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Sage Intacct Accounting Software Review 2021

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Sage Intacct is an all-inclusive cloud-based financial management and business accounting software — and according to the Sage Intacct website, is the first and only preferred provider of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA), designed for full accounting and financial management for CFOs and CIOs. Sage is best-suited for larger businesses or small businesses that are growing extremely quickly.

Sage Intacct features

Sage Intacct is a cloud-based accounting software — meaning you can access your account anywhere you have an internet connection. This being said, however, unlike other accounting software options on the market, including other Sage accounting software products, Sage Intacct does not have a dedicated mobile app to allow you to manage your account on the go.

Additionally, as an enterprise-level software, it’s important to explain a little more about how Sage Intacct works. In short, whereas many small-business accounting platforms offer standard software plans — each of which has a specific list of features for a certain price — Sage Intacct can be uniquely customized to meet your particular needs.

Although Sage Intacct offers six overarching modules as part of its software (listed below), you can pick and choose the ones you need as part of your plan.

  • Core financials: Manage essential accounting tasks and processes.

  • Dashboards and reporting: View real-time insights and statistics about your business performance.

  • Billing: Automate revenue and billing processes.

  • Budgeting and planning: Create and manage budgets and collaborate within your organization.

  • Platform: Integrate with other platforms and tools to meet your business’s needs.

  • Advanced functionality: Utilize additional modules to further automate and streamline financial processes.

Overall, the first five modules seem to come standard with the Sage Intacct accounting software and the modules that fall under “advanced functionality” can be added separately — like with additional costs.

Sage Intacct sample dashboard. Image source: Sage Intacct

As you can see, Sage Intacct has an unparalleled amount of features and integration options to offer business owners. With all of this functionality, therefore, you’re probably wondering what the Sage Intacct pricing looks like.

Unfortunately, unlike many other accounting software platforms that are priced on a standard monthly or annual subscription basis, Sage Intacct’s pricing is quote-based. In essence, this means there is no standard Sage Intacct cost, and instead, pricing is customized based on your business. Therefore, in order to find out how much it would cost your business to use Sage Intacct, you would have to contact its sales team and work with them directly.

This being said, however, it’s very likely that the cost of Sage Intacct will vary based on a number of factors, such as:

  • The size of your business.

  • Your business’s industry.

  • The specific features you need.

  • The level of customization and automation you need.

It’s very likely that if you only need the functionality of Sage’s standard modules, your price point will be lower than if you require any of the advanced functionality modules. Likewise, if you only need the Core Financials module, and don’t require Budgeting and Planning or Billing, your Sage Intacct cost will be even lower.

Nevertheless, as an enterprise-level accounting software system, it’s safe to say that Sage Intacct is going to have a higher price point, especially if you consider the cost of Sage 50cloud, Sage’s desktop-based accounting product. When it comes to Sage 50, pricing starts at around $50 per month and ranges all the way to nearly $330 per month. Similarly, this pricing structure can lead you to assume that the larger your business and the more you require from your accounting software, the higher the Sage Intacct pricing will be.

At the end of the day though, although you may see some Sage Intacct users writing about their pricing experiences online (which will be discussed below), the only way to know how much it will cost your business to use this accounting software is to contact the Sage sales team and receive a customized quote.

Sage Intacct customer reviews

So, what do customers have to say about their experience with Sage Intacct?

Overall, online Sage Intacct reviews are mostly positive. It seems that a sizable number of Sage Intacct users are satisfied with their experience and would recommend the product to other business owners.

More specifically, the positive Sage Intacct reviews highlight:

  • Saved time by using the platform.

  • The flexibility of the cloud-based system.

  • Impressive customization.

  • Integration opportunities and more.

In particular, one reviewer mentioned that Sage Intacct is a worthwhile step up from QuickBooks — but at the same time, it doesn’t include the same level of guidance for the user as QuickBooks does.

On the other hand, although there didn’t seem to be wholly negative reviews with any sort of consistency, there were some areas that users often mentioned as drawbacks:

  • Reporting: Users wrote that the reporting functions left something to be desired and seemed inflexible considering the enterprise-level of the software.

  • Learning curve: Many customers felt that Sage Intacct required a large learning curve and could, on the whole, be more user-friendly.

  • Cost: Although users didn’t mention the specific price they were paying, many users wrote that Sage Intacct was expensive, especially if you required more than the standard modules.

Pros of Sage Intacct

Now that you’re familiar with all the various details of Sage Intacct, let’s evaluate how this accounting software stands out as a solution for small-business owners. What are the most beneficial aspects of Sage Intacct — and likewise, what are the most notable drawbacks?

Let’s continue our Sage Intacct review by starting with the positives. Here are three advantages to consider:

Automation and customization

If you read any information about Sage Intacct on its website, there are two words you’ll see used to describe this accounting software again and again: automation and customization. At the end of the day, as an enterprise-level accounting solution designed to handle more than simple business bookkeeping and accounting, but the whole of a business’s financial processes, automation and customization are key to this platform.

One of the largest benefits of Sage Intacct is that every facet of its software can be customized to your business — features, workflows, modules, reports, users, etc. Additionally, each of these customizable features, in fact, every capability that Sage Intacct offers, seems to be designed with the goal of automating and streamlining your processes.

Therefore, with this extremely detailed level of both automation and customization, Sage Intacct seems to be designed for businesses that need to manage complex and nuanced processes and would largely benefit from a single software that allows them to seamlessly handle everything in one place.

Advanced features

As you can see, not only does Sage Intacct include advanced features within its core accounting software, but it also offers extended modules to add even greater capabilities to your platform.

With functionality for financial processes like budgeting, multi-location, multi-currency, revenue recognition and team collaboration, Sage Intacct offers detailed features far beyond what you’ll find with many other small-business accounting software options like Wave or Zoho Books.

This being said, as an accounting software designed to manage the full range of financial processes, there’s no doubt that Sage Intacct includes the tools that allow you to do so. Therefore, as an enterprise-level software with an incredibly impressive feature set, Sage Intacct can truly serve businesses that need these advanced features and overall level of financial management.

Integrations

Finally, on top of all of the advanced features, automation and customization Sage Intacct offers, another benefit of this accounting software is the integration opportunities it offers.

Sage Intacct includes built-in integration with both Salesforce and Avatax, as well as allows you to integrate as many other tools and platforms as your business requires using their APIs and SDKs.

Therefore, despite the wide variety of features that Sage Intacct includes within its platform, if you’re missing a function or service you already use, you have the option to add it to Sage — thereby further increasing the number of business processes you’ll be able to manage within one system.

Cons of Sage Intacct

Despite these notable benefits, just like any other accounting software out there, Sage Intacct has downsides to consider as well.

Let’s discuss two of the biggest drawbacks of this Sage product.

Pricing

With a quote-based system, there’s no way to know what Sage Intacct pricing will actually be without going through the process of working with its sales team. Although this process is intended to offer a price customized to your business, it’s less than ideal — as you have no way of knowing whether you’re receiving a fair price, especially compared to what Sage is charging other businesses.

Additionally, without knowing what the cost of Sage Intacct looks like upfront, it’s harder to compare Sage Intacct to other accounting software options on the market. Ultimately, transparent, upfront pricing is certainly preferable when it comes to business tools like accounting software.

This being said, although we can’t be totally sure of Sage Intacct’s pricing — comparing this product to Sage’s other products, as well as other enterprise-level accounting software platforms, like QuickBooks Enterprise (plus customer reviews) — it’s safe to say Sage Intacct is probably going to be on the high end of the pricing spectrum. With a high cost, possibly hundreds of dollars per month, this price point is going to be unaffordable for many small-business owners.

Extensive capabilities

Although Sage Intacct’s vast feature set can be beneficial for a certain type of business owner, there’s no doubt that it also can be a barrier-to-entry for many other businesses. With advanced functionality even within its basic “core financials” features, this Sage software is certainly not going to appeal to beginners or those with little accounting experience. Similarly, if you’re looking for the fastest and easiest way to get accounting software set up for your small business, Sage Intacct is not going to be your best option.

Ultimately, though Sage Intacct will be able to fulfill the needs of larger businesses, it’s relatively unapproachable for small-business owners. With an overwhelming amount of features, customization options and (likely) a high price point, it’s simply going to be more than many small businesses need.

Top alternatives to Sage Intacct

Before you decide whether Sage Intacct is the right choice for your business, it’s worth looking into top accounting software alternatives. With all of the accounting solutions on the market, there are a variety of Sage Intacct alternatives to choose from — however, it’s probably best to consider these options in two ways.

First, we’ll discuss an enterprise-level alternative that closely compares to Sage Intacct in terms of features and probable pricing. Second, we’ll consider a top accounting software alternative that can accommodate a wider variety of smaller and midsize businesses.

QuickBooks Enterprise

Of all the products that fall into the QuickBooks suite, QuickBooks Enterprise is the most robust — and therefore, most equatable with Sage Intacct. QuickBooks Enterprise offers 6x the capacity of any other QuickBooks version, and like Sage Intacct, it includes features allowing businesses to manage the whole of their accounting and financial processes.

One of the big differences between Sage Intacct and QuickBooks Enterprise, however, is that Enterprise is a desktop-based software — unless you pay an additional cost for online hosting. And unlike Sage Intacct, QuickBooks Enterprise is available in three different plans — Silver, Gold and Platinum — so that you can choose the option that works best for your business.

This being said, like Sage Intacct, Enterprise is extremely customizable and includes capabilities for payments, billing, inventory, forecasting, invoicing, sales orders, integrations and more. Plus, if you opt for the Gold or Platinum level of Enterprise, you receive built-in, full-service QuickBooks payroll. Pricing for QuickBooks Enterprise Silver starts at $145 per month for one user, or $1,213 per year for one user. With the higher-level plans and more users, the monthly and annual prices increase accordingly.

Therefore, as an enterprise-level solution known as one of the most feature-rich accounting products on the market, QuickBooks Enterprise is a worthy alternative to larger businesses that are considering Sage Intacct.

Xero accounting

On the other hand, if your business doesn’t need such extensive accounting software like Sage Intacct or QuickBooks Enterprise, you might instead consider a solution like Xero accounting. With three different plan options, a significant feature set and numerous integration options, Xero can accommodate businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Xero’s three plans — Early, Growing and Established — cost $9, $30 and $60 per month, respectively, making this accounting software much more affordable than either Sage Intacct or QuickBooks Enterprise. And while Xero is much more affordable, it isn’t lacking in terms of features. Xero offers tools for reconciliation, inventory, invoicing, bills, expenses, projects, purchase orders, fixed assets and more. Plus, Xero integrates with over 700 third-party services and platforms. Moreover, the Xero system is known for its usability, accessibility and mobility.

Therefore, with a lower price point, user-friendly platform and substantial capabilities, Xero offers a much more fitting accounting solution for business owners who don’t need all of the complex and advanced features of Sage Intacct.

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13 Best Credit Card Readers for Small Businesses

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A credit card reader is essential to many small businesses, and choosing the right card reader can help your company operate more smoothly.

The best choice depends on your budget, features needed and whether you’re accepting payments at a counter or on the go. Some card readers — such as those that work with iPhones — are portable, while others are attached to a countertop register. A basic card reader without a screen is the cheapest option, and sometimes free. A comprehensive POS system, on the other hand, comes with sophisticated features and can cost over a thousand dollars.

Below is a list of the best credit card readers for small businesses and what they can do for your business.

Quick comparison: Take a quick side-by-side look at our top picks in this table.

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Square Contactless and Chip reader

Best free option with basic functions

A man holds the contactless and chip reader by Square while running a credit card

Image courtesy of Square

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $49 for reader and $29 for optional dock.
Fees: 2.6% plus 10 cents for most in-person transactions; no monthly fees.

Square’s contactless and chip card reader enables you to accept credit cards with chips and digital wallets, such as tap-and-pay credit cards and smartphone apps, including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. It uses Bluetooth technology instead of connecting directly to a device, which means you don’t have to keep your cell phone or tablet out with you all the time.

The reader must be charged, but the charging dock can double as a support for the reader for a counter or table. You can also charge it with a USB charger.

   

Has a compact design.

Doesn’t swipe credit cards.

Reads chip cards, digital wallets and contactless cards.

Takes up to two hours to charge.

 

Best for on-the-go payments for all card types

A white square Clover Go card reader

Courtesy of Clover

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $99 for reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents depending on method.

This credit card reader by Clover works with phones and tablets via Bluetooth. It also processes every type of credit card payment your customers could want: magstripe-only cards, chip cards and contactless payments. It costs $99 and requires users to purchase a monthly plan.

Features depend on the plan you choose. The Essentials Plan for $9.95 per month provides basic payment processing, inventory management, taxes, reporting and employee management with 24/7 support.

   

Includes interest-free installment plans.

Takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to charge.

Charges via standard USB charger.

Requires a monthly fee for advanced POS features.

Uses passcodes for employees.

 

PayPal Zettle

The PayPal Zettle card reader sits on a coffee shop counter

Image courtesy of PayPal

Best for PayPal and Venmo payment options

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $79 for reader; new customers can get their first one for $29.
Fees: Varies by method, starting at 1.9% plus 10 cents for PayPal and Venmo QR code transactions over $10.

PayPal’s Zettle accepts chip and contactless payments, but it doesn’t read magstripes. It does, however, let customers pay with QR codes on PayPal and Venmo platforms. Its POS software offers invoice creation, inventory management, tracking sales performance and more.

Transaction fees generally fall in line with competitors with lower rates available for transactions made by QR code. All funds go into your PayPal account rather than a bank account. You’ll need to request a transfer to move the funds to your business bank account before you can use them outside of PayPal.

   

Has lower rates for PayPal and Venmo platforms.

Deposits funds into your PayPal account, not a bank account.

Includes new customer discount for first reader purchase.

 

Has a screen to show transaction details.

 
 

SumUp Plus

A customer holds a credit card up to the SumUp Plus reader

Image courtesy of SumUp

Best for a low-cost do-it-all reader 

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $19 for reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.75% and up depending on method.

Powerful and compact, the SumUp Plus credit card reader works through Bluetooth with Apple and Android devices and promises more than 500 transactions on one charge. In addition to having a screen to show transaction details, the reader comes with a few helpful POS software features, like inventory management and permissions for employee access, as well as customizable invoicing. However, you might find that the overall POS is lacking when compared with the more robust options on the market.

SumUp charges only for transactions and doesn’t require a monthly fee. You can order the reader for $19 and start accepting card transactions in a matter of minutes once it’s connected to the SumUp app.

   

Accepts swiped, inserted and contactless payments.

Has less robust POS software features.

Has a screen that displays transaction details.

 
 

Clover Flex

A hand holds a white Clover Flex credit card reader

Image courtesy of Clover

Best for an all-in-one handheld system

Style: Standalone handheld reader.
Price: $499 for reader; monthly contract required.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Flex is a small but powerful handheld credit card reader. It can process all three credit card payment types, scan bar codes and even print receipts. It’s one of the few options in this category that has its own screen, removing your personal device from the equation and allowing customers a bit more of a professional experience when checking out on the spot.

Depending on your monthly plan, the Clover Flex can help you manage inventory, view sales data and set up individual logins for employees. It costs $499, but the company offers payment plans to break up the cost. Payment processing rates depend on your pricing plan.

   

Works without connecting to a personal device.

Requires an initial investment.

Has payment plans available.

Requires monthly plan for advanced features.

Has a free monthly plan for basic features.

 
 

Helcim Card Reader

Best for low-cost transaction fees with volume-based discounts

Style: Connects via Bluetooth.
Price: $109 for the reader.
Fees: Varies by card type and monthly average transaction total.

Helcim’s card reader processes all three types of payments and connects via Bluetooth, meaning it needs to be charged. It also provides POS software with well-developed features, including customer management and inventory tracking that notifies you when your supply gets low. A standout feature is its self-service portal, which allows customers to log in to see their payment information and purchase history.

Helcim’s processing fees can be difficult to calculate because it bases its fees on the type of card and interchange fees, which are set by card networks. It also offers volume-based discounts based on transaction tiers. The more you average in transactions per month, the higher your discount. The processor doesn’t require you to sign a contract, choose a monthly fee or pay to cancel your service.

   

Has volume discounts available.

Might change processing rate if monthly transaction average drops.

Has robust POS software features.

Might be difficult to calculate monthly cost in advance.

 

Toast Go 2

The handheld Toast Go 2 swiping a credit card.

Image courtesy of Toast

Best for tableside payments at restaurants

Style: Standalone handheld reader.
Price: $389 plus $50 per month.
Fees: Typically quote-based; lowest listed price is 2.49% plus 15 cents per in-person transaction in Standard Starter plan.

The Toast Go 2 allows you to submit orders at tables and accept all three styles of payment. It’s also spill proof, will hold a charge for 24 hours and has a 6.4-inch touchscreen for quick checkout. The free version of Toast’s POS software comes with basic features, including point-of-sale and payment processing, but advanced features are available with paid plans.

The free pay-as-you-go monthly plan with basic features has a processing rate of 2.99% plus 15 cents for every in-person transaction. That rate drops to 2.49% plus 15 cents if you pay for your hardware upfront. Other plans come with quote-based pricing. One downside: The company requires contracts with a standard term of two years.

   

Is designed specifically for restaurants.

Requires quotes for advanced monthly plans.

Offers 24/7 customer support.

Requires a contract.

Is versatile and durable.

 
 

Square Terminal

A woman inserts a credit card into the Square terminal

Image courtesy of Square

Best compact countertop reader

Style: Standalone countertop reader.
Price: $299 for the reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.6% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 15 cents depending on method; no monthly fees.

Square Terminal allows you to accept all three methods of credit card payments: chip, contactless and magstripe. And priced at $299, it comes in on the lower end of the all-inclusive card readers.

The company’s standard flat-rate processing fees apply and depend on whether you run the card in person or enter it manually. There’s no monthly contract.

   

Doesn’t require a separate device.

Can take over four hours to charge.

Shows transaction details.

 

Is compact and easy to use.

 
 

Square Stand

A customer signs on a Square Stand card reader in a bike shop

Image courtesy of Square

Best iPad-compatible register

Style: Register that connects to compatible iPad.
Price: $169 for the reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.6% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 15 cents depending on method; no monthly fees.

The Square Stand is designed specifically for a single smart device: the iPad. Snap an iPad into the Square Stand, and use it as a desktop point-of-sale. The configuration allows you to provide a larger screen for transaction details, and the swivel feature allows customers to sign on the iPad without having to pass the device around. It can process magstripe, chip and contactless payments and connect with a receipt printer. However, it works only with certain iPad models.

The company’s standard fees of 2.6% plus 10 cents apply for credit cards and can raise up to 3.5% plus 15 cents for methods outside a swipe, chip or contactless payment.

   

Swivels for customers to use.

Only works with certain iPad models.

Can be mounted to a countertop.

 
 

Clover Mini

A Clover Mini card reader

Image courtesy of Clover

Best all-in-one register

Style: Standalone countertop register.
Price: $749.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents, depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Mini is a countertop setup that doesn’t require a tablet. It allows your business to accept all types of payments, print receipts and scan barcodes. You also get some nifty POS features, including inventory, customer and employee management functions with paid monthly plans.

This product is $749. Payment processing rates depend on your Clover pricing plan.

   

Can be mounted to a countertop.

Requires paid monthly plan for advanced features.

Works without an iPad.

 

Has free monthly plan available.

 

Has payment plans available.

 

Clover Station Solo

A Clover Station with a screen faces the reader with a chip reader beside it

Image courtesy of Clover

Best full register with a single screen

Style: Standalone countertop register.
Price: $1,349.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents, depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Station Solo is a register-style system that offers merchants a 14-inch high-definition screen and a receipt printer for the full checkout experience. The system works with Clover’s POS for retail, offering payment processing, inventory and staff management, reporting and more. For restaurants, the Station Solo fits nicely with customizing and tracking orders, managing table mapping and much more for streamlined service.

   

Has fingerprint login.

Requires one of the larger upfront investments.

Uses fast processing speeds.

Doesn’t have a free monthly plan option.

Has robust POS software options.

 
 

Square Register

A customer pays with their cell phone on the Square Register in a bakery

Image courtesy of Square

Best full register setup with a customer-facing screen

Style: Standalone countertop register.
Price: $799 for reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.6% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 15 cents depending on method; no monthly fees.

The Square Register is the first fully integrated credit card scanner system from Square and is a complete countertop POS system that can accept magstripe, chip card and contactless forms of payment. It boasts two screens — one for the employee and one for the customer to show transaction details — for a seamless experience. It also offers an extra-long cable that allows businesses to separate the Register and customer’s screen to encourage social distancing. Its software provides merchants inventory, employee and customer relationship management functions, plus a reporting suite where you can view sales data.

This small-business credit card reader option will cost your business $799, but there are payment plan options available. It processes transactions at the standard Square rates.

   

Has two screens.

Must be plugged in at all times.

Can be mounted to a countertop.

 

Has advanced apps and software options.

 

Clover Station Duo

Clover's Station Duo with a screen on top of a cash drawer, a receipt printer beside it and a customer screen facing the reader.

Image courtesy of Clover

Best system for full checkout experience

Style: Standalone countertop register with dual screens.
Price: $1,649.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents, depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Station Duo ups the game with a combination of a 14-inch screen for you and a 7-inch screen for your customers. This makes it easier for customers to confirm orders and pay however they want — credit card, debit card, and contactless payment methods. Designed for retail and restaurant environments, the Station Duo offers the same features of the Station Solo with more power.

While this option tops the list for the most expensive system, the Station Duo is currently sold with a cash drawer and a receipt printer, giving you the gamut of checkout features.

   

Has fingerprint login.

Requires one of the larger upfront investments.

Uses fast processing speeds.

Doesn’t have a free monthly plan option.

Has robust POS software options.

 

Has two screens.

 
 

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Credit card readers comparison table

     

Payments accepted

 

Additional device required

Square Contactless & Chip Reader

Bluetooth.

$49 (reader); $29 (dock).

Chip and contactless.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

 

Bluetooth.

 

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

PayPal Zettle

Bluetooth.

 

Chip and contactless.

1.9% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

SumUp Plus

Bluetooth.

 

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.75% and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

Clover Flex

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Helcim Card Reader

Bluetooth.

 

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

Varies by card type and monthly transaction average.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

Toast Go 2

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.49% plus 15 cents and up.

 

Square Terminal

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Square Stand

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible iPad.

Clover Mini

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Clover Station Solo

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Square Register

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Clover Station Duo

   

Chip, contactless and mapstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 
 

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Your Payment Processor Froze Your Account — Now What?

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It’s a small business’s worst nightmare: You’ve been notified by your payment processor that your transactions are being investigated for potentially fraudulent activities. Your account has been frozen, you’re not allowed to process any transactions until further notice and what funds were being processed aren’t going to be deposited. Your entire revenue stream is stalled.

But there are a few things you can do to work with your payment processor to try to speed up the release of funds and reinstatement of your account. Here’s what you need to know about processing account freezes and how to respond.

Account freeze vs. account hold

An account freeze differs from an account hold. When a payment processor puts a hold on a merchant account, usually only certain transactions are held by the processor. It doesn’t stop all transactions, so you still have access to some funds. If a payment processor puts a hold on certain transactions because it requires a minimum reserve to cover the potential costs of chargebacks and fraudulent transactions, it will keep these funds indefinitely while allowing you to continue to process payments from customers. Think of it as a deposit that you’ll get back if you ever close your account in good standing.

When a payment processor freezes a merchant account, however, it halts all activity and holds funds until it can investigate suspected fraud or agreement violations. During an account freeze, a merchant is unable to process any transactions and cannot have any pending funds transferred to their bank account. Essentially, a business’s ability to accept cards can be stalled until an investigation proves the transactions are legitimate.

How long will your account be frozen?

Payment processors generally stipulate in their contracts that they can freeze accounts and investigate merchant activity for up to 120 days. But that doesn’t mean that your account will be frozen for that long. If you work with the payment processor to resolve the issue quickly, the freeze might be lifted sooner. Two businesses can raise the same red flag and have different results: The one that provides the right information immediately can have its account unfrozen within a week, while the business that drags its feet could wait a month or more to have access to funds.

Regardless of how cooperative you are, it’s smart to think about what you’ll do financially if your account is frozen for the full 120 days.

Most payment processors outline in their terms of use what actions they can take in certain situations, like suspected fraud, and what they are legally allowed to do to combat potential payment fraud. While it is frustrating to have your account frozen without warning, learning why it happened can help you avoid similar situations in the future.

What to do next

Talk with your processor

You need to understand what caused the account freeze and what you can do to resolve the issue quickly. The processor might not be able to give you a full explanation of what it’s looking at to ensure it can carry out an investigation, but it should be able to tell you why your account has been frozen and what you can do to assist the investigation.

Provide information

If your processor requests information or documentation relating to specific transactions, provide it as quickly and transparently as possible. The more quickly you offer up details, the more quickly your payment processor is likely to resolve the issue.

How to accept other payment methods

To keep up some revenue while your account is being reviewed, you can accept other payment methods. Consider how the following payment methods might work for your business:

  • Cash. This is a great option for in-person transactions because there are no processing fees attached to the payment. Be sure to alert customers in advance so they know to stop by the ATM.

  • Checks. With customers you know well and trust, checks can be a credit card alternative. But be wary of accepting checks from everyone: Having several bad checks bounce won’t help your situation.

  • Peer-to-peer apps. Apps like PayPal, Venmo, Zelle and Cash App offer business accounts that allow customers to send you money directly, which is deposited into your app account. This can be a good backup for accepting card payments — but note that these transactions are still subject to terms and conditions and, as with other processors, your account could be frozen for suspicious activity.

  • Backup payment processor. This is an option if you absolutely have to process credit cards while your account is being investigated, although don’t rush into a new contract that could put you on the hook for more fees. However, this is not an option for businesses that are labeled high risk because of consistent fraudulent behavior and that have been added to the Member Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants — or MATCH — list, which is shared among payment processors while reviewing new merchant applications.

Prioritize your business-critical expenses

After speaking with the processor and providing its team with information, your next step is to make a plan for how to mitigate any harm to your business finances. You’ll need to think about how you’re going to handle:

  • Paying employees.

  • Pausing subscriptions that you won’t be able to afford, such as automatic inventory purchase.

  • Paying for overhead that can’t be paused, like rent.

  • Alerting customers about changes in payment processing.

  • Disabling e-commerce payment options on your website.

If you don’t have a savings fund to fall back on, consider looking for someone to help you address financial concerns and research how to find assistance in the meantime. 

 

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Best Merchant Services of 2022

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Merchant services allow a business to accept credit and debit card transactions by transmitting the customer information to the card network and issuing bank and giving businesses access to the payments received.

The companies that offer merchant services vary in the related products and services they offer, and in their pricing models (flat rate, interchange-plus, membership). Here’s our list of the best merchant services and what sets them apart.

Helcim: Best overall option

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate — which is set by the card issuer and generally ranges from 1% to 3% — you also pay a processing fee (hence the term “interchange plus”). For a monthly card processing volume of up to $25,000, the markup is 0.3% plus 8 cents per in-person transaction and 0.5% plus 25 cents per keyed and online transactions. Lower rates are available for higher volume levels.

Software: Free.

Hardware: Card reader is $109. Stands, printers and other equipment available through Helcim Shop.

  • Low processing fees.

  • Transparent pricing.

  • Volume discounts.

  • No contracts.

  • No monthly fees.

  • No cancellation fees.

  • Free virtual terminal.

  • Fully hosted online store options.

  • Customer support isn’t available 24/7.

  • No free card reader.

Why we like it: Helcim’s transparent pricing, lack of monthly fees and volume discounts are what pushes it to the top of the list. It’s easy to sign up for an account online by providing some basic information. And without a contract or cancellation fees, there’s no penalty to close your account. Funds from your transactions are deposited within one to two business days. Customer support is available weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time and on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time. You can sync data with both QuickBooks Desktop and Online. Other integrations include WooCommerce, Magento and Zone 4.

Square: Best flat-rate option

Payment processing: Flat-rate pricing model that charges 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction, 3.5% plus 15 cents per keyed transaction and 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction.

Software: Free option.

Hardware: Free card reader. A register costs $799 or $39 a month for 24 months.

  • No monthly fee.

  • Low transaction rates.

  • No long-term contracts.

  • Quick setup.

  • Free card reader.

  • Free virtual terminal.

  • Free dispute management services for chargebacks.

  • No processing fees on customer refunds.

  • 24/7 live phone support is not available for payments.

  • Readers are not compatible with Windows devices.

Why we like it: Square is our top pick for flat-rate pricing with no monthly fees, low transaction rates and free virtual terminal. It can accommodate all types of credit card transactions. You receive your funds as fast as the next business day for free, or you can pay a fee to receive funds instantly. Square offers free dispute management for chargebacks and doesn’t charge processing fees for customer refunds. Free phone support is available during the week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. Square integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, Stitch Labs and other popular apps.

Accept payments without worry

See our payment provider recommendations that fit your business.

Dharma: Best for e-commerce

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate, a processing fee is charged. For Visa, Mastercard and Discover, that’s 0.15% plus 8 cents per in-person transaction. Rates for American Express in-person transactions are 0.30% plus 11 cents. And you’ll pay 0.2% plus 11 cents for keyed and online transactions.

Software: $25 monthly fee.

Hardware: Terminals start at $229 and a Clover Mini standalone device can be purchased for $749.

  • Low processing rates.

  • Pricing transparency.

  • Specializes in e-commerce.

  • Reduced rates for large monthly processing volume.

  • 24-hour help lines.

  • Virtual terminal included.

  • Monthly fee.

  • Account closure fee of $49.

Why we like it: Dharma specializes in helping e-commerce businesses and has one of the lowest rates for card-not-present transactions. Businesses with monthly card sales over $100,000 or more than 5,000 transactions may qualify for volume discounts, as well as restaurants with average ticket amounts of less than $25. Funding is guaranteed in two business days. Customer support to process your card transactions is available 24 hours a day. You can export data into an Excel file to import into QuickBooks.

Stripe: Best flat rate for online sales

Payment processing: Flat-rate pricing model that charges 2.7% plus 5 cents per in-person transaction and 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction.

Software: Free option.

Hardware: Card readers cost $59 and up. A POS register is $249.

  • No monthly fees.

  • Low transaction rates.

  • Supports over 135 currencies.

  • Your account can be terminated at any time.

  • Developer platform.

  • Support is available 24/7 by phone request, chat and email.

  • Tools to customize payment flows on your website.

  • No free reader.

  • Virtual terminal allows the customer to enter card information, but not the merchant.

Why we like it: Stripe is best for online sales because it supports processing payments in multiple currencies, allowing customers to charge in their native currency and businesses to receive funds in theirs. Payments are typically processed in two business days. Stripe integrates with a large number of apps and automatically syncs with QuickBooks and NetSuite. You can use the developer tools in Stripe Terminal and pre-certified card readers to build your own in-person checkout system.

Payment Depot: Best for large transaction amounts

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate, 15 cents per transaction is charged. This could be less depending on the plan selected.

Software: Plans starting at $79 per month.

Hardware: Free and up. Terminals and POS systems from Clover, Ingenico and other brands available for purchase.

  • Simple and transparent pricing model.

  • Custom plans are available.

  • Free virtual terminal.

  • Satisfaction guarantee with option for refund of membership fee.

  • Customer support is available 24/7.

  • Monthly membership fees.

  • A 20% restocking fee for returned terminals.

Why we like it: Payment Depot offers membership plans that give businesses access to wholesale interchange rates at a set fee per transaction. It’s an independent sales organization that handles merchant accounts for Wells Fargo Bank. You can get access to next-day deposits based on the membership plan you select. Support is available 24/7 through the bank. Payment Depot integrates with Shopify, OpenCart, QuickBooks, PrestaShop, Shift4Shop, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, Zen Cart, Revel, NCR and Authorize.net.

PaymentCloud: Best for high-risk businesses

Payment processing: Rates determined on a case-by-case basis.

Software: $10 and up monthly.

Hardware: A card reader and terminal included with the account. Mobile POS systems, terminals, POS registers, kitchen printers, kiosks and other devices can be purchased.

  • Specializes in high-risk merchant accounts.

  • Card reader and terminal included with account.

  • Cancellation fees are waived.

  • Free rate review and analysis.

  • 24/7 customer support.

  • Chargeback prevention tools.

  • Processing rates and hardware costs not available on the website.

  • Monthly volume limit may apply.

Why we like it: PaymentCloud specializes in services for high risk industries, although they also offer services to low and medium risk businesses. Payment processing is available for in-person, online, mobile, keyed and cryptocurrency transactions. It has over 10 banking relationships that can be used to secure a merchant account for your business. Next-day payment processing is offered as part of retail POS services. The platform integrates with QuickBooks and most shopping carts including BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify and Magento.

National Processing: Best for customized rates

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate, fees based on business type are charged. For example, 0.14% plus 7 cents per transaction for restaurants, 0.18% plus 10 cents per transaction for retail businesses and 0.29% plus 15 cents per transaction for e-commerce business are applied.

Software: $9.95 per month or more based on industry.

Hardware: A mobile reader is included with most plans at no additional cost. Based on the plan you select, a terminal and PIN pad may also be included. A large number of POS devices are available including Clover hardware.

  • Customized rates based on industry.

  • No monthly minimum fees.

  • High-risk payment processor.

  • 24/7 phone support.

  • Offers a virtual terminal.

  • Monthly fees.

  • Contract with possible early termination and restocking fees.

Why we like it: National Processing customizes its fees based on industry and risk. For example, the rate a restaurant pays is less than that of a retail organization. Also, processing services are offered for some high-risk businesses. You can expect to receive your funds in two days with an opportunity for next-day deposits. Phone support is available 24/7. Integrations are offered for popular business apps including QuickBooks, WooCommerce, Ecwid, Zendesk, BigCommerce, OpenCart and Shopify.

QuickBooks Payments: Best for QuickBooks loyalists

Payment processing: Pricing varies. QuickBooks Online users pay 2.4% plus 25 cents per in-person transactions; 3.4% plus 25 cents per keyed transactions; and 2.9% plus 25 cents for invoiced transactions.

Software: Free and up.

Hardware: A PIN pad costs $389 and a hardware bundle that includes a cash drawer, receipt printer, wired barcode and PIN pad is $900. Additional devices available.

  • No contract.

  • No cancellation fees.

  • Competitive pricing.

  • Instant deposits are available for an extra 1% fee.

  • Invoice formatting lets customers pay online.

  • QuickBooks Desktop users and new customers may pay higher fees.

  • 24/7 phone support is not available.

Why we like it: For loyal QuickBooks users, QuickBooks Payments can process online, in-person and invoiced transactions. Payment for the next business day is typically available when the cutoff time of 3 p.m. Pacific time is met. Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. QuickBooks Payments integrates with Shopify, Amazon, eBay, WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, Walmart and Etsy shopping carts.

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