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In this day and age, companies that don’t accept credit cards stand to lose a ton of business. According to Javelin Strategy and Research, only 23 percent of point-of-sale transactions will be made with cash by 2017. Credit-card usage at point-of-sale terminals, which totaled around 29 percent in 2011, will increase to 33 percent by 2017. If you own a small business, the writing’s on the wall: You need to accept credit cards. The question, though, is how to find a credit card processing solution that’s easy and convenient but not too expensive.

Top Tips for Finding Affordable Credit Card Processing Solutions  When looking for credit card processing services for your small business, keep these tips in mind:

  • shoppingShop Around – Dozens of merchant services providers are vying for your services, so don’t settle for the first one that you run across. Check out several of the top contenders and compare and contrast their offerings with regards to fees, customer support, extras and the like. If necessary, create a spreadsheet so that you can easily compare everything at a glance.
  • Buy–Don’t Lease–Your Equipment – Sure, leasing credit card processing equipment is convenient in that it saves you from having to find the stuff yourself. However, you pay dearly for it. Consider this: Most companies charge $40 to $70 per month for machine leasing, but you can buy a new dual-communication terminal that works over the phone or the internet for just $200 to $400. Leasing can cost you 10 to 20 times as much. Before shopping for merchant services, then, buy the processing equipment.
  • Avoid Contracts – Don’t get roped into a long-term contract. Some credit card processing service providers offer special discounts and other perks to businesses that sign contracts with them, but the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. After all, what if you are unhappy with the service? You will have to pay a hefty cancellation fee, at the very least. Plenty of merchant services providers don’t use contracts at all, so avoid those that do.
  • Read the Fine Print – When all fees are added up, credit card processing for small business usually costs around 5 percent per transaction. However, there is some wiggle room there, so definitely read the fine print regarding fees before signing up. Interchange rates and assessments are not negotiable, but things like cancellation fees, application fees and statement fees often are.
  • Build Your Business Credit – Finally, stick with credit card processing providers that report your company’s repayments to the credit bureaus. This is a great way to build and strengthen the credit file of your business, which will come in handy in many ways down the road.

As a business owner, it’s natural to want to squeeze every last penny of profit out of your sales as possible. By taking care and shopping around while looking for credit card processing services, you can more easily find a solution that suits your needs without breaking the bank.