This short guide to taking card payments should help your business to determine how easy it is to get set up with a credit or debit card machine, and start taking payments.

Buy or rent a credit or debit card machine

This is the first step. It’s a choice between buying or renting a credit/debit card machine. There are other blogs we’ve written about whether you should buy or rent, but at it’s most simplest:

– Buying is a one off cost
– Renting is an ongoing cost but cheaper to start with.
– There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

Once you have made this decision, you’re ready for the next step.

Take out a merchant account

This is an important step. You do need to take out a merchant account. A merchant account allows you to make transactions with your customer’s cards. There is usually a monthly subscription cost and an ongoing monthly cost.

Remember that not only banks can issue you with a merchant account. Independent companies like ours can too!

You may be able to combine the step of getting a credit/debit card machine and taking out a merchant account. Most merchant account companies have offers and options on credit/debit card machines.

We’ve also written previous blogs about why you should bin the bank and use an independent company, and blogs on how to choose an account provider. Once you’ve made the choice you’re ready for the next step. You’ve got the machine and the agreements and you’re almost good to go.

Set up your credit or debit card machine to take payments

The next step is getting your equipment ready to go.

First, charge your credit/debit card machine. This will make sure you don’t have the embarrassment of a payment failing because your device lost power.

Next, learn how to use the credit/debit card machine properly so that when a customer comes to pay for something using their card, you know how to work everything and it all goes seamlessly. Follow any instruction manuals, take a sample payment using your own credit/debit card and take any other reasonable steps to make sure it all goes well.

If you’re a mobile trader, make sure that you have a mobile data connection in the venue you’re operating from. If you’re in a fixed location and using wifi, make sure it is set up properly before you start trading.

We would advise putting a sign up saying that you can now pay by card. This will entice customers in who might not have bought something if they could not use their credit/debit card.
When taking a payment for the first time, or first couple of times, there is no harm in saying that it’s a new device and you’re getting to grips with it. Most customers will be patient enough with you, even if you make a mistake or get mixed up a bit.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re all set and you can start taking credit and debit card payments with your credit/debit card machine. You’ve opened your business to a whole new way of taking payments.