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Processing Credit Card Payments at a Swap Meet

Sep 17, 2008
Tens of thousands of people spend their days selling every imaginable product at their local swap meet. Furniture, sunglasses, old LPs, posters and other items are relentlessly hawked to passersby every day. If you operate your business at a swap meet, you've likely realized that the days of accepting cash as the only method of payment are over. Today, if you want to motivate people to buy your wares, you'll need to process credit card payments. Your competitors are doing so. And at the swap, every merchant is your competitor for customers' limited time and money. Below, we'll explain how you can process your customers' credit cards by using your cell phone or laptop.

Using Your Cell Phone

When you apply for your merchant account, you'll have the option to purchase a credit card terminal. It's a leased piece of equipment and often requires that you sign 2-year commitment. While the monthly charges may seem negligible, they can become expensive. If you're only renting a booth at the swap meet during the weekends, you may not be selling enough to make having the card terminal worthwhile.

Many merchant accounts are designed for business owners who would rather forgo the expense of the terminal and call in their customers' credit card purchases. Instead of swiping your buyer's card, you can call your merchant bank's automated system to verify your customer's funds and process the transaction.

Many people who rent booths at a swap meet make a note of the buyer's credit card number along with details about the transaction. Then, when they arrive at home, they process the payment. The danger in doing this is that the funds may not be available. And by that time, it's impossible to recoup the loss. It's much safer to process the purchase in front of the customer.

Using Your Laptop

If you find that using a cell phone to process payments is uncomfortable and inconvenient, you can use a laptop. As long as you're able to connect online, you can login to your merchant account and enter your customer's credit card number and other relevant details (the card's security code, expiration date, etc.). As soon as you submit the details online, your merchant account will either validate the transaction or decline it (along with a reason why it was declined). Most wireless carriers offer plans that include internet access for your laptop. As long as you're able to power your laptop, you'll be able to accept your customers' credit cards.

Offering The Option

The people who visit swap meets expect merchants to accept credit cards for purchases. In many cases, buyers won't even carry cash with them. So, if they want to buy an item that you're selling and you're unable to process their credit card, you may lose their business. What's worse, if you're selling a common item and other merchants accept credit cards, the added convenience will sway many customers away from your booth.

For all but the smallest of swap meet vendors, having the ability to process credit card transactions is essential, especially if you're selling expensive items. Fortunately, it's easy to qualify for a merchant account and you can do so without the expense of leasing a credit card terminal. You can use your cell phone to verify and process order or simply use your laptop to process them online in front of the customer. You'll find that allowing your customers to purchase items with their credit card will help your business grow.
About the Author
This article is brought to you by PaySimple, a leading provider of merchant account services.
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