. If your business has a $5.00 average ticket and you accept a regulated debit transaction the interchange fees on that are capped at 0.05% + $0.22 per transaction. That 0.05% discount fee is effectively $0.0025 in cost. That $0.22 transaction fee is effectively 4.40%.

If we then add on fees from your processor things get worse. If you processor is charging you 0.35% + $0.10, then your looking at an additional $0.0175 in discount fees plus the flat $0.10 transaction fee. That flat fee is effectively 2.00%.

Combine you are looking at a rate of 0.40% + $0.32 per transaction. You are basically paying $0.34 per transaction in this case, or 6.8%. Now take this same scenario but with a $7.00 average ticket. You would then be paying $0.348 per transaction or 4.97%. Expanding that ticket size to $25 the effective cost becomes $0.42 per transaction or 1.68%.

I know I just though a lot of numbers out there, so here is a chart that represent different ticket sizes vs those same rates.

As the average ticket increases the effective cost per transaction goes down.

There are a few things you can do with this information. If your average ticket is less than $12.00 then the most cost effective this you can do is increase your average ticket. Sure you could go try to get a couple cents off the processor per transaction which would help, but not nearly as much as increasing ticket sizes.

This also helps you identify where to not waste your time if you are going to be negotiating with a processor. If you average ticket is $30+ your costs are going to mainly originate from the discount fees. If you have to eat an extra penny per transaction to get 0.10% off your discount rate then you are coming out ahead by doing that vs paying 0.10% more and saving the penny.

Next article we will take a look at transaction types and how those will effect your processing fees.

February 6th, 2023 by J B

How to tell if you are overpaying for payment processing.

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

If you are looking for the short answer:

If you are processing less than $3k per month in volume you should be using a payment aggregator like Stripe, Paypal, or Square. If you are processing more than $3k per month you are generally better off with your own underwritten merchant account from a traditional payment processor. The more you process the better off you normally will be with a traditional processor. That said if you have a low average ticket, something under $8.00 you need to pay close attention to any per-item transaction fees like authorization fees. The lower your average ticket is then the more important it is.

This is the longer answer, however, it will be worth the time:

We are going to break this down into multiple posts as it’s going to get quite long. In this post we are going to touch on some information you will want to get ready and have at hand. In future posts, we will go over using your effective rate as a comparison tool and then into additional aspects of your processing that can affect the overall cost. Finally, we will go over some possible changes you can make to help lower your payment costs.

Quick Intro:

There are many different articles out there that go over how to tell if you are paying too much for payment processing. While they have some good rules of thumb I feel there is a better way to cover this topic. Most articles are geared toward generalities, mainly because there are an absolute ton of variables that can affect your processing costs. What we are going to do is break down how you can assess your own business and develop a baseline that you can use to compare against. We will also include some generalities as examples, but the idea here is to make sure you have the tools to better understand the cost of your payment.

Let’s get some data together:

To start we are going to need some data about your business, some things you will know, but others you may have to look up. You are better off starting with a recent past month that is as close to an average month as you can find. Once you choose a month to focus on, let’s make sure you get some key data to have at hand.

You will want to have your monthly processing volume, the total number of transactions, and your total processing fees for that month. If you have a merchant processing statement from that month you should have everything we need. If you do not you can review your bank account and batch reports to compile this data. The bank account should show any fees that were debited from your account throughout the month. Keep in mind that merchant accounts bill behind, so if you are focused on the month of June any month-end fees will have been billed to you around the 3rd of July. The batch reports should give you the information to be able to calculate your total sales volume and the number of transactions. You can also compare the batch reports to the bank deposits to see if any fees are being taken out of your batches before they are deposited.

Having acquired that data we should go ahead and calculate your average ticket by dividing your total sales volume by your total transaction count. For example: if you processed $10,500 over 315 transactions your average ticket is $33.33 Then we also need to calculate your effective rate by taking your total processing fees for the month and dividing them by your total sales volume. Continuing our example if you paid $238.35 in fees for processing $10,500 in volume then your effective rate came out to 2.27%. An effective rate is a nice tool because it accounts for all your merchant processing fees including both transactional and fixed monthly costs.

For now, we are going to focus on the effective rate. Hold on to that other data for our next articles on the topic.

Digging into Effective rates:

Now you have an effective rate, there are many different things we could do. First I would recommend doing that calculation for additional months and not all of those down. Maybe get the effective rate on your highest and lowest volume months.

Then we start window shopping. You can pull up the rates from aggregators online by searching for their rates. You can review their rate table and find the way you would be accepting cards through them. Our example business is a retail store that is able to accept 99% of its transactions as EMV or Contactless. If we find that the card’s present rate from that aggregator is 2.89% + $0.10 per transaction with no monthly fees then it starts to be very apparent that our effective 2.27% looks pretty good. On the other hand, if you are a card present business and your effective rate is 3.21% an aggregator starts looking better. That said the additional $0.10 per transaction may offset any savings, but we will have to get into that when we cover the average ticket in an upcoming article.

This is just the starting point, so look for the following few articles to continue breaking down your rates. I recommend calculating your effective rate for a few months and keep monitoring it. We are trying to get a solid understanding of your baseline and how different monthly volumes affect your effective rate.

Your Effective rate is a great tool for you to use to make comparisons between time and processors. While it’s an important foundational tool, there is a lot more to cover. In our next article, we are going to cover comparing your existing statement to another processor quote. The article after that will cover things like average tickets and how they can have a profound effect on your processing costs and of course on your effective rate. Until then if you need assistance understanding your statement we are always here to help. We review merchant statements all the time and have people on staff just to help with processing statements from all processors. Yes, we are probably going to send you our side-by-side breakdown, but there is no pressure to sign up. If the numbers interest you then we are willing to have that talk as well.

December 12th, 2022 by J B

Credit Card Surcharging: What You Need to Know

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

If you own a small business, you’re probably always looking for ways to increase your profits. One way you may be able to do this is by implementing a credit card surcharge. But what exactly is a credit card surcharge, and is it legal? Let’s take a look.

What is a Credit Card Surcharge?

A credit card surcharge is an additional fee that businesses can charge customers who use a credit card for payment. This fee is generally passed on to the customer by the merchant processor, and it covers the costs associated with processing credit card payments. For example, if you own a small business and you charge a 3.50% credit card surcharge, and someone pays for their purchase with a credit card that has a balance of $100, they will be charged an additional $3.50 at checkout.

Are Credit Card Surcharges Legal?

The short answer is yes, credit card surcharges are legal in most cases. However, there are some exceptions. For example, American Express prohibits merchants from adding a surcharge to American Express transactions. Additionally, some states have laws that restrict or prohibit surcharges, so it’s important to check the laws in your state before implementing one.

Should You Implement a Credit Card Surcharge?

There’s no easy answer to this question. Ultimately, you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons to decide if a credit card surcharge is right for your business. Some things you’ll want to consider include:

– Whether your customers are likely to be receptive to a surcharge

– The average transaction amount at your business

– The costs associated with processing credit card payments

– Any state or local laws that apply to your business

– Whether implementing a surcharge will help you increase your profits


Implementing a credit card surcharge can be a great way to boost your profits as a small business owner. However, there are some things you’ll need to take into consideration before making the decision to do so. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consult with an attorney if necessary to ensure that you’re in compliance with all applicable laws.

November 3rd, 2022 by J B

Benefits of Offering Gift Cards to Your Customers

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

Gift cards are a popular holiday gift and for good reason. They’re easy to buy, easy to wrap, and they let the recipient choose their own present. But did you know that gift cards can also be a great marketing tool for small businesses? Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of offering gift cards to your customers.

  • Increased foot traffic. One of the most obvious benefits of offering gift cards is that they can help bring new customers into your store. If someone receives a gift card to your business as a present, they’ll likely visit the store to spend it at some point. And while they’re there, they may decide to pick up a few other items as well. This is especially true if you offer a discount on future purchases when a customer spends their gift card.
  • Improved customer retention. Gift cards can also help you keep existing customers coming back to your business. If a customer enjoys their experience at your store and likes the products you sell, they’re more likely to return in the future if they have a gift card to use. Additionally, if you offer loyalty rewards or discounts for future purchases when customers use a gift card, this can further encourage them to come back and shop with you again.
  • Higher average order value. When customers have a gift card to spend, they tend to spend more money per transaction than they would if they were paying with cash or credit. This is because people generally feel like they need to “get their money’s worth” when using a gift card, so they’ll add extra items to their purchase. Additionally, since gift cards can be used toward sales items or clearance items, customers may be more likely to take advantage of these deals when they have a gift card to use.
  • Boosted sales during slow periods. Offering gift cards can also help increase sales during slow periods, such as right after the holidays or during the summer months. Customers who receive gifts cards but don’t have time to use them right away will eventually come into your store to redeem them, which can help give your business a much-needed sales boost during these slower times of the year.

As you can see, there are many benefits that come along with offering gift cards to your customers. If you’re not currently selling them, it may be something worth considering for your business! Not only can gift cards help boost sales during slow periods and bring new customers into your store, but they can also improve customer retention and enhance brand awareness for your company. So what are you waiting for? Start selling those gift cards today!

October 6th, 2022 by J B

Tis the season, for seasonal businesses

Filed in: Merchant Accounts | 1 comment

The seasonal ramp-up is about to begin and for many businesses that means opening for the first time in months, or even expanding operations for seasonal events. If you are a seasonal business or looking to expand your existing business for trade shows and events over the coming months now is the time to start getting prepared. It seems that every year there are many businesses caught off guard by the rapidly approaching sales cycle, so we wanted to put out a reminder to get your payments system tested and operational before its crunch time.

Where to start:

We recommend that you start doing these things at least 2 weeks before you plan to start processing. Finding out that you have payment issues a few days before an event may not be enough time for an adequate resolution. If you find out that your account has been closed due to inactivity, or that a payment device has decided it’s taken its last transaction, you want to have extra time.

If your business is seasonal and your processor supports seasonal closures, or you fully close your account at the end of your season, you will want to touch base with your provider and make sure your account is seasonally opened and ready for transactions.

Once you believe your account to be ready to process then it’s time to test the specific devices that you will be using for events and seasonal expansion. The idea is to test not only if the device works, but also your and your employee’s understanding of the device so you can work out any issues ahead of game time.

Device Testing:

We recommend powering up your devices and connecting them at your business or home and processing a few test transactions and a couple of batches. It’s important to not just run a few sales and a batch and then call it a day. Run a couple of sales, process a void, then settle. Then start again with a couple of sales and process a return, then settle. You want to keep these under $1.00 per transaction. Personally, I prefer to start with a $0.01 transaction and increase that transaction by $0.01 on each additional sale. I know it will cost you a dollar or two in testing, but better to spend a couple of dollars confirming everything now, than scrambling at the last minute.

Next is testing your ability to connect your device to different networks whether that’s your own network, wireless hot spot, phone network, or a connection provided by a venue. Setting up at an event or prepping for a seasonal rush is exciting yet nerve-racking and is generally enough to deal with on its own. You don’t want to be calling tech support on top of everything else you will be handling.

You will want to confirm with any venue what connectivity options are available and make sure your device supports at least one of those options. When at an event I always recommend getting an ethernet drop if they give you the option and your device supports ethernet. I know sometimes the venues charge ridiculous rates for a data drop, however, I have seen it time and time again when a venue overloads a WiFi network, and some devices are just not able to process.

Once you know what connectivity option(s) you have, you need to make sure you understand how to set your devices to communicate on each of those options. Again, a couple of weeks before the event is the best time to contact tech support and confirm what connectivity options your devices have and learn how to quickly and effectively switch between connectivity options.

Ethernet and/or WiFi Devices:

Ethernet is normally the easiest as you just plug a cable into your device. That said, if your device normally operates on Wifi, you need to know how to switch between the two connection types as needed. You should practice connecting to different WiFi and Ethernet networks, so that you are not trying to figure it out while at an event. This is a small thing that catches many merchants off guard every year. At the office their device is plugged into ethernet, then they get to an event and can’t figure out how to connect to WiFi or vice versa. Having this down will prevent a lot of trouble for you.

Dial-up only Devices:

It’s time for a new device. Dial-up is a handy backup to other connectivity types. Dial-up has its own unique sets of issues and is arguably the worst possible connection. I know a few hundred dollars can be a lot for a new device, but it could be the difference between a successful show and a complete failure.

That said, if you are short on time and you have to go with a dial-only device, confirm what settings your device will need to communicate. Some venues will require your device to dial a 9 before the phone number to reach an outside line. Some venues may have other requirements that you need to know prior to the event how to have your terminal configured so it works when you arrive.

Cellular Devices:

For merchants using a cellular device, go to the venue and make sure your device works at the venue prior to the event if at all possible. If you can get inside the venue and get to where your booth is before testing, that is ideal. Keep in mind that cellular networks can get congested when you have a ton of people in one area, so if the venue offers some other form of data connection we recommend taking them up on that offer. You want additional communication options available to you if the cell networks get congested. You will also need to know how to change your terminal from Celluar to WiFi or Ethernet before going to the event. If you don’t know how to do that, call tech support prior to going to the event and practice changing that setting in the terminal so you know what to do if the need arises.

Backup Plan:

Have a backup plan or two or three. Things are going to come up, terminals are going to die, and cell networks are going to be overloaded. You can’t plan for every possibility but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be planning at all. Keep in mind most any processor would love to help you plan prior to being at an event, so take your ideas to your processor if you need help implementing them. Below are a few backup plan ideas.

Have a second terminal or device that is ready to process.

A backup device won’t fix communication issues, but it can save you if your terminal goes down. It doesn’t have to be a new device, if you have an older device just laying around ask your processor if it can be set up as a backup.

Establish an account with an additional processor.

This comes back down to options. Setting up a secondary processing platform can be a game changer. Don’t feel like you need to set up with two full-service processors. If you are a full-service customer that’s great, but there are many other services you can have at the ready that don’t cost you much or anything monthly to have ready. PayPal, Venmo, Cash App, Square, etc. are all great options. Even if you use one of those vendors as a primary vendor, set up a second one as a backup.

If you are with a full-service merchant provider for improved pricing, then yes sales you run on your backup system are probably going to cost you more. That said it’s better to spend a little more on each transaction to get through an event than to miss out on opportunities.

The more connectivity options the better:

It was stated earlier, but make sure you have as many connectivity options as possible. One overlooked option that can work with WiFi and sometimes with Ethernet devices is a wireless hotspot. Most smartphones today can act as a wireless hotspot. If the venue’s network goes down, switch your terminal over to your phone’s wireless hotspot.

You can also go to your wireless carrier a purchase a dedicated wireless hotspot.

Seasonal Recap:

Seasonal business comes down to preparation, and while you won’t ever be prepared for everything, you can certainly set yourself up for success. When it comes to your payment systems you need to remember 4 main things. 1. Confirm your account is in good standing and that your device(s) are performing properly. 2. Make sure you know how to switch between communication modes and networks. 3. Know what communication options will be available at an event. 4. Always have some backup plans.

Our next blog entry is our annual fraud prevention tips to remind businesses what they can do to protect themselves from the few bad actors out there who like to take advantage of the holiday rush.

We hope you all have a successful and joyous holiday season.