Taking Charge

Which Credit Cards Should You Accept?

Once you've obtained merchant status, you can accept a variety of credit cards, depending on which are offered by your bank. Some banks issue their own cards, and others act as intermediaries between the credit-card companies and your business.

Different banks offer different cards. Most will likely offer Visa and MasterCard, because these are the cards most consumers have, Fazzini says. Many banks also offer Discover and American Express, but not all do.

Hogan accepts Visa and Master-Card; she doesn't accept others because they aren't offered by her bank.

The Blooms include Discover Card in their credit-card lineup because a customer requested it, Shelly says. All they had to do was ask their bank, which works with Discover; there was no extra cost.

Before you sign on with any bank, consider the costs carefully. If you don't anticipate many credit-card sales, it might not be worthwhile for you to pay the setup and monthly fees. If you're not sure the costs will benefit your business in the long run, call a few banks and find out what kinds of fees they charge. Be sure to call more than one, because fees vary and you won't have a set figure until you actually apply.

Accepting credit cards may not be for every business. But if yours is the kind of business where customers are likely to want the convenience, you're only cheating yourself if you don't give them what they want. Remember, your competition will.

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This article was originally published in the November 1997 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Taking Charge.

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