Key credit card processing features
When you’re deciding between credit card processing companies, it can be hard to parse what features you might need for your business. Here’s everything you need to know.
Businesses that get a lot of chargebacks can take a serious financial hit, especially if your processing company charges you extra every time you get a chargeback. Chargebacks happen when a buyer disputes a charge and claims that they were fraudulently billed. Unfortunately, the burden of proof falls squarely on the shoulders of the business owner.
Be sure you know your processing company’s chargeback policies and practices. Stripe, for example, offers chargeback protection and a number of security measures that help protect against the possibility of fraudulent chargebacks. With Stripe, you don’t even have to file evidence when subscribed to their chargeback protection program—they’ll handle the dispute for you.
Other companies may notify you of chargebacks and give you a portal to submit evidence that the chargeback is fraudulent. Some may only alert you of chargebacks, leaving all the handling in your hands.
Also note that many processing companies won’t charge extra if you get hit with a chargeback, but some will. Chargebacks happen most often with online purchases, so processing companies that specialize in online sales, like Square and Stripe, usually have a better chargeback policy than companies that offer mostly in-store or mobile processing solutions.
Where and how do you need to accept cards? Someone offering video coaching online is going to process cards differently than a food truck owner. And there are many ways to accept credit card payments:
- Swipes, dips, and taps on a store terminal
- Mobile card acceptance through phone or tablet hardware
- Keyed-in payments over the phone
- Single or repeating invoices
- Online store charges
- Online subscription charges
Your business may have very specific payment acceptance needs. For example, maybe you own a pizza shop that offers delivery, table service, and online pickup orders. You’ll probably need an in-store terminal, a mobile phone terminal, and an online processing portal. So you’ll need to find a processing company that best fits those needs.
Certain companies specialize in one platform. Stripe, for example, specializes in online payments. But Stripe also offers an in-person processing option that, while not as fully featured as Square’s suite of point-of-sale tools, can make it possible for you to accept a low volume of in-person payments.
There’s surprisingly a lot you can do at the point of sale:
- Track inventory
- Offer rewards programs
- Manage employees
- Collect and aggregate shopping data
If any of these features appeal to you, you may want to look for a processing company that either offers the point-of-sale (POS) features you want or integrates with the POS system you’re currently using.
Stax's processing platform, for example, is designed to integrate with 90% of today’s POS systems. Square, on the other hand, offers both processing and POS features.
For in-store and mobile purchases, you’ll need a terminal of some kind. Each processing company has its own terminal for sale, and it’s usually a good idea to buy terminals from the processing company because they’ll come preprogrammed to work with their software.
If you have your own fleet of terminals already, it may be best to find a processing company that will integrate your technology into a new payment processing system. But be aware that some processing companies require you to use only their terminals and offer no third-party compatibility, so be sure you talk about terminal compatibility with your prospective processing provider if you plan to integrate your own hardware.
Sales flow customizability
When it comes to the actual payment process, many processing companies offer a sort of plug-and-play solution: you have to use their online interface or their generic processing screen during the transaction. Other companies let you customize and brand the sales experience a little more.
Stripe, for example, offers a fully customizable online processing flow. You can collect information, offer rewards sign-ups, and adjust the overall structure and design of your payment portal using their fully programmable API.
So if you want a more branded and focused payment experience, keep an eye out for customized processing as you research different brands.
What is an API?
API stands for application programming interface. APIs are what programmers use to connect apps to websites. Payment processing APIs allow your programmer to connect a payment processor to your website. Using an API to add a payment processor to your website will require programming experience.