If your small business doesn't accept credit cards, you are missing out on sales.
But credit card processing services don't always make it easy for small businesses to get started. Thanks to hidden fees and complex terms of service, it can sometimes feel as though the cards are stacked against the little guy.
But small business owners need not worry, as there are tools to ease the process.
We've compiled this list of tools and services to help small business owners accept credit cards — whether online or in person — without the headaches.
1. Netverify (Jumio)
Jumio's fraud-scrubbing tool helps you determine if your customers are who they say they are.
Netverify allows customers to snap a picture of their driver's license or other identification using a smartphone, tablet or PC webcam. Once the image is taken, the tool can verify the authenticity of the documentation in as little as 60 seconds.
That's much faster and more convenient than asking a customer to fax or mail a copy of their ID in the middle of a transaction.
The tool can verify identifying documents from more than 60 countries — including passports, ID cards and driver's licenses, and even bank statements and utility bills. Jumio says its software is smart enough to automatically reject nonauthentic documents.
And customers can rest easy knowing that all submitted information is protected with 256-bit encryption to prevent identity theft.
Online merchants embed Netverify into their websites as part of the checkout process.
2. Account Updater (Visa)
Incorrect billing information leads to declined credit cards, loss of sales and unhappy customers.
Visa touts its Account Updater as an easier way to keep customer data current. The tool appends all card data with up-to-date customer info so businesses can avoid difficulties over address changes, name changes, expired cards and more.
The tool can benefit any business that bills customers on a recurring basis.
It eliminates the need for manual administration, so it can lower your business's operational costs and customer-service expenses. And by saving your clients the hassle of a declined payment, you can boost customer satisfaction and overall sales.
3. Orbital Virtual Terminal (Chase)
If you do business online, your website needs the infrastructure to accept credit card information.
Web-based applications like the Orbital Virtual Terminal offer the basic processing functionality of a physical point-of-sale system, and are easy to install on your business's website.
The system allows merchants to collect orders straight from the web, or take orders via phone or mail and before initiating card authorizations online.
It also includes extensive transaction history to help you manage payment data, split shipments, back orders and reversals. Business owners can even receive a daily email report of all credit card transaction activity from the prior day.
Tools like Orbital Virtual Terminal are intended to reduce or eliminate a small business's need for specialized hardware and costly maintenance involved in credit card processing.
4. Netswipe (Jumio)
Paying online is convenient for customers, but keying in an unwieldy credit card number is still a pain.
Netswipe from Jumio gives customers an easier way: The tool lets users pay by snapping a photo of their credit card; it's almost as easy as swiping your card through a traditional card reader.
According to Jumio, customers can use their smartphone or tablet to scan a card in as little as five seconds, whereas traditional key entry takes 60 seconds or more, on average. Having a quick and convenient way to pay could help contribute to a positive buying experience and encourage repeat business.
The system is compatible with any iOS or Android mobile device, as well as with any computer with a webcam.
5. Payment Gateway (Authorize.Net)
Authorize.Net's Payment Gateway service does all the heavy lifting of routing and managing credit card transactions online.
Portals like this one benefit small businesses by providing a fast and secure transmission of credit card data between your website and the major payment networks. It works a lot like a traditional credit card reader, but uses the Internet to process transactions instead of a phone line.
Payment Gateway also offers built-in fraud-prevention tools and supports a range of payment options, including all major credit cards and debit cards.
6. PayPal Here
Mobile credit card processing services like PayPal Here make it easy to accept credit cards in person using a smartphone or tablet.
PayPal Here and other similar services send you a dongle that attaches directly to your iPhone, iPad or Android device, allowing you to swipe physical credit cards wherever you are.
One major benefit of mobile credit card readers is that they work with the devices you already own. That means there's no need to carry around additional hardware, aside from the reader add-on itself. Most credit card readers attach to your device via the headphone jack or charger port, and are small enough to fit in your pocket.
The smallest businesses have the most to gain by opting for mobile credit card readers, which are cheaper and far more portable than traditional options.
Rey Pasinli, executive director of credit card processing and merchant services for Total-Apps, contributed tips to this article.