Many artists and crafters want to accept credit cards at craft shows but don’t know how to start, so I’m sharing what I learned when setting up our account.
I’m sure this isn’t the be-all end-all of important questions for merchant service providers, so if you think I’ve left out anything important I’d love to hear from you!
A merchant account is used by businesses to process credit card transactions. As I called individual providers I found out more and more about what the important questions to ask were, which got me off the phone in minutes with companies whose services didn’t meet our needs. To find merchant service companies you can search the web or check with other small businesses/crafters/artists to find out who they use.
Most merchant accounts will charge you a transaction fee plus percentage fee for each transaction your customer charges, all the other fees below change with each company.
By the time I had gotten through a half dozen or so calls, I created this list of important topics to ask about upfront:
- Sign Up/Start Up Fees–Fees to start up your account with their service.
- Annual/Monthly Fees–Fees for maintaining your account on an annual or monthly basis regardless of whether you process any transactions or not.
- Contract–Is there one? How long is it?
- Cancellation Fee–Fees to close your account, or for canceling a contract early.
- Monthly Statement Fees–Fees for receiving paper or electronic monthly statements of your transactions.
- Monthly Minimums–If you don’t have enough transactions to generate a certain amount in fees, they charge you that amount. (For example: some places will charge you $25 a month regardless of having no transactions that month, or if your fees to them from transactions with your customers only reach $10.00 or any other amount below their monthly minimum.)
- Credit Cards that You Will be Able To Accept–Discover, Master Card, Visa, Am Ex, debit cards with credit card logos, etc.
- Fees to Accept Other Cards–Often they quote MC/Visa rates, Am Ex, Discover or other cards are extra–like $50 to start accepting each other type of card.
- Per transaction Fee–Every transaction starts with a basic fee, like 35 cents per transaction.
- Percentage Fee–In addition to the transaction fee, they also charge you a percentage of the total the customer is charging to their credit card.
- Receiving Your Money Fee–Is there a fee?
- How You Get Your Money–Is it automatically sent to your bank account? If so, after how long? Do you need to ask to have your money sent to your bank account? Is there a limit as to how often you can request your funds be transferred?
- Chargeback/Disputed Charges Fee–If a customer disputes a charge, there are usually fees involved on the seller’s end.
- Charge to Call in Credit Cards for Approval–If you are at a show and call in the card for approval, will there be a charge?
- Credit Card Terminal Leases/Fees–Often the fees are more than $50.00 a month and there are fees for canceling the terminal lease in addition to canceling your merchant account.
I hope these topics will help you get on the right track to finding a merchant account provider that suits your business. Good luck!