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Before you rush out and sign up for a phone credit card processing service, consider the alternatives and figure out which option will work best for your company. To get a better idea of which mCommerce payment solution is best for you, consider these 5 questions:

Do I really need phone credit card processing?

The real question is, can you really afford to miss out on sales? If you sell products at trade shows or conventions, door-to-door services, in-home services, on-site services, or any product or service away from a retail location, the answer is a no-brainer. Sure there are online payment solutions and  wireless  credit card terminals, but neither option is as convenient or portable as using the device you already carry with you. With the right mobile credit card processing solution, you can accept credit cards anywhere.

What phone(s) do I already have?

Chances are you can use the phone you or your employees already have. There are mobile payment apps for all of the popular smartphones (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm, Windows Mobile), service providers (Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T) and networks (WiFi, Edge, 3G). Some phone credit card processing apps work with any Java ME enabled phone, or even any phone with internet access. But not every service supports every device or carrier, so you ll want to find the one that works with your existing hardware.

You always have your phone with you, and you don t have to lug around heavier (and more expensive) equipment. Another benefit of using your own phone(s)? You re not stuck with a clunky terminal for 5-10 years; you can upgrade your hardware any time you get a new phone!

Can I use my existing merchant account and/or payment gateway with phone credit card processing?

Most small businesses already have a merchant account and a payment gateway they work with to process credit cards online. Maybe you already have an account with PayPal, VeriFone or Authorize.Net and don t want to sign up for another. The best mobile credit card processing services will work with your existing merchant accounts and payment gateways.

Don t have a merchant account yet or are ready to try a new payment gateway? Most of the cell-phone credit card processing companies are more than happy to get you going with theirs, or have a few preferred providers to recommend.

How much business do I plan on doing?

When you sign up for an account to process credit cards on your phone, you ll be asked to estimate how much business you plan on generating through credit cards. It s important that you re realistic with your goals, both in number of transactions and credit amount.

You should really calculate these numbers before you sign up so that you can evaluate which per-transaction rates will work best for you. For every transaction, you ll likely pay a base authorization fee ($0.15-$0.30) plus an additional percentage. The rate will be higher (2.2%-3.5%) if you use the  card not present  (manually keyed in) rate, but if you use a Bluetooth swiper, you can take advantage of the lower  card-swiped  rates (1.7%-2.9%). Depending on the frequency and amount of transactions you process, investing in a Bluetooth card reader or swiper/printer combo can really save you quite a bit of money.

Which features and benefits are the most important to me?

One of the nice elements of using phone credit card processing is that there are several unique benefits and features that your phone makes possible. Utilize your built-in GPS to keep track of where you re doing the best business. Your customers can use a stylus or even their finger with your touchscreen phone to capture a signature. With the right app, you can even take care of sales tax, let customers add a tip, or email/text a digital receipt.

As you can see, there are several things you should consider before investing in a mobile credit card processing solution. But you don t have to look at each individual service to find out which one is right for your business. Check out our side-by-side comparison and comprehensive reviews of the best overall cell phone credit card processors and find the right combination of features and pricing. We ve reviewed the top contenders for mobile credit card processing, including Wireless ePay, Intuit GoPayment, Merchant Anywhere Pocket Verifier and more.

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