The Merchant’s Guide to Credit Card Processing

December 2, 2008

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Calculating Losses, by Lisa Solonynka, morguefile

Caculating Losses, by Lisa Solonynka, morguefile

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Retailers Guide to Merhant Services Reviews on Goodreads

This chapter is an excerpt from my new e-Book, Retailers’ Guide to Merchant Services and can be obtained at Gelise 1’s Storefront.

Chapter 1 Making a Decision to Accept Credit Cards Start-up business owners have to make many decisions about their cash flow and if they are not currently accepting credit cards, this may not be a priority when all seems to be running well. After all, people are coming into the store and paying in cash. Once in awhile, someone asks if you accept credit cards and the answer is “No.” If the customers really wants the product and has the cash, they just pay in cash. However, if the person does not have the cash, the business owner loses out on a sale.

But, this does not seem to matter, as most of the patrons come in with cash. The business owner may even direct the customer to the nearest ATM machine, at which time, the customer returns with the cash and pays for the merchandise.

Money in the Competitor’s Pocket But, what is really happening here? When the owner directs the customer to the nearest ATM machine, he pays for the use of the machine and the owner of the other business receives a fee for the transaction.

What about that customer who desperately needs or wants your product so badly and prefers to pay with a credit card? He leaves and finds another business which sells the same product, but accepts credit cards. Because he has found the product and payment terms he wants, he opts to become a regular customer. Let’s say you own a restaurant and the customer likes to go out to eat dinner with his wife once a week.

Your average dinner is $15.00. That computes to a loss of $60.00 a month or $720.00 per year. This does not seem to be much of a loss for your company on a yearly basis, but what if you turned down five customers per day and they all found another restaurant as the first customer did?

Calculating the Loss

You are open six days per week, so you turn down 30 customers per week. That’s 120 customers per month at $15.00 each which computes to $180 per month. At this rate, the annual loss would be $21,600! What could you do with another $21, 600?

If you are cost conscious, you cannot afford to let this continue. Your competition is earning another $21,600 per year because you will not accept credit cards! If you are profit motivated, you will think about your losses in this way. Could you ever imagine that letting people walk out of your establishment because they are unable to pay in cash could lead to losses of this magnitude?

Let’s imagine what could happen when a customer leaves your establishment to cash an ATM card. He goes next door to cash the ATM card. It costs the customer an average of $3.00 per transaction to use the ATM machine which is the business owner’s profit. If the customer is desperate for your product, they will use the ATM machine.

However, they may decide that $3.00 is too high to pay for acquiring cash out of a machine and leave the store looking for another store which sells the same product and accepts credit cards. If the business owner receives $1.00 for every customer who uses the machine and you send him five customers, he makes five dollars a day. If you are open six days a week, he makes $30.00 a week or $120 a month. After one year, he makes $1440.00, all because you are not equipped to accept credit cards. So now, you are losing $21, 600 + 1440.00 = $23,040. I ask you again, what would you do with an extra $23,040 per year?

Studies have shown that people spend an average of 12 – 18% more when they pay with a credit card. The owner must be prepared to accept the credit cards when customers present them for payment. If you were the owner of a restaurant and a customer came in to use a credit card, you would have to turn the customer away if you did not accept credit cards. Suppose the customer ordered a meal and paid cash for it. If he enjoyed the meal he may decide he wants to share it with friends who are coming to visit on the weekend. However, since he prefers to pay for large orders with a credit card, he decides to plan a catered event at his house.

Let’s suppose that the charge for a catered event is $500.00. You miss out on an additional $500.00 in profits. You may not feel that losing $500.00 a year amounts to much and you could make it up on other sales, but suppose one customer per month wants to pay for a catered event by credit card. Because you do not accept credit cards, you turn the customer away and end up missing out on $6000.00 per year.

This loss could amount to more during the holidays. If you add the $6000.00 to the previous losses, it totals $29,040, all because you do not accept credit cards. What could you do with an extra $29, 040 per year? Sooner or later the business owner is going to resign himself to the fact that if he accepts credit cards at his business, he will make more money. How many years are you going to wait until you decide to purchase a credit card terminal? If you wait one year, you lose $29,040. If you wait two years, you lose $58,080. If you wait three years, you lose $87,120. What could you do with an extra $87,120?

Despite itemizing these losses, some business owners will not be impressed. In their own mind, handling credit cards is just another burden. Having to learn how to make transactions on the credit card terminal, learning the record keeping and watching out for fraud are very time consuming duties. The business owner would have to learn new terminology, keep abreast of the compliance issues, and work to avoid charge backs. These are added responsibilities for which he has to set aside time to perform these tasks. In some cases, the business owner is already overwhelmed with the day to day operation of the business.

ow will the business owner fit this into his schedule? Will the representative be there to assist in the areas where he needs help? What if he cannot get in touch with the representative? These are all valid questions and the owner should not proceed with ordering a credit card terminal unless these questions are answered. Is the extra time spent on learning about credit card transactions worth the $29,040 saved?

Let’s answer these questions one by one. The first question, is one of time management. The owner is going to have to examine his schedule very closely and see when he will have extra time to devote to learning all about accepting credit cards. He may have to delegate some of his duties to his employees in order to free up some time. ss_blog_claim=74da3239dd6b3ea2b0b14afc135d0ec5

There is much to learn, including the operation of the credit card terminal, how to batch out, recognizing fraud, and when and how to call credit card numbers into the credit card companies. Then he has to review and become familiar with the compliance issues. A good representative will assist the new business owner in learning everything that he needs to know. He will answer questions, make himself available when necessary, and provide a telephone number where he can be reached. The representative should be able to answer most of the questions. In order to retain the customer and receive referrals, the representative should ensure that this process is as efficient for the owner as possible. In the event that the representative is not available, there should be a technical support department which will assist the business owner and answer any questions he might have.

Most credit card processing companies have a technical support department available twenty four hours a day seven days a week, including holidays. Most questions and problems with the terminals can be handled over the telephone. Your patrons will take you more seriously when you install a credit card machine. Your current customers will go out and tell their friends that you accept credit cards and then they, in turn, will tell their friends. Advertisers say that the best advertising for a business is word of mouth.

The ones who pay in cash now, will probably continue paying in cash. But now, you will gain new customers who prefer to pay in credit cards. Customers prefer to have a choice in payment methods and studies have shown that you will retain your customers when they have a choice. Credit card terminals also accept debit cards which are a safer transaction for the consumer. Debit cards require the use of a PIN number which only the owner of the debit card has.   In order to use the debit card, the owner must enter his PIN number into the machine. The business owner incurs a charge for the debit card which is below the rate for the lowest priced credit card, the qualified VISA or Master Card. The savings in processing debit cards is around sixty percent. This means that the fee to process debit cards is about sixty percent lower than the qualified rate.

In order to process the debit cards, the owner must purchase a PIN pad in which the consumer enters his/her PIN number. If the owner does not purchase a PIN pad or ask the consumer to enter his/her PIN number, then the fee for the transaction is at the check card rate which is a about double the rate for processing a debit card. Because of the savings involved, some business owners choose only to process debit cards. Debit cards have become very popular as many people carry them in lieu of cash. When people use the debit card, they have the option of receiving cash back from the purchase. This means they can receive an amount over and above the amount of change they would receive from the transaction. The maximum amount is determined by the owner.

Receiving cash back is another very attractive benefit for the consumer to use his debit card instead of a credit card as he would not be able to receive cash back from a credit card. Now the customer has a choice of using cash, check, credit card or debit card. What do you gain by turning down a customer? Studies have shown that a customer is more likely to recount a bad experience rather than a good one. When he relates the experience, people tend to believe the story-teller and boycott the place rather than investigate on their own. You may still continue doing business, but your business will not grow as much as it would have, if you were accepting credit cards.

Some business owners do not believe in credit cards for the social reasons of how customers misuse them. While this may be a valid point, most people are responsible in handling their credit cards. We are living in the “Age of Plastic” and people are able to purchase things that they normally would not purchase because they possess a credit card. Credit cards make it possible for people to have businesses and make more profits than they normally would have if they did not accept credit cards. When the merchant accepts the payment by credit cards, he receives cash in his business checking account within three to five days. As long as the credit card machine accepts the credit card, the merchant is guaranteed to receive the money.

People are responsible for their own credit cards and how they use them. Your decision to accept credit cards will not contribute to the customer’s lack of responsibility in controlling his expenses. This is an issue that the customer must address. It is not the business owner’s responsibility to ensure that the customer does not over spend or abuse his credit card privileges.

Just as the owner must be responsible in learning enough about the credit card processing industry in order to process credit cards, so the customer must be responsible in learning how to manage his debt. The customer, as an owner of a credit card, has certain responsibilities that he must undertake and he/she must make a conscious decision to accept the responsibilities.

© Gail Cavanaugh and The Merchant’s Guide to Credit Card Processing, 2008.
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If you would like to be on my e-mail list, please complete the form below and include your e-mail address.  All information is kept confidential. I would be interested in knowing what percentage of increase in sales that you experienced the year after you started accepting credit cards. <a Gail Cavanaugh’s Business Solutions consults with businesses and is a provider of merchant services and equipment for businesses. If you would like to know more about the services, please complete the contact form with your questions. To subscribe to this blog, click onto “Subscribe in a reader” above.

APSense – Get Paid While Promoting Your Business! Check Out: Comments: Name: Business blog Website: This is a good article that any business not already taking credit cards should read and especially in the present economic climate. In the UK for example, for a long time Marks & Spencer refused to take credit cards, so customers could only pay by cash or cheque, until eventually they started to loose customers to their competitors and in the end they had to bow to the pressure and ended up taking credit cards.

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Name: Jamwes Website: Very good information. Thank you.

Name: Chuck Bartok Website: Gail, Very Informative Blog site. Yes merchants can benefit from a well manged Credit Card Processing System. Also another advantage is the Judicious use of the “loans” available to Strong accounts. But like all Credit, it must be managed well.

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Affordable Protection for Single Mothers

April 3, 2016


It is never easy for a single mother to think about how their children will survive if something were to happen to the mother. The younger they are, the more difficult it is to fathom what could possibly happen. However, when we consider the terrorism that is rampant in the world, and the crime and violence occurring in the cities and towns in the U.S., it is not too hard to imagine.

Sadly, most single mothers, or parents, for that matter do not consider buying life insurance to preserve their income in the event of their untimely death. The average income of a single mother is $23,000 and if she has more than one child, it may be difficult for her to consider including a life insurance premium her budget. If the father is involved in the children’s lives, the single mother may think that life insurance is not necessary, as the father would probably assume responsibility of the children.

This may be true in some cases, but in many of the families, the father may not be capable or willing to assume responsibility for the children. In that case, it is imperative that the mothers investigate the possibility of purchasing life insurance to assist the person who would be responsible enough to care for the children. It would provide the needed financial assistance for the guardian to help support the children.

In the northeast, the cost to raise a child to age eighteen is approximately $455,000, which computes to $25,277 per year. This does not include the cost of a college education, which would be an additional $19,000 to $35,000 per year, depending on whether the child plans to attend a state school or an out-of-state school. The mother needs at least $600,000 per child of life insurance!

It is clear from considering the high costs to raise a child and send him to college that life insurance is necessary to cover these costs and to keep the children protected in the event of the untimely death of the mother. The amount of life insurance would seem pretty high, but it would meet the needs of the children. In reality, some single mothers may not be able to afford to purchase this amount of insurance. However, any amount that they could purchase would help the family.

Here is a situation where low cost term insurance would meet the need and would be a cost effective way of providing the coverage for the family. Term insurance would cover the family for only a certain amount of years. There would be no cash value, and the coverage would terminate when the mother would no longer need the coverage. Single mothers interested in more information about this should talk to their life insurance representative or feel free to contact me on the contact form of this blog.

Life is Good – Open Enrollment – Time to Reassess!

October 24, 2015

If you are a state employee, it is important to understand your benefits package to ensure that your income is adequately protected in the event that something should happen to you.

The State government does a very good job of compensating those who work for the State of RI.  However, as with other employee benefit plans at some of the private sector businesses, the benefits available to employees may not adequately cover the family in time of need.  That is why it is important to review the benefits packages and determine if there is a need for more coverage.  Boston Mutual offers the following options for state, federal, municipal, and postal workers, available through payroll deduction:

Request appointment
Disability Insurance
To cover lost wages. Benefits designed specifically for state employees.
Request appointment
Request appointment
Life Insureance
To help fill in the gaps in your coverage.
Request appointment
Request appointment
Critical Illness
Financial protection
for the unexpected, to supplement your health insurance program.
Request appointment
Boston Mutual offers group and voluntary benefits, specifically for state, federal, municipal, and postal workers.  Your review is FREE, no obligation.  For a report on the financial strength of Boston Mutual, click here.

If you have questions, please contact me.


Gail Cavanaugh

Gail Cavanaugh is the author of Retailer’s Guide to Merchant Services,available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble’s.

Federal Employee Benefits – The Life Insurance Coverage

September 23, 2015


If you are a federal employee, it is important to understand your benefits package to ensure that your income is adequately protected in the event that something should happen to you.

The U.S. government does a very good job of compensating those who work for the federal government. However, as with other employee benefit plans at some of the private sector businesses, the benefits available to employees do not adequately cover the family in time of need. That is why it is important to review the benefits packages and determine if there is a need for more coverage.

For instance, closely examining the FEGLI (Federal Employees Guaranteed Life Insurance) program, there are four major areas where the benefits are deficient.

1. The FEGLI program is a term insurance program only. There is no cash value available to the employee to borrow against for emergency needs. Term insurance is pure insurance in which a death benefit is available to the family in the event of death to the breadwinner. There is no cash value which accumulates in the policy.

2. Under the FEGLI program, the life insurance only covers the employee and his family only during the time that the employee is employed for the federal government or the face amount will reduce tremendously upon retirement.

Term insurance covers the family in the event of death of the breadwinner, but only during a specified period of time. Generally, the policy will cover the family for 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years, depending on which insurance company the family elects to sell them a life insurance policy. An insurance agent will recommend term insurance to cover short term needs, such as a mortgage which will be paid over a 30 year period.

3. Federal employees will find that their premiums for their life insurance will increase with age and salary increases, but the coverage decreases. This is called increasing premium term insurance, which becomes very expensive in later years, when there is more of a need for life insurance.

4. In the event that the employee becomes disabled, he/she may not be able to continue paying for life insurance, since the employee is not collecting wages.

I cam across this comment on a blog paost which illustrates why federal employees need a periodic review of their policies:

“My mother worked for the Federal government for over 30 years and had the FEGLI plan and passed away and my sister and I will be splitting a little over 5,000 dollars. When my father (mom was divorced) passed his insurance was with the state and my brother and I split over 50,000 dollars. What’s wrong with this picture?? Our government is so screwed up and you know that all those senators, etc. won’t have that cheap of insurance and we are paying for it. My mom worked hard those 30 years and sure didn’t get all the perks and paid vacations.” madashe*l, from Life Insurance: “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.”

These are problems which the employee must resolve in order for the family to be financially protected in the event of his/her death. Boston Mutual offers solutions to these problems with products which are specifically designed to meet the needs of federal state, municipal, and postal workers. For a free booklet explaining your options, please use the contact form to request the FREE brochure,

    Legacy Life Select: Permanent Life Insurance for Federal, State, Municipal, and Postal Workers.

Please copy and paste the title into the contact form.

Support the Children – Promote Your Business

July 19, 2015


The Destiny Children’s choir will be visiting with us on July 20, 2015.  At that time, they will give a workshop on choral singing and African drumming.  They will then give a performance at night for the community.   We expect 200 children to be attending the camp and 200 guest for the performance.

We would like your company to be a sponsor for our events and we would be grateful for your support.

We have three levels of sponsorship for a brochure design:

Level 1 advertising -$25.00 business card size ad – Your logo and business name will be prominently displayed on our brochure.

Level 2 advertising – $50.00 quarter page size ad– Your logo and business name will be prominently displayed on our brochure.

Level 3 advertising – $100 –  one half page size ad – Your logo and business name will be prominently displayed on our brochure.

Level 4 advertising – 175.00 – full page ad.

Thank you for you kind consideration of this request.  If you would like to be a sponsor, please fill in your donation in the link at the event site.


Gail E. Cavanaugh

The Power of Voluntary Benefits

July 14, 2015

The Power of Life Insurance

Exerpt from My New Book

July 9, 2015

Here is a  exerpt from my book, Retailers Guide to Merchant Services,


“To protect cardholder data, the PCI Data Security Standard

Compliance13 was created in 2006.  This organization requires merchants and other organizations to follow certain guidelines in collecting and storing, processing or transmitting cardholder information.

This is an ongoing process which involves:

  1.  Assessing cardholder data and the business owner’s IT assets and business proves to ensure there are no vulnerabilities in the storing of cardholder data.  There are training videos14 to help the small merchant to understand his/her responsibilities;
  2. Remediation in not storing cardholder data unless it is absolutely necessary;
  3. Reporting, which involves compiling and submitting compliance records and reports to the banks and card brands with which the business is authorized to do business.”

The book is available free on Amazon.  Get your copy today!

The book is also available at your local library on e-Zone. Newport, Middletown, and Portsmouth, Rhode Island libraries have e-Zone installed on their websites.

How Solid Is Supreme Court Decision on Obamacare?

July 1, 2015


We have a new decision in the Affordable Care Act which is precedent setting and will be very advantageous for many people in the United States who previously lacked medical insurance. But, how long will this law be in effect and how likely is it to be overturned?

This is an important question because there is a presidential election coming soon and the Republicans are not happy about the Supreme Court’s decision to allow subsidies for the poor and middle class applicants for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

There are only two ways to negate this decision. Congress would have to amend the Constitution, which would require a three quarters vote from Congress to overturn it. In the past, it has been very challenging, to say the least, to attain a three quarters vote from Congress. In other words, three quarters of the Senators and House of Representatives had to agree that a change needed to take place. It is unlikely the Congress would reach this agreement because so many of the Democrats were supportive of President Obama’s recommendations on the changes in health care.

For the most part, most of the Republicans in Congress are opposed to the Affordable Care Act, while the Democrats are in support of it. It is unlikely, though not impossible, for this law to be amended by Congress at this early stage. There would have to be a good reason for it to be detrimental to the enrollees in the program. There has not been enough time to allow Congress to observe whether or not the law is working for the citizens. In the past, it has taken years for a Supreme Court ruling to be overturned. For example, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Lochner v. New York (1905) that placing limits on the number of hours a baker could work was unconstitutional. It was overturned in 1937, a total of thirty – two years later.

The case involving Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce (1990), preventing corporations from making campaign contributions and purchasing political advertising from their general funds was overturned in 2010. However, the Oregon v. Mitchell (1970), overturned just a few months later in 1971, was the fastest constitutional amendment ever overturned.

The Supreme Court can also overrule its own rulings when another case involving the same issues challenges the Supreme Court. There is usually a long period of time from when the Supreme Court rules on a case until the time that it is overturned. This has happened many times over the course of U.S. history.

In conclusion, it is difficult to say at this time whether or not the Supreme Court decision will be overruled, as we do not know how long it will take for the Republicans to initiate a change.

College Funding Strategy

June 28, 2015

College Funding

A Victory for Proponents of the Affordable Care Act

June 26, 2015

Just as Obama’s second term is nearing an end, he was able to gain a ruling from the Supreme Court that government health care subsidies for the poor and middle class people were legal. The Obama Administration took steps to receive a ruling from the Supreme Court that these subsidies were legal so that the Affordable Care Act would remain even after his term as president of the United States had ended.

Needless to say, this infuriated the Republicans who took a stand against the Affordable Care Act at its inception. They argue that in the long run, the cost of health care would increase for the poor and middle class people and would render them unable to afford health care. These subsidies would be available for all applicants for health insurance regardless of whether they are purchasing in a state providing a state sponsored insurance marketplace or a state which opted not to form am insurance exchange.

If the Republicans want this decision overruled, it is going to take an amendment to the Constitution. The Republicans were not pleased with the Supreme Court ruling and accused the supreme court judges of “circumventing Congress and rewriting bad laws.” The Republicans have vowed to work on changing this recent ruling during the next election.

This is an important victory for poor and middle class families who do not have health insurance and for those who feared they would lose their health coverage after President Obama left office. An estimated six million people were at risk of losing their health insurance coverage.

Before Obamacare was enacted, fifty-seven percent of private insurance enrollees were uninsured. The states with the highest rates of uninsured enrollees were: Texas, Arizona, Montana, Arkansas, Alaska, Nevada, New Mexico, Nevada, Florida, Louisiana, all with over twenty percent of their enrollees without health insurance. Despite the enactment of Obamacare, several states have not instituted an insurance exchange and have not expanded their Medicaid program. The states in red in the chart below have not expanded their Medicaid program.


From Wallethub

Saving Money, Making Money, and Protecting Financial Security

June 10, 2015


Some Rhode Island business owners may wonder why I wrote a second edition of a book on credit card processing, Retailers Guide to Merchant Services when I am trying to make a living selling life insurance. My response is that I look for opportunities to serve my customers and anyone seeking information on increasing their profits and saving money on expenses. When they can save money on expenses, it frees up money that they may need to protect their financial security.

I have noticed there is still some confusion over some of the issues involving credit card processing even after the new legislation which was enacted in 2009. The industry is always changing. At times, the new changes have caused confusion and controversy. However, our society has increased their use of credit cards and there does not seem to be an end in sight.

Over the years, credit cards have been in and out of the news as new thieves stole credit card information from naïve consumers, causing them to lose billions of dollars. Since credit cards have been processed on the Internet, the identities of billions of customers has been uncovered and shared with nefarious thieves whose only desire is to control massive amounts of wealth.

Even though the United States is responsible for only one quarter of the credit card transactions in the world, about one half of credit card fraud occurs in the U.S. Therefore, the banking industry is attempting to alleviate this problem with fraud by attempting to adapt new technology which would make credit card users less vulnerable to fraud. As a result, business owners must comply with the new EMV technology by October 15, 2015. The EMV technology will better protect the consumer and the business from credit card fraud and identity theft.

As of 2012, there were 26.2 billion transactions involving credit cards in the U.S. This resulted in a $2.48 trillion dollars in money spent. In 2003, there were only 19 billion transactions. Two thirds of all business and consumer purchases were made with credit cards in 2012.

As credit card use has increased substantially since 2009, it has resulted in an increase in credit card fraud at many of the major retailers. The EMV technology involves the replacement of many credit cards with the new chip technology which holds all of the data for the owner of the credit card to identify him/her. A chip will be installed onto credit cards and this will involve the use of a new credit card machine which will be able to read the chip on the card.

Many countries such as Europe, Canada, Latin America, and the Asia/Pacific region, are already using the EMV card and have experienced a significant reduction in the amount of credit card fraud. The U.S. is one the last countries to take the plunge. Therefore, we have much to gain in learning all about this new technology.

The substantial increase in credit cards is also an indication that the job market has improved and gasoline prices were lower at the end of 2014. Part of the reason for the increase in credit card use is the increase in on-line shopping which requires a credit card. Tuition costs and loans have also increased over the past year by $5.8 billion.

Insurance Expert Insurance Services