Heraclitus is credited with stating that “everything flows , nothing remains “. It is certainly true in the world of business and in the world of the book business. I opened my first retail store in 2002. It was a gift shop. I was very happy to obtain a merchant account. I didn’t mind the fact that I had to pay a little over $1000.00 for my terminal and printer – it was a cost of doing business. My gift shop did a low volume of credit card purchases and I paid a minimum monthly fee of about $30.00 I also paid a monthly statement fee. Altogether I paid a minimum of $35.00 a month in fees not associated with transaction fees. I accepted Visa, American Express , Master Card and Discover. If memory serves me correctly I paid around 3 % for transaction fees for all of the card with the exception of American Express which was a little more. On a yearly basis I was paying at least $400.00 just for the privilege of having a credit card terminal , printer and merchant account. I had my merchant account in place when I closed my gift shop and opened my book store. I still did low volume and my fees were the same. I had a merchant account for about 9 years. I closed it early last year in favor a less expensive solution. I got a device that plugs into my cell phone and allows me to do transactions in my store or anywhere where I have cell service. My daughter and I sat up at a Fairy Festival and were able to do credit card transactions in the middle of a field ! Years ago I helped a friend set up a booth at the Pittsburgh Comicon. You paid for everything – the table , electricity and most importantly a phone line so that you could do credit card transactions. Times have changed.
If you have a book store and a merchant account for your store it might be worth exploring the use of devices that plug into your cell phone that can process credit card transactions. I use a device from Square which was on of the first such devices and services available to the general public. When I first got my Square device I had an IPhone 3. I have since upgraded to a Galaxy Note and my Square device has worked flawlessly with both. On both phones you download an application from Square and simply swipe away. The process of applying for a Square account is simple – you visit their web site, fill out an application , wait a few days to get approved , order your reader , verify your banking information and away you go. Square’s rates are comparable to standard merchant account rates, there is NO monthly fee , no annual PCI compliance checks or fees and no long term commitment. You can accept phone orders where no card is present for a slightly increased fee. To me it’s the neatest thing since sliced bread and it is saving me at least $400.00 a year in fees for a merchant account. I get paid faster by Square than I got paid by my merchant account processor. During the week most transactions posted before 5 PM EST result in money being transferred to my bank account the next business day. My merchant processor took at least 3 days to put money into my bank account. Square also provides a convenient way to access your account on their web site. You can view all of your transactions , make changes to your account or request a new reader – if you need one. Another neat thing about the Square (and probably other similar devices ) is that I can send a customer a receipt via email or text. I can also print a receipt , but I have never had anyone ask for a printed receipt. I probably have at least 3 readers sitting around. My only complaint about the device is that the device is difficult to use if you have protected your phone with heavy duty cell phone case – you might have to remove the case in order for the device to be properly inserted into the phone’s audio jack. I have an Otterbox Defender case for my Galaxy Note and I have to remove the case to use the Square device. Other than that small complaint – I am very happy with my Square credit processor and the Square service.
At the present time Square is not the only company offering devices that plug into your phone to allow you to do credit card transactions – I believe that Intuit has a similar system and also PayPal. I haven’t used either of their service and therefore can’t compare them to the device that I have. I am happy with my Square reader and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a low cost , convenient solution to accepting credit cards. If you have a merchant account this might be a pleasant change for you. Having this device helps to add to my bottom line and I like that !
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