When you thought fast food prices were already cheap

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 14th, 2009

Are you a fast food lover?  There seems to be good news for you during a tough economy.  Some national chains are reducing their already low prices to encourage consumers to keep coming through the door and making the cash register ring.   For example, McDonalds is rolling out a dollar breakfast menu early next year and Burger King has already been advertising a $1 double cheeseburger.  These sort of items have been the dollar price range for over a decade or longer.   Honestly, I’m a little surprised as I thought their margins were already tight.  I assume they are hoping customers will buy other menu items that cost more and will make up for the slim profit margins.   If you are a fast food restaurant owner and are considering this approach, be sure to keep in mind all of your costs, including credit card processing fees. They can turn into a big percentage when dealing with very small purchase amounts. The bad thing is most consumers have no idea how much the restaurant is paying and if they did, I’m sure they would change their habits in some form or fashion.  It is probably because I work in this industry and know all to well what merchants pay, but I have always personally been a cash paying customer when paying small dollar amounts.

Be sure to give thanks to your vendors & customers

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 14th, 2009

I think now is a good time to look back at your success for 2009 and give thanks to all of your vendors and customers that helped play a part in it.  Without your vendors, you wouldn’t have any products to sell.  Without your customers, you wouldn’t have anyone to buy them.  I do not know about everyone else in the credit card processing industry, but us here at, we are very grateful. We are also looking forward to a prosperous 2010. The last few years have been tough on all businesses, including our industry. With some laws passing this year about consumer credit cards and all the talk or push for regulation from some merchants like 7 Eleven, we are glad and grateful nothing much has changed yet.  No one can predict the future, but as of right now, things seem to be looking on a more positive note.  Hopefully, 2010 will be a much better year for the economy as a whole.  So while you are spending time with your families this holiday season, give thanks and be glad your business survived another year in this tough economy.  If you are able to make it through this economy, think of what you will accomplish during a thriving economy!

An Internet site linking up apartment owners & renters

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 14th, 2009 is a site that is designed to reward renters if they pay their apartment complex electronically instead of a check.  Instead of writing a check, they can pay with their credit card and receive reward incentives from their credit card company.  Some of the consumers that used the service has stated that it is nice to receive rewards for a bill you must pay anyways.  It appears that they charge the consumers $9 to use the service, which is not great.  By paying a fee, I do not see how any rewards from your bank would be beneficial as the service fee is eliminating any benefits.

On top of charging the consumer, they charge the apartment owner a percentage while covering the credit card processing fees themselves. ClickPayRent’s CEO made the comment that they struggled for a long time trying to find the right credit card processor. He mentioned it required extensive negotiations to find a processor that wouldn’t charge too much. I’m guessing he hasn’t ever heard of or was told about Interchange plus pricing. One thing surprised me is he found a provider that would allow him to surcharge the transactions. Since they are not a government entity, they are not allowed to add a surcharge to their transactions. Since it is all credit card based and cash isn’t accepted, I’m not quite sure if this would still fall under that rule or not, but it is a very fine line in any event.

Open Mind Commerce Cart Review

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 14th, 2009

Today, I’m reviewing a relatively small shopping cart, called Open Mind.  It is another company based in the UK and is only being used by about 500 merchants, so it is very small compared to other carts.  You may be able to receive very personalized service though.  In 2004, they were building customized carts for their merchants.  A few years later, they decided to create a commercial platform that could be used by all of their clients.  The cart is licensed based but does include one year of free hosting.  You can also install it on any ColdFusion hosting server.  In regards to pricing, I think it is very steep, at $500 US dollars.

One of its strengths is it is the only commercial cart available designed specifically for the UK, according to Open Mind’s CEO.  US merchants could use the cart, but from what I can tell, it isn’t really suitable for them.  Getting support International maybe troublesome.  They do claim that the cart is fully PCI compliant.  It doesn’t give the merchants the ability to store the credit card processing data, which has its own downsides, but it is for the best. This seems to be a nice cart for a company located in the UK, but not a merchant in the USA.

When the small business turns to franchising

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 11th, 2009

Many small business owners are struggling today.  Some are working more than 60 hours a week.  One example is Nathan who built up his Sure Signs business for 18 years.  He was concerned with the level of involvement  he has on a daily business and what would happen if he would disappear.  His wife wouldn’t have a clue where to begin.  Nathan starting looking at franchises, Fastsigns in particular.   He took the plunged, invested $60K and reopened under the new name.  The following June, he has his best month ever.  Things have been slow during the fall, but Nathan said that was the best choice he has ever made.  Nathan recommends you do extensive research and once you make your decision and go with it, there is no turning back.  He also mentioned that since you are going with a big brand, that can come with some buying power when dealing with vendors, such as with your credit card processing companies. I do not know the details, but I’m sure franchisees like Subway have some unbelievable deals. I think merchants should also ask themselves, what kind of service will I receive for the kind of pricing I’m paying. It may be great pricing, but you may be telling yourself, “I got what I paid for.”

Amex is targeting young adults with responsible spending.

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 11th, 2009

Amex has been running a campaign recently targeting consumers that want to be more responsible with their credit card usage. Amex has always been known as a card that requires you to pay your ball in full, but do not incur interest charges and other bank related fees. That also means young people have never really been interested in them. That may have changed now. They introduced a card call the Zync Card. It comes with a small annual fee and consumers get to participate in their rewards program. The downside is not every merchant accepts Amex because Amex has always charged more in credit card processing fees. I personally do not see much of a benefit with Amex when you have Visa & MasterCard that give out as good or better rewards. Plus, V/MC are the default cards, every merchant accepts them if they are accepting any type of card, whereas Amex is a luxury. That is why most consumers that carry an Amex card, also have a V/MC as too many merchants do not accept their card. Times are definitely changing and who knows what we will see in 3 to 5 yrs from now.

Some consumers are earning frequent flier miles on the tax payer expense

Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 10th, 2009

What if I were to tell you that you could have earned frequent flier miles on your credit card for free?  Apparently the US Mint was offering free shipping on bulk orders of coins.  The consumers purchased the coins with their credit cad that gave them frequent flier miles.  They would then take the coins to the bank to pay off the credit card.  How much did it cost them?  Nothing, besides some time & effort, but they earned a total of two million miles!  It cost the mint and US tax payers around $6 to ship 500 coins and around $1 million worth of coins were shipped.  That would make it more than $12K in shipping costs as well as the credit card processing fees they incurred.  How much value is 2 million miles?  Around $40K!  It’s a good thing the US Mint has put an end to this as it shows you there are some people will take advantage of anything if given the opportunity.

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