1001 Newbie - Friendly Tips by Bob McElwain - HTML preview
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Take Credit Cards Orders On The Cheap
We've all heard it. You simply can not do business on the Web unless you can handle all that plastic folks love so much. You must offer instant gratification, for it's the way of things these days, right?
But a merchant account is not free. While the percentage taken off a transaction may be as little as two percent, your cost per sale can be considerably higher unless you have a good volume of sales. There is usually a set up fee for a merchant account, ranging from $300 and up, and it's mostly up. If you depend upon software, you may need to buy that as well. And buy the upgrade whenever it is demanded of you. This is not cost effective without sufficient volume. So what is a person to do?
I ran across ClickBank.Com the other day. They can get you up and running for $39. (Compared to setting up a merchant account, this is dirt cheap!) They want 10% on each transaction. This may sound like bad news, but it is more likely meaningless. For one thing you don't have to mess around getting order forms up on a secure server. You do none of the work of handling the transaction. And they mail a check every two weeks.
I have not tried this program, but I checked out the site with some care. While it looks like a straight-up operation to me, this is something everybody must decide for themselves. However, $39 is not a lot to risk.
If you are just getting started on the Web and do not have many sales, this may be your salvation. You'll need to check the math relative to your operation, but a merchant account that costs say $200 to $300 per year to sustain is likely to cost a good deal more per sale on small volume.
One reservation: The order screen at ClickBank is quite different than most you see on the Web. You may want to check this with care to be sure it will suit your customers.
There is yet another way to go. If you have a friend or business acquaintance with a merchant account, they may be able to take orders for you. Something like 15% will cover your friend's costs and you put up zero dollars going in. It's a nice way to start, particularly if you don't know if you will ever get an order! (Be sure to set this up in a manner acceptable to your friend's merchant account service, or the account might be canceled.)
Given success, however, you will want to get your own merchant account at some point. On your favorite search engine, try "merchant account" and/or "credit card orders." You will find a bunch. It's worth the time to shop. Finding the plan that suits your needs can save real dollars.
If you or your spouse has an account with Costco, check into the merchant account service they offer. If you are already paying the $100/year premium membership fee, you may find the account they offer to be the best deal available.
An update from a subscriber who likes ClickBank - Bob
I have been using ClickBank for my e-book and advertising as well as a couple of services upon which I have set a fixed price. I have been very pleased with the service. It's easy to set up and to add a new product. Pam Jones - ProfitPowerPromo.Com
01/12/00: Another Update - MultCards.Com offers a different way of handling credit purchases. They take the order, and forward accumulated funds weekly. You do not need a merchant account. The charge per transaction varies, but is essentially 10% plus one dollar. When the annual fee is added in, you may find a merchant account more cost effective, but this may be an effective alternative for some.