Shopify vs Square

shopify-vs-square
Square is probably the most comprehensive free mPOS app out there. It was really the first company to make card processing widely available to everyone using just a free card reader and a smartphone.

Shopify launched in 2006 as e-commerce software. Like Square and mobile payments, Shopify has made selling online much easier for merchants, especially those who are just starting out with their business.

Not only that, both companies have since branched out considerably. Square now offers a comprehensive suite of business products for merchants who want to sell in store, online, and on-the-go. And Shopify has branched out from e-commerce with a powerful POS system and its own payments service, so merchants don’t need to have a merchant account.

The result is that two services that started off catering to very different audiences now have very similar offerings. Square and Shopify both have powerful POS apps targeted for iPads, a mobile solution, and multiple e-commerce options. Both give you tools you need to run a brick-and-mortar shop beyond just a POS app. 

Their card processing rates are also identical, with a couple of important caveats. The first of these is that Square and its POS app, Square Register, are completely free, while Shopify will charge you a baseline monthly fee, plus the credit card fees, plus additional fees for add-ons. The second of these caveats is that if you opt for higher-priced packages, you can also get lower processing rates.

Square is still the better option for merchants who only process credit card payments sporadically (such as artists who vend at conventions and art shows), because there’s no monthly fee. If your e-commerce site only gets a little traffic and your sales are infrequent, you’re better off using Square as well. But if your online sales are good enough to justify the added cost, Shopify has some very nice features and stunning themes for your store.

So what if you sell online and in-store, or on the go? The answer isn’t quite as clear-cut.

As a merchant, which one should you choose? Which service is the better value? Which has the best features? That depends largely on your own particular situation. Read on for a detailed comparison and find out which service comes out on top in the Shopify vs. Square debate.

Products and Services:

Winner: Shopify

Bear with me, but there’s a LOT to discuss here. Let’s look at each of the core offerings — POS app, payment processing, and e-Commerce, and see how they stack up individually.

POS App

Shopify’s POS used to be strictly for iOS, but as of January 2016, the app is now available for Android smartphones and tablets, too. Square, too, supports your choice of Android and iOS devices. However, to make the best use of either app, you need an iPad, as many of the best features are only available there. You’ll also find that you can use the app on any number of devices without needing to pay for additional license fees (but you won’t be able to differentiate among employees without paying for that feature).

Shopify POS Features:

  • Accept all forms of payment: Credit card, debit card, cash, check, and other customized payment methods — even Bitcoin.*
  • Split tender: This is useful and you can actually accept more than just 2 payment forms on a transaction.
  • Discounts: Apply discounts on individual items or on the whole order, by percentage or dollar amount.
  • Store credit: The only fault with the store credit option is that there’s really no accountability in it. You can simply mark a payment as paid via store credit, with no need for proof of it at all. Still, this is a useful feature.
  • Reporting: Track sales, compare how products are selling, monitor traffic to your store, customer data, and more. With the higher-tiered plans you can even built custom reports. Data can be exported to CSV, as well.
  • Item limits: The limit on the number of items you can include in Shopify POS depends on which device you’re running the app from. Also note that you can choose to hide or delete items depending on what you need. However, your Shopify store can have unlimited items and you don’t need to sync them all with your POS unless you want to. (It’s worth noting that you can’t actually make updates to items in Shopify POS, only through the browser interface.)
  • Item variants: Set different colors/styles/pricing for your various items.
  • Syncing: Shopify automatically syncs inventory and product information across all your sales channels.
  • Email/print receipts: Send digital receipts, or if you have an iPad and Shopify’s retail package, print them out.
  • Inventory: Shopify’s inventory features are pretty impressive. In addition to tracking your stock levels across every channel where you sell, you can print barcodes, manage products you order from suppliers and automatically update inventory counts, and more. You won’t get low-stock alerts without an add-on, though.
  • Employee accounts: In a retail setup, knowing who is ringing up sales is especially important. With Shopify’s retail package, you can assign individual staff PINs, track register shifts and sales, and more.
  • Invoicing: Shopify actually has a simple form you can fill out to auto-generate an invoice. You can email it to customers, save it, or print it out.
  • Full/partial refunds: Issue a refund or issue store credit.
  • Gift cards (iPad only): You can only get gift cards if you opt for the Standard plan or higher. However, you can sell physical and digital gift cards.
  • Offline capabilities: You can’t log in during an outage, but if you are already logged in you can still accept payments other than credit cards. This is very limited functionality, but it could get you through an outage mostly fine.
  • Auth-capture: You can pre-authorize a transaction for 7 days in Shopify, which isn’t the longest period of time we’ve seen, but absolutely workable if you need this feature.
  • Tax rate calculation: Shopify will auto-detect your tax rate based on your store’s location (if using the POS), or based on your shipping zones for eCommerce. Shopify doesn’t calculate tax for international orders. However, Shopify does generate tax reports for you if you have Shopify Standard or higher. You can also set up tax overrides for entire collections of products or individual products (or product variants, such as digital books vs print editions). Just remember to confirm that Shopify’s tax rate is correct when you get started.
  • Loyalty programs: This is not a native feature to Shopify. If you want a loyalty program, you’ll have to start looking at apps in the Shopify ecosystem and find one that works for you. There’s at least 1 free program, but the more advanced systems will cost you more.

*Shopify POS lets you connect external terminals and third-party payment providers, which may cost you more. 

Square Register Features: 

  • Accept credit card payments: You can also log cash and check transactions, but this feature isn’t nearly as robust as Shopify’s.
  • Split Tender: Accept cash and card, or cash and check, or check and card.
  • Discounts: Apply discounts on individual items or on the whole order, by percentage or dollar amount.
  • Reporting: Square’s reporting features are pretty solid, but they’re not quite on the same level as Shopify’s. Still, Square’s reporting will cover all the basics and does have some advanced filters so you can customize the data.
  • Item variants: Set different colors/styles/pricing for your various items.Square prefers to call these “price points” and you can track them in inventory. You can also add item modifiers, which are add-ons that don’t affect your inventory counts, though restaurants are far more likely to use this feature than retail shops.
  • Syncing: Square’s inventory feature will automatically sync across your online store and Square Register, and you can view it in the online dashboard.
  • Low-stock alerts: Square will send you daily email alerts for low- or out-of-stock products. Being able to get a daily alert is very useful for busy merchants, especially because Square lets you set the threshold for low-stock alerts.
  • Email/SMS/print receipts: Send digital receipts via email or SMS, or if you have an iPad, print them.
  • Inventory: Square has a solid free inventory management system, but you can also integrate with Stitch Labs and other inventory services.
  • Employee accounts:You can use Square on any number of devices, but if you want employee accounts, multiple permissions, and timekeeping, you’ll need to sign up for Square’s employee management ($5 per employee per month)
  • Invoicing: Send invoices from within Square Register or online.
  • Full/partial refunds: Pretty self explanatory here.
  • Gift cards: No subscription required, no redemption fees. Just pay the cost of the cards themselves, and load them up on demand. Note these are physical cards only, but you can use them online.
  • Offline capabilities: Square’s Offline Mode is actually one of the most powerful I’ve seen. You can still process credit cards during an outage, and they’ll go through so long as you connect to the Internet within 72 hours. The caveat, of course, is that you’re assuming responsibility for any transactions that don’t go through.
  • Tax features: You can disable or enable tax collection with Square, and set price to include tax, or have it added on separately. As with Shopify, you can enable or disable tax on specific items. However, there’s no auto-detect feature, so you need to manually look up your applicable tax rates.
  • Loyalty programs: For $25/month you can add a punch-based customer loyalty program. All consumers have to do is opt for a digital receipt. You can set the purchase requirements to earn a reward (Which could be a free item or a discount). It’s not the most advanced system, but it’s still pretty flexible.

Square also has a host of features/subscription services targeting restaurants and other service-based companies, none of which you’ll find in Shopify. This includes kitchen ticket printing, adding tip (by percentage or dollar amount), appointment booking, delivery services, and much more.

All in all, though, the two POS systems are about evenly matched. Shopify is more robust in most areas, such as its support for many payment methods and store credit, whereas Square shines with the simple things, like supporting SMS receipts as well as email, low-stock alerts, and its offline mode.

Card Processing

Shopify and Square are both aggregators — that means, when you sign up to process payments through either of them, you don’t get your own merchant account; your transactions are simply lumped in with everyone else’s. Shopify actually processes through Stripe Payments.

Aggregating is what has lead to the common complaints you get about Square holding funds or terminating accounts at random. Shopify generally appears to be more stable, which is good given that Stripe also has a reputation for funding holds and account terminations. However, I was still able to find a few complaints about account holds — I wouldn’t say Shopify is immune, but it does a lot better on the stability front. Most of those holds happen when merchants suddenly fall within Shopify’s requirements for 1099-K reporting.

We’ll look at specific processing rates later on, but for now, here’s what you need to know:

Shopify will let you use its Payments service at no extra charge beyond your swipe fees and monthly service charges. If you choose to use a third-party gateway (PayPal, Braintree, your own merchant account, etc.), you’ll be charged an extra 0.5-2% transaction fee. Note that you get a choice of more than 70 gateways, which is quite impressive. There’s no charge at all for accepting cash, check, or alternative payment methods (such as Bitcoin) using the POS app.

Square will lock you into using its service for payments. You’ll pay standard rates for credit card processing, and nothing for accepting cash and check. However, you can’t set up any other alternative payment methods and log them using Square (unless you want to mark them as cash/check).

Shopify has the advantage in terms of sheer versatility. I like that you can process through a third party and even connect terminals and PIN pads (allowing you to get interchange rates for debit, if your processor offers them), but a 2% transaction fee is high, especially for a small merchant. However, if you don’t need all the bells and whistles, Square is a solid option for payments. You’re covered for all the basics and you know exactly what you’re going to pay for each transaction, every time.

Both Shopify and Square now have APIs that allow you to build payment processing into your own apps as well.

eCommerce

Shopify started as an eCommerce product, and it’s stayed true to that idea with robust shopping cart software and an easy-to-use design that even newbies to selling online can handle. Features include:

  • Hosted site: Shopify provides hosting for your site with unlimited bandwidth and unlimited products.
  • Domains: Use your shopify hosted domain only, purchase a domain through Shopify and set up a redirect, use an existing domain with a redirect, or buy your own domain and set up the redirect. There are a lot of options.
  • Buy buttons: Even if you don’t have shopping cart software set up on a site, you can use Shopify’s buy buttons to enable purchases on the web, or in an app, or via email with the Buy Button feature.
  • Sell on social media: With Shopify you can set up a store directly on Facebook, and also sell on Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Abandoned cart recovery: Millennials are especially guilty of cart abandonment but with this feature, you can win them back. Only available for Shopify Standard and up.
  • Store migration: Making a switch? Use one of Shopify’s third-party add-ons to migrate your store from eBay, Amazon, and Magento without having to manually upload all of your products.
  • Import/export via CSV: Add your products to your store using Shopify’s CSV template.
  • Automatic data sync: Inventory is automatically updated and synced across all your sales channels, including your POS and social media.
  • Reporting: We’ve mentioned this already, but it bears repeating that you get some solid reporting features and can separate data by sales channel.
  • Order management: Shopify has some comprehensive order management tools that work in the app as well as through the dashboard. You can also get integrations to help with it.
  • Third-party integrations: There are a LOT of integrations out there for Shopify (just check out the app store). Some are free, some will cost you. But in addition to your standard accounting, inventory, and order management integrations, you can opt for a Fulfillment by Amazon integration and recurring billing/layaway services.
  • Discounted postage rates: Postage can be one of the biggest expenses for online shop owners, but if you print your postage through Shopify, you can get a discount. The higher-tiered packages give bigger discounts.
  • Many themes: Design-wise, Shopify gives you a huge selection of store themes and you can even customize them further if you have programming knowledge.

Square’s eCommerce support initially felt more like an after-thought. It was very limited, but lately the company has really expanded its offerings, which makes me happy.

  • Hosted site: Square will give you a webstore on its own domain. This feature is pretty limited, but it’s a great starter site and there’s no monthly cost.
  • Domains: You can also integrate your store with Weebly, Bigcommerce, or Ecwid. 
  • Import/export via CSV: Get your online store loaded up quickly, or update your inventory counts en masse. Also helpful for migrating stores.
  • Automatic data sync: Inventory is automatically updated and synced across your online store and the Register POS.
  • Reporting: All of your data is available and can be downloaded from the Square dashboard.
  • Third-party integrations: Square’s list of integrations includes some robust inventory and order management tools. There’s a custom API you can use to create your own.
  • Order management: You can manage your orders through Square’s online dashboard, but not in the app. Integrations can extend the functionality.

Shopify offers far more eCommerce features, but it’ll be interesting to see what Square does in the future. It’s also worth mentioning that if you opt to integrate your existing site with Square, you’re going to get the benefits of whatever shopping cart software you choose, so even if Square lacks a feature you need, you might be able to get it another way.

Compatible Hardware:

Winner: Shopify

Both Square and Shopify offer a range of hardware options, from free credit card readers to full-fledged retail kits with everything you need for a conventional register setup.

At the very least, you’re going to need a card reader to use with your smartphone or tablet. You have a couple different options there:

Shopify Card Reader Options:

  • Magstripe reader: Free
  • EMV/NFC reader: $129 (retail: $149)
  • Lightning magstripe reader: $99 (includes charging capabilities)
  • Third party terminals and PIN pads: $199 and up

Square Card Reader Options: 

  • Magstripe reader: Free
  • EMV/Magstripe reader: $29
  • EMV/NFC reader: $49 (includes free magstripe reader)
  • EMV/NFC reader with PIN pad: $129 (iOS only)

That’s just for the basic setup for smartphones or tablet. If you happen to have an iPad, you can take advantage of both services’ more advanced features (such as receipt printing), but you’ll need more hardware. Both provide ready-to-go retail bundles that you can use to set up your register.

Shopify Retail Kit

A bundled, ready-to-go retail kit from (excluding your tablet) costs $779. That includes:

  • iPad stand (retail price $129)
  • Bluetooth receipt printer ($399)
  • 16-inch cash drawer ($139)
  • EMV/NFC card reader ($139).

You can also purchase each piece of hard hardware separately, but buying the bundle will save you about $25. Other available hardware includes:

  • Barcode reader ($229/$399)
  • Barcode dock ($79)
  • Barcode printer ($119)
  • EMV/NFC reader dock ($39)
  • Cash drawers ($139-$349)

Square Retail Kit 

Square offers a few options for retail kits that range from $486 to $659, depending on your tablet (it even offers kits for select Android tablets. The iPad Air kit, which is $659, includes the following:

  • Square stand ($99)
  • USB receipt printer ($299)
  • Bundle of receipt paper ($49)
  • 16-inch cash drawer ($229).

Note that doesn’t include an EMV-compliant card reader (the Square Stand has a basic built-in magstripe reader), which will add $29 to $129 to the cost, depending on which EMV reader you want. You can add an iPad Air for $399, as well.

Something worth noting is that Square does not officially support bar code printers, whereas Shopify does. Some Square users have had luck with a Dymo printer, but there’s absolutely no guarantee.

Other available hardware includes:

  • Barcode scanner ($199)
  • EMV/NFC reader dock ($29)

Square actually offers a selection of both wireless and Ethernet-based receipt printers, as well as a kitchen receipt printer, and multiple cash drawers. With Shopify, there’s only one receipt printer but you do get multiple cash drawers.

It really comes down to your person needs. I like that Shopify’s kit includes an EMV card reader by default, because it is very important for businesses to transition over to accepting the new chip cards. It’s a nice thought that Square includes receipt paper, but I think an EMV reader is a lot more important.

Fees and Rates:

Winner: Square

At first glance, Shopify and Square appear to have identical pricing: 2.7% for swiped transactions and 2.9% + $0.15 for online transactions. Simple, right?

However, that doesn’t account for Shopify’s monthly fee or its retail add-on package, or the transaction fees if you choose another payment processor. Depending on which features you need, the cost of Shopify can really start to add up over time, especially with add-ons. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you should look closely at your budget and projected sales to see if you can justify the expense.

Square Fees

Square will charge you $0 in monthly fees, PCI compliance, etc. You will pay nothing beyond the credit card transaction fees unless you opt for one of the add-on services (appointment booking, email marketing, employee time management/payroll). It really, really is that simple.

  • Credit card fees: 2.7% swiped, 3.5% + $0.15?? keyed, 2.9% + $0.30 eCommerce.

Shopify Fees

There are four Shopify plans. As you can expect, with higher-tiered plans, you get a greater number of features. Check out the Shopify pricing page for a full breakdown of features:

Shopify Lite ($9/month) 

  • Facebook store
  • Buy buttons
  • Shopify POS
  • Invoicing
  • 24/7 support
  • Credit card rates: 2..7% swiped, 2.9% + $0.30 eCommerce

Shopify Basic ($29/month)

  • 2 staff accounts
  • 24/7 support
  • Online store + blog
  • Discount codes
  • Fraud analysis
  • Sell on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest
  • Credit card rates: 2..7% swiped, 2.9% + $0.30 eCommerce

Shopify Standard ($79/month)

  • Everything in Shopify Basic
  • 5 staff accounts
  • Professional reports
  • Gift cards
  • Abandoned cart recovery
  • Credit card rates: 2.6% + $0.30 per online and 2.4% for swiped transactions,

Shopify Advanced: $299/month

  • Everything in Shopify Standard
  • 15 staff accounts
  • Advanced report builder
  • Real-time carrier shipping
  • Credit card rates: 2.4% + $0.30 for online/2.2% swiped.

The plan I really want to draw your attention to is Shopify Lite. If you are just starting out, this is the most affordable option, and you can still sell online via Facebook or your own site (or even Tumblr). If you find that Shopify is right for you, you can upgrade to the Basic or Standard plans. If that’s still too much of an expense, or you want a hosted eCommerce site without paying for it, you’re better off with Square.

For large businesses, there’s Shopify Plus, which is the company’s enterprise solution with custom pricing based on your volume and features.

Shopify Retail Package 

If you want to track staff shifts and run a proper register setup with receipt printers and other hardware on your Shopify POS, it won’t come cheap. You need the Retail Package, which will give you individual PINs for your staffers and allow you to use hardware and integrations for $40/month.

This is where it’s worth doing the math. Square doesn’t charge you for using add-on hardware. But it will charge you for employee management (timekeeping and staff IDs). That’s $5/employee monthly, so if you have more than 8 employees, Shopify winds up being the better value, if we’re just counting the retail package, not the monthly fee.

Shopify Transaction Fees

We’ve already covered what you’ll pay if you use Shopify payments to process credit cards. (Note: there’s no fee at all for cash, check, or alternative payment methods). But what if you already have a credit card processor and just need an eCommerce solution and mobile processing? Shopify will let you do that!

It’ll just cost you.

Let’s say you’ve got a great interchange-plus plan where you’re actually getting the very low debit interchange rates. You’ve got a PIN pad so your customers can process cards as debit.

First of all, you need to have the Retail package — so that’s $40 plus whatever Shopify plan you have. You’ll pay your credit card processor whatever they normally charge, and then an additional percentage to Shopify.

  • Shopify Basic: 2%
  • Shopify Standard: 1%
  • Shopify Advanced: 0.5%

So that’s a lot to consider. I highly encourage you to do the math and figure out where the best deal lies for you!

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

Winner: Tie

Square has no contracts what so ever. Everything is pay-as-you-go, with all of its add-ons on a monthly subscription. You can even try each service out for 30 days, no charge.

Shopify is a monthly service. You can pay for an annual package and save some money per-month, but otherwise there are no contracts or obligations. You can get a 14-day trial, no credit card required.

Either way, there’s no long-term commitment, which is a serious advantage.

Sales and Advertising Transparency:

Winner: Tie

Overall, Square and Shopify are both very transparent as far as their sales and advertising go. There’s no hidden fees, no contracts, no sneaky auto-renewal clauses. I like the resources that both companies put out — blog posts on topics that merchants should be aware of, and tips for helping their businesses thrive. This is important, especially when serving small businesses. We live in the information age, and yes, content is king. You should absolutely expect this out of any service you use — especially in the payments space. Educated merchants make for better customers.

Both are doing very well on the social media front as well, with active Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, as well as dedicated Twitter support channels (@SqSupport and @ShopifySupport, respectively).

This is exactly what we like to see. You know exactly what you’re paying for, you know all of the terms, and you know what you’re getting. Best of all, you can move on whenever you’re ready.

Customer Service and Technical Support:

Winner: Shopify

Shopify is the clear winner in this category. No matter what Shopify plan you have, you get 24/7 access to the support team, which is astounding. Not only that, but the support team’s overall reputation is quite good, with timely responses and helpful answers. I also like that Shopify’s knowledge base is incredibly detailed. You should be able to get answers to a lot of the questions you’ll have without having to get anyone on the line. You can also get email, live chat, and phone support. There’s a community forum, and Shopify will even help pair you with experts who will help you complete your project. This is a convenient way to get up and running if you have more capital but not a lot of time or know-how — expect to pay for these experts’ time and insights.

Square…well, if you check out our Square review, you’ll see what others have said. While the company has made major strides to improve, it’s far from perfect. That said, Square’s knowledgebase is astounding. As with Shopify, unless you’re dealing with a complex, account-specific problem, you’ll be able to find an answer without having to contact one. You can get phone support, but you’ll have to get a code first. Otherwise, it’s email only to contact Square directly. It’s also interesting to note that Square just added a user forum where merchants can connect. I expect to see this feature take off soon.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Winner: Shopify

Square’s complaints fall into two categories, mostly: account holds/terminations and bad customer support. The issues are related, too: merchants find out their accounts have been shut down or funds are being held until additional verification is required, and run into a brick wall when it comes to support and getting the matter resolved. We’ve seen an overall improvement on this front, but these are no minor concerns. (Another concern we’ve seen a lot of recently is faulty EMV hardware, but Square is generally good about replacing it.)

The complaints about Shopify are far different. One of the biggest complaints is that you can’t get a hosted payment page — any time customers complete a purchase they’re directed to checkout.shopify.com, which may drive off some potential buyers, who are understandably wary. Another common complaint is the difficulty of learning Shopify’s programming language, Liquid. If you want to make code-level tweaks to your site you are much better off hiring a Shopify expert. Something else that comes up quite often is that many of the apps and integrations available through Shopify aren’t free. This isn’t surprising, but it can be understandably frustrating for merchants, especially those who are just starting out.

We have found a few complaints about Shopify holding merchants funds, but nowhere near on the scale of Square or even Stripe, through which Shopify processes payments.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

Winner: Shopify

Most of the positive chatter you will find about Square comes from the Reviews page, or big news publications (linked to on said page). From general user chatter, merchants love how easy it is to get started, the fact that all of the core features are free, and the overall ease of use. The fact that it offers an EMV reader for just $29 is amazing when most hardware runs upward of $100 is nice, especially for merchants who are just starting out, and the offline mode can be very useful.

With Shopify, people also rave about the ease of use. The fact that you have so many gorgeous themes to choose from with your online store is a major advantage. The rates are competitive (especially if you use Shopify Payments), and with the higher-tiered plans you get some really great features especially. But even the basic plans have everything you need.

Final Verdict:

Winner: Shopify

It’s difficult to say unequivocally that Shopify or Square is better than the other. Shopify does have many more advantages than Square — more robust POS app and eCommerce features, round-the-clock customer service, and less of a reputation for holds. But that doesn’t mean that Square isn’t a good choice for some merchants. Especially for new merchants, Square makes a LOT of sense.

Let’s look at a few key factors that will influence your decision:

Cost: Square is by far the less expensive service, especially if you are just starting out. If your online sales or in-person credit card payments are infrequent, Square’s pay-as-you-go plan with no monthly fee is ideal. As your cash flow improves, and business steadies, it makes more sense to invest the cash in tools that will make managing your business easier (and less time-consuming!).

Features: Square Register is easily the most robust free mPOS app out there. But that’s among free apps. Shopify isn’t free, and when you look at the feature sets, it’s pretty clear why. You’ll get more features suited to growing eCommerce and retail businesses than you would with Square. If you are doing steady business, you should absolutely consider upgrading if the features work for you.

Add-Ons and Integrations: How do you run your business? Do you print barcodes for every product? If not, the fact that Shopify supports barcode printers and scanners is probably irrelevant to you. But what other services do you use for your business? Both Shopify and Square offer a custom API that you can use to integrate if you have the technical know-how, but if you don’t, which one has a greater selection of ready-to-go integrations that suit your business? Keep in mind that Shopify’s app store is full of a huge selection of free and paid integrations that can do everything from help you migrate your inventory from eBay to Shopify to setting up layaway plans.

Level of Support: Hands-down, you will get better customer support from Shopify than Square. You can contact them 24/7 by email, phone, and live chat, whereas Square only offers email and phone (during limited hours and only with a code). Both have community forums and pretty respectable knowledge bases, so most of the basic technical questions may not ever require contacting a support person. It also bears mentioning that Shopify allows you to connect with experts who can get you set up, or take your business to the next level. If having someone you can reach at any time with questions is of the utmost importance to you, then Shopify is the obvious solution. If you’re the go-it-alone type, Square should do you just fine.

I hope this has helped you understand some of the big differences between Shopify and Square! They look quite similar at first glance, but when you scratch beneath the surface you’ll find they both have so much to offer. You absolutely need to consider costs when making the choice, but keep in mind your long-term goals and the features you are most interested in pursuing.

Have experience with either or both of these services? We’d love to hear from you, too! Leave a comment! And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

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Square VS Vend

Square-vs-Vend
Finding a robust POS app that is also affordable is basically like ordering a really delicious cupcake with just the right amount of icing. Finding one that has mobile support and an integrated eCommerce store? Well, that’s akin to the holy grail for new and small business owners.

Vend is something a bit unconventional in the POS space. Its POS app is entirely browser-based, powered by HTML. That means you can run it on both Windows and Mac computers — as well as iPads! Everything is stored in the cloud, meaning you can access your information everywhere. There’s also an integrated eCommerce store, and integrated payments.

Square is best known for its mobile payments app, which lets anyone accept credit card payments with just a smartphone and card reader. But the real advantage to Square is a powerful, completely free POS app — and an entire ecosystem of business products that can help entrepreneurs exceed. Everything is stored in the cloud, as well. And did we mention you can sell on Square’s marketplace or through pretty much any other shopping cart software, too?

All of this sounds great, right? Good.

Vend will charge you a monthly fee for its POS. There are multiple subscriptions depending on what features you need. You have a limited selection of payment processors (at least for retail setups) with no transaction fees, and a simple, but functional, eCommerce setup (if you opt for the mid-tier plan).

Square is entirely pay-as-you-go. The POS is free — you pay only the processing fees, plus a monthly fee for whatever a la carte services you choose to add on. eCommerce support is entirely free beyond processing fees — you can use Square’s hosted solution or integrate with something else.

Both services have all three core offerings: a retail setup with a solid POS, mobile capabilities, and eCommerce setups. But as you’ll see, both have different core strengths. I highly encourage you to think about where most of your business comes from and evaluate which features are most important. Then crunch the numbers and look for the most cost-effective strategy.

Read on to see how Square and Vend match up on core features, extra services, cost, support, and more!

Products and Services:

Winner: Tie

Square and Vend are both omni-channel commerce solutions. They’re integrated so well that you can sell pretty much anywhere and keep all of your sales data and inventory in one centralized dashboard. Let’s take a look at how each of the 3 sides of Square’s products (the POS app, payments, and eCommerce solutions) match up. We’ll also take a look at the integrations and extra services available.

POS App

Sometimes I am genuinely shocked that Square doesn’t charge at all for its POS app (and a bit disappointed that it won’t let you use the app with a different payment gateway). It is without question the most robust free mobile POS (mPOS) out there. While it’s definitely friendly to both iPhones and Android devices, you get the most functionality out of an iPad. This is especially important in a retail setup.

Vend’s core offering is its POS — it’s taken the easy path toward integrating payments and eCommerce as well. So its app really is the biggest draw. Here’s the thing, though: I have a hard time really calling Vend “mobile friendly.” Since the POS is primarily browser-based, it runs on Windows and Mac computers. There is also an iPad-exclusive POS app — no Android, not even iPhone. That said, you can absolutely make do with an iPad as your mobile solution for pop-up shops or booths at events. I just don’t think Vend is really designed with mobile as a priority.

Square POS App Features:

  • Unlimited registers and up to 75 locations: Note: if you want to track individual employees, you’ll need to add the employee management subscription. But if you don’t need that individual data, this feature is free.
  • User permissions: This is fully customizable — you determine the role and what features they can use. But you have to be using Square’s Employee Management system. Otherwise, it’s all default.
  • Credit card payments: Accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express at 1 flat rate.
  • Transaction records: Record cash and check as well as accepting cards. This still allows you to take advantage of the customer database and loyalty program features.
  • Split tender: Accept cash and card in one transaction.
  • Inventory: Square’s inventory feature is basic, but it does allow you to keep track of stock levels in-store and online. Square will send you low-stock alerts and let you set your own threshold for them. Square also integrates with Stitch Labs for more comprehensive inventory support.
  • Import/Export via CSV: Populate your online and retail stores with products in one go.
  • Product Variants and Add-Ons: Technically, Square calls variants “price points” — but the point is the app supports them. You can also add item modifiers, which are essentially add-ons.
  • Email/SMS/print receipts: Your choice (and your customers’, too).
  • Full and partial refunds: Self-explanatory.
  • Gift cards: Order your own custom designs. There’s no redemption fees or activation fees. You only pay processing fees if the gift card is purchased on a card.
  • Offline mode: Square’s offline mode is pretty unique. Most “offline” functions for POS apps allow you to accept cash only — no cards. But with Square you can swipe a card as normal, and as long as you reconnect to the net within 72 hours, the transaction will go through. The caveat is that you eat the cost of any declined transactions.
  • Sales tax and tip: Square’s sales tax feature is basic, but very functional. Toggle sales tax collection on or off and set multiple rates as necessary, if you are selling in multiple locations or move around. You can also enable tips, which is something Vend does not support.
  • Loyalty program: Square’s loyalty program (add-on for $25/month per location) works by giving either free items or percentage discounts. The system is tied to the customer’s mobile number.
  • Reporting: Square won’t give you the advanced reporting of a full-scale POS but it does pretty well in this category.
  • Customer-facing display: This is a beta feature, but one that puts Square closer to full-fledged POS systems.
  • Customer database: Square’s customer database isn’t quite as advanced as you’ll find with more expensive CRM software, but it’s definitely worth looking into, and it’s improving all the time. In addition to the loyalty program, there’s a feedback feature and custom segmentation, and it links directly with Square’s email marketing service (starts at $15/month).
  • Special Offers: Send automated email campaigns linked from your customer database if you use Square’s email marketing.

Vend POS App Features:

  • Sell through one or multiple outlets: While multi-outlet support will cost you more (a point we’ll come back to), you can get a boatload of features that will make managing each location easier.
  • User Permissions: You can choose from pre-set roles with limited customization, but this is an entirely free service.
  • Accept Credit Card Payments: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express through one of Vend’s partners. You can also use non-integrated solutions through another payment processor if you choose.
  • Record cash payments: No check support, though.
  • Split tender: Accept cash and card.
  • Inventory: Vend has options to help you manage your stock orders in the dashboard as well.
  • Import/Export via CSV: Vend allows barcode printing, too.
  • Product variants: The POS technically supports 3 types of products: Standard, Variant, and Composite. Standard products are individual items with no other versions. Variants are products such as clothing, which come in different colors and sizes. Vend’s system allows you to create 3 modifiers per item. Composite products are those assembled from your inventory into a grouping — such as gift baskets. You cannot have separate inventory for composite products; it’s based on inventory for your other products.
  • Parked sales: This lets you save ticket in the POS and pull it up later, which is useful.
  • Price Books: You can create different price books for different stores, or for promotions, or for loyalty customers, or for whatever other reason you want. In Square, the best way to accomplish this is by setting individual item modifiers, so Vend is definitely far more functional.
  • Full and partial refunds: Self-explanatory. You can also do exchanges, a feature not available with Square.
  • Email or customizable print receipts: Your choice.
  • Store credit: This is a new feature, still in beta, but I would expect to see it roll out to everyone soon. Unlike Shopify, which lets you issue store credit but doesn’t have a proper way to track it, Vend’s store credit feature lets you keep track of it in your customer database. Currently this feature integrates with Xero, but not QuickBooks Online.
  • Gift cards: Gift cards work in store and online, but you can’t order them from Vend the way you can with many others (including Square).
  • Offline mode: Vend has an offline feature — but like Shopify and many other POS systems, it really only lets you accept cash payments and record sales. No credit card sales. In addition, you have to be signed in before the outage, and in offline mode has limited features. That said, it will get you through an outage mostly OK if you can survive on cash alone.
  • Sales tax: There’s no tip feature in Vend at all. However, its sales tax features are pretty advanced. You can set a single tax rate for everything, or create groups of tax rates. You can also set tax by location. The one flaw I see in the system is that creating tax rates doesn’t apply them to any existing products in your store. If you’ve already loaded products into your store, you’ll need to open up those products and modify the tax settings.
  • Loyalty program: Vend’s loyalty program is very simple, based on a dollars-for-dollars system. Spend so much and earn so many dollars to spend.
  • Reporting: Vend has some pretty advanced reporting — you can generate pre-populated reports or create your own custom ones.
  • Layaway program: This is included at no charge, with no integration required.
  • Customer-facing screen: A useful feature available at no-extra charge. You can only have one register linked to a display, but you can link multiple displays to one register.
  • Customer database: Obviously the database is good for having a loyalty program, With Vend, it’s possible to segment databases by groups and even create different price books for them (such as rewarding particularly loyal customers with special offers). Vend’s API can link it to another CRM if you want. Note that Vend doesn’t have its own email marketing service; you have to integrate with another.

While Square’s app is incredibly robust for an mPOS, it’s still not quite quite on par with a full-fledged POS like Vend. You’ll get an incredible array of features, but if you are looking for some highly advanced, retail-specific capabilities — like store credit and layaway, you should look more toward Vend. Of course, Square also supports more service-based companies with many of its features, notably restaurants. And you get a lot of integrated services in a single place (email marketing, loyalty program, even timekeeping and payroll). They’ll cost you more than just the processing fees, obviously, but the convenience of everything being consolidated in one place, with a single log-in and no need to bother with importing/exporting data, certainly can’t be overlooked.

eCommerce

As my fellow writer, Jordan, noted in her review, Vend’s eCommerce offering is basic. It was something added later, and so it’s not as refined as the POS system. You get everything you need to run a web store in tandem with your retail setup, but it’s not feature rich by any stretch. Here’s what you get:

  • Free hosting
  • Free domain (or bring your own)
  • Multiple responsive themes to choose from
  • HTML and CSS support
  • Integrate with Shopify’s eCommerce store for greater functionality (and higher cost)
  • Inventory sync across retail and online stores
  • Customer accounts (can be linked to customer profiles in database)
  • Sales and promotions through Vend price books
  • Social media integrations
  • Integrated reporting features
  • Flexible shipping
  • Customizable tax settings
  • Pay Later (to support ACH or in-store cash payments)

There are some drawbacks, however. The eCommerce system isn’t particularly friendly to dropshipping, and there’s no integrated blogging system or email marketing (but you can get email CRM with an integration). You can’t support individual promo codes, either. Inventory is based on a single outlet, and you can’t change the outlet later. The system also doesn’t support partial payments using gift cards — the entire balance must be paid using the gift card.

But honestly? Square’s eCommerce feature isn’t amazingly complex, either. Unless you choose to integrate another shopping cart), you sell through Square’s marketplace (which gives you a hosted domain and URL, and not much else). The store designs you can choose from are responsive but there isn’t a lot of customizability. Square’s features include:

  • Free hosting
  • Free domain (or bring your own)
  • Multiple responsive themes to choose from
  • Choice of responsive templates
  • Support for digital and physical products (this is one of the biggest differentiators from Square)
  • In-store pickup available
  • Integrated reporting
  • Customizable tax settings

If you want more advanced features, or even just your own domain, you can integrate with Weebly, BigCommerce, or Ecwid or play around with Square’s API for a custom solution — but that’s only if you’re comfortable playing around with such things. Again, there’s no blog at all, and shipping options are somewhat limited — but you can enhance the options using an add-on such as ShipStation.

I think it’s important to remember that unlike a service such as Shopify, which was always meant to help people sell online, both Vend and Square started off serving different markets — Vend is a POS system for retailers, while Square’s core feature has always been mobile payments. It’s not surprising that both of these are lacking in eCommerce options. However, I look forward to seeing what both of these services introduce next as omni-channel commerce becomes more important.

Payments

I appreciate the simplicity of Square’s payments system. But no matter what kind of volume you do, you pay the same flat rate — 2.75% for swiped cards, 2.9% + $0.30 for eCommerce. There’s no reduction in fees until you hit a very high volume — much higher than would qualify most merchants for a solid interchange-plus plan. The good news is you don’t have to deal with any sort of tiered pricing or qualified cards, all of which can be frustrating for merchants. You even process American Express at 2.75%. You can’t use any other payment processor with the app. But at the same time, it’s worth noting that you don’t pay for the POS at all — and you don’t have to pay for a more advanced eCommerce option unless you want to.

Vend decided, rather than try to implement its own branded solution like Shopify or ShopKeep, to simply partner with some other payments providers. Vend is an international product, and so there are other solutions available in other countries, but in the U.S., if you want an integrated processing solution in-store, your options are PayPal and Vantiv Integrated Payments (formerly Mercury).

The biggest problem with this is that PayPal is about the same price as Square (2.7% per swipe, 2.9% + $0.30 for eCommerce), on top of Vend’s monthly fee. And Mercury/Vantiv Integrated, while not the worst company out there, has a record of spotty customer service and hidden fees and expensive contracts, and Vantiv tends to have a liquidated damages provision in its contracts.

However, there is a silver lining,of sorts. You can choose a non-integrated processing solution and use whatever merchant service provider you want. The one draw back to this is you’ll have to enter the transaction amount in your terminal and process it, then complete the transaction in Vend separately. It adds an extra step that not everyone wants to deal with. However, that said, it could easily be worth the trouble if you opt for a processor like Helcim, which will give you interchange-plus AND debit card rates for processing.

You can also choose from a variety of gateways (including Authorize.net) and connect your account to process eCommerce transactions. It’s a bit sad that Vend has disabled Authorize.net as a gateway option for the POS, but you can at least use it online so you can use virtually any payment processor.

None of these options is a terrible choice. When you want mobile processing, Square’s rates are absolutely competitive — as I’ve said, PayPal is very similar, and so are many other mobile options. I like that Vend will also give you special discounts once you clear $10,000 a month with PayPal. I also like that Vend doesn’t charge you any sort of transaction fees for using a non-integrated solution. Plus, with PayPal will let you start processing almost right away.

All I can say is, run the numbers. If you’re leaning toward Vend, talk to some of our top-rated processors and request a quote from Mercury. Don’t overlook PayPal, either. It might not be interchange plus, but there are some benefits: an affordable EMV reader, instant access to funds, and even a truly mobile option (PayPal Here) if you absolutely need to be able to use smartphones to process cards, not tablets. Plus, with the PayPal debit card, you can access your funds anywhere without needing to transfer them to your bank.

If you’re leaning toward Square, you have an advantage in that you pay no monthly fees, just card processing rates, That is, unless you opt for a monthly add-on service (like Employee Management). You can also get set up pretty much right away.

Compatible Hardware:

Winner: Tie

If you’re going to process credit cards, you need some sort of register setup, right? I like that both Vend and Square give you some flexibility in that department.

Vend Hardware

With Vend, you have a few choices for what platform to run your POS on:

  • Windows Computer: Requires Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 or Microsoft Surface Pro and Google Chrome.
  • Mac Computer: Requires Mac OSX Mountain Lion, Mavericks, Yosemite, or El Capitan and Google Chrome
  • iPad: Requires iOS 8 or later. Download the app from the iTunes store.

All the hardware is sold via POSportal.com, which doesn’t offer any laptops but does have iPads available.

Vend’s hardware kit consists of the bare bones: a cash drawer and a USB receipt printer, plus a cable. If you opt for the tablet package, you also get a tablet stand and an upgrade to an Ethernet receipt printer.

The upside to this is that Vend’s hardware kits are fairly affordable (starting at just over $300 for Mac or PC, for $500 for the tablet version). You can also pick and choose your own hardware and build a custom package that includes a thermal label printer, a barcode reader and dock, and more. In all, that’s not too bad.

You’re probably noticing there’s one big thing missing: card readers. That’s because it entirely depends on who you choose for processing. PayPal has just a single EMV-compatible reader (chip and PIN) available for $149, that also supports NFC. Mercury offers a choice of EMV-compatible wired and wireless terminals, as will any non-integrated processing service you choose. Costs will vary, so be sure to shop around.

And if you already have some hardware, it might be compatible with Vend, no new purchase required! You can check whether your hardware is compatible here.

Square Hardware 

Square is far more flexible as far as hardware is concerned. While it can’t run from desktops or laptops at all, you do have a large range of mobile devices and tablets to choose from:

  • Android: Works with tablets and phones. System requirements vary, check the list of devices with known issues.
  • iOS: Works with iPad, iPhone, iPod. Requires iOS 8 or later, but some hardware may not be compatible with iOS 9, only 9.1.

It’s worth mentioning again that a handful of Square’s features are iPad-only. You can also check the compatibility between your device and specific hardware here.

Square also offers an assortment of hardware bundles, all of which fall in the $500 to $700 range. These include a tablet stand, a receipt printer, and a cash drawer, as well as receipt paper and a free magstripe reader.

That means the EMV-compatible card readers are sold separately. However,you do have a few options:

  • EMV and magstripe reader: $29
  • EMV/NFC (chip and sig): $49 (includes a free magstripe reader)
  • EMV/NFC (chip and PIN): $129 (Note: This isn’t a branded Square reader, but a Miura m010, which supports iOS only).

The Square Stand ($99 or included in some kits) also has a free magstripe reader built in. You can get a dock for your EMV/NFC readers, as well as a bar code scanner. Square doesn’t officially support a label printer, but it says many customers have used a Dymo printer in their setup.

Both Vend and Square give you some very flexible options as far as hardware goes. You have multiple cash drawers and receipt printers, and even card readers. It really depends on what you need. Frankly, though, the low cost of Square’s EMV readers is a big draw — they are the the lowest prices I’ve seen anywhere.

Fees and Rates:

Winner: Square

It’s absolutely essential that your business find a POS and payment solution that fits your budget. There’s no sense in paying for more than you need, or letting yourself be conned into paying much higher credit card processing rates than you have to.

In that sense, Square has the advantage. You don’t pay for the POS, just card transactions. Here’s the basic transaction fees:

  • Swiped transactions: 2.75%
  • Invoice transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed-in transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
  • eCommerce transactions: 2.9% + $0.30

If you want some of the additional services, here’s what you’ll pay:

  • Gift cards: Per-card cost (starting at $2 per card and dropping as you order more)
  • Appointments: $30 for one person, $50 for 2-5 staff, $90 for unlimited staff.
  • Payroll: $20 monthly subscription + $5 per employee paid (available in limited states)
  • Employee management: $5 per employee
  • Email marketing: $15 per month and up, depending on package

With Vend, you can choose from multiple packages:

Free Plan ($0/month)

  • 10 active products
  • Customers: 1,000
  • Users: 1
  • Community forum support only

Starter Plan ($59/month on yearly plan, $69 billed monthly)

  • Single-outlet support
  • Active products: 500
  • Customers: Unlimited
  • Users: Unlimited
  • Live chat and email support

Advanced ($85/month on yearly plan, $99 billed monthly)

  • Single-outlet support
  • Active products: Unlimited
  • Customers: Unlimited
  • Users: Unlimited
  • eCommerce store
  • Live chat and email support

Multi-Outlet ($169/month on yearly plan, $199 billed monthly)

  • Multiple-outlet support
  • Active products: Unlimited
  • Customers: Unlimited
  • Users: Unlimited
  • eCommerce store
  • Live chat and email support
  • 24/7 phone support

Remember that this is on top of any processing fees you pay. On the one hand, $60-$70/month sounds expensive because Square is free, and Shopify’s basic plan is $29. If you want an eCommerce store, that costs even more.

But that kind of thinking overlooks the fact that Vend gives you unlimited users and hardware integration for free. Shopify will charge you $40/month for those capabilities, and Square will charge you $5 per employee per month.

I like that Vend won’t charge you any transaction fees if you choose a non-integrated solution. If you use Shopify, you can wind up paying an additional 2% per transaction on top of your processor’s fees. And Square won’t let you use anyone else for payment processing at all.

If you use a different eCommerce gateway with Vend, you could wind up paying an additional charge for that. And if you choose an add-on (such as Shopify’s eCommerce integration), you’ll pay more for that, too. The same applies if you choose to integrate Square with another eCommerce provider, like BigCommerce.

This is really a matter of what you can afford vs. what you need. Since Square is entirely pay-as-you-go, it’s a good starting place if this is your first foray into retail. If you definitely need Vend’s capabilities, be sure to shop around and find the most affordable and convenient solution for card processing. Remember that you can use the import/export features both Vend and Square provide to move your data over if you ever decide to switch providers.

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

Winner: Square

With Square, there’s no contracts, no monthly fees. You can stop using Square whenever you want with absolutely no penalty. That is a significant advantage. You can also try the add-on services for 30 days completely free.

Vend gives you the option to save some money by paying for a full year in advance. Otherwise, you can go month-to-month and pay more for each package. That’s pretty common for most SaaS (Software as a Service) providers. I recommend starting with the month-to-month plan and see how it works before you invest in Vend for a whole year. There’s a 30-day trial where you can decide if Vend is right for you. You can also try the free plan, although it has very limited offerings.

The other thing you need to consider, though, is who you choose as a processor with Vend. PayPal is entirely pay-as-you-go, so if you stop using Vend, you can stop using PayPal, too, with zero penalties.

The problem is if you choose Vantiv Integrated/Mercury. While if you look at the Vend site, it says that Vantiv offers no-term contracts, that’s not the case across the board. The company does lock some of its vendors into multi-year contracts with ETFs. So even if you can stop using Vend whenever you want, you may still be stuck with a Mercury contract that could be potentially difficult to get out of.

Sales and Advertising Transparency:

Winner: Tie

Square has always been well known for its transparency. Clear, flat-rate processing, not hidden fees. There’s no pushy sales people, shady gimmicks or to-good-to-be-true promises. There’s a detailed knowledge base you can search without even needing an account, plus a solid blog with helpful resources for businesses, and social media (Twitter: @Square or @SqSupport, Facebook, LinkedIn).

I like what Square is doing in this department — though there is one niggling issue: account holds and freezes. Square isn’t exactly forthcoming about what causes them, and plenty of merchants are understandably upset. We’ll come back to this point in just a bit, though.

I also like how transparent Vend is. You know exactly what you’re getting and what the fees are. Again, there’s nothing that stinks of too-good-to-be-true. There is a sales force — you can request a consultation and Vend will send someone out to meet with you. However, I can’t find any evidence of Vend’s sales team using sketchy practices or hard selling techniques, which is good news indeed.

You can search Vend’s knowledge base before you sign up, and the blog is also full of great resource for merchants. Vend has a Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, as well as a YouTube and even a Pinterest.

The problem of course, is that payments aren’t integrated. PayPal is generally fair and transparent — flat-rate pricing, no shady gimmicks for businesses. You’ll see, if you dig into PayPal user reviews, that it still has an issue with holds and account terminations, but I can’t find any evidence that Vend users are affected by this.

The only “gimmick” I can find that Vend offers is a deal with PayPal that will give you a 50% discount on Vend when you sign up for both. The half-off deal lasts for three months. And if you process more than $10,000 monthly, you also get discounted PayPal rates.

Vantiv Integrated also has its own flaws with transparency (namely disclosure of that ETF). Quite a few complaints about Vantiv, especially recently, focus on merchants being overcharged for processing, which is understandably upsetting.

Customer Service and Technical Support:

Winner: Vend

Square and Vend have both managed to keep their prices down by looking for cost-effective support…which meant neither company offered phone support at all initially. Fortunately, that’s changed, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to say either company is completely rocking it in terms of customer service.

Check out any user reviews of Square, and the lack of customer service — especially decent phone support — is one of the most common issues. Square’s knowledge base is extremely detailed so you can solve most problems yourself. There’s also email support, and a new community forum. But to get on the phone, you need a customer code, which some users have had trouble getting (and something people with frozen or terminated accounts can’t get at all). There’s also a dedicated Twitter customer service channel, @SqSupport, and you can reach Square on Facebook as well.

Vend’s free plan doesn’t give you customer support at all — just access to the community forum. For the Basic and Advanced plans, you get access to a very detailed knowledge base, as well as email and live chat support — which is good. I like to see live chat as an option because honestly, waiting on hold and dealing with automated systems really sucks. However, if you really do prefer to talk to an actual person, Vend’s 24/7 phone support is only included in the multi-outlet plan. If you have one of the other paid plans, you can add phone support for $20/month. I don’t like merchants having to pay for customer support at all, but at least you get email and live chat at no added cost.

I do like that both companies have a service that will let you know whether the system is fully operational or whether it has issues. You can check out Vend’s status here, and Square’s here.

Something else worth mentioning is that if you need it, Vend has a lot of other resources to help. There’s Vend U, which is included at no charge with any paid subscription, and gives you a wealth of lessons and resources. If you’d rather pay an expert for their time, you can find Vend’s official list of partners here and look for someone in your area.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Winner: Vend

There are two very consistent complaints with Square:

  1. Its tendency to hold or terminate accounts with no warning and very little room for appeal
  2. Dubious customer support, especially after having your account frozen or terminated.

As far as holds and freezes go, that’s an unfortunate side effect of Square’s business model: it aggregates payments rather than opening individual merchant accounts for every single user. On the one hand, this means you can start processing much sooner, but on the other it means you may find yourself shut down with no warning. Square seems to be doing much better at mitigating the risk over all, and it’s definitely taking strides to improve its customer service, as well. However, if you are in a high-risk industry, I highly encourage you to avoid both Square and PayPal as your processors.

Vend’s complaints are a bit less focused. Some of the issues that come up most often include lack of various features, including limited cash management, or glitches in accounting integrations. Vend is constantly adding new features and rolling out improvements, though. There are also a handful of complaints about the quality of customer support — but these are very, very few and far between.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

Winner: Tie

It shouldn’t be so surprising that Vend and Square have a lot over overlap in the “Good Things” categories — namely, customers like how easy-to-use and intuitive both POS systems are. They are easy to set up and get running. Because everything is stored in the cloud you can access your data everywhere. Just grab your iPad and open up the app to run your reports and check on sales. Beyond that, here’s what else what people like about each:

Square

  • Easy to set up: You can start processing through Square pretty much right away.
  • Truly mobile: Unlike Vend, Square is truly mobile friendly. While the iPad gives you the most functionality, you can still run the system from a smartphone and have all your data in one place.
  • Offline mode: Square’s offline mode is the best one out there. It’s the only one that I know that will still let you process credit cards during an outage. Yes, you accept the risk yourself, but depending on your business it could be a nonissue.
  • Inexpensive: With a free website/shopping cart, a free POS, flat-rate processing and everything else, it’s hard to argue with the value that Square offers. When you throw in all the affordable monthly add-ons… it might not be the most advanced system, but Square has everything most businesses need at a very attractive cost.

Vend

  • Customer Service: You will see the few odd complaints about Vend’s customer service but overall, users really seem to appreciate it. You can get phone support if you want, but otherwise, live chat, email, and the knowledge base should see you through just fine.
  • Affordability: Vend sounds more expensive than Square, but compared to many other cloud solutions or full-fledged POS systems it is very affordable.
  • Feature set: Vend doesn’t have everything everyone could ever want — but it certainly has everything you need, and then some. Even better, the company is always introducing new, more advanced features. Overall many people are happy with everything Vend offers.

Final Verdict:

Winner: Tie 

In this case, it is honestly difficult to point out a clear winner. While Square and Vend have similar offerings, comparing them isn’t a perfect apples-to-apples comparison. Vend is a cloud POS that happens to work on an iPad; Square is a mobile payments app that happens to have a very effective POS that also works on an iPad.

As always, the issue ultimately boils down to what features you need and what you can afford. Vend is a great option for retail environments, but it requires a monthly or yearly subscription, plus you pay processing rates. Square is an excellent mobile solution, and it has everything you need to run a retail register setup as well. You pay only processing rates and the monthly subscription fee for any add-on services you want.

You get comparable options for hardware. Square gives you an online store at no additional cost, while Vend offers one in its mid-tier subscription plan. Both also give you inventory management and a choice of add-ons and integrations to expand the functionality.

If you’re unsure of your budget, you don’t need as many advanced features, or mobile is a genuine concern, Square is a viable option. You only pay per transaction, which is great if you’re just starting out. Just know that Square’s aggregating model isn’t quite as stable as a traditional merchant account.

If you can afford Vend and need the more advanced features it offers (exchanges, store credit, etc.), by all means go for it. You’ll certainly get better customer support, but for the most part everything is so intuitive you should not need much guidance. Make sure you shop around for the best processing option, and consider a non-integrated solution from one of our top-rated merchant account providers if you want the lowest rates and best service. .

I hope this helps you make a decision! Be sure to check out our other iPad POS options as well as our mobile processors.

The post Square VS Vend appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Square vs. Etsy: Which is Best for Artists and Crafters?

Square-vs-Etsy

Artists and crafters are a unique subsection of merchants, in my experience. And I say this as someone who has worked an artist table at conventions and other events for a few years. Running a business of this type deserves a special sort of consideration: if you are an artist or a crafter, you handle not just the sales, marketing, accounting, and other day-to-day tasks (like order fulfillment), but also the manufacturing! Some artists work on their business full time, while for others, it’s a second (or even third) job, but it is always 100% a labor of love.

But even a labor of love needs the right tools! While artists and crafters are essentially running retail businesses, many of the crucial components of a retail business — a solid POS, affordable retail hardware like receipt printers, and advanced inventory software — don’t always apply. Instead, mobility, flexibility, and affordability are most important. Omni-channel commerce, the ability to sell seamlessly in person and online, is often the best solution, because many people sell online as well as traveling around to events. And if you make your own products (2-D art, 3-D art, knitting/crochet, paper crafts, jewelry, for starters), there are two standouts in this category: Square and Etsy.

Background

SquareSquare review is well known in the arts community because it made accepting credit card payments via a smartphone feasible for the masses, allowing almost anyone to run a business anywhere you could get cell signal or Wi-Fi. More than 2 million merchants of all sizes use Square.

Etsy logoEtsy is the first marketplace that’s truly friendly to artists and other creators. It’s hugely popular with consumers, too, who know they can find tons of vintage and one-of-a-kind creations (not to mention their craft supplies) all in one place. Etsy boasts 1.6 million sellers.

Nowadays, both offer that oh-so-important omni-channel experience — though with a very different feel to each. Square’s biggest draw is the sheer abundance of features it offers, but not all of them are something artisans can or will use, at least not until their business grows a bit. Etsy’s biggest draw is its visibility — the guaranteed traffic to your online shop. It also offers other tools and partnerships to help merchants grow their business.

If you’re just getting started with your art or crafts business, or you’re looking to take it to the next level, Etsy and Square should be at the top of your list for ways to do so. But which is the better option? That depends on a lot of factors.

1. Do you sell (or plan to sell) mostly online and only occasionally in person? Mostly in person and occasionally online? Both? Do you want to change that ratio at all? Some artists and craftspeople sell very well online, while others have much more success at events. Selling online can provide extra money in between events.

2. How much freedom do you want in selling online? If you want to be able to build an entirely custom website, Etsy is likely not a good fit for you. Square has its limitations as well, but they are far fewer. As far as websites go, convenience (and a built-in audience) will always cost you more.

3. How large are your average purchases? If you have a large average ticket size, you might want to consider investing in an EMV reader. EMV is the official name for the chip cards that have been cropping up more often of late. Rather than relying on the magnetic strip (magstripe) on the back of cards, EMV readers encrypts information from the tiny computer chips embedded on the front of the cards. It’s a more secure method of data transmission and also makes it more difficult to counterfeit cards.

That’s important because in October 2015, there was a massive liability shift in terms of who’s responsible for processing any fraudulent cards. Now, any merchant who swipes a chip card that turns out to be fraudulent is responsible for the cost of the transaction. There are a couple of caveats: this doesn’t directly affect eCommerce, and it doesn’t apply to cards that don’t have the EMV chip.

NFC, or near-field communication, is what powers contactless payment methods such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. While it’s not necessary to accept NFC payments (they’re still very much a new thing), if your audience tends to be younger and tech-savvy, it’s not a bad idea to be ahead of the adoption curve (if you have the funds for it).

Generally speaking, artists are at a lower risk for fraud than other retail businesses, especially those who have a lower ticket volume. That doesn’t mean you should assume you’re immune to fraud, but it shouldn’t haunt your thoughts if you don’t have the cash for an EMV-friendly reader right away. (It’s worth noting that Etsy doesn’t offer an EMV reader at all.)

Both Square and Etsy have shortcomings, as well as serious advantages. One issue is that both use aggregate payment processing, which translates to greater account instability. But the same, the convenience of automatic inventory counts and minimal work to create an online shop should not be overlooked.

Let’s take a look at the key elements of Square and Etsy — the mobile apps, the online stores, and the costs — to see how they stack up against each other.

Square vs. Etsy: Mobile Apps

Etsy started as an online sales platform only. Eventually it introduced its own mobile app, called Sell on Etsy. It is partly a dashboard for managing your online sales, and partly an app for taking payments in person.

Square’s app is called Square Register, and it’s honestly the most robust mobile POS (mPOS) app out there right now. It is available for both Android and iOS. However, unlike Etsy, the Register app is almost exclusively for in-person sales. eCommerce sales are mostly controlled through the browser-based dashboard.

Square Register App Features:

square-register-tablet

You may not ever need all of the features Square has to offer, but it has some great ones:

  • Custom Sales Tax: While I wish Square would get around to an auto-detect feature that can pick up sales tax rates based on GPS location, it is still nice that you can toggle sales tax on and off and save multiple tax profiles in the app. You can also set or disable tax for specific items as needed.
  • Item variants and add-ons: Great especially if you have several color options for the same basic item.
  • Record cash and check transactions: Keep all your transactions in one place, which is helpful especially if you are using Square’s inventory option. No fee for either of these options.
  • Inventory sync: if you sell online and have inventory management enabled, the system will automatically adjust your inventory count when you sell an item. So if you sell out at an event, no one can purchase that item from your online store. That’s a useful feature if you only have a limited run of products, or maybe even just a single item. Most mPOS providers allow you to create items and run sales reports for what sold, but they don’t keep track of your inventory like Square does, which can be a very big deal.
  • Invoicing: Do you take custom orders and commissions? Square lets you send invoices directly from within the Register app (or through the online dashboard). The invoice is free to send, and there’s no charge beyond the transaction fee, which is deducted from the total invoice once it’s paid.
  • Apply Discounts: You can apply a percentage discount to one or all items, or apply a dollar-amount discount to the entire purchase. This applies to orders before tax is applied.
  • Email/SMS receipts: Send digital receipts at your customer’s request.
  • Custom purchase amounts: If you don’t use Square’s inventory feature or item listings, you can still just ring up individual purchases by just the amount.
  • Full and partial refunds: Send full or partial refunds from within the app or the online dashboard.
  • Offline mode: Process credit cards even when you can’t get Wi-Fi or cellular signal. Of course, you eat the cost for any transactions that are declined, so use this feature at your own risk. Still, it’s very useful, especially if you’re at a venue where it’s difficult to get signal.
  • Item and category creation: You can create and manage your items in the app using both Android and iOS devices.

Some of Square’s more advanced features (such as the ability to scan item bar codes) are only available in the app if you’re using an iPad. However, most of these are more focused on retail stores, so you likely don’t need them as an artist. Also, you have full control over everything if you log into your Square account in a web browser and head to the dashboard.

Overall, though, the Register app is simple to use and very intuitive. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding your way around it even if the technology is entirely new to you. Remember that you don’t have control over eCommerce sales from within the app. You need the dashboard for that.

Something else I like is that Square keeps a comprehensive list of devices with known issues. This is very helpful because Square offers multiple credit card readers, and not all of them work with every device.

Speaking of hardware: the basic magstripe reader is still free from Square if you order online (or you can get a credit for purchasing it in-store). You can get an EMV/magstripe reader for $29, and the EMV/NFC readers start at $49. Check out our unboxing of the Square chip reader here.

Sell on Etsy App Features:

While Square Register is largely for processing payments and most eCommerce matters must be handled through a web browser, the Sell on Etsy app is much more comprehensive. Available for Android and iOS, It allows you to run your online store and sell in person without having to log into the online dashboard.

Etsy-in-person-payments-1

Here’s a breakdown of features:

  • Alerts: Get a notification when someone makes a purchase or favorites your shop on Etsy.
  • Conversations: Communicate with your customers through the app.
  • Shop stats: Check your reviews and other Etsy shop details
  • Order management: Mark online orders as ship and add tracking details, process refunds (full refunds only), add notes to transactions, and more.
  • Create listings: You can add items to your online store via the mobile app.
  • Inventory sync: You can sell items from your online store and Etsy will automatically adjust your inventory counts.
  • Email Receipts: No SMS option, but if the email is linked to an Etsy user ID, the transaction will appear in their purchase history.
  • Record cash transactions: No fee for this, obviously.
  • Quick Sale: If you don’t want to bother with items and keeping track of your Etsy inventory, or you have items for sale that aren’t in your Etsy shop, you can use the quick sale feature to enter an item name and amount. The nice thing is this won’t incur any listing fees (we’ll come back to this in a bit).
  • Discounts: Apply a percentage or dollar amount off the entire purchase. The percentage deduction is taken off the total purchase, including taxes.
  • Sales tax: Again, an auto-detect for sales tax would be great here. You can set multiple tax profiles and modify taxes on individual items.

It’s worth noting that to use the in-person sales feature, you must have Etsy’s Direct Checkout enabled. There’s also no dedicated iPad app. Etsy recommends, if you’re using an iPad, to enable the 2x zoom so the app takes of the entirety of the screen.

Talking with other artists, their experience is that the Etsy app is a bit clunkier for in-person sales. This may be because the in-person sales feature is buried within the menu, not the first thing you see. At the same time, the mobile app is for more than just processing payments — it is a genuine tool for managing your business on the go. I think it’s safe to assume Etsy thinks you’ll sell more online than in person.

Something I do want to point out is that while Etsy’s card reader is free, it’s just a basic magstripe device. It doesn’t support EMV or NFC payments, and Etsy says it has no plans to introduce an EMV reader at this time. This isn’t quite as terrible as it seems because Etsy is the one accepting the liability for processing any transactions, not you. But it’s still a bit disappointing to see that Etsy isn’t interested in keeping pace with the rest of the payments industry.

Overall, it’s fair to say both of these are pretty robust apps that will serve you well. What you’re looking for in an online store is likely going to be the deciding factor.

Square vs. Etsy: Online Stores

Square really has come a long ways as far as eCommerce is concerned. Its online store is completely free to use, though it can seem a bit limited compared to some of the more comprehensive options out there. You can also integrate Square’s payment processing with some other eCommerce providers (BigCommerce, Weebly and Ecwid). If you can navigate code or have a programmer friend handy, you can even use Square’s API to integrate the payment processing into another eCommerce solution.

Etsy, on the other hand, is a marketplace like eBay and Amazon. That means many sellers on Etsy will have their listings appear next to one another when users search for a product. This is both good and bad, really: One the one hand, marketplaces draw far more traffic than an individual site that’s just starting out. On the other, it puts you at the mercy of the marketplace, which means you could find your shop closed down with little to no warning or recourse.

Let’s see how these two companies compare as far as eCommerce goes:

Square Online Store Features:

square-online-store-screenshot

If you use Square’s store, here’s what you need to know. You get all of the following:

  • Free hosting
  • Free domain (the default is squareup.com/store/your-store-name, but you can edit the URL)
  • The option to purchase a new domain or use an existing one
  • Alternative payment/pickup options (including in-store pickup).
  • Invoicing support from Square dashboard
  • Inventory management: If you enable inventory management you can keep track of what is sold through online and in person. There are also some more comprehensive inventory features such as supplier management.
  • The option to integrate with BigCommerce, Weebly and Ecwid, or use Square’s API to integrate with another shopping cart.

One thing to note is that there’s no real custom order option or integrated communications channel with Square’s stores. You can handle custom orders through product variants or add-ons, or just use Square’s integrated invoicing system. For communication, consider investing in a business email (Google can give you an email to match your domain for $5/month).

Square’s online store option is somewhat limited as far as design options go, but they are at least mobile-friendly, responsive templates. You can create different sections to organize your products by relevant categories, as well. In some ways, the simplicity is an advantage because you have less to worry about.

The only costs you pay are per each transaction, much as with the mPOS app. If you opt for another shopping cart instead of Square’s story, you’ll have to pay whatever fees they charge, too. if you have something already set up, you can just switch to Square for payment processing by integrating the API.

Square will also let you control the status for your shop in two ways: you can set the store as visible or offline, and indicate whether you are accepting orders or not. (Think of it as a “Vacation” mode.)

Etsy Shop Features:

Etsy shop home page

You don’t have much in the way of customization for your Etsy shop, and that’s because as a marketplace Etsy has to create a consistent look. But that means you don’t have to spend a lot of time tweaking things.

Here’s what you get with Etsy:

  • Free hosting
  • Free custom Etsy URL
  • Custom orders option
  • Invoicing through PayPal
  • Mail and “other” payment methods supported.
  • Discounted shipping rates when purchased through Etsy
  • Advertising through promoted listings (for an additional cost)

Etsy has an easy-to-use feature for accepting custom orders. With a couple clicks, you can enable this option for your customers. “Conversations” is Etsy’s equivalent of a messaging system, where customers can reach out to you about your products and their orders.

Something relatively new to Etsy’s suite of services is Pattern, which allows you to sell on your own custom website while all of your inventory is linked to your Etsy shop. Management of both is centralized through Etsy and you pay the same costs as you would on Etsy — plus an additional $15/month.

etsy-pattern-site-screenshot

Like Square, Pattern gives you a limited selection of responsive themes to choose from. However, you can modify color palette, font, and other small aspects of your site. which gives you some creative control that you don’t get with Square.

Honestly, the fact that Etsy felt the need to branch out into payments processing and give sellers an option to run eCommerce stores on their own domains is a pretty powerful indicator of where the entire industry is going (hint: it’s heading toward omni-channel).

I need to stress this: Your own site should definitely be a long-term goal. It will give you much more freedom and stability, and generally costs less than selling through a marketplace, especially as your sales volume picks up. But Etsy will definitely help you get started and make some online sales, and possibly draw in people who otherwise wouldn’t even know where to find you. And there’s certainly no reason you can’t run your own online shop (through Pattern, Square or another service) and sell on Etsy at the same time.

Square vs. Etsy: Costs

Card-processing costs can make or break a business, and here at MerchantMaverick we firmly believe no merchant should pay more for processing than they have to. I’m happy to say that Square and Etsy are both very transparent about their pricing, and their actual card processing rates are competitive among aggregate processors. But, there’s one niggling matter…which is Etsy’s transaction fees.

Square Rates:

Square made a name for itself with its simple, flat-rate processing. There are no monthly subscription fees for using Square itself — just pay a small fee per every transaction. The Square Register app is totally free as well. This is what your rates will look like:

  • Swiped transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
  • eCommerce transactions: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Invoicing: 2.9% + $0.30 (or 3.5% + $0.15 for cards kept on file)

You can add on monthly subscriptions for addition services, but apart from email marketing, most are targeted pretty heavily at retail stores (loyalty program, timekeeping and payroll, etc).

I like Square’s payment scheme. Its rates are pretty competitive for an aggregate processor (the only way to get lower rates with a comparable value is to get a merchant account). I’m genuinely shocked that Square doesn’t charge more for its POS app, because it easily could.

Etsy Rates:

Etsy offers you several payment methods, which can be a bit complicated. There are two main options:

Direct Checkout allows you to accept credit and debit cards, PayPal, Etsy gift cards and Apple Pay. You pay Etsy’s rates and all of your funds (even PayPal transactions) go into your Etsy account, which will then deposit them into your bank account.

It’s worth noting that some sellers are unhappy about the integrated PayPal option, mostly because it takes longer to get your money.

PayPal allows you to accept credit and debit cards as well as payments from a bank account…so long as your customer has a PayPal account. The funds go into your personal/business PayPal account. Etsy doesn’t allow sellers to enable payments through both Direct Checkout and your personal PayPal.

If you need to, you can set your business up to take orders by mail. You can also set up custom orders and invoicing via PayPal, though the invoicing feature isn’t seamlessly integrated with Etsy.

Fees are as follows:

  • Swiped transactions: 2.75%
  • Keyed transactions: 3% + $0.25
  • eCommerce (Direct Checkout): 3% + $0.25
  • eCommerce (PayPal): 2.9% + $0.30
  • Online transaction fee: 3.5%* 
  • Item listing fee: $0.20**

*All items sold on your Etsy shop or through Pattern are subject to a transaction fee, but in-person sales are exempt.

**Listings are active for 4 months. If you have multiple quantities of an item, you’ll pay the initial $0.20, plus an additional $0.20 for every item after the first that sells. When you sell an item in your shop in person, you’re also charged the listing fee — but not for quick sale items, which aren’t listed in your online shop.

Time to Receive Funds: 

Square deposits funds in your bank account on a rolling basis, typically within 1-2 business days. You can check out more about Square’s deposit schedule here. You can also initiate an instant deposit for 1% of the transaction value and have your money within minutes.

Etsy takes a bit longer to get your money, at least if you use Direct Checkout. For the first 90 days, transactions take 3 business days before they are available in your account (after that point they are available the next day). Funds are automatically disbursed on Mondays, but you can can initiate a transfer to your bank account Tuesdays-Fridays. After that, it takes an average of 3-5 days for the funds to appear in your bank account.

There’s no question that Square is the more affordable option. You’ll pay double on Etsy thanks to that transaction fee (which is still less than what you could end up paying on Handmade at Amazon or even eBay). You’ll also get your funds more quickly, unless you choose to only accept PayPal on Etsy — in which case you will have your money in your PayPal account almost instantly, and can spend it anywhere so long as you have a PayPal debit card.

Square vs. Etsy: Other Concerns

There are other considerations beyond just cost. We’ve already talked about the features and services available, but what about the other stuff, the intangibles that neither company really spells out? What about value-added tools and services that don’t fit neatly into another category?

Visibility: Etsy is a known marketplace, with thousands of visitors daily. Unless you’re a marketing genius with an established name, having your own website just isn’t going to bring you that kind of traffic. Of course, you have to deal with the competition from other sellers, whose products will appear next to your own in the search results. With Square, you don’t have that competition, but you’re also not going to get that kind of traffic. However, since you don’t have to pay for hosting or anything beyond the actual transactions, you can spend some time (and maybe even money) building your reputation and putting your website out where anyone can find it.

Stability: Square does have a reputation for holding funds. There’s no way around that. However, artists and crafters generally seem less affected by Square’s trigger-happy risk department. I’d guess it’s because most transactions are relatively low-volume, but there’s no official word on that. Still, the most likely thing to trigger an account hold or termination is processing an unusually large transaction.

Etsy is a marketplace, and you are subject to its rules. If you break them, or if Etsy thinks you’ve broken them, it will shut your store down the same way Square implements holds. Do a bit of Googling (try “Etsy shop shut down”) and you’ll see this happens, if not regularly, at least with enough frequency to note. If you create fan-art based on popular media, know that some very large companies regularly search Etsy and other marketplaces to issue cease-and-desists. Copyright infringement (even in a nebulous area such as fanart) is just one of the reasons your shop could be shut down.

However, it’s difficult to draw apples-to-apples comparisons between the two because while Etsy is exclusively for artists, crafters, and other small niche retailers, Square serves merchants in a huge variety of industries. This is the risk you run with aggregate payment processors and marketplaces. A merchant account will give you more stability, but is generally not suitable for small, low-volume businesses. Don’t let it keep you up at night, but do have a backup plan.

Customer Support: Things happen. Sometimes you’re going to have questions. Sometimes customers file chargebacks and disputes. That’s why customer service is there.

Square’s support system is based primarily on a very detailed knowledge base and a user forum. You should find most of the answers to your questions there. For more complex issues, there’s phone support. But first you need to obtain a passcode to be able to call in at all. There’s also a dispute management system in case a customer files a chargeback. Square will request documentation. In a handful of circumstances you may be eligible for chargeback protection — which means you won’t pay for the chargeback even if the case isn’t resolved in your favor.

Etsy has a similar setup. There’s both a community forum and teams where like-minded sellers can collaborate and community. There’s also a phone support option, but you submit a request and receive a callback (Etsy says within 30 minutes). There’s also a dispute resolution system for conflicts between buyers and sellers.

The question is whether the support offered is of any use. And that’s not an easy answer. A bit more Google searching and you will find no shortage of complaints against Square and Etsy, and their customer service (or lack thereof, as the case may be). Some are from disgruntled sellers. Some are from disgruntled customers. In short, your experience may vary. Some people have no problem at all; some have lots of trouble.

Marketing Tools: I’ve mentioned before that Square offers several marketing and business tools. Artists and craftspeople likely won’t get much benefit out of them, except the email marketing tool, which starts at $15/month.

Etsy has taken a different approach. There are no email marketing tools (though it allows you to post an email signup link on your shop). Instead, consumers can use Etsy Local to find events featuring Etsy sellers. It also offers an option for you to sell your goods wholesale through Etsy, and to pair with large manufacturers to scale your business.

Mass production on Etsy is a contentious matter — as you might expect on a platform started for independent craftspeople. But if you find these options worthwhile for your business, you should pursue them. If not, there are many, many other platforms and tools out there for you to grow your business.

Final Verdict: Should You Use Square or Etsy?

The right payment processor and online store provider is really a matter of personal preference.

With Etsy, you get access to a huge marketplace with people who are actively searching for products each day, but you pay for the convenience, literally. You’ll pay more than double what you would with Etsy. You can even run your own website with a custom URL…for an additional monthly cost on top of your fees. Still, for business that is just starting out, being visible to customers is a serious concern, and Etsy definitely delivers in that category. The Sell on Etsy app lets you manage every aspect of your business on the go instead of dealing with a browser interface, and you can take payments from within the app.

On the other hand, if you sell primarily in person (at conventions, craft fairs, pop-up sales, etc.) square is in your favor. Square Register is a powerful POS app that even has an offline mode so you can accept credit cards literally anywhere, any time. If you use Square’s online store, you’ll pay less in processing fees per transaction than you would on Etsy, and worry less about competition.

Both have their risks, because they aggregate payments and Etsy is also a marketplace that makes its own rules about what is acceptable for sellers. You aren’t guaranteed stability, but both services are generally friendly to artists and craftspeople. You pay only as you make sales unless you opt for any additional expenses, which means there’s no upfront investment beyond the costs to make your products.

And honestly? There’s nothing that says you can’t use both Etsy and Square! If you prefer Square’s mobile app to Etsy’s but want the traffic that Etsy provides, go for it. If you want to sell on Etsy and Square, that’s absolutely possible! What matters most is that you weigh all the benefits and disadvantages and find a solution that will help you manage and grow your business.

Got questions? Have an opinion about the Etsy vs. Square debate? Leave us a comment and let us know — we love to hear from you!

The post Square vs. Etsy: Which is Best for Artists and Crafters? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Five Best Small Company Charge Card Processing Companies

Paying with credit card

Unless of course your online business includes managing a lemonade get up on a corner of your street, eventually you&#8217re gonna need to accept debit and credit cards as payment to be able to compete in today&#8217s marketplace. Clients are more and more counting on their &#8220plastic&#8221 to create purchases, and therefore transporting less money. eCommerce – something which barely existed two decades ago – has become a significant competitor to physical stores. The greater recent creation of smartphones, and also the mobile payment features which are being put into them, promise to consider this evolution even more by permitting customers to leave both their plastic and their funds in your own home.

Basically we&#8217re still a lengthy way from a really cashless society, the variety of processing debit and credit card payments have elevated dramatically in only yesteryear couple of years, and also the set-up costs came lower to the stage that the tiniest business are able to afford to provide this method. While accepting charge cards has typically needed a substantial purchase of card-studying terminals and costly point-of purchase (POS) systems, today&#8217s options leverage smartphone technology and cloud-based data storage to supply exactly the same abilities inside a lighter, less expensive, and much more mobile package.

In ’09, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey introduced Square, the very first service that permitted retailers to simply accept charge card payments utilizing their smartphones. Square incorporated a card readers which, when mounted on a smartphone, could browse the magnetic strip info on a person&#8217s debit or credit card. The Square application provided an interface between your card readers and also the merchant&#8217s take into account tracking transactions. While Square remains the leading player in the area of mobile payments today, additionally, it offers quite a bit more competition. Today&#8217s small business operator has quite a number of providers to select from. While all provide the same core function (i.e., debit and credit card processing), each provider also provides improvements and options that differentiate it from the&#8217 competitors.

So, which fits your needs? The reply is likely to rely on the character and size your company. Would you operate from a conventional brick-and-mortar establishment? Would you sell online, either solely or along with an actual business location? Is the business a complete-time occupation having a large amount of sales, or perhaps is it simply a component-time side gig? Below, we&#8217ve put together our top chioces one of the current crop of card-processing services, and summarized what we should like (and don&#8217t like) about all of them. Regardless of whether you&#8217re managing a large store or simply selling fresh produce from the back of the truck in the local famer&#8217s market, there&#8217s a card-processing service that&#8217s best for you.

Dharma A Merchant Account

Dharma A Merchant Account got its name in the term dharma, which can be found in several Eastern religions. Although it often means a variety of things and there’s no direct translation, it roughly alludes to some &#8220right lifestyle.&#8221 Individuals at Dharma take this seriously, supplying a full spectrum of charge card processing services for any fair and reasonable cost. Their fee structures are transparent – interchange-plus prices can be used solely and you will find no annual charges. Additionally they don&#8217t charge account setup charges, early termination charges, or PCI compliance charges. Dharma is exclusive in the realm of charge card processing companies for the reason that they donate an astonishing 50% of the profits to charitable organization, living as much as their motto &#8220Commerce with Empathy.&#8221

Additionally to merchant services, Dharma offers a number of wireless and wired countertop terminals for in-store use. Their terminals are EMV-compliant as well as support Apple Pay. Dharma supports mobile swiping through Authorize.internet, as well as uses ShopKeep, our favorite iPad-based POS systems. Authorize.internet may also support on the internet and mobile payments, and integrates with QuickBooks.

Dharma easily provides the fairest and many transparent fee structure in the market. Additionally to some flat $10.00 monthly fee for store and eCommerce accounts, transactions are billed based on an interchange-plus cost model. In-person transactions are billed .25% above cost, plus $.10 per transaction, while eCommerce transactions are billed .35% above cost, plus $.10 per transaction. More complex charges (for example Address Verification Charges) are clearly typed on Dharma&#8217s website.

While there’s no minimum monthly volume requirement, Dharma freely acknowledges their full-service merchant services don’t make sense financially for low-volume companies processing under $10,000 monthly in transactions. In case your business falls into that category, they recommend either PayPal or Square.

PROS:

  • Full-range of services and equipment for storefront and eCommerce companies
  • Great customer care
  • Transparent prices without any additional charges
  • Discounted rates for non-profits

CONS:

  • A bad fit for low-volume (under $10,000 monthly) accounts

To learn more about Dharma, see our complete review here.

CDGcommerce

cdgcommerce-logo

Another our favorite providers, CDGcommerce has been available since 1998 – lengthy enough to possess determined what must be done to operate a effective processing company and keep customers happy. CDG stands out of the crowd by not charging you the nickel-and-cent hidden charges that many others in the market are well known for. Their merchant services include no account setup charges, no PCI compliance charges, no monthly minimums, and month-to-month billing without any early termination charges.

A fundamental credit card merchant account with CDGcommerce costs only $10.00 monthly, and includes free utilization of their proprietary Quantum payment gateway/virtual terminal (a totally free Authorize.Internet gateway can also be available as a substitute). Based on your requirements, you can include capabilities similar to their cdg360 security package, which supplies $100,000 in data breach/thievery protection, PCI-DSS vulnerability scans, customized security alerts, and many other features – all for $15.00 monthly.

Basically we normally recommend buying your charge card terminals outright rather of leasing them, we’ve made the best for CDG. Instead of lock you into an costly, four-year lease, CDG only charges $79 each year for terminal insurance. Wireless terminals may also need a $20.00 monthly data plan as well as an additional $.05 per transaction processing fee. This can be a far better deal than the usual standard terminal lease, which could finish up costing your 1000s of dollars within the full term from the lease.

CDG also provides very competitive processing rates. All their prices is interchange-plus and disclosed online. Listed here are their current rates:

  • Online: interchange + .30% + $.15 per transaction
  • Retail: interchange + .25% + $.10 per transaction
  • Mobile: interchange + .25% + $.10 per transaction
  • Non-profit: interchange + .20% + $.10 per transaction

With features such as this, CDGcommerce hasn’t generated a lot of complaints from dissatisfied customers through the years. They’re, however, the only company we’ve seen in which the Chief executive officer has personally walked directly into address the couple of complaints which have from time to time tricked in. Because of CDG’s things to look for and support, however, he hasn’t had to get this done very frequently.

PROS:

  • Interchange-plus prices
  • Month-to-month billing without any lengthy-term contracts or early termination charges
  • Free virtual terminal/payment gateway
  • Things to look for

CONS:

  • Only accessible to all of us-based retailers

For any more in depth take a look at CDGcommerce, make sure to take a look at our full review.

Helcim

&#8220Trust, transparency, and fair prices&#8221 is Helcim&#8217s motto, plus they meet it by supplying probably the most up-front, clearly-described prices structure of the charge card processing companies we&#8217ve reviewed here. A Canadian company, they likewise have a workplace in San antonio and supply full support to all of us-based retailers.

Helcim provides a full gamut of services and equipment for storefront an internet-based companies. The website features a number of EMV-compliant charge card terminals, beginning at $199. Terminals with NFC capacity for Apple Pay support start at $329. Unlike a lot of their competitors, they encourage US people to buy their terminals outright, instead of renting or leasing. Helcim will reprogram your present equipment free of charge whether it&#8217s up-to-date. Regrettably, Canadian EMV-compliant terminals are not shipped to become transferred or sold again, so Canadian customers will need to make use of the rental option or purchase a new machine. Renting on the month-to-month basis (that is totally different from leasing) is often the smartest choice for Canadian retailers.

Helcim supports eCommerce through their Helcim Virtual Terminal, one hundredPercent web-based solution that processes both on the internet and manual payments on your pc, generating receipts that may be emailed or printed. Including an internet-based virtual terminal, payment gateway with API, support for recurring billing, billing information vault storage, e-invoicing, shopping cart software integration, and located payment pages. No additional software or hardware is needed. On top of that, you receive all of these features for any flat $25.00 monthly fee.

Mobile payments are supported with the VirtualMerchant Mobile application for android and ios. This has a free universal card readers that connects to your smartphone&#8217s audio jack (additional visitors $45 each). There&#8217s additionally a flat $30.00 fee every month to have an limitless quantity of users.

Helcim utilizes a Cost+ prices model, with a monthly subscription fee and interchange-plus prices for every transaction. Retail users pay $12.00 monthly, while eCommerce users pay $25.00 monthly for that Helcim Virtual Terminal service. Support for mobile payments needs a $30.00 monthly subscription. Additionally towards the per-transaction interchange rate billed through the issuing charge card company, Helcim charges .18% + $.08 per transaction within the interchange rate for retail and mobile payments. Online transactions are billed .36% + $.25 per transaction, as well as the relevant interchange rate. Helcim doesn&#8217t charge charges for account setup or termination, and PCI compliance is incorporated within the monthly subscription fee. Helcim&#8217s website features a detailed explanation of the charges, and several truly eye-opening disclosures about how exactly their bank-owned competition is ripping you served by hidden charges and lengthy-term contracts.

PROS:

  • Very transparent fee structure
  • Excellent customer care
  • Very competitive rates for companies processing over $2,500 monthly

CONS:

  • Not suited to really small companies processing under $2,500 monthly
  • eCommerce minute rates are greater for Canadian customers

To learn more, see our complete review here.

Payline Data

Payline Data covers all of the bases for small company transactions, from mobile an internet-based payments to in-store sales. They provide easy-to-understand prices plans which are very economical, specifically for low-volume sellers. However, the organization&#8217s website fully explains all the additional features as well as their connected costs, which means you know in advance that which you&#8217ll need to pay. Payline also stands out of the crowd for his or her corporate philosophy of charitable giving and support for non-profits through discounted prices as well as their &#8220Commercial Co-Venture&#8221 program.

For traditional, in-store charge card transactions, Payline offers a number of EMV-compliant charge card terminals. Additionally they provide a virtual terminal, plus a USB-connected device that enables you to definitely process charge card transactions from the Internet-connected computer. Payline Gateway ties your physical hardware for your internet account, allowing online transactions and instantly generating detailed analytical reports. Payline also provides NFC-capable terminals that support Apple Pay (at no additional cost).

Payline’s standard merchant services cost you a flat $15.00 monthly and have interchange-plus prices. Billing is month-to-month, without any lengthy-term contracts or early termination charges. Retail prices is interchange % + .2% + $.10 per transaction. Online prices is interchange % + .35% + $.10 per transaction. In case your business processes greater than $80,000 monthly, enterprise prices with lower rates can be obtained.

For eCommerce retailers, Payline also provides a number of bundled prices plans which include features you’ll have to setup and run an internet business. Options incorporate a Standard plan featuring predetermined fee prices for small companies and startups, and Professional and Enterprise plans for bigger, competent companies. The second two plans feature interchange-plus prices and various features that aren’t incorporated within the Standard plan, for example website hosting and website setup.

Payline’s Standard plan costs $29.00 monthly and expenses a set 2.9% +$.30 per transaction processing rate. The program features a secure payment gateway and virtual terminal for manual order entry, in addition to online shopping cart software integration. You’ll need to provide your personal website hosting and PCI security scans are just like a choice. Nevertheless, it’s an excellent economical option for a little online business, particularly if you’re just getting began.

The Professional plan costs $79 monthly featuring interchange-plus prices, with rates beginning as little as .49% per purchase. You’ll would like to get an estimate prior to signing up, as the actual processing rates will often be greater compared to marketed “as low as” rate. Additionally to each of the features from the Standard plan, the Professional plan includes website hosting, website setup and personalization, and PCI security checking. It’s a great option for a recognised business, regardless of whether you sell only online or along with an actual retail presence.

With regard to added large companies, the Enterprise Plan includes all the same features because the Standard Plan, plus website name registration. Interchange-plus processing rates start as little as .29% per purchase. The Enterprise Plan costs $159 monthly. It’s only cost-effective for any large, established business.

Payline also provides additional optional features, just like an iPad-based POS system and support for mobile payments via smartphones. While these functions cost extra, prices is extremely competitive. See Payline&#8217s website for details.

PROS:

  • Fair prices with easy-to-understand contracts with no hidden charges.
  • Great customer support, including phone and email support.
  • Integrates with Apple Pay along with other mobile wallet services.
  • Month-to-month contracts without any early termination charges

CONS:

  • Presently only accessible in the united states and Canada.

To learn more, see our complete review here.

Square

Finally, there’s Square, the earliest and perhaps best-known company within the mobile payments industry. It’s worth noting that although Square will help you to process charge card transactions and run an eCommerce website, it doesn’t give a full-service credit card merchant account. Due to this, you won’t obtain a unique Merchant ID number or the type of 24/7 customer support that normally includes one. While it’s still a great option for startups and smaller sized companies, it’s a tad too limited for bigger, competent retailers.

Square was the very first company to provide smartphone-based mobile payments if this launched in 2009. Today, it’s lots of competitors, nevertheless its insufficient a regular monthly fee, reasonable transaction charges, and powerful features still turn it into a great choice, specifically for low-volume sellers. Square replaces the standard charge card terminal having a simple dongle that attaches for your smartphone or tablet and works along with Square&#8217s mobile application to swipe debit or credit cards. Square supports retail locations, eCommerce, and (naturally) mobile payments.

The center of Square&#8217s product is its group of charge card readers. Square’s original card readers was free, however it could only read magstripe cards. While it’s still available, most users may wish to obtain the new, EMV-compliant readers. Such as the original readers, it connects to the headphone jack of the smartphone and works with the Square application. At just $29.00, it’s one of the most affordable EMV card readers available. Square also provides a better card readers that reads EMV-enabled cards and supports uses NFC technology to aid contactless payments for example Apple Pay, Android Pay, yet others. The Square contactless readers communicates together with your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth, and charges $49.00.

Square customers may also connect to the Square Dashboard, available on the web or through the Square Dashboard mobile application. This free service features a number of effective features to handle your company, including inventory management, invoicing, and detailed analytical data.

Square&#8217s simple prices structure is among its most engaging features. Every debit or credit card swipe incurs a couple.75% fee. When the transaction needs to be joined by hand, the charge increases to three.5%, plus $.15 per transaction. Money is deposited in to the user&#8217s account within 1-2 working days, unless of course fraud is suspected.

Regrettably, among the disadvantages in using Square is the fact that fraud frequently is suspected, for a price that&#8217s well over the industry average. This frequently leads to sudden, inexplicable account terminations and account holds as high as 180 days. You will find multiple causes of this, only one major factor is the fact that Square accounts are aggregated together, instead of each account getting its very own unique Merchant ID number. In addition, Square&#8217s customer support hasn&#8217t been the very best. Initially missing any type of phone support, Square has progressively improved as a result of user complaints, and today offers both email and make contact with support. Their online understanding base for self-assistance is also excellent.

To make use of Square, you&#8217ll need to setup a totally free Square account, obtain a compatible card readers, and install the Square Readers application. The Square Readers mobile application requires either an apple iphone, iPad or ipod device touch running iOS 8. or greater, or perhaps an Android phone or tablet running Android 4..

PROS:

  • No monthly account charges.
  • Free and occasional-cost card readers available.
  • Free use of effective business management and analytical tools through the web or smartphone application.
  • No lengthy-term contracts or early termination charges.

CONS:

  • No unique Merchant ID number for merchant services.
  • Frequent account holds and account terminations.

To learn more, see our complete review here.

CONCLUSION

Regardless of whether you&#8217re attempting to juggle multiple retail locations or simply selling products online, among the five services we&#8217ve highlighted here ought to be a &#8220best match&#8221 for the business. While each service features its own standout features, all of them offer competitive rates, transparent prices, and a simple, low-cost setup. Square is really a solid contender for really small, low volume companies, while Payline, Helcim, and CDGcommerce be more effective for bigger stores. Should you&#8217re managing a non-profit, Dharma might actually be your very best choice. The point is, many of these services will, generally, supply you with a better, less expensive service than you&#8217re prone to get with the traditional, bank-owned charge card processing companies. You may also compare our top processors (aside from Square) mind-to-mind using our Credit Card Merchant Account Comparison Chart.

The publish The Five Best Small Company Charge Card Processing Companies made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Top 7 Things to Look for in a Merchant Account

online transaction

While credit cards have existed in one form or another in the United States for almost a century, it’s only been during the last few decades that their use has become commonplace. It wasn’t all that long ago that most people made just about every purchase with either cash or a personal check. Today, most consumers have a variety of credit and debit cards, and prefer to use them instead of cash whenever possible. As a business owner, it’s more important than ever that you have the ability to accept credit cards, whether you’re running a traditional retail store or selling items online. Simply put, credit card acceptance translates directly into more sales and, hopefully, more profits.

Unfortunately, accepting credit cards is anything but free. Credit card associations, issuing banks, and transaction processors will all get a cut of every credit card transaction you accept. Obviously, you’ll want to minimize the cost per transaction as much as possible, but there are other factors that are equally important. The processor with the lowest processing rates might not provide the best overall service.

In order to accept credit cards, you’ll need a merchant account. This is simply an account with your credit card processor that you can use to both deposit funds from cleared transactions and also to pay the various fees and per-transaction charges that you will incur. Merchant accounts can also include a variety of associated products and services that you’ll need to run your business, such as credit card terminals, mobile credit card readers, point-of-sale (POS) systems, and more.

Selecting the merchant account provider that’s best for you and your business is not an easy task. Too many merchants fall into the trap of simply looking for the provider with the lowest processing rates. This can turn into an expensive mistake over time, as the credit card processing industry is notorious for tacking on a host of pricey – and often undisclosed – monthly and annual fees for just about every service provided as part of maintaining your merchant account. So, don’t get too focused on processing rates – it’s the overall total cost over time that really counts. This includes processing rates, account fees, and other costs (such as chargebacks) that you might have to deal with.

Not all merchant accounts provide the same level of service. Popular small-business processors such as Square, for instance, don’t actually provide a full-service merchant account. While you’ll still be able to process credit card transactions, you won’t get certain features (i.e., a unique Merchant ID number, PCI compliance services, and robust customer service) that full-service merchant accounts include. The lack of these features often create real problems for merchants, with complaints about frozen or terminated accounts and poor customer service being very common. For a very small business that’s just starting out, this might be a reasonable trade-off in exchange for the money you’ll save over a full-service account. However, once your business grows beyond a certain point, you’ll need to transition to a more stable, full-service account and the security features it provides.

We’ve identified seven different features that you need to look at very carefully in selecting a merchant account provider. They’re all equally important, and you’ll want to examine all of them in evaluating any merchant account provider that you’re thinking of signing up with. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to come up with a precise estimate of your overall costs, you should be able to get a pretty good idea by evaluating these seven features.

1. Hardware that meets the unique needs of your business

No matter what kind of business you run, you’ll need equipment to process your sales. Even a purely eCommerce venture is still going to need some hardware – even if it’s just your own personal laptop. For most other businesses, however, your hardware needs will be more extensive. Basically, you’re going to need some type of equipment to read your customer’s credit card information and send it to your processor for (hopefully) approval.

Options for reading credit cards are a lot more robust today than they were just a few years ago. In addition to the traditional wired credit card terminals commonly seen in retail establishments, there are now numerous wireless terminals and mobile processing systems that combine a smartphone with a very basic credit card reader to offer the same capabilities as a dedicated terminal.

Wired credit card terminals are still the most commonly-used card readers out there, and they offer a number of distinct advantages. Perhaps most importantly, they’re simply more reliable. You don’t have to worry about your wireless internet connection suddenly going down and leaving you unable to process a sale. Wired terminals are also generally better at supporting newer features such as EMV credit cards and contactless payments using near-field communications (NFC), such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and others.

Today, wired terminals are more affordable than ever, and we highly recommend that you buy your own terminals outright rather than leasing them from your merchant account provider. Unfortunately, the credit card processing industry figured out a long time ago that they could make a lot of money by leasing terminals to their merchants rather than selling them directly. Here’s how the scam works: You sign up for a traditional merchant account, with comes with a three-year contract. You need terminals to actually process your customer’s cards, so you lease them from your merchant account provider. What you don’t realize (and your sales agent usually won’t tell you) is that the lease agreement for the terminals is actually with a separate company – and it’s for four years, not three. Not only that, but your terminal lease is non-cancellable, meaning that you’ll still have to pay for all of the remaining months on your lease if you try to cancel early. Even if you close your account and send the terminals back, many companies will still charge you for every remaining month of your lease. The end result? You’ll wind up paying literally thousands of dollars for a piece of equipment that you can buy outright today for as little as $100.00.

Some companies will even try to tell you that it’s more cost-effective to lease your terminals rather than buy them. Don’t believe it! In almost all cases, this is simply not true. If you read the terms of your leasing agreement and most importantly, do the math, it should be pretty obvious that, in most cases, those “low” monthly leasing fees and associated charges will add up to far more money out of your pocket than simply buying your own equipment. One possible exception to this general rule is if your business needs a large number of terminals, but you don’t have the capital available to buy them all at once. Given that businesses large enough to need a lot of terminals generally aren’t short on capital, this is a pretty unlikely scenario.

Another very unique exception is if you sign up with CDGcommerce, one of our favorite processors. Rather than lock you into an expensive, four-year contract, CDG provides their terminals in exchange for a $79.00 per year insurance fee. This works out to about $6.59 per month, far less than what most other processors will charge you in leasing fees. This fee also includes any necessary re-programming and software updates, plus you can also exchange your terminal for a newer model. It’s the one exception we’ve found where you’ll get a good deal by “renting” your terminals from your merchant account provider.

When shopping around for terminals, there’s one last thing to bear in mind. With the advent of EMV terminals in the US in 2015, there are a lot of older, magstripe-only terminals still out there. Not only are these terminals essentially obsolete, they’re also potential liability traps with the EMV liability shift that occurred on October 1, 2015. Many of the true bottom-feeders in the processing industry are still trying to push these terminals onto unsuspecting merchants. Sometimes they’re advertised as being “free” (they’re really not), and other times they come with a traditional lease. Now that it’s 2016, there is simply no reason whatsoever to buy or lease a non-EMV-compliant terminal. Yes, some customers will still have magstripe-only credit or debit cards, and this will be true for some time. Nonetheless, since almost all currently available EMV-compliant terminals also include a magstripe reader, you should never accept a terminal that doesn’t include both capabilities.

In addition to EMV, you’ll also want a terminal that supports contactless payments through near-field communications (NFC). NFC-based payment systems allow customers to leave their wallets behind and use their smartphone to make a payment. Apple Watch and Android Wear users can also use the technology to make payments with their smartwatches. Currently, the world of NFC-based payments is very splintered, with Apple Pay only working on Apple devices, Android Pay only working on Android devices, and Samsung Pay being proprietary to Samsung’s Android-based smartphones. Despite the confusing choices out there, NFC payments are currently the most secure form of payment that’s available. Read more about it here.

Wireless terminals are also available, and while they’re not necessary for a traditional retail establishment, they can be very useful for any type of business where you have to go to the customer, rather than having the customer come to you. Plumbers, electricians, and others in similar trades will find them essential. If you’re in a business that needs a wireless terminal, realize that 1) the terminal itself will be more expensive than a wired terminal, and 2) wireless terminals also require a wireless data plan (typically about $20.00 per month). Depending on your needs, it might make sense to go with a mobile processing solution, such as Square, as a lower-cost alternative.

Mobile processing itself is a capability that didn’t even exist just a few years ago. Square, launched in 2009, was the first company to combine a smartphone with a plug-in credit card reader, allowing merchants to process credit card transactions anywhere they had cell phone or Wi-Fi coverage. Today, Square has a lot of competitors and many traditional processing companies are trying to get in on the action by offering their own apps and card readers. Unfortunately, none of them offer anywhere near the robust capabilities that Square offers, and many of them are actually more expensive. Square itself is certainly not perfect – complaints about frozen accounts and poor-to-nonexistent customer service are all too common. Nonetheless, it’s a respectable alternative for very small businesses, startups, and seasonal sellers who neither need nor want a full-service merchant account. It’s also a very economical way to add mobile processing to your existing merchant account.

Point-of-sale (POS) systems are also very popular with merchants today, combining transaction processing with database capabilities that allow you to track not only sales, but also inventory, customer relations, employee performance, and numerous other metrics. Modern POS systems truly bring “big data” concepts to small and not-so-small businesses. Again, your merchant account provider will usually have a POS solution that they’ll want to sell to you. Whether you truly need (or can afford) their “solution” is another matter. While a modern POS system is ultimately a software solution, the hardware required to input and display the data involved can vary from a dedicated terminal (such as Clover) to a tablet-based system that runs on your iPad or Android tablet. For most small businesses, we recommend a cloud-based POS solution rather than a far more expensive dedicated terminal. See our Best Small Business POS article for more specific recommendations.

2. Software to keep track of your business and help it grow

The days of tracking your sales in a paper ledger and collecting a shoebox full of sales receipts are, thankfully, long gone. Today’s merchant accounts harness the power of the internet to track and store your account data digitally. Cloud-based systems make that data available just about anywhere, on any internet-connected device. Physical and eCommerce businesses alike will need the appropriate software to take advantage of these capabilities.

If your business operates out of a physical location and you don’t make any sales online, your needs will be pretty simple. One useful product to consider is a virtual terminal. This is simply a software program or web service that allows you to process credit card transactions on your computer using a USB card swiper. While it won’t be quite as mobile as using Square, it will still allow you to process card-present transactions and access your sales data.

eCommerce merchants will have more extensive needs in order to run their virtual businesses. For online sales, you’ll have to have a payment gateway as part of your merchant account. Payment gateways connect customers wanting to make a payment with the bank or merchant account provider that processes the transaction. Most merchant account providers in business today will offer a payment gateway as part of their services, usually through Authorize.net. One of our highest-rated providers, CDGcommerce, will offer you either their own proprietary Quantum gateway or one through Authorize.net – for free. Most other providers, however, charge a monthly fee for payment gateways.

For eCommerce merchants, an online shopping cart that allows customers to select items and place orders is also essential. Shopping carts integrate directly into your website rather than functioning as a stand-alone feature. Shopify, one of our favorites, is perhaps the most well-known online shopping cart. For a good overview of the best shopping carts available, check out our Shopping Cart Comparison chart.

3. Reasonable, transparent fees

Merchant accounts don’t come cheap. In addition to the processing rates you’ll have to pay on each transaction, your merchant account provider will also charge you a bewildering variety of one-time, monthly, and annual fees for the privilege of maintaining your account. For a small or recently-launched business, these fees can quickly eat up your profits and threaten the growth of your business.

Just as there’s no such thing as a free lunch, you’re also never going to find a free merchant account. Merchant account providers have to make a profit in order to stay in business, and they have to charge reasonable fees in order to do so. Traditionally, merchant account providers have relied on tacking a lot of nickel-and-dime fees onto your bill to compensate for the low processing rates they offer to entice you into signing up with them. These fees allow a processor to make money from a merchant account regardless of your monthly processing volume. In fact, they often still make money even if you’re not processing any transactions at all. Fortunately, a number of newer, more technology-focused merchant account providers are disrupting this old business model by offering accounts with low, fully-disclosed fees. It’s no coincidence that many of our highest-rated providers fall into this category.

In evaluating any merchant account provider, you’ll want to look for a fee structure that is both reasonable and transparent. Fees that are in line with the industry average aren’t necessarily reasonable, as there are still a lot of “junk” fees out there. For our purposes, a reasonable fee is one where the account provider actually provides a valuable service in exchange for that fee, and the fee is reasonably related to the value of that service. Fees should also be transparent, or fully disclosed before you sign up for an account. While all of our favorite providers fully disclose their fees right on their websites, most traditional processors do not. Instead, they’re buried in pages of fine print and often not disclosed by sales agents.

So, what kinds of fees might you be charged? Here’s a brief overview of common fees associated with merchant accounts:

Account setup or application fees: While they’re gradually becoming less common, some merchant account providers will charge you a hefty, one-time fee for setting up your account. We consider this a junk fee because it only requires a few minutes of an agent’s time to set up your account, and both the agent and the account provider stand to make money off of you, not the other way around. Usually running around $150 (!), a setup or application fee is a clear red flag that you should avoid doing business with that account provider.

Monthly or annual account fees: Almost all providers – good and bad alike – charge some sort of fee to maintain your account. This might be billed monthly, or charged as an annual fee. Either way, it’s something of a catch-all charge to cover all the things your account provider isn’t charging you for directly. This can include things like PCI compliance scans, “free” credit card terminals, “free” virtual terminals, and other services that come with your merchant account. What constitutes a reasonable account fee will depend on how many services come with your account and whether or not you actually need them.

Monthly minimums: Not a fee in itself, a monthly minimum is a requirement that your business process a sufficient total amount in transactions to incur at least a specified amount (typically $25.00) in processing charges. As a hypothetical example, if all of your transactions were charged a flat 2.0% processing rate, you’d have to process $1,250.00 in total sales in order to meet the $25.00 minimum. You only have to pay if you fail to meet the minimum, and even then you only pay the difference between your actual processing charges and the amount specified as the monthly minimum. While they’re won’t affect a large, established business, they function as a penalty for very small, part-time, and seasonal businesses. If you fall into that category, you’ll want to avoid any provider that includes a monthly minimum in their contracts.

PCI compliance fees: Your merchant account must comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) security standards. This protects both you and your customers who, after all, are entrusting you with their credit card information. Since an in-depth discussion of PCI compliance is beyond the scope of this article, you’ll want to read this post for a good overview of the subject.

PCI-related fees come in two flavors: 1) PCI compliance fees, which are fees for services that your processor provides in order to ensure that your account remains PCI compliant, and 2) PCI non-compliance fees, which are effectively penalties for not being PCI compliant. See our article on the subject for more in-depth information. PCI compliance fees are a reasonable cost of doing business as long as a) your provider is actually doing PCI scans and taking other steps to protect your account and your customers’ data, and b) the fee is reasonable ($99.00 per year is the current industry average). On the other hand, you should never have to pay PCI non-compliance fees. If your provider can’t keep you compliant, find another provider. Also note that some of the newer providers do not charge a discreet PCI compliance fee. In most cases, you’re still paying for this as part of your monthly or annual account fee.

Statement fees and other “junk” fees: Traditional merchant account providers are notorious for adding any number of miscellaneous fees to your monthly bill, often with little or no actual service provided to you in exchange. While most of these fees are pretty minor and won’t add much to your costs, things like statement fees can add up quickly. Although the processing industry is slowly phasing out the statement fee, there are still plenty of companies that continue to charge it. Statement fees are usually around $8.00 per month. Think about that for a minute. That’s an extra $96.00 per year – just for them to send your statement to you every month. Considering that your statement is automatically generated by software and most companies today send your statement via email, it’s a complete rip-off.

Early termination fees: Most of the traditional merchant account providers in the industry will sign you up for a long-term contract (typically three years), and will charge you an early termination fee (ETF) if you try to close your account early – for any reason. ETFs are expensive (typically around $495.00) and are designed to discourage you from switching your account to a different processor. None of our favorite processors charge an ETF, allowing you to maintain your account on a month-to-month basis with no penalty for closing it.

Chargebacks: Any time your processor has to reverse a charge and issue a credit, you’ll be hit with a chargeback. Chargebacks can occur due to technical errors, returned merchandise, or actual fraud. Even though you as the merchant probably haven’t done anything wrong, most processors will still charge you a chargeback fee (typically about $20.00) to investigation what happened and issue a refund. For more information, see our article on avoiding chargebacks.

4. Fair, understandable processing rates

The processing rate is simply the total percentage of a transaction that you’ll have to pay to your merchant account provider in exchange for their processing the transaction. Processing rates can be very complicated and confusing, especially since the processor only keeps a portion of whatever they charge you. Fees (called the interchange) have to be paid to the credit card association (i.e., Visa, MasterCard, etc.) and also to the bank that issued the card, with the remainder going to the processor. Companies have devised several different pricing models to pass these costs onto you, including the following:

Interchange-plus pricing: Like its name, this pricing model consists of an “interchange” and a “plus.” As we’ve noted, the interchange is paid to the issuing bank and also the credit card association. The “plus” is simply the amount that your processor actually keeps from each transaction. Interchange-plus rate quotes are often expressed as “interchange + X %,” with the X % being the “plus.” Some processors also charge a fixed per-transaction fee (typically $0.10 to $0.25) as part of the “plus.” Because you can easily see exactly how much your processor is keeping from each transaction, it’s considered the most fair and transparent pricing model. It’s also usually less expensive overall than tiered or flat rate pricing.

Tiered pricing: This pricing model consolidates dozens of different processing rates into three tiers: qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified transactions. Which tier a transaction will fall into depends on a number of variables, such as whether the card was swiped or manually entered, what the items purchased were, when the transaction was actually sent to the processor, and many others. Companies offering tiered pricing often only advertise their qualified rates, with phrases like “rates as low as…” In reality, most transactions will fall into the mid-qualified or non-qualified categories, where the rates are almost always much higher.

Flat-rate pricing: eCommerce-focused companies such as Square and PayPal offer flat-rate pricing as an alternative to traditional pricing models. Each transaction is charged a flat percentage rate, and often a fixed per-transaction fee as well. Rates are simple, easy to understand, and fully disclosed right on the companies’ websites. Flat rates are usually higher than what you’ll get with interchange-plus pricing, but companies that offer them also charge you a lot less in monthly and annual fees.

Which pricing model is right for you is going to depend on a number of factors, with your monthly processing volume being one of the most important ones. For small or newly-established businesses with a low processing volume, flat-rate pricing is more economical because you’ll avoid most of the nickel-and-dime fees that make maintaining a traditional merchant account so expensive. On the other hand, a larger business that isn’t as concerned about fees will save money with interchange-plus pricing. For more information about processing rates, please see our Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing Rates and Fees.

5. Honest, non-misleading marketing and advertising

“My sales agent lied to me!” It’s an all-too-common complaint we see from merchants who’ve signed up with a traditional merchant account provider – and it’s often true. Rather than hiring and properly training a staff of professional, in-house sales agents, many companies rely on independent sales agents who are only paid on a commission basis. With practically no educational or experience requirements, just about anyone can become an agent. Combine this with generally inadequate training and intense pressure to close a deal, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Independent agents have a bad reputation for failing to disclose some of the more onerous terms of the contracts they’re selling, especially early termination fees. Yes, there are some naturally talented independent agents who have done well and can provide you with quality service. However, the odds are against it. We recommend that you stick with companies that have their own dedicated, in-house sales staff. Some of the best companies will even assign you a dedicated account representative, which is about as good as it gets.

Online advertising has now become the single most important way to market any business, including merchant account providers. A website can tell you a lot about a company, both good and bad. Unfortunately, most merchant account providers have very poor websites. Filled with misleading advertising gimmicks and lacking any sort of educational information, they frequently tease you with claims of low processing rates, while failing to disclose any of the actual rates or fees you’ll be paying. You’ll know that you’re dealing with a good, ethical company if their website includes some (or all) of the following features:

  • Full disclosure of processing rates and all monthly and annual account fees
  • Educational articles that discuss the details of credit card processing
  • A detailed knowledge base for customer self-service
  • Clear options for contacting customer service (telephone, email, and chat)
  • No misleading low rate claims or “lowest rate guarantee” gimmicks
  • Positive testimonials from actual merchants, including full personal and business names

6. Month-to-month contracts

The credit card processing industry has an absolutely horrible (and well-deserved) reputation when it comes to contracts. Signing up for a merchant account typically locks you into a long-term contract, usually for three years. If that wasn’t bad enough, most contracts also include an automatic renewal clause that will extend your contract for an additional year if you don’t take very specific steps to cancel it ahead of time. Most processors will also include an early termination fee in your contract, which serves as a penalty (typically around $495.00) for terminating your contract early. Some of the worst processors will even include a liquidated damages clause in their contracts, which could potentially cost you even more money if you try to get out of your contract.

Naturally, these one-sided contract provisions have generated a huge number of complaints from merchants over the years. Fortunately, the industry is responding in a positive way, albeit very slowly. Most of our highest-rated processors will allow you to sign up for an account on a month-to-month basis. There’s no long-term contract, no early termination fee, and no liquidated damages clause. Given a choice between the two, there’s simply no reason whatsoever to sign up for anything other than a month-to-month account.

7. High-quality customer service and support

Service after the sale is just as important for merchant accounts as it is for anything else – maybe more so. Things can and will go wrong. Credit card terminals will suddenly stop working on a busy day. Mysterious, unexplained charges will show up on your statement. Chargebacks will occur, despite your best efforts to prevent them. For all of these and many other possible issues, you’ll want solid customer service and support from your merchant account provider.

For minor issues, self-service should always be an option. Good providers maintain extensive FAQs and knowledge bases on their websites, allowing you to fix a problem on your own. This is particularly handy during non-business hours.

Most processors (even the bad ones) offer support via telephone or email. Chat support through the company’s website is also becoming more common. Telephone support that’s available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year is ideal. Realize that many companies offering 24/7 telephone support outsource that function, so you might end up talking to someone who may or may not be able to resolve your problem. Some companies will assign you a dedicated account representative, which is about the most personalized support you can hope for.

Final Thoughts

It’s 2016, and it seems like today just about everyone’s an entrepreneur in one way or another. More people are opening their own businesses than ever before, either as a side gig or a full-time occupation. The advent of eCommerce and low-cost processing options like Square make it easier than ever to start up a business. Whether you’re taking the plunge for the first time or you have many years of experience running a business, selecting the best possible merchant account provider is a critically important decision that can have a real impact on how well your business does.

If you’re just starting out, or your business is never going to be anything more than a side gig, you might not need a full-service merchant account. Low-cost providers such as Square will allow you to process credit cards without having to pay for many of the bells and whistles that come with a true merchant account. At the same time, you won’t have a unique merchant ID number for your account, increasing your risk for account freezes and terminations. Square also doesn’t provide much in the way of customer service, although they are getting better. Larger businesses will definitely need a full-service merchant account for the security features and robust customer service that come with it.

What if your business falls in the high risk category? If you’re a high-risk merchant, your options are more limited and you might not be approved for an account by some of our top-rated processors. Many of the processors that will give you an account will charge you higher rates and fees than the industry average. For a good processor that specializes in high-risk merchants and offers fairly-priced accounts, we recommend Durango Merchant Services.

Despite all the unscrupulous practices in the processing industry, there are some good companies out there that offer high-quality service at a fair, reasonable cost. For a side-by-side comparison of our top-rated processors, see our Merchant Account Comparison Chart. For a more detailed look at the features and benefits of each company, check out this article.

The post The Top 7 Things to Look for in a Merchant Account appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Top 11 Add-Ons For Revel Systems POS

Payment icon set. Human hands holding credit cards smartphone paying with POS. Flat style vector.

Revel POS has built itself like a reliable POS system with clients for example Smoothie King, Belkin, Goodwill, and Cinnabon. So congratulations! You’ve selected a POS system that big retailers depend onto run their franchises. The primary reason Revel attracts such giants from the retail world happens because it offers innovative features and numerous integrations.

Revel POS offers 50 integrations &#8211 yes, you heard me right &#8211 plus they all can be separated out in to the 11 groups the following. It might be very simple to become at a loss for all of the options I did. To help you save the problem of hunting through numerous websites and reviews, I&#8217ve put together the greatest rated Revel POS integrations for every category (or as I love to say, the winners from the Revel POS Hunger Games):

Reporting: CTUIT RADAR

Ctuit’s RADAR is really a restaurant-specific integration that extricates essential information from inventory, recipes, and accounting and seamlessly integrates it into understandable reports. Categories of reports are emailed on the schedule that matches you – daily, weekly, monthly, or any custom period of time. RADAR reports are highly relevant to any size business, and canopy from single location reporting to franchise royalty reporting. What&#8217s more, regardless of whether you would like your reports to be precise one location, to groupings of locations, in order to your whole company, Ctuit’s RADAR would like to support your requirements. My personal favorite factor? Using reporting charts, you are able to drill lower completely towards the check level – enabling you to trace trends to specific transactions.

The Takeaway: Ctuit’s RADAR reporting software enables you to definitely glean crucial data from Revel, and offers important information to create beneficial business decisions.

Accounting: QuickBooks

screen-shot-2016-09-15-at-1-19-02-pmAccounting and QuickBooks match (similar to peanut butter complements jelly or Batman complements Robin), therefore it shouldn’t come because an unexpected that QuickBooks supports the title for the best accounting integration. With QuickBooks, you are able to perform fundamental tasks like tracking your earnings and expenses, printing checks, and recording transactions. More impressively, you are able to import data from Stand out or QuickBooks desktop, access your computer data from the tablet or smartphone, and integrate with available applications – and that’s simply with minimal costly package.

The Takeaway: QuickBooks leads the in accounting POS integrations because of its smooth and comprehensive analysis of economic and purchasers data.

Online Ordering: Open Dining

open-diningOpen Dining is essentially the &#8220Renaissance man&#8221 of internet ordering POS integrations – it performs almost all the functions you have to keep the online ordering system running just like a well-oiled machine, with panache. Open Dining enables people to order out of your website or Facebook page they even pick a future date if they would like to order ahead of time. This integration enables you to definitely accept charge card payments and saves the data on record to expedite future ordering.

In case your store hasn’t opened up yet, you can engage in the “Coming Soon” mode, which displays recption menus and enables you to definitely collect the e-mail addresses of potential clients. Then, whenever your online ordering product is ready to go, you’ll have a listing of customers all set to go. I’m not extending its love to get into Open Dining&#8217s customer engagement, revenue building, personalization, and security services, but be assured they’re greater than on componen.

The Takeaway: Open Dining understands how to make a web-based ordering POS integration that simplifies what is headaches for companies.

Mobile Ordering: PayPal

paypal-logoPayPal is really a fast, safe way your clients will pay with cellular devices and/or order ahead to get in-store. With PayPal, prices is obvious and straightforward, and you will find set percentages for all of us card swipes, keyed-in cards, invoices, and mix-border transfers. It accepts all payment types instantly &#8211 debit or credit. Live customer care is definitely available via phone or email to reply to the questions you have. Also, there’s no lengthy-term commitment needed &#8211 you can easily download the application, setup rapidly, and pay while you sell marketing. There aren’t any monthly charges, setup charges, cancellation charges, or processing minimums.

The Takeaway: PayPal is really a proven POS integration which will boost client satisfaction with the ease of mobile ordering.

eCommerce: Shopify

ShopifyThis Canadian-based eCommerce integration focuses on creating great looking and user-friendly online retailers. With Shopify, you can get countless styles so that you can help make your online shop mirror the initial type of your company. Shopify also enables you to definitely track sales and growth trends, manage unlimited levels of products and inventory, add new channels within minutes, fulfill orders having a single step, and completely personalize your web store. It’s Shopify’s pursuit to handle all the eCommerce meet your needs so that you can concentrate on running and expanding your company. They juggle from payments and marketing to shipping and secure checkout.

The Takeaway: Shopify excels at making eCommerce hassle-free and lucrative so that you can spend time and cash on growing the consumer base.

Loyalty Programs/Gift Certificates: Synergy Loyalty

synergy-loyaltyFounded in 1995, Synergy Loyalty is promoting pioneering loyalty programs that draw new clients, engender customer loyalty, and boost revenues. Rewards programs vary and can include auto rewards (1 point per $1 spent), rebate rewards (10% of every purchase placed on take into account next purchase), growing discounts (discounts that escalate because they return), and tiered rewards (greater rewards for premium packages).

Synergy Loyalty&#8217s Gift Certificate Pooling system accommodates companies with multiple sites to ensure that gift certificate sales may be easily moved between locations. Miracle traffic bot does all of the heavy-lifting for you personally through features for example email promotions, mobile phone applications, text campaigns, e-list builder, and birthday club.

The Takeaway: If you wish to inspire loyalty inside your customers and promote revenue with gift certificates, Synergy Loyalty may be the solution for you personally.

Worker Management &amp Payroll: Homebase

homebaseThis free add-on includes features for example worker scheduling, time, timesheets, labor cost reporting, and much more. The worker scheduling feature is customizable and accessible everywhere it enables you to definitely manage time-off, availability, shift trades, so they cover – it also has advanced scheduling tools that let you know on labor, sales, and also the weather forecast. Homebase tracks missed shifts, missed clock-outs, missed breaks, tips, overtime, labor cost, etc. However it goes far above by supplying a totally free worker application in which the whole team can observe their schedule, request time off work, as well as get reminders before their shift starts.

Other innovative perks include the opportunity to collect worker feedback following a shift, the mobile manager tool, real-time alerts about no-shows, etc., the opportunity to message your team through broadcast messaging, and free live support.

The Takeaway: With Homebase, you will no longer need to bother about tracking time-clock errors, missing emailed demands for time off work, or the inability to get hold of someone should there be technical difficulties. Homebase has your back.

CRM Services: MailSync

mailsyncMailSync makes e-mail marketing appear like simple. Through MailSync, you are able to instantly sync your Revel customer data to Constant Contact, GetResponse, MailChimp, AWeber, or Campaign Monitor. By doing this you don’t need to by hand import and export with CSVs, you are able to email more customers, as well as your subscriber list is definitely up-to-date. The MailChimp partnership, particularly, enables you to employ ecommerce360 and automation workflows to extract detailed customer and order information, setup segments, and generate targeted email promotions in line with the purchase good reputation for your clients.

The Takeaway: MailSync instantly syncs your subscriber list data with services for example MailChimp so you don’t need to waste time and effort by hand transferring that data.

Payment Processors: Adyen

adyen-logo-greenThough only established in the year 2006, Adyen may be the leading payment processor for global commerce. Adyen supports over 250 payment methods and also over 150 currencies – planning to accommodate the payment ways of any possible client. With Adyen, you don’t need to pay for multiple suppliers and you may streamline operations. All your payments are processed in a single system so that you can visualize payment activity inside your stores, mobile application, an internet-based – all in one dashboard. They also have revitalized their infrastructure to be able to begin to see the entire payment flow from the moment of purchase towards the duration of settlement resulting in less interruption, greater revenue, and rates of success.

Note: If you’re searching for mobile payment processors, Revel POS integrates with Pepper, Zapper, PayPal, LevelUp, and Apple Pay. Many of these choices are so unique and varied within their functions that there’s no obvious champion try them out yourself and find out which most closely fits your requirements.

The Takeaway: Adyen’s vision was to produce a uniform payment processing system that homogenizes the transactions with various cards and currencies to simplify the procedure for you personally and permit you to expand your subscriber base.

Payment Gateways: USAePay

usaepayUSAePay facilitates the acceptance of safe and sound charge card payments through Revel POS. With USAePay, retailers obtain access to live customer care, customer management tools, fraud tools, a card account updater, and inventory management tools. The client management tools offer retailers secure data storage, the opportunity to modify records, and tools for report generation. The credit card account updater instantly updates charge card expiration dates on specific guaranteed platforms. USAePay also enables retailers to bill their clients periodically with recurring billing and it is Level 1 PCI Compliant – and therefore all processed and stored charge card information is stored inside a secure atmosphere.

The Takeaway: USAePay distinguishes itself in the competition with features such as the card account updater and fraud tools which safeguard both merchant and also the consumer to ensure that all transactions are quick and secure.

Security Services: DTT

dttTalking about security, DTT is really a hospitality- and retail-specific Revel POS integration that gives video-based surveillance systems and loss prevention solutions. DTT’s suite of services includes the MyDTT portal, criminal background checks, video exception reports, Smart Safe integration, off-site storage of information (cloud), and situation management. They likewise have the SmartAudit™ feature, which mixes audio, video, and POS data to flag potential suspicious activity for evaluate the Forensic Analysis feature, that is a more in-depth form of the SmartAudit™ feature an worker tip line temperature alerts that warn you whenever your coolers or freezers fall outdoors of the specified range and also the SCREAM™ feature that enables unhappy people to share complaints along with you so that you can remedy the connection.

The Takeaway: DTT has mastered the skill of making certain that the customers and employees feel safe and sound inside your store because of the advanced features they provide.

Final Ideas

Hopefully, this information has helped you determine which add-ons will integrate most effectively together with your Revel POS account. For those who have any queries or information on Revel POS integrations which have labored well for you personally previously, tell us. We&#8217d like to know what you think!

The publish Top 11 Add-Ons For Revel Systems POS made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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Top 6 Add-Ons for NCR Silver POS

Mobile phone connected to wireless POS terminal, NFC mobile point of sale processing , concept of payment communication technology, cashier hand holding smartphone isolated on green flat vector design

Thanks for visiting another round from the POS integration Hunger Games! Previously, we view the add-ons of numerous POS systems (Revel, Shopify, Vend, Breadcrumb, and ShopKeep POS) do fight. Now&#8217s tribute? The add-ons of NCR Silver.

Produced by tech giant NCR Corporation (history&#8217s first reason for purchase company), NCR Silver has earned its positive status within the POS world and it is presently probably the most adaptive and experienced systems available on the market.

Kudos for you for choosing a tried and true reason for purchase solution! Now it&#8217s time to benefit from the accessible add-ons. This is a shortcut towards the greatest-rated NCR Silver integrations:

Loyalty Programs: PassMarket

passmarket-logoBecause the only loyalty program integration NCR Silver offers, PassMarket wins this category automatically, however the large number of functions available may likely get this to software a front runner anyway.

Rather of attempting to pressure the type of cookie-cutter rewards systems most add-ons provide, PassMarket enables you to create custom loyalty programs for the business. You are able to distribute special deals and coupons for your customers and talk to them directly through their in-application Message Center.

PassMarket offers numerous features beyond just loyalty tools, including (although not restricted to) Gifting, Order Ahead &amp Payment, Geo-location &amp Beacon based messaging, an internet-based Menus. This application integrates with Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay so that your customers are able to place orders and pay using their devices.

The Takeaway: PassMarket is really a mobile customer engagement solution that simplifies the shopping experience for the customers.

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Payroll Services: Paychex

paychex-logoPaychex began in 1971 and today serves 600,000 companies.This payroll service pertains to big and small companies alike. Online use of Paychex can be obtained wherever you’re support services include free mobile phone applications for employers and employees (operated by iPhone and Android devices), use of a payroll specialist, and 24/7 support.

Features include:

  • Payroll outsourcing
  • Accounting
  • Direct deposit/paycard reports ledgers
  • Condition Unemployment Insurance (SUI)
  • Charge card processing
  • Tax credit
  • Some time and attendance services
  • Payroll tax
  • Florida sales tax payment
  • Worker’s compensation
  • Healthcare reform services

Miracle traffic bot also provides you with tools to build up employees, including recruiting, criminal record check, flexible spending account (FSA), retirement, health insurance and benefits, mobile application, an internet-based worker access services.

If you feel Paychex stops at excellent payroll features, reconsider. They provide 401(k) retirement plans and group medical health insurance plans with medical, dental, vision, existence, short-term disability, and lengthy-term disability coverage options. Paychex offers outsourced HR services.

The Takeaway: Paychex goes far above the world of fundamental payroll, delivering services that alleviate the strain of administering healthcare, insurance coverage, and 401Ks.

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Business Operation: NCR Console (formerly CimpleBox)

Image result for ncr logoNCR Console makes business management simple by supplying necessary features like sales reporting and purchasers planning/targeting. Capabilities include:

  • Notifications (email or text)
  • Consolidated dashboard
  • Operational calendar
  • Document management
  • Worker schedule management
  • Payment histories
  • Advanced reporting for timecards, income, labor costs, payroll, inventory, losses, cost-of-goods, customer comments, and census
  • Time-off demands
  • Timecard management
  • Labor cost projection
  • Payroll integration abilities
  • Recipe management
  • Product mix integration

NCR Console even integrates having a training module add-with that provides video tutorial management, exam management, an origin library, certifications to finish of modules/training, competency tracking, and the opportunity to integrate with cellular devices.

Finally, NCR Console enables you to gain much-needed feedback out of your customers with operation execution surveys and customizable questionnaires.

The Takeaway: NCR Console may be the digital manager that may help you run your company just like a well-oiled machine.

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Payment Processor: Elavon

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-1-26-19-pmI&#8217ve awarded Elavon the title of greatest-rated payment processing integration for NCR Silver (despite some pretty stiff competition) due to its surprisingly different and innovative features.

Elavon enables retailers to merely and quickly process debit and credit cards. They likewise have a person-friendly reporting service you have access to online anytime. Nick cards have become prevalent because of their elevated capability to safeguard your clients&#8217 information. Elavon accepts nick card payments wherever you’re using their Converge Mobile application. You may also accept NFC (near field communications) payments, &#8220Tap and Pay&#8221 payments, mobile payments from Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, and traditional magnetic stripe cards.

Elavon also provides reporting options with two reporting levels, enabling you to access comprehensive reporting and transaction history on one dashboard. If you wish to observe how your small business is doing, you are able to interact with your bank account through MerchantConnect and find out your web statements, evaluate payments, or view reports anytime, anywhere. This integration can also be outfitted with advanced security measures which counsel you regarding how to increase your business whilst protecting your payment data. To learn more, take a look at our overview of Elavon.

The Takeaway: Elavon excels at delivering simple, effective, and sleek payment processing services which means you don&#8217t need to bother about a factor.

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Mobile Payment: LevelUp

levelupLevelUp triumphs within this category because of high ratings and exceptional service.

With LevelUp, mobile payment processing is really a cakewalk. All of your customers need to do is download the application, enter their card information, then scan the QR code on their own phone at checkout. They even order ahead and accrue rewards.

Talking about accruing rewards, i adore LevelUp also provides a loyalty program? This application enables you to select between numerous loyalty campaigns so that you can select the one which most closely fits your company. LevelUp also offers gift certificate abilities where you can offer your clients either plastic or digital gift certificates. This integration can help you engage your clients with surveys to gauge their feelings and opinions regarding your business. Beacon messaging alerts your customers whenever you are offering new deals.

The Takeaway: LevelUp seeks to create your existence simpler on an array of levels using its diverse features.

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Accounting: Xero

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-8-07-08-pmFounded in the year 2006, Xero has were able to silently upstage classical solutions (like QuickBooks) due to innovative and various features.

Xero offers numerous avenues to satisfy retailers&#8217 accounting needs. This application syncs with your money so that you can instantly import transactions. With Xero, it is simple to manage personal expenses and compensate employees for business costs, stay awake-to-date on purchases and charges, accept payments online services, instantly calculate sales and condition tax rates, and track business assets, for example vehicles and equipment for your office.

Beyond just accounting, Xero boasts numerous additional features:

  • Invoicing
  • Data security
  • Inventory management
  • Payroll
  • Quotes
  • Reporting

You will see the performance of the business with the Xero dashboard, track gains and losses across many currencies, visualize contacts and relationship histories with smart lists, and fix files to accounting transactions so that your details are stored in one location. For more information, take a look at our overview of Xero.

The Takeaway: Xero is a superb accounting choice for small company proprietors.

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What exactly do you think? Have I selected the very best add-ons for NCR Silver? Have you got much better suggestions? Be at liberty to contact us or comment below!

The publish Top 6 Add-Ons for NCR Silver POS made an appearance first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Worst Credit Card Terminal Leasing Companies

Upset man holding credit card with laptop on background

Unless you’re running a purely eCommerce business, you’re going to need a credit card terminal to accept credit cards. If your business is large enough, or if you operate out of multiple locations, you might need more than one. Credit card terminals come in many shapes and sizes, from simple wired terminals that aren’t much bigger than a smartphone up to fancy POS terminals that can do much more than just process credit card transactions.

Procuring terminals for your business can be an expensive proposition for a first-time small business owner. Because of this, many traditional merchant account providers have used leasing arrangements to supply their merchants with the hardware they need. If you get anything out of this article, above all remember this: Don’t do it! While that low monthly leasing fee might seem like a bargain compared to the cost of buying a terminal, it’s anything but.

How Leasing Works

Almost all terminal leasing contracts contain the same two provisions: (1) a 48-month (four-year) term, and (2) a clause that makes the lease completely non-cancelable. The standard four-year term deliberately takes advantage of the fact that most merchant accounts start with a three-year term, and automatically renew for one-year periods after that. In other words, even if you successfully close your merchant account after the three-year period is up, you’re still on the hook for your terminal lease for another year. You’ll be paying for equipment that you don’t actually own and won’t even be able to use at that point.

The non-cancelable provision in leasing contracts is far and away the most onerous thing about them. Once the leasing company has your bank account information, they’ll keep deducting monthly leasing fees from your account until the contract expires, regardless of the state of your business. Even if you’ve closed your business and shipped the terminals back, they’ll keep charging you under the terms of your lease. Deliberately breaking your lease before it expires puts you on the hook for an immediate payment of all remaining months of your contract.

Those monthly lease payments can seem tempting, especially if you’re trying to start a new business on a shoestring budget. What the sales representatives pushing these leases don’t tell you, however, is that in addition to a monthly leasing fee, you’ll also pay sales tax and a monthly equipment insurance fee. Here’s a hypothetical example: Let’s say you can lease a terminal for “only” $30.00 per month. Add in $5.00 per month for insurance and 8% sales tax, and you’re actually paying $37.80 per month. Multiply that by 48 months, and the true cost of the contract comes out to $1,814.40. Yikes! Considering that a terminal that leases for that amount can usually be purchased outright for under $300, it’s clear that you’re being ripped off.

Myths About Terminal Leases

If terminal leases are such an obvious rip-off, why do merchants sign up for them? There are several reasons for this. For one thing, the leasing companies have a number of arguments in favor of leasing that can be very persuasive if you don’t do your homework. Here’s what they’ll tell you:

Your upfront costs will be lower. Yes, that first month’s payment will be lower than buying a terminal outright. If you need multiple terminals, you’ll save even more – for a few weeks. After that, the costs just keep adding up until they’ve exceeded the cost of buying a terminal by several hundred percent.

Your leased terminal will be compatible with your merchant account. Again, this is true on its face. What they aren’t telling you is that you can buy your own terminal and have it re-programmed by your merchant account provider to work with their system. While some providers will charge you a re-programming fee, many of the better providers will re-program your existing equipment for free. Even if you have to pay a re-programming fee, you’ll still save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over leasing.

Your leased terminal is insured in case it gets damaged or stops working. It’s true that if you buy your terminal outright, you’ll have to find either a way to insure it or go without the insurance. If you buy your terminal directly from your merchant account provider, they might be able to cover this. If you buy your terminal online through a third party, it won’t come with any insurance protection. Here’s the thing, though: credit card terminals aren’t nearly as delicate as many of the other electronic gadgets we rely on every day. They’re rugged, and absent deliberate abuse they’ll last for years – possibly even decades – without needing repairs. Obsolescence is a bigger threat to your terminals than physical damage. Given the horrible reputation that terminal leasing companies have for customer service and support, I wouldn’t expect much help if you actually had to make a claim. Overall, terminal insurance is both expensive and unnecessary.

Leasing costs are tax-deductible. Like any legitimate business expense, you can deduct the cost of your terminal lease on your taxes. Of course, you can also deduct the cost of buying your terminals outright just as easily. Don’t let a sales representative convince you that paying 6-10 times the retail price for a terminal is a good deal because you can write it off on your taxes. You’ll still come out way ahead overall by buying your own terminals.

What Happens at the End of Your Lease?

Here’s the worst part about leasing: At the end of your lease, you still won’t own your terminals. They remain the property of the leasing company. Your options at this point vary depending on which leasing company you’re working with. Here are the more common possibilities.

  • You can terminate your lease and return your terminals. You’ll be out from under your lease, but now you won’t have any way to process credit card transactions.
  • You can buy the terminals from the leasing company. Some companies will let you buy your terminals at the end of your lease, but they’ll usually charge you much more than they’re really They won’t give you any credit for all those lease payments, either.
  • You can continue leasing your equipment. Leasing companies will usually allow you to continue leasing your terminals after your initial four-year lease expires. While some companies will allow you to continue leasing on a month-to-month basis, others will put you on another four-year contract. In either case, it’s just not worth it.

How Do They Get Away with This?

If you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably asking yourself why anyone would agree to a terminal lease. Unfortunately, it usually comes down to merchants falling for misleading, high-pressure sales tactics from the representatives pushing the lease. Unethical sales agents will tell you that it’s more economical to lease than to buy. They might also tell you that your merchant account provider only offers leases and that if you buy your own equipment, it won’t be compatible. None of this is true.

Credit card terminals used to be a lot more expensive than they are today. Back then, it might have made at least some economic sense to lease a terminal. Today, thanks to increased competition and advances in technology, you can buy a modern, EMV-compliant, NFC-capable credit card terminal for as little as $120. You’ll still need to have the software load installed to make it compatible with your merchant account, but some of the better merchant account providers will do this for free. Even if you have to pay a re-programming fee, it’s still far less expensive than leasing a terminal.

Some of the more unethical sales agents will deliberately obscure the fact that your merchant account provider and your terminal leasing company are two different entities. This mostly comes down to the fact that they don’t want you to see your leasing contract before you sign it. As we’ll see later, there’s evidence that some of the most unethical leasing companies have gone so far as to deliberately forge merchant’s signatures on their leasing contracts. The best way for you as a merchant to avoid this kind of blatantly illegal conduct is to avoid terminal leases completely.

While there really aren’t any ethical, honest terminal leasing companies that we can recommend to you, we have assembled a rogue’s gallery of the worst companies that you should stay away from. You’re quite likely to run into one or more of these companies in your search for a merchant account, so it’s important that you understand how they operate and how to protect yourself. Here are the companies that you never want to do business with:

First Data Global Leasing (FDGL)

First Data logo

First Data Global Leasing is a subsidiary of mammoth First Data, which is probably the largest merchant account provider in the United States. Although we’ve reviewed First Data favorably, we can’t say the same thing about First Data Global Leasing. With expensive, non-cancelable leases ranging from 24 to 48 months in length, FDGL has generated a huge number of complaints from merchants for its business practices.

FDGL primarily leases proprietary First Data-branded credit card terminals and POS systems, including the very popular Clover Station POS. While First Data’s hardware offerings are all solid products, it’s much more affordable in the long run to buy them rather than leasing them. The Clover Station POS, for example, can be bought for around $1,000.00. While this is a big investment for a small startup business, it’s a lot less than what you’d pay overall for a four-year lease. You’ll also own your equipment outright from the beginning, rather than having to either send it back to FDGL or pay a second time to buy it after your lease expires.

FDGL’s website is remarkably basic, and doesn’t provide much information about either the terms of their leases or the leasing fees associated with their products. They do, however, include a brief FAQ that should be enough to convince you that leasing through them is a terrible deal. Hey, at least they’re honest.

You should also check out First Data’s Merchant Services Terms and Conditions, which includes a copy of the leasing contract. It’s on pages 31-32, and I’ve highlighted some of the most egregious provisions. Because FDGL is part of First Data, you won’t have two separate contracts for your merchant account and your equipment lease. At the same time, it’s easy for merchants to skip reviewing this section when they sign their contract since it’s buried in the middle of 48 pages of fine print.

FDGL doesn’t have a separate profile with the BBB, so you’ll have to look under the main First Data profile. Here, you’ll find that First Data has an A+ rating – despite being unaccredited by the BBB and having over 1,000 complaints on file. Looking through those complaints, it’s apparent that a significant number of them involve issues with FDGL’s leasing terms. Unfortunately, responses from First Data make it very clear that they will strictly enforce the terms of the lease in almost all cases.

Ripoff Report has an additional 72 complaints filed against FDGL, including several merchants alleging that FDGL’s sales agents forged their signatures on leasing contract documents. At ConsumerAffairs.com, you’ll find another 56 1-star reviews from merchants who have been abused by this company. There’s even a Facebook group called First Data Global Leasing Victims, where merchants have posted complaints about FDGL and its leasing contracts.

When shopping around for a merchant account, you need to be aware that First Data has a very extensive network of resellers, some of whom use FDGL to lease their equipment. Merchant account providers such as Elite Pay Global, TransFirst, and many, many others use First Data as their backend processor and offer First Data terminals and Clover POS systems. If you’d like to use First Data’s equipment or take advantage of the services such a large processor can provide, take a look at Dharma Merchant Services. One of our favorite providers, Dharma utilizes First Data (and other processors) but doesn’t partner with FDGL. In fact, they don’t lease terminals at all. They’ll either sell you a terminal at a fair price or re-program your own equipment for a reasonable fee.

Northern Leasing Systems, Inc.

Northern Leasing Systems logo

If you think FDGL is a terrible company, I have bad news: there are even worse leasing companies out there that you need to avoid at all costs. Based in New York City, New York, Northern Leasing Systems, Inc. has been in business since 1991. In that time, the company has managed to build such a terrible reputation with merchants that it’s resorted to doing business under numerous DBAs and through various subsidiaries, including Golden Eagle Leasing LLC, Lease Finance Group LLC, MBF Leasing LLC, Lease Source-LSI, LLC, and others.

Like most terminal leasing companies, Northern Leasing uses a standard contract that runs for four years and is utterly non-cancelable. If you’d like, you can review their Lease Agreement right here. It’s pretty clear from even a brief overview that the contract can’t be canceled and you can’t break it early without having to pay off the remaining months of the contract. So why do merchants ever agree to this? The truth is they often don’t know what they’re getting themselves into when they sign up for a merchant account. Northern Leasing usually doesn’t sell or market their terminal leases directly. Instead, they partner with many different merchant account providers, who package their “services” as part of setting up a new merchant account. Merchants often don’t understand that their lease is through a separate company and not their merchant account provider. Northern Leasing’s contract is buried inside the fine print of a merchant’s contract with their merchant account provider, and many merchants don’t read everything in their contracts before signing them. Also, sales representatives – particularly independent agents – often do a poor job of explaining the terms of the equipment lease when trying to sell a merchant account.

Northern Leasing is not accredited by the BBB and currently has an F rating. There have been an unbelievable 631 complaints filed against the company within the last three years, with 260 complaints being filed within the last twelve months. Even more complaints can be found on the BBB profiles of several of Northern Leasing’s subsidiaries.

On the company’s BBB page, you’ll also find details about a lawsuit filed against Northern Leasing and several of its subsidiaries in April 2016 by the New York Attorney General. The company is accused of fraudulently forging merchant’s signatures on contracts and illegally obtaining default judgments against merchants who have stopped making payments on their leases. The lawsuit seeks compensation for merchants who have been harmed by Northern Leasing’s predatory and illegal practices, and the complete dissolution of the company. If you’ve been victimized by Northern Leasing or one of their subsidiaries, by all means go to the Attorney General’s press release about the lawsuit. It contains websites and phone numbers where you can find out more about the suit and get your claim added to it.

Northern Leasing also has 282 complaints on Ripoff Reports, with the same allegations being raised. You can also find many other complaints on the web. In fact, a search for “Northern Leasing” mostly leads to consumer protection websites where merchants have complained about the company’s business practices.

Unfortunately, many merchant account providers continue to use Northern Leasing to provide leased terminals to their merchants. These providers include Central Payments (CPAY), Elite Pay Global, TransFirst, Velocity Merchant Services, and many others. While many of these providers are solid, reputable companies themselves, you’ll definitely want to avoid leasing your equipment from Northern Leasing.

Lease Finance Group (LFG)

Lease Finance Group logo

Based in Chicago, Illinois, Lease Finance Group (LFG) has been happily ripping off unsuspecting merchants since 1992. The company is actually a subsidiary of Northern Leasing Systems, Inc., and pretty much everything we’ve said about Northern Leasing applies to LFG as well.

LFG claims on their website to be the “#1 Point of Sale (POS) equipment lessor in the country.” Whether it’s actually true or not, this is a dubious distinction at best. LFG utilizes the same absurd non-cancelable four-year leases to charge merchants as much as ten times the actual retail value of their terminals over the life of the lease. It’s clear from LFG’s primitive, bare-bones website that they’re not directly marketing their “services” to merchants. Instead, they’re looking to partner with merchant account providers so they can sneak their awful lease contracts into the overall contract between the merchant account provider and the merchant. This way, merchants often overlook the onerous terms of the lease contract, and in many cases don’t even know that they have a separate contract with LFG at all.

This sort of unethical behavior is compounded by independent sales agents, who often fail to disclose any of the terms of the lease when signing merchants up for an account. Even the most inexperienced merchant would refuse to agree to one of these leasing contracts if they knew and understood what the terms of the lease entailed.

Lease Finance Group is not accredited by the BBB and currently has an F rating. The company currently has 379 complaints, almost all of which involve the absurd terms of their leases and the company’s tendency to continue charging merchants after their leases have expired. There is also an alert for the lawsuit brought in April 2016 by the New York Attorney General against LFG, Northern Leasing, and several of their other DBAs. While this action is still making its way through the courts, it’s encouraging to see that state governments are finally cracking down on this kind of unethical and illegal behavior.

Like its parent company, the internet is littered with complaints against LFG, including 598 complaints on Ripoff Report alone. Unfortunately, LFG is still being used by TransFirst and many other merchant account providers to supply leased equipment to their customers. If you’re looking into a merchant account provider, be sure to read our reviews and any other reviews you can find online. Merchant account providers rarely disclose the identity of their leasing partners on their company websites, and you certainly can’t count on a sales agent to give you an honest answer about this, either.

LADCO Global Leasing Solutions

LADCO Global Leasing Solutions logo

LADCO Global Leasing Solutions is a subsidiary of Elavon, one of the largest merchant account providers in the United States. The company is located in Knoxville, Tennessee (with a second office in Thousand Oaks, California) and appears to have been in business since 1979. While Elavon provides a decent line of products and services for merchants, the same cannot be said about LADCO. Like all our other worst-rated leasing companies, the company relies on noncancelable, four-year leases to extract far more money from their merchants than what their equipment is worth.

Elavon goes out of its way to avoid disclosing its relationship with LADCO, and for a good reason. The leasing company has a terrible reputation among merchants for high prices and unfair leasing contracts. LADCO’s reputation is so bad that it no longer maintains its own company website. The company’s former site, www.ladco.com, now re-directs to Elavon’s website. So much for keeping the relationship between the two entities a secret…

While LADCO and other leasing companies go to great lengths to keep merchants from fully reading their contracts, we’ve found copies of them on the internet. Even a brief look at LADCO’s Equipment Finance Lease Terms reveals how one-sided these contracts are. The first thing you’ll (hopefully) notice is that the word noncancelable is right in the title of the agreement. Merchants often don’t understand just how strictly this term is enforced. What this means is that you are liable for the full cost of all 48 monthly payments (and possibly more) from the moment you sign your merchant account provider contract. LADCO will not let you out of your contract under any circumstances. Did you sell your business? Too bad. Did your business fail and you are shutting down altogether? Again, too bad. I’ve even seen complaints where the business owner has died, and the executor is frantically trying to get the lease canceled and the equipment returned – to no avail.

You should also note that LADCO, like most other leasing companies, provides their equipment on an “as is” basis, with no warranties or guarantees whatsoever. In other words, if your equipment doesn’t work, it’s up to you to contact the manufacturer and get it fixed – which you have to pay for. The fact that your monthly lease payments also include charges for “insurance” that won’t do you any good just makes it that much worse.

LADCO does not have a separate profile with the BBB, but you can find plenty of complaints against them under Elavon’s profile for their Knoxville location. While the profile shows 182 complaints over the last three years, some of them refer to problems with leased equipment and many others refer to other aspects of Elavon’s merchant account services. There are also 132 reports on Ripoff Report alleging similar problems with LADCO.

Like Northern Leasing and its numerous subsidiaries, LADCO has frequently found itself in legal trouble over its business practices. In April 2012, the Ventura County District Attorney’s office settled a case against LADCO’s Thousand Oaks office after uncovering evidence that sales agents were misrepresenting just about everything in their leases, including the length of the lease, the fact that it couldn’t be canceled, and the true cost of the lease. LADCO was also apparently leasing used equipment and misrepresenting it as being new, among other practices. There was also evidence that sales agents were forging merchant’s signatures on their leases. To settle the lawsuit, LADCO agreed to pay over $418,000 in fines and restitution, and to be bound by a permanent injunction prohibiting similar violations of the law. Unfortunately, this settlement only seems to have brought relief to merchants located in Ventura County.

The Elavon BBB profile also discloses a similar legal action by the Tennessee Attorney General in 2015. Under the terms of this settlement, LADCO is providing refunds to affected merchants. Again, this settlement seems only to apply to merchants in Tennessee. Despite these legal settlements, the complaints keep coming in from angry merchants, and it’s clear that LADCO hasn’t reformed its business practices in any significant way in response to these legal setbacks.

Needless to say, if you’re considering signing up with Elavon for a merchant account, you’ll want to avoid being stuck with a terminal lease through LADCO. Be aware that many of Elavon’s re-sellers, including Costco Merchant Services, also use the company to furnish leased equipment. Helcim, one of our favorite providers, uses Elavon as a processor but sells terminals directly rather than offering leases through LADCO.

Exceptions to the Rule

While in almost all cases we recommend that you buy your terminals or POS systems outright, there are two notable exceptions to this general rule. One exception is if you’re working with CDGcommerce, one of our favorite providers. If you need a credit card terminal, CDG will provide one at no upfront cost to you. The only thing you’ll have to pay is an annual $79.00 fee for insurance and equipment upgrades. This works out to $6.58 per month – a fraction of what the leasing companies will charge you. Unlike the terminal leasing companies, your contract with CDG is month-to-month, so you’re free to close your account and return your terminal without having to pay anything extra.

The other exception applies only to Canadian merchants. In Canada, EMV-compliant terminals are not designed to be re-sold, so you’ll have to rent them instead of buying your own. Helcim, our favorite Canadian merchant account provider (and one of the best choices for US-based merchants as well), will rent you a terminal for a reasonable fee. Helcim’s contracts are also month-to-month, so you can return the terminal at any time with no penalty.

Conclusion

It’s not hard to see how the leasing companies make their money. With credit card terminals being more affordable than ever, it’s easy for a company to buy a huge number of terminals at wholesale prices and then lease them out to unsuspecting merchants. The initial cost of buying the terminals is recouped within the first few months of the lease, and from there it’s pure profit. By providing the equipment on an “as is” basis, the company avoids the additional cost of servicing terminals once they’ve been leased. In fact, it’s apparent that none of these companies have an actual customer service department to speak of. The incredibly one-sided nature of the leasing contracts makes them a literal “license to steal.”

How can you protect yourself? First and foremost – buy your own equipment. If you don’t have the money to pay for your terminals, put it on your business credit card or consider a merchant cash advance. Even with the additional interest, you’ll save a lot of money over getting stuck in a lease. Don’t ever let a sales agent tell you that you have to use their leased terminals. As long as you use a terminal that your provider supports, you can have it re-programmed to work with their service. While some providers will re-program your equipment for free, others will charge a fee for this. Re-programming fees can run as high as $150, but they’re usually much less. In any event, you’ll still save money over leasing.

Also, beware of “free” terminal offers. While some of these offers are legitimate, many are not. Yes, there are a few providers out there that will let you use a terminal for free as long as you maintain your merchant account with them. Other providers will include the fee for the terminal in your monthly account fee, so the terminal isn’t really free. In the worst cases, a sales agent will deliberately lie to you and tell you you’re getting a free terminal, when they’ve actually signed you up for one of these leases without your knowledge or consent. Don’t accept a “free” terminal offer without checking it out first.

The unscrupulous business practices of the leasing companies we’ve profiled here represent sociopathic capitalism at its worst. While many of the more reputable merchant account providers have abandoned terminal leases altogether in favor of selling the terminals directly (or allowing you to bring your existing equipment), there are still plenty of other providers who are still pushing terminal leases. It’s reassuring that a few state and local government agencies are finally beginning to crack down on these shady companies, but their actions so far don’t seem to have put much of a dent in their business activities. Until a more comprehensive legal remedy becomes available that puts these companies out of business, the best way to protect yourself is simply to avoid doing business with them completely. If you’ve had any experience with any of the companies we’ve profiled in this article, please feel free to tell us about it in the comment section below.

The post The Worst Credit Card Terminal Leasing Companies appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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The Best High-Risk Merchant Account Providers

High Risk rubber stamp on white.

Just about everyone in business these days needs to be able to accept credit cards. Finding a reputable merchant account provider to process those credit card transactions for you can be a pretty daunting challenge for any business, but it’s even harder if you’re a high-risk merchant.

So, what is a high-risk merchant? In the simplest terms, it’s any business that for any reason presents an elevated risk of fraud to the credit card processor. While this is usually due to the nature of the business itself, it can also occur if the business owner has particularly bad credit or the business caters to customers that are deemed to present a higher risk of fraud. Every processor has its own set of criteria for deciding whether a business is classified as high-risk. Thus, a business might be deemed high-risk by one processor, but not by another. Examples of businesses that are normally classified as high-risk include those in the adult entertainment industry, e-cigarette and vape shops, and online gambling sites. Those seem pretty obvious, right? Well, there are also a lot of other categories of high-risk businesses that aren’t so obvious. Bankruptcy attorneys, for example, can be classified as high-risk – a good example of how your customers can put you in the high-risk category even if you have perfect credit yourself. Furniture stores are also sometimes classified as high-risk due to their large average ticket size. For a complete discussion of the high-risk merchant category and a full list of businesses that often fall into it, see our article on the subject.

How does being a high-risk merchant affect getting a merchant account? Quite frankly, it makes it a lot harder and more expensive. Despite the intense competition within the merchant account provider industry, getting approved for a merchant account is never a sure thing. Providers have to balance the risk presented by a merchant applying for an account against the potential profit to be made from the account if it is approved. In most cases, they err on the conservative side of things, meaning high-risk merchants simply aren’t approved for an account.

Other providers will approve you, but you won’t get nearly as good a deal as a non-high-risk merchant would receive. Instead, you’ll pay higher processing rates and account fees, and you’ll usually be stuck with a long-term contract and an early termination fee. In some cases, you might also be required to put up a rolling reserve to get approved.

Merchant account providers that are willing to sign up high-risk merchants fall into two categories. On the one hand, there are the companies that indirectly market to high-risk merchants. Unfortunately, many of these companies are among the bottom-feeders in an industry that already has a reputation for being ethically-challenged. Look out for claims such as “instant approval” or similar gimmicks that suggest they’ll approve any merchant, regardless of their credit history or the nature of their business. Sign up with one of these companies, and you’ll be guaranteed to pay higher rates and fees, be saddled with a long-term contract, and receive virtually no customer support or service after the sale.

On the other hand, there are a handful of companies that we call “high-risk specialists.” These are ethical, honest companies that have a lot of experience working with high-risk merchants and will do their best to get you a decent deal on a merchant account. Below, we’ve profiled five merchant account providers that deliver the best service to high-risk merchants. While there are a handful of other high-risk specialists out there, these are the ones that we feel offer the highest quality service available.

How We Chose:

High-risk merchants have essentially the same needs as everyone else when it comes to finding a merchant account – it’s just harder to find them if you’re in the high-risk category. High-risk retailers are going to want to have access to reliable, up-to-date credit card terminals, as well as possibly POS systems and mobile payments solutions. eCommerce merchants in the high-risk category will need a solid payment gateway, and possibly a virtual terminal to go with it. Integration with online shopping carts is another important feature.

You’ll also want the best pricing plans and contract terms you can get. Here’s where a dose of reality comes in. There are several truly outstanding merchant account providers that we’ve awarded 5-star ratings to, and with good reason. They offer low interchange-plus (or subscription) pricing, month-to-month contracts, and excellent customer service and support. Unfortunately, one of the ways they keep their costs down and can offer such great terms to their merchants is by avoiding the high-risk category altogether. In other words, you won’t get approved for an account with them if they decide that you fall into the high-risk category. Getting approved for a merchant account if you’re considered high-risk involves a few compromises. You won’t get the lowest rates. You will pay more in fees than a non-high-risk-merchant. And you probably won’t get a month-to-month contract (although sometimes you can successfully negotiate one). That said, the high-risk specialists we’ve identified below will usually be able to get you a deal that’s above the industry average, even if it’s not the best of the best.

We’ve identified the following criteria in evaluating our best high-risk merchant account providers. Here’s what we looked at:

  • High-risk specialization. This involves more than just marketing toward the high-risk sector. A true high-risk specialist will have a sales staff (preferably in-house) that’s trained and experienced in dealing with high-risk merchant accounts. Likewise, their customer service representatives will also be trained in working with high-risk accounts.
  • Hardware. Unless you’re running a purely eCommerce business, you’re going to need equipment to process card-present transactions. This could be a standard wired credit card terminal, a wireless terminal, a POS system, or a mobile smartphone-based system with a card reader and an app. Regardless of what type of hardware works best with your business, we highly recommend that you buy your equipment outright rather than leasing it. Standard terminal leases run for four years and are noncancelable, meaning you’ll have to buy out the remaining months of your lease if you close your account. Note that some providers offer a “free” terminal with your account. Be wary of this and read the fine print. While this offer might work out if you only need one terminal, you’ll often end up paying a higher monthly account fee (i.e., the terminal isn’t really free), and you could also be locked into a long-term contract with a hefty early termination fee. Don’t accept a magstripe-only card reader! With the switch to EMV, you’ll need equipment that can process both magstripe and EMV cards. Equipment that can process contactless payments using NFC (such as Apple Pay) is also a good idea as this type of payment method is rapidly gaining in popularity with consumers.
  • eCommerce support. If your business has an online presence, you’ll need a payment gateway to process your sales transactions. You might also want a virtual terminal to go with it, as this will allow you to input card-not-present transactions from any internet-connected device with a web browser. Card readers that connect to your computer via USB or Bluetooth expand the usefulness of a virtual terminal by allowing you to process card-present transactions as well.
  • Sales and advertising. Misleading sales gimmicks and dishonest sales agents are common problems in the merchant account provider industry. While we like to see full disclosure of contract terms, processing rates, and account fees right on a provider’s website, even the best high-risk specialists often fall short in this area. There’s a reason for this. High-risk specialists often work with multiple third-party processors to find one that can accommodate your needs. With each processor setting their own rates and terms, it’s practically impossible to spell out all the details on a website. You’ll want to work closely with your sales representative and negotiate to get the best terms available. Just be aware that as a high-risk merchant you’re not going to get as good a deal as a non-high-risk merchant.
  • Pricing. Costs associated with maintaining a merchant account include both processing rates and account fees. Processing rates are assessed on a per-transaction basis, while account fees are billed monthly or annually. Ordinarily, we recommend an interchange-plus pricing plan for processing rates over a usually more expensive tiered pricing plan. As a high-risk merchant, however, you will have a harder time getting approved for interchange-plus pricing. It’s still worth asking for during the negotiation process, though. Likewise, you can also expect to pay higher fees than a non-high-risk merchant would. For a more detailed look at rates and fees, see our Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing Rates and Fees.
  • Contracts. There has been a trend in recent years within the merchant accounts industry to do away with the standard three-year, automatically renewing contract and allow month-to-month contracts instead. Expensive early termination fees are also gradually being phased out as part of this trend. Unfortunately, as a high-risk merchant you usually won’t be able to participate in this positive development. Providers are more likely to sign you up for the traditional long-term contract. It’s worth asking for when negotiating the terms of your account – just realize that the odds are usually going to be against you.
  • Customer support. This is a challenging area for many merchant account providers, especially when trying to provide 24/7 support by phone or email. Many of the better providers are increasingly putting more self-help resources right on their websites, including tutorials and articles explaining in detail how their service works. This allows merchants to solve some of the simpler problems so that support staff have time to deal with more complex issues. While some providers offer better customer service than others, all of our recommended high-risk processors exceed the industry average in this area.

With these criteria in mind, here’s a more in-depth look at five of our recommended high-risk merchant account providers:

Durango Merchant Services

Durango Merchant Services logo

We’ve listed Durango Merchant Services first for a reason. Of all the merchant account providers who specialize in setting up accounts for high-risk merchants, they’re the best of the best. While they aren’t perfect, they are good enough that we even recommend them for non-high-risk merchants. Founded in 1999 and headquartered (naturally) in Durango, Colorado, they have an excellent reputation for honesty, fair rates, and great customer service and support.

Durango doesn’t try to set you up with expensive leases when it comes to processing equipment. Instead, they offer a variety of terminals for sale right on their website. Options include both wired and wireless models, with some offerings that support NFC payments. They also sell the iPS Mobile Card Terminal, which connects to a smartphone to provide mobile payments capability in conjunction with the iProcess mobile app. If you’re using a virtual terminal, they sell the MagTek DynaMag, a USB-connected magstripe card reader that attaches to your computer. Unfortunately, it’s Windows-only. Durango currently doesn’t offer any POS systems for sale.

Durango supports eCommerce through their proprietary Durango Payment Gateway, which integrates with the numerous processors the company uses and includes support for most of the popular online shopping carts. Durango’s gateway also features an Authorize.Net Emulator, which allows it to interface with any shopping cart that works with Authorize.Net. Pricing for the gateway is not disclosed.

Because Durango works with such a wide variety of third-party processors to set you up with a high-risk merchant account, they don’t list rates or fees on their website. These will vary tremendously depending on which processor they set you up with. While we normally like to see more transparency from merchant account providers, in this case, it’s understandable. Depending on your qualifications, you can expect either an interchange-plus pricing plan or a tiered one. Don’t get too excited about the “rates as low as 1.39%” quote on their website – you’ll probably be paying more than that. Merchant accounts through Durango don’t seem to have standardized fees. Again, these will depend on the terms that your backend processor imposes.

Durango assigns a dedicated account manager to every one of their merchants, which means you’ll be talking to the same person every time you have an issue. While this can sometimes be problematic outside of normal business hours and when your account manager isn’t available, overall it provides a much higher level of service than you’ll get from a random customer service representative.

PROS:

  • Direct sales of processing equipment
  • Reasonable rates and fees based on your business and your backend processor
  • Dedicated account manager for customer service and support

CONS:

  • No support for POS systems
  • USB card reader not compatible with Mac computers

For more information about Durango Merchant Services, see our complete review here.

Payline Data

Payline Data high risk merchant accounts

Another 5-star provider, Payline Data isn’t as exclusively focused on the high-risk sector as Durango Merchant Services. However, they do accept high-risk accounts and advertise this prominently on their website. Founded in 2009 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Payline is a relative newcomer to the merchant accounts industry, but they’ve quickly established an excellent reputation for honesty and fair prices. They also provide a full range of products and services to get you started, including terminals, POS systems, and mobile payment solutions. Payline uses Vantiv as their backend processor and partners with them for their iPad-based POS system.

Payline doesn’t offer terminal leases, but they will sell you a terminal or re-program the one you already own. The terminals they offer support both EMV and Apple Pay. Their website doesn’t go into specifics, so talk to your sales representative to see what’s available. They also offer the Vantiv Mobile Checkout app to provide either a tablet-based POS system or a smartphone-based mobile payments solution.

For eCommerce merchants, Payline offers a proprietary payment gateway that integrates with over 125 online shopping carts, supports subscription pricing, and offers numerous fraud protection features. Pricing for the payment gateway is not disclosed on Payline’s website.

Payline discloses a simplified interchange-plus pricing plan on their website: all retail (i.e., card-present) transactions are charged interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction, while all online (or card-not-present) transactions are charged interchange + 0.35% + $0.10 per transaction. There is a monthly $15.00 account fee. There are no application fees and no early termination fees. Contracts are all month-to-month. Customized pricing (with presumably lower processing rates) is also available to merchants processing over $80,000 per month. Unfortunately, as a high-risk merchant, this simplified pricing may or may not be available to you. Depending on the nature of your business and your processing history, you should expect to see higher (but still reasonable) processing rates. You should also expect to have a rolling reserve included in your account.

Payline provides excellent customer service and support by telephone and email. They also have a great knowledge-base on their website for self-help. Online complaints about Payline Data are very few and far between, which is a good indication of the overall quality of the service they provide.

PROS:

  • Full range of hardware options with no equipment leases
  • Minimal account fees, including no early termination fee
  • True month-to-month contracts

CONS:

  • Only available in the United States and Canada
  • Rates, fees, and contract terms may be substantially different than advertised for some high-risk merchants

For a more detailed look at Payline Data, be sure to check out our full review.

Cayan

Cayan (Merchant Warehouse)

Formerly known as Merchant Warehouse, Cayan has been in business since 1998 and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. While the company doesn’t specifically market itself to high-risk merchants, its broad range of services and competitive terms make it an above-average choice for those in the high-risk category. Effective negotiation is the key to getting a fair, cost-effective deal on a merchant account from Cayan. Note that the company uses First Data as its primary backend processor, and so you can expect to have to put up a reserve in order to establish a high-risk account.

One of Cayan’s best features is their full range of credit card terminals, which are offered for direct sale at very competitive prices. You don’t have to worry about being pushed into an expensive terminal lease. The company offers a number of wired and wireless terminals from Ingenico and Verifone, as well as several other models. All are EMV-compliant, and most either support NFC payments natively or when used in conjunction with a pin pad. Cayan also offers their proprietary cloud-based Genius platform, a terminal/POS hybrid that supports magstripe, EMV, NFC, and QR code-based payments. Cayan also offers a Mobile Chip Card Reader for EMV-compliant mobile payments on an iOS or Android device.

Cayan also supports eCommerce by offering the popular Authorize.Net payment gateway. This can be used by itself, or in conjunction with Cayan’s proprietary MerchantWare Virtual Terminal. Pricing is not disclosed for either of these optional services.

You won’t find any specific information about processing rates on Cayan’s website, but the company offers interchange-plus pricing to all merchants. Account fees aren’t disclosed, either, but you can expect to pay $7.95 per month for a statement fee, $99.00 per year for PCI compliance, and have a $25.00 monthly minimum. As a high-risk merchant, you might also be subject to additional fees and a rolling reserve.

Contracts through Cayan are month-to-month and have no early termination fee. The company’s customer service options include telephone, email, and chat, although the latter is sometimes unreliable. Cayan has an above-average reputation when it comes to customer service, although it’s not as stellar as some of the other providers we’ve profiled here.

PROS:

  • Wide range of terminal equipment for direct sale (no terminal leases)
  • Month-to-month contracts with no early termination fee
  • Interchange-plus pricing

CONS:

  • Above-average number of complaints relative to size
  • Account fees not disclosed on website
  • $99 PCI annual compliance fee

For more information, see our complete review here.

Instabill

Instabill logo

Headquartered in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Instabill has been in business since 2003. The company uses a large number of backend processors to provide accounts to high-risk merchants and offshore companies doing business in the United States. A high-risk specialist, they also provide accounts to non-high-risk merchants as well. Although they’re a fairly small company, they have a strong reputation for being able to provide merchant accounts to businesses that would otherwise have a hard time being approved for one.

Instabill doesn’t provide very much information about credit card terminals and other hardware on their website. They do offer a variety of Verifone and Ingenico terminals, many of which support both EMV and NFC-based payments. Be aware that these terminals are probably being offered through a lease – which you should avoid like the plague. We recommend that you buy your equipment outright and have Instabill re-program it to work with their accounts. You’ll save thousands of dollars in the long run.

The company also partners with CardFlight to provide a mobile, EMV-compliant POS system and a smartphone-based mobile payments system. Pricing for these options is not disclosed on the Instabill website.

For high-risk eCommerce merchants, Instabill offers their proprietary international payment gateway that can process transactions in multiple currencies. If you’re in the MOTO (mail order/telephone order) sector, they also include a free virtual terminal.

Because Instabill works with so many different backend processors and there are so many variables that go into determining rates and fees for a particular business, they don’t advertise any specific fee or rate information on their website. They do, however, provide a Merchant Account Fees and Rates page which explains many of the factors that go into determining these costs. They’re also upfront about the fact that you will pay more as a high-risk merchant. Contracts are also highly variable for the same reasons, but you should expect a standard three-year term with an early termination fee in most cases.

Instabill uses a team of in-house sales representatives to set up accounts and doesn’t rely on independent agents. Customer service is also entirely in-house and includes telephone, email, and chat options. While the quality of customer support is generally very good, it’s also limited to normal business hours. Instabill is a solid choice if you’re a high-risk merchant who’s had trouble getting approved with other providers. Be aware, however, that they don’t accept everyone. Their prohibited list includes business categories such as drug paraphernalia, cigarettes, and weapons.

PROS:

  • High approval rate for hard-to-place businesses
  • International payment gateway with multi-currency support
  • In-house sales and customer service staff

CONS:

  • Offers equipment leases rather than direct sales
  • Customer support only available during normal business hours

For more information, see our complete review here.

Host Merchant Services

Host-Merchant-Services-logo

Host Merchant Services is a relative newcomer to the merchant accounts business, first opening in 2009. The company is headquartered in Newark, Delaware and has a second office in Naples, Florida. While they don’t specialize in high-risk accounts, their website lists several high-risk business categories that they can accommodate. Their interchange-plus-only pricing and a full range of products and services make them an excellent choice if you can get approved. A former web hosting company, HMS is ideally suited for eCommerce merchants. They use TSYS as their third-party processor.

For retail merchants, HMS offers a variety of Verifone and Equinox (formerly Hypercom) terminals. Terminals are offered for sale, and the company does not lease its equipment. While prices are not disclosed on the HMS website, you should be able to negotiate a very reasonable deal on terminals, especially if you need more than one. If you already have a compatible terminal, they’ll re-program it for free.

HMS offers a variety of POS systems that utilize either tablets or touchscreen displays. Choices range from an 8” tablet-based system up to a 17” touchscreen monitor. The company’s Starter, Plus, TouchStation Plus, and Custom POS options should fill the needs of just about any business that needs or wants a POS system.

If you need a mobile processing capability for your business, HMS has you covered. While their website still promotes their proprietary HMSPay app, the company has very recently discontinued this in favor of ProcessNow, which they offer via a partnership with TransFirst. ProcessNow works with either iOS or Android phones, but the current card reader is magstripe-only and requires a headphone jack to plug into.

As a tech-focused company, eCommerce is HMS’ specialty. The company has recently introduced their proprietary Transaction Express payment gateway, which includes a free virtual terminal. (Note that the HMS website has not been updated to show this new product as of this writing). HMS also supports a large number of third-party gateways, including Authorize.Net.

HMS uses interchange-plus pricing exclusively, which is a huge plus. While they don’t disclose their rates on their website, they’re based primarily on monthly processing volume and are very competitive. See our full review for more details. Fees are not disclosed either, but include a $24.00 annual fee, a $14.99 monthly account fee (which includes PCI compliance), a variable payment gateway fee ($5.00 per month for Transaction Express, $7.50 per month plus $0.05 per transaction for Authorize.Net) and the usual incidental fees (i.e., chargebacks, voice authorizations, etc.). Again, you might have to pay additional fees if you’re a high-risk merchant. Contracts are month-to-month with no early termination fee.

HMS provides customer service and support via 24/7 telephone and email. Chat is also available through their website during normal business hours. They also feature an extensive collection of articles and blog posts on their website for customer education. Support quality appears to be well-above-average, based on the almost complete absence of complaints about it on the BBB and other consumer protection websites. Assuming that your business falls into one of the categories of high-risk business that the company can accommodate, HMS is an excellent choice for a merchant account.

PROS:

  • Full range of products and services for retail and eCommerce businesses
  • Exclusive interchange-plus pricing plans
  • Excellent customer service and support

CONS:

  • Rates and fees not disclosed on website
  • Can only accommodate a small number of high-risk business categories
  • Mobile card reader not EMV-compliant

For more information, see our complete review here.

Conclusion

Running a business is a challenging proposition in itself, but it’s even harder if your business is in a high-risk category. We’re all aware that a distressingly large number of new businesses will fail within the first few years of starting up. It’s not hard to believe that many traditional merchant account providers take advantage of this unfortunate reality with their long-term contracts, early termination fees, and expensive terminal leases.

If anything, new high-risk businesses are even more likely to fail than others, which is one reason merchant accounts are more expensive for them. All five of the providers we’ve profiled in this article are good choices for high-risk merchants. Which one is best for your particular business will depend on a number of factors, including your credit history, your processing history, and which high-risk business category you fall under.

For particularly risky businesses that have a hard time being accepted by other providers, we recommend Durango Merchant Services as our top overall choice. Less-risky businesses can also find good service and terms through Payline Data or Cayan. Instabill is the best choice for international businesses operating in the United States. Finally, Host Merchant Services is a particularly good fit for eCommerce merchants, although they can only approve a limited number of high-risk business categories.

None of the providers we’ve profiled offer much in the way of specific information regarding rates, fees, or contract terms available to high-risk merchants. Be aware that the information they do provide on their websites applies to non-high-risk merchants, and you may or may not be eligible for them. Our best advice is to do your research ahead of time, talk to sales representatives from the companies you’re interested in to see what they can offer you, and review your proposed contract thoroughly before signing up. Lastly, unless you have a long and stable processing history, most high-risk merchant accounts will require a rolling reserve. Just remember that your reserve will decrease over time as you build up a processing history.

If you’ve had any experience with any of our top high-risk merchant account providers, please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Exactly what the iPhone 7 Method for Mobile Charge Card Processing

Apple iPhone 7

Apple lately unveiled their new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus smartphones, as well as their reception continues to be decidedly diverse from it had been for previous models. Instead of praise or condemn the telephone&#8217s additional features (like the faster A10 processor or even the 7 Plus’s dual cameras), discussion has centered on the company’s questionable decision to get rid of the three.5 mm headphone jack entirely.

For many users, upgrading towards the new edition of Apple’s flagship product will entail getting to locate a new method of getting your own music out of your phone to your ears. Apple features a 3.5 mm-to-Lightning adapter, so that your trusty old earphones will still work… for the time being. Other available choices include switching to wired earphones having a Lightning connector or upgrading towards the new (and pricey) wireless AirPods.

Although it hasn’t received as much attention, there are other ways to use that old 3.5 mm jack besides hearing music, and individuals using devices that plug into that jack will need some options, too. One of the most common ways to use the headphone jack is its use within business for connecting a little charge card readers, turning the telephone right into a mobile charge card terminal. A large number of small company proprietors depend on these card readers to process debit and credit card payments every single day, and also the transition to jack-less smartphones is eventually will make individuals card readers obsolete.

How Square Altered Charge Card Processing for Small Companies

The biggest player within the mobile processing space is Square, the organization that initially introduced the thought of mixing an easy, magnetic-stripe card readers by having an application to produce a smartphone-based option to pricey charge card terminals. Launched in ’09 by Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, Square disrupted the standard charge card processing industry by providing free card readers, free apps, and free accounts to choose them. Users were only billed for processing the particular charge card transactions themselves, a breath of outdoors within an industry well known for charging burdensome monthly charges and locking retailers into lengthy-term contracts which were difficult (and costly) to get away from.

Square wasn’t – but still isn’t – perfect, however. To help keep costs low, accounts are aggregated together, and users don’t receive their own merchant ID number. Consequently, Square users aren’t as fully shielded from fraud because they could be having a full credit card merchant account. Users frequently complain their account continues to be frozen or perhaps ended without no reason, and Square’s customer support is notoriously unhelpful at these times. Nevertheless, the organization remains the best option for micro- and small companies because of its robust features, insufficient a regular monthly fee, and month-to-month contracts.

Like every innovative company, Square has spawned many imitators, including Pay Pal Here and Capital One’s Spark Pay. Traditional credit card merchant account providers have rushed to provide their very own mobile processing systems too, also counting on the smartphone application + card readers model. The majority of Square’s competitors offer card readers that plug in to the headphone jack, and will also be impacted by its eventual disappearance.

EMV, NFC, along with other Acronyms

Until lately, a really fundamental, plug-in magstripe card readers was all a small company required to accept debit or credit cards. Since EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) charge cards are now being adopted within the U . s . States, everything has altered a great deal. Also known as “chip and pin” cards, EMV cards offer much better fraud protection compared to old magstripe cards, they also require special hardware to see them. By October 1, 2015, liability for fraudulent transactions involving magstripe cards has shifted in the banks towards the retailers as well as their processing companies – a significant motivator for parties to upgrade towards the newer technology.

For businesses that provide smartphone-based mobile processing solutions, the change to EMV has forced these to introduce newer card readers which are EMV-compliant. While a number of these card readers use Bluetooth and don’t have to be connected to a headphone jack, you will find others that still need to be physically attached to the smartphone to operate. Square’s relatively recent nick card readers, for example, still utilizes a headphone jack.

Simultaneously retailers coping the shift to EMV, NFC (near-field communication) or contactless payments are actually also being introduced. NFC technology enables people to transmit charge card data using their smartphones wirelessly to some compatible card readers or terminal. While Apple Pay is presently probably the most well-known contactless payment service, this capacity can also be available through Android Pay, Samsung Pay, yet others. NFC payments offer convenience and also the most powerful protection against fraud presently available.

While EMV and NFC technology promises to herald a brand new era of convenience and to safeguard both retailers and consumers, the transition continues to be not smooth. Retailers – particularly individuals running really small or part-time companies, are reluctant to purchase the brand new hardware. Consumers still use older, magstripe-only cards. Not to mention, NFC isn’t of great importance and use to individuals those who are still stubbornly refusing to purchase a smartphone.

What’s a small company Owner to complete?

If you’ve been counting on an affordable mobile processing solution like Square to operate your company, it ought to be pretty obvious at this time that you’re going to need to change your equipment eventually. Presently, your choices range from the following:

  1. Keep the old phone. Simply because Apple released a shiny new iPhone doesn’t mean you need to hurry out and purchase it immediately. The simplest and least costly choice is simply to maintain your current smartphone and card readers as lengthy as you possibly can. Obviously, this is just a temporary solution, and the necessity to become EMV-compliant is really a more essential consideration in selecting new equipment.
  2. Make use of a 3.5 mm-to-Lightning adapter. The iPhone 7 already ships by having an adapter, making this an alternative choice. However, rapid entire adapter cord implies that you’re going with an awkward time attempting to juggle your phone, card readers, as well as your customer’s card all simultaneously.
  3. Change to Android. Some iPhone users are pretty pleased with their device of preference, this really is an alternative choice. Android already has 5% from the overall share of the market within the U . s . States and enjoys an identical majority among mobile processing users. However, newer Android phones also have dropped the headphone jack, which trend is certainly going to continue future models.
  4. Upgrade to some Bluetooth-based EMV/NFC card readers. This can be the best choice, and the requirement for EMV compatibility means you’ll most likely need to get one eventually anyway. As the upgraded card readers aren’t free (Square’s Contactless + Nick readers costs $49.00), they will future-proof your mobile payment system for that near future.

Final Ideas

The thought of developing a mobile charge card terminal by marrying up a smartphone and a straightforward, affordable magstripe readers was pretty novel when it was initially introduced, and it’s revolutionized the mobile payments sphere. Regrettably, smartphones have a tendency to become obsolete within 2-three years typically, now most new smartphones are offered to those who are replacing a mature phone. The headphone jack has lasted considerably longer, using the technology being initially introduced in 1878, and also the current 3.5 mm model dating back 1964.

It’s the inevitable fate of technologies to become eventually substituted with something better still, and also the sun is finally beginning to create around the venerable headphone jack. As the iPhone 7 isn’t the very first smartphone to decrease the headphone jack (the Moto Z also took it off in support of a USB-C connector), Apple’s position being an leader in the industry virtually guarantees that others follows suit and release newer, jack-less phone models.

For small company proprietors that have started to depend on phone-based mobile charge card studying systems, this transformation means the eventual obsolescence of the cheap, simple-to-use card swipers. Nevertheless, the increase in charge card fraud and the development of safer payment systems for example EMV and NFC to combat it tend to be more key elements behind the necessity to upgrade. Quite simply, you’re going to need to replace your older, less-secure magstripe readers anyway, whether your phone continues to have a headphone jack or otherwise.

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