Sunday, March 21, 2010

Help! How can I accept credit cards?

I get this question from other craft show vendors quite a bit and wanted to provide an answer here on the blog. There are a few different options, but here is an affordable option that I recommend for someone who is just starting out. You may choose to upgrade once you start doing more shows and making more sales, as more convenient options = more expense.

Propay offers a deal through Etsy, and it's only about $30 per year (plus a small portion of each transaction). There is more info on the Etsy forums and on the ProPay website.

After signing up for a ProPay account, you'll need to purchase a manual credit card imprinter (also known as a knuckle buster). Search "credit card imprinter" on eBay for the best deals. I purchased mine through Mr. Imprinter (an eBay seller who came highly recommended through Etsy and other forums). The imprinters typically come with credit card slips and a custom imprinter plate.

Information that you should include on your custom imprinter plate:
* Your Business Name
* Your Business' Visa and MasterCard Merchant ID Number (If you are using ProPay, this doesn't apply, however)
* Your Telephone Number (I left this off of mine because I don't have a business phone. Make sure to include an email address so that customers may get in contact with you if necessary.)
* Your Website Address
* Your Physical Address (Not necessary if you don't own a retail store. I left this off because I can't have customers showing up at my home.)
* Your Email Address
* Your Name

I found more info about credit card processing on this site.

When a customer chooses to make a purchase with a credit card, you will need to fill in the credit card slip with purchase details and amount. Make an imprint of the credit card. ProPay will also require you to get the customer's zip code for security purposes (if you forget, you can still run the card - I usually use the zip code of the craft show location). I also write down the CID or CIN # (3-4 digit code on the back of the card, near the signature) for security purposes. After you get all of the customer's info, have them sign the slip and give them a copy with their purchase. *I usually use a clip board to provide customers with a hard surface to sign on.

You can process credit card transactions when you return home after the show or you can run them immediately from a laptop or cell phone, provided you have internet access. You might also call Propay and process an order that way. It takes a few minutes to process by phone so I would only do it when a customer charges a larger amount of money ($20+ or $50+, whatever limit you are uncomfortable accepting without instant confirmation). If you do not process your credit cards immediately, you are always taking a chance that the customer's card may be maxed out, over-drawn, or canceled.

There are other methods for processing credit cards. There are apps you can download on your iPhone and you can also buy a credit card swiper -- more expensive but easier to use, more convenient and professional than the old-fashioned knuckle busters. I recommend doing some internet research before deciding which is right for you. Don't forget -- you can always upgrade as your business grows!

* There are other options for credit card processing companies, ProPay is by no means the only one (it's just the one that I personally use). You may even be able to sign up for this service through your bank.

You might also check out this article on Etsy for more information on preparing for craft shows.

Hope you found this helpful!


thursday said...

I signed up for a credit card processing service a few years ago. It was nice to have, but I soon realized that my clients weren't the credit card paying type. When I tried to cancel to service I realized I had been rather foolish and had unknowingly signed a five year contract. Moral of the story - I'm a dummy. Some of these companies are shady, others are not. Just keep your eyes peeled when reading service agreements.

Cori Crooks said...

I needed this info! Thanks!!!

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