Credit-Card Payments and Your Food Truck Business - dummies

Credit-Card Payments and Your Food Truck Business

By Richard Myrick

The basics of credit-card processing for your food truck sales are easy to grasp. Your first step is to select the right credit-card-processing company. You have no shortage of options here, so take your time to investigate what each one offers you.

Then compare prices in order to find the best plan for your mobile food business. After making your selection, you set up a merchant account with your company of choice, and you receive and set up the equipment needed to process credit-card payments.

The actual act of processing a credit-card payment is easy to comprehend as well. When a customer makes a purchase with his credit card, his credit-card company must approve the transaction. Thereafter, the money is electronically moved into your merchant account by your processing company.

The service or swipe fees are deducted and the balance is available to you. By logging into your account, you’re then able to transfer or withdraw these funds. It’s that simple.

As the mobile food industry continues to grow, so does the technology that allows mobile vendors to accept credit- or debit-card payments from their customers. While you have a number of credit-card-processing companies to choose from, Square and Intuit GoPayment are among the most popular in the food truck industry. Each offers slight variations in the plans it offers.

Both of these systems are easy to use and relatively inexpensive, but to determine whether you’re willing to use one of them (or any other credit-card-processing system), you must determine how much of each of your transactions you’re willing to share to use their service.

Square credit card reader

Square is the creation of Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter). The card reader is plugged directly into your smartphone’s audio jack, and software has been developed for both iPhone and Android products. It also runs on the iPad, which allows you to use its larger screen for payment processing.

With Square, both service setup and the card reader are free, and no contracts or monthly minimums are required. The service costs are on a per-transaction basis (2.75 percent plus $0.15 per swiped card and 3.5 percent plus $0.15 per keyed-in transaction).

One of the downsides to Square is that the service will only deposit up to $1,000 per week into your bank account; the rest is deposited in 30 days.

After you’ve been approved to accept payments, Square sends the card reader in the mail (if you want a spare, you can purchase another card reader from any Apple store). You need to download the free Square iPhone, iPad, or Android application.

From within these apps, you can specify whether you want to include a field for tips (by percent or dollar amount). The Square platform also offers a web-based business dashboard so you can view your transaction history in real-time or download it to your desktop.

After a card is swiped, you can either print out a receipt (the receipt printer isn’t part of the free service) for the customer or send one directly to an e-mail account that the customer provides.

Intuit GoPayment for credit card sales

Intuit GoPayment is the creation of Mophie and Intuit. Their platform comes as an all-in-one package, which is essentially an iPhone case with a card reader built into the bottom. These readers can be purchased at Apple Stores and online. Although the software for this system is available for a large selection of phones, this hardware is only compatible with iPhone 3G and 3GS.

The service is $12.95 per month (which is waived for the first two months), but you’re also charged 1.7 percent and $0.30 per swiped transaction and 2.7 percent and $0.30 per keyed transaction. There are no setup or cancellation fees, or monthly minimums.

After your account is activated, you can use the free iPhone app to manage your account and view all transactions through the Intuit Merchant Service Center.