Today's economy has presented everyone – from business owners to the consumers they serve – with additional challenges. Businesses – especially small or growing businesses – have been especially hard pressed to remain competitive and to keep afloat amid tougher financial times.
But even in a challenging economy, there are ways to make your business more competitive and more profitable. One of the simplest and least expensive options is to begin to accept credit cards at your business.
Business cards have become more popular than ever among consumers looking to make purchases and pay for them in a way that is compatible with their monthly budget. Here are a few reasons why:
By offering flexible payment arrangements, credit cards can help any consumer afford even expensive items, allowing them to pay for their purchases a little at a time each month. In fact, one of the key advantages to credit cards – and what has helped them increase in popularity for more than half a century – is their flexibility.
In months where money is tight, consumers can choose to pay the minimum due. When the budget offers a little more breathing room, the card balance can be paid down more quickly. Another flexible advantage: as the balance is paid down, consumers have that money available again for additional purchases.
Credit cards can offer a convenient and streamlined replacement for a wide range of cash value, meaning consumers can leave their cash at home or in the bank and rely on credit cards, instead. business cards are more secure – they can be replaced easily if lost or stolen (not so with cash!) – and they do not tie consumers in to specific amounts of cash, meaning shoppers do not have to preplan shopping trips, but can make purchases as needed without fear of running out of cash.
Thanks to a rise in competition among business card issuers and sponsors, many card companies have begun to offer bonuses or incentive programs to attract new customers and reward the ones who sue the cards regularly. These bonuses are awarded when a card user racks up a specific number of points, and points can be earned each time the card is used – meaning more and more consumers are using credit cards for a wider range of purchases than ever before.
Bonus points are redeemable for everything from merchandise like jewelry, sports equipment, and electronics, to travel incentives, like airline miles and hotel stays, to cash rewards. These programs make it easy for consumers to see how using cards regularly can actually pay them back.
Today's consumers are bombarded with commercials and advertisements, telling them how important it is to maintain a healthy credit score, and savvy consumers know regular and wise use of cards is a great way to build that score and establish and maintain a healthy credit history. Since credit scores can have far-reaching influence, affecting everything from the ability to finance a home or car to determining your insurance rates and even influencing whether or not you get a specific job, consumers are more aware than ever before of the need for maintaining a strong credit history and score.
It's easy to see how accepting business cards can build a business' customer base, with more and more consumers embracing the advantages offered by the cards. But businesses benefit in other ways, too. Studies show:
Consumers who use credit cards tend to shop more often, and spend more money per shopping trip, than customers who use cash.
Consumers who use credit cards are more more likely to make impulse purchases, and those impulse purchases are of a much higher value than those made by cash users.
Shoppers who use business cards tend to be more loyal than those who use cash.
Businesses that accept credit cards tend to be viewed more favorably, and are seen as being more trustworthy and more stable than those that do a cash-only trade.
And here's the big one: if you do – or hope to do – business online, in a recent survey, more than 90 percent of online shoppers said they use only business cards when making their purchases.
Additionally, merchant accounts (the accounts that allow businesses to accept credit cards) offer a centralized location for credit card transaction information, and provide reporting to make your bookkeeping easier and more streamlined.
They also facilitate cash flow by depositing credit card transaction funds directly into your bank account at the end of each day. And, unlike checks that can bounce or cash that can be stolen or lost, the funds are deducted form the credit card account immediately and transferred to your business account securely.
Opening a merchant account is the first step toward accepting credit cards. Today, those accounts are easier to open and less cost than ever before. Take some time today to explore your merchant account options and unlock your own business' profit potential.