January 2012

Insurance…For Your Credit Card?

If you are a credit card user, then you’ve likely already been asked whether you’d like credit card insurance. Often, they’ll extend an offer when you initially apply for the credit card, or when you call to activate your new credit card. Frequently, they’ll allow you to sign on for a free trial for like a month – a trial with a recurring billing model, so be sure to cancel if you need to.

Credit card insurance is intended to provide monthly minimum credit card payment should you lack funds from, say, job loss, or even to pay your whole credit card balance should you die. Credit card insurance may seem appealing to some credit card users, but some have filed claims for credit card coverage after losing their jobs, only to find out that job loss didn’t provide eligibility, and there have also been certain maladies that aren’t covered by credit card insurance. In short, if you are thinking about credit card insurance, then verify that it covers whatever you think it does.

Many have some form of life insurance, which will cover your credit card payments anyway, making credit card insurance unnecessary. If you don’t have a disability insurance or life insurance policy, then thoroughly investigate these options before officially making the big commitment to credit card insurance; you may receive a better insurance deal through those methods.

Credit card protection insurance will only insure one credit card; therefore, consumers with multiple cards would have to sign up for each, and pay its fees on each card. The average rate for credit card insurance hovers around eighty-nine cents per every $100 you spend monthly, and while it may seem trivial, it will pile up over the year, so be wary.

Now, if you’re currently covered by credit card insurance but need to cancel it, you’ll have to deal with a pushy phone salesman. Of course, they’ll attempt to emphasize all the great advantages of the credit card insurance, and insist you not cancel, but if the decision to cancel has been set in stone, then firmly order that they cancel the coverage. Many consumers might not even know of their credit card insurance, although it is plainly shown on your monthly credit card statement if they’re billing you.

Good Credit’s Non-Effects on Credit Card Fees

So, you would think that obeying the credit card rules all your life, making your credit card payments on time, and staying on top of all things credit card-related in your life would result in credit card companies issuing you fewer fees – or at least lower ones – and, you think, maybe treating you slightly better, right? Wrong.

Credit card companies frequently state that the amount of interest and fees they charge you on your credit card account are directly linked to the intensity of financial risk they put on their shoulders when extending a line of credit to a consumer. Risk, in this context, is assessed according to a person’s credit history and score – in essence, your entire credit card life. In fact, recent studies have actually confirmed that credit card late fees applied by these credit card companies have much more in common with the credit card issuer than its cardholders’ risk of bailing on their payments.

Interestingly, the credit card study revealed that there are typically just a couple of factors that significantly – and directly – affect the frequency and amount of late fees charged by the credit card issuers. The first is the classification of the credit card issuer, and the second is the intensity of aggression the credit card company implements.

They’ve found that the type of credit card-issuing institution that is offering lines of credit is a crucial factor in the dollar amount charged for late fees. Credit union’s late fees are typically nearly one-half the amount of late fees charged by banks; charging $20 for a late payment, as opposed to a nearly $40 late fee, respectively.

Additionally, the aggressive credit card companies feature significantly larger late fees than the more passive companies. If you continue to receive notices in the mail for promotional offers, you’ll know that these are the credit card issuers chagrining absurd late fees and collecting more aggressively, as well.

When seeking credit cards without high late fees – especially if you’re scared of making a late credit card payment – then investigate how your potential credit card issuer advertises to its potential target market. The more aggressive the credit card company is in promoting their services, the higher their late fees. Carefully contrast different company’s credit card policies before signing up for a credit card.

Boost Your Business With Low-Cost Credit Card Processing Services

Today, nearly 4 million U.S. retailers accept debit cards and credit cards as forms of payment. Still, there are those that don’t. You may find the occasional restaurant or small store that only accepts cash. The reasons why a few business owners fail to accept payment cards remains unclear. Perhaps they’re just used to doing things the way they’ve always done them. They might have heard that there are charges related to credit and debit card processing and may fear that such charges will cut into their revenue. Just the opposite is true. Research shows that accepting payment cards results in higher revenues and balances. Today’s consumers prefer to use payment cards and many never even carry cash! Those who fail to adopt payment card processing technology are likely to lose the business of customers that don’t carry cash.

It’s true that there are costs associated with credit and debit card processing. In response to their growing popularity, a number of companies have emerged that are designed to assist merchants by helping them cut their processing overhead costs and provide customizable payment solutions of all types. Vision Payment Solutions is one such company. Through a variety of products and credit card processing services, we assist merchants by giving them the tools they need to process payment card information quickly, cheaply, and securely.

For established businesses, we offer customizable solutions that are compatible with the existing hardware and software that are is already in use. We offer fast and easy authorization and processing of all payment forms, card brands, and merchant segments. Many of our products come with comprehensive data summaries and reporting tools that allow business owners to see the big picture of their transaction costs and identify areas for improvement. In addition, our products utilize leading-edge technologies to protect merchants against fraud and loss.

Some of the products and services we offer include merchant accounts, short-term capital funding, mobile solutions, gift and stored value cards, level III processing, integrated point of sale systems, virtual terminals and internet gateways, and of course, card readers. Whether you operate a seasoned business or are preparing to open your first location, we have all of the payment solutions that you need to operate efficiently.

To learn more about the credit card processing services that we offer, contact VPS today at (877) 674-2286!

Finding A Credit Card Payment Solution for You (Part II)

Welcome to the second installment of our blog on finding the perfect credit card payment solution for you and your business! In this article, we’ll be discussing the remaining few – yet still utterly essential – principles to which one should adhere when choosing the perfect credit card payment solution.

Choose a payment provider that offers solutions to solve all kinds of problems with payment needs. Providing more options for diverse payment needs allows ISVs to choose solutions that better fit their business and merchant customers’ requirements. Payment providers should be associated with industry organizations, aware of technologies, and committed to innovation, for keeping up with the constantly changing industry. Payment providers that are forward thinking can bring real value to the ISV’s business and merchant customers by providing insight.

No matter your payment environment, choosing a provider that offers many credit card payment solution options ensures that the ISV can allow the business new opportunities as they arise. Security, of course, is essential to any wise company’s credit card payment solution, and a provider should offer current security options as part of their credit card payment solution.

Avoid unnecessary complexity and cost. Payment processors that offer semi-integrated solutions require maintenance of software, and these solutions command that staff support and manage application updates. This can create instances of failure and add unwanted costs.

Pursue processing platforms that are designed using XML or Web services, to make it easier to integrate software. Credit card payment solution platforms designed with service-oriented design allow upgrades for merchants, without requiring the headache of a download.

Find a payment vendor that helps your customers understand their pricing obligation well. Payment processing costs can be a complex medley of fees, and card issuers require merchants to pay card-issuing banks fees for accepting their cards, and gateway and merchant account providers also collect a fee.

Make sure you’ll be getting the service you and your customers expect. When choosing a credit card payment solution, there are two service considerations: the service provided to the ISV, and the service provided to merchants. The ISV provides software service, and the processor provides merchant account-related service.

Use a provider who delivers more than merely a credit card payment solution. The relationship between an ISV and a payment solution provider is more successful as a partnership, when both are interested in a mutually beneficial relationship, resulting in long-term success for both parties.

Evaluating credit card payment solution providers can be a time-consuming and challenging endeavor, but extremely important to a business. Finding a payment provider that takes a partnering approach, demonstrates a strong commitment to innovation, and shares a similar customer service model will help you select the perfect credit card payment solution.



Credit Card Payment Solutions for A New Year

As so many of you merchants out there might agree, 2011 sure was a crazy year, especially in the last few months of it, no doubt – so many world events, milestones, and memories to last a lifetime. One thing still hasn’t changed, however, for you who fight every day to keep your store neat, ordered, clean, but – most importantly – profitable. One of the ways a store merchant can keep his outlet in line is by knowing and selecting the very best credit card payment solutions in the industry, and following up with it all, to ensure a lucrative and pleasant payment processing solution. In order to process credit and debit cards through your merchant account, you need to decide which processing solution is right for you.

A retail swipe terminal is among the preferred credit card payment solutions for storefront merchants who interact with customers face-to-face. This method has the lowest merchant account processing fees, because you can easily swipe a customer’s credit card through the terminal. Swiped orders, many hypothesize, have a lower fraud risk, so they feature lower processing fees; credit card payment solutions with lower fees can be appealing to the merchant!

Real-time processing is one of the best credit card payment solutions for online retailers, allowing you to automatically process orders through your merchant account, with no assistance required. Everything is automated, and the funds are deposited into your checking account, within a few days. All such credit card payment solutions are secure, and the purchase of a secure certificate is typically not required.

If you are an online merchant, and receive orders via phone, then getting a virtual terminal solution, coupled with real-time processing, is one of your best possible credit card payment solutions. The virtual terminal is a secure website where you can enter customers’ credit card information. Once submitted, it is securely processed, and funds are deposited into your merchant account in a couple days. Such a terminal can be used with any Internet-connected computer.

There are two types of mobile, wireless merchant solutions: solutions that allow you to swipe a credit card in a mobile environment, and touch-tone credit card payment solutions, which allow you to manually enter card information into a phone. The touch-tone solutions are recommended for smaller, mobile merchants who want to process credit cards on the go, without high startup costs. The wireless terminal credit card payment solutions are for merchants who opt for purchasing the terminal up front. Both the touch-tone and wireless swipe credit card payment solutions have their advantages, but it depends on your business needs for credit card acceptance.


Finding A Credit Card Payment Solution for You (Part I)

Selecting the best credit card payment solution provider can be a real struggle for many companies. The never-ending evolution of technology and regulations results in a difficult payment industry to navigate, often because payment providers must keep up with regulations, technologies, and demand. Look into the specifics that credit card payment solution providers offer to ensure a lucrative and pleasant partnership. So what are some the most important factors in finding the perfect credit card payment solution for your business?

Choose a credit card payment solution provider who can assist with PCI DSS or PA-DSS compliance.The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard was started by top providers to protect consumers’ data and secure payment solutions for everybody. This set of rules applies to merchants and processors with web-based software. These regulations went into effect in 2005, and have since been continuously updated to meet developing technologies.

Partnering with a credit card payment solution provider that is current with these requirements is vital to a business. It is crucial for merchants and ISVs to partner with a payment service provider that helps to address PCI DSS and PA-DSS compliance to nullify financial liability and unpleasant fines.

Choose a credit card payment solution provider that effectively protects cardholder data from breach, loss, or theft. Security risks will always exist in payment processing. No single solution exists that covers all the risks of processing, but there are great tools that allow for a helpful amount of protection, such as Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) and tokenization. When you are screening a credit card payment solution provider, inquire about their security measures. Are they using those protective tools we mentioned?

A truly decent credit card payment solution provider offers flexibility; in this scenario, flexibility refers to the relationship offerings to the ISVs. Excellent credit card payment solution providers offer customers the option of payment processing or a gateway service. When searching for a payment vendor, businesses should take into account their own specific needs, and pay close attention to any limited or ambiguous options. The flexibility of payment providers can be a huge determining factor in choosing the right credit card payment solution provider.

Stay tuned for part two of our blog on choosing the perfect credit card payment solution for you and your business!


Card Payment Solutions: Which Ones Are The Best?

If the purpose of your ecommerce store is to make money – then you need to make it as easy as possible for your customers to buy your products online. Since we know that most online shoppers prefer credit card transactions, you need to set-up your online store to accept credit card payments over the Web. But there are so many card payment solutions out there to choose from, so where do you begin?

If you really want to grow your business online, then you need to set up a merchant account for credit card processing – this is the fundamental component of all card payment solutions. When you begin your search for a merchant account, it can get very confusing with so many options. But, before you are persuaded by too-good-to-be-true guarantees and rates, remember that there are many factors to consider before choosing a merchant account for your card payment solutions.

Be wary of any merchant account provider that wants to charge an application-processing or start-up fee. Look for other hidden fees in the small print of the agreement. The acceptable merchant account fees for most card payment solutions are statement fees, discount rates, and transaction fees. If there’s much more beyond that, be careful!

Choose a merchant account provider based on your anticipated sales volume, and ensure that your card payment solutions have the flexibility to process more sales for increased demand or promotions. Verify that your merchant account fees are not related to tough policies linked with low monthly limits, and observe the hidden costs of exceeding your monthly limits.

One crucial aspect of card payment solutions is their customer service. If you have an issue with card processing or a customer’s transaction is incorrectly executed, you want to be able to get in touch with knowledgeable, friendly, but most of all – available customer service representatives. Any provider of card payment solutions must have this service in place, or they shouldn’t get your business.

Choose a merchant account provider that has a proven track record of providing high-quality card payment solutions, and exhibits competence and reliability. Investigate the service and guarantees they make about their card payment solutions. Ask how they monitor and respond to complaints, and choose a merchant account provider whose credit card processing service package fits your business’ needs.

And remember, if your card payment solutions’ provider isn’t being upfront and direct about the card payment solutions they offer, it’s time to split!


What Is A Payment Gateway? An Introduction

If you’re a merchant and client of Vision Payment Solutions already, you likely know what a payment gateway is, how it works, and what it means to merchants all over the world. But, for those of you who are new to the idea of a payment gateway, this brief but informative introduction is designed to assist you in understanding the world of credit card payment processing.

Fundamentally, a payment gateway is an e-commerce service that authorizes payments for all kinds of businesses, whether they are e-businesses, online retailers, or traditional, brick-and-mortar stores. It is just like a physical point-of-sale terminal, as one would find in most retail outlets. Payment gateways protect sensitive credit card data via special encryption, such as credit card numbers, to ensure that information is transmitted safely from the customer to the merchant, and from the merchant to the payment processor.

Typically, a payment gateway transfers information between a payment portal and an acquiring bank. When your customers order a product from a payment gateway-enabled merchant, like Vision Payment Solutions’ many clients, for instance, the payment gateway performs a variety of tasks to process the transaction. Let’s look more closely at an online example:

1.     A customer places order on website, and enters his card information into the system.
2.     The customer’s browser encrypts the information to be sent to the merchant’s server, via SSL (Secure Socket Layer) encryption.
3.     The merchant forwards that data to their payment gateway, through another SSL-encrypted connection to the payment server.
4.     The payment gateway forwards the transaction information to the payment processor used by the merchant’s acquiring bank.
5.     The payment processor forwards the transaction information to the card association, whether it’s American Express, Visa, Discover, or another.
6.     The credit card-issuing bank receives the authorization request and sends a response back to the processor with a response code. The response code then tells whether the payment is approved or declined.
7.     The processor sends the response to the payment gateway.
8.     The payment gateway receives the response, and forwards it to the retail website, then relayed back to the cardholder and the merchant.
9.     The merchant submits their approved authorizations, in what’s known as a batch, to their acquiring bank for settlement.
10.  The bank then deposits the specified funds in to the merchant’s account, whether it is an account with the same bank or a different one.

The transaction processing takes approximately two to three seconds, but the actual deposit of funds may take up to three days, depending on several factors. Additionally, many payment gateways offer methods for filtering fraudulent orders, and calculate tax in real time prior to the authorization request being sent to the processor.


Why Do Merchants Need Payment Gateways?

If you’re a small business owner that is just getting started, you may be unfamiliar with much of the terminology surround sales transaction processing. To begin processing customer payments, there are a number of investments that you must make in hardware and software to support processing services. Today, most consumers use credit or debit cards when making purchases online in or in stores. In order to be able to process credit and debit card payments, merchants must purchase a payment gateway.

Payment gateways are secure channels through which confidential card information can be safely transmitted. When a customer makes a purchase online using their credit card, their personal information is encrypted by the web browser and forwarded to the merchant. The merchant then automatically transfers that information through a payment gateway to their banks payment processor. The processor receives a response from the card issuer’s bank and an authorization of funds is sent back to the merchant through the payment gateway. This entire process happens very quickly and can be completed in 2-3 seconds.

Although there can be a sizeable investment and recurring fees associated with accepting credit and debit card payments, it’s essential for most businesses. Most people simply prefer to use payment cards and businesses that refuse to accept payment cards may lose business from willing customers that don’t carry cash.

Vision Payment Solutions supports merchants through a variety of transaction processing solutions designed to reduce your processing overhead and help you process transactions as quickly as possible. One of our top payment gateway solutions is Authorize.net.

Authorize.net is a payment gateway with unique solutions to help make your operations easier and decrease your overhead. More than 35,000 merchants trust Authorize.net to help them with payment card processing and fraud prevention. This payment gateway also includes virtual terminal and batch upload features. The virtual terminal allows merchants to be able to accept credit card information over the phone or manually enter credit card information for a card that will not swipe correctly. The batch upload allows multiple transactions to be consolidated into one file for submission.

To learn more about payment gateways and other payment solutions, contact VPS today at (877) 674-2286!


What Is Balance Transfer Day, And What’s Its Impact on Credit Cards?

Following the recently conceived concept of “Bank Transfer Day” is a new, perhaps milder online credit card protest, referred to as “Balance Transfer Day.” The credit card protest movement declares its official intentions on its Facebook page: “We encourage debtors country-wide to unite and move their high-interest bearing credit card debt to a card with low APR as a sign of protest against high rates. Use the low balance transfer offer extended by credit card issuers as a tool to help pay down what is owed faster, because of low rate, and do it as a protest against high rates.”

Although this new credit card movement has been confirmed as related to a company that generates revenue from new credit card users, a balance transfer card can indeed be an outstanding option for saving you interest on your credit card debt. Fundamentally, a balance transfer card lets you consolidate your credit card debt from many credit cards to just one. Then, you’ll make one monthly payment, instead of several monthly high-interest credit card payments. However, before you make the move to a balance transfer credit card, consider several aspects of the scenario before proceeding.

You’ll need a decent credit score to acquire a balance transfer card, usually around 650-700.

If you close your other credit cards while receiving a balance transfer card, it’s possible to damage your credit score by shortening your credit history and decreasing your available credit, which may increase your credit card utilization rate. Balance transfer cards also come with an initial 0% rate on purchases, so resist the urge to spend on unnecessary things. If you make just one late payment on a balance transfer card, you could lose that 0% APR and pay interest.

Most balance transfer cards have a balance transfer fee – a percentage of the amount transferred. The fee can range from 3 to 5%, but it’s usually capped at around $80, so ensure you have funds available to pay the fee before applying for the balance transfer card.