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The Pros and Cons of Accepting Credit Card Payments

Credit Card Processing Buyers' Guide

You may feel you're working in an industry where accepting credit card payments is obligatory, particularly if all your competitors offer the service. On the other hand, if you have an established business with regular customers, you may wonder why you have to offer a credit card payment facility when your invoicing system is working perfectly well.

Whatever your business circumstances, however, it's important to review your options because the use of credit cards is so widespread and often taken for granted. It also makes good business sense to understand the full implications of the credit card payment process.

Advantages of Accepting Credit Cards
  • Sales opportunities. Many customers prefer to pay by credit card and expect you to let them do so.
  • Buying on impulse. A credit card enables a customer to buy on impulse without the need to find the necessary cash.
  • International customers. If you're likely to sell to tourists, you almost certainly need to accept credit cards, particularly as the cards handle currency exchange.
  • Cashflow. With a credit card, the payment takes about four working days to reach your account. This is quicker than cheque clearance.
  • Business expansion. Credit cards are a convenient method of payment if you expand your business to accept online, postal and phone orders.
  • Administration. A credit card transaction statement is relatively straightforward to reconcile.
  • Security. If you accept credit cards, you needn't have so much cash on your business premises.
  • Failed payments. When the credit card company approves the payment, you'll know you'll receive the money. With a cheque, there's always a risk of it bouncing. Please note, however, that you may have a credit card payment taken back at a later date.
Disadvantages of Accepting Credit Cards
  • The costs. You have to pay for the use of a merchant account and for the credit card processing service.
  • Different arrangements. You have to make separate arrangements with certain cards such as American Express.
  • Fraud. You and your staff must be on the alert for potential credit card fraud.
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