As a parking facility operator, you need to be able to accept payments through credit cards
like American Express, Visa, and
Mastercard. But that means you need to hire a credit card processing company. There are an overwhelming array of choices for providers of credit card processing and payment gateway services, and it can be hard to figure out where to start.
Since the company you choose for your credit and debit card payments will be a long-term partner, you want to pick carefully. To help, we put together this guide to the features you want to look for, and what factors you want to consider to make the right choice for your parking facility’s needs.
What to Look for in Choosing a Credit Card Processor
When you’re choosing a credit card processor, here are some things to look out for:
Credit card processing companies need to have top of the line security, and PCI compliance is one way to ensure they’re up to modern standards. PCI, also known as PCI-DSS, refers to a set of international standards to ensure that payment processors are up
to snuff. Many credit card providers require merchant services companies to adhere to these standards.
Regardless of PCI, however, these payment providers know they need top-notch security in order to stay in business. PCI compliance comes with increased fees for merchants, as it costs time and money to enforce the standards and certify that all companies are in line.
tells you exactly how your information is secured, so you have peace of mind that the industry-leading security practices are in force to protect you and your customers. As competition heats up, however, more and more credit card processing companies are doing away with PCI fees entirely. With or without PCI fees, make sure you do a deep dive into the security practices of any company you’re considering.
This leads us to our next big thing to look for in choosing a credit card processor.
New security features, such as tokenization, provide new ways to guard against fraudulent activity. Tokenization allows for secure
transactions regardless of the currency types and payment methods being used. It converts payments into a secure token by turning sensitive payment data into a string of numbers that can’t be deciphered by hackers.
In addition to securing payments, tokenization can also help shield your business from liability. With the rise of online payments and purely digital payment methods, security breach liability is a more important concern than ever.
When researching payment processing companies for parking
facilities, always look into what kind of reporting they offer. Detailed reporting allows you to track your transactions and make operational and marketing decisions.
Different tools allow you to view trends over time, peak business hours, and other important information with the click of a button.
Different payment companies offer different reporting software, however, so find one that has all the features you need as a parking operator.
Integrated payments allow you to get paid faster after a transaction completes. They use software to automatically post payments both to your accounts receivable and to a general ledger. Both are features of most modern credit card processing systems.
Semi-integrated solutions have to do with EMV compliance. EMV refers to the small microchip in credit and debit cards. Merchants now need to have equipment capable of reading these computer chips. They are slated to eventually phase out magnetic stripe cards
Semi-integrated solutions are credit card terminals that accept EMV payments. These terminals store data, so data is never sent to a POS system. What this means is that merchants aren’t required to store any sensitive data, greatly reducing the likelihood of a hack or data breach.
In addition to being less risky, semi-integrated solutions can save merchants time and money…especially if a major data breach
is avoided. EMV, or “chip cards,” also provide customers with contactless payments. This means the chip doesn’t need to touch anything to be read. This reduces wear and tear, saving money for customers and banks as well.
Which Factors Influence Which Processor is Best for My Parking Company?
With so many factors to consider, how can you figure out which credit card processing company offers all the features you need? Here is how to assess how the different factors should influence your decision:
Pricing isn’t just a matter of how much something will cost…you have to take into account what value
you will be getting for the money spent. One company might look more expensive, but have more robust security or better customer service. This is why you need to take all factors into account. Make sure the features included are ones that you specifically need to process payments as the owner of a parking business.
Make sure you look at fees closely, as with interchange rates and other factors, fee structures can be complex. See if there are minimums and maximums on fees. If you get the sense that a company’s fee structure is too difficult to understand, they may not be the right choice for your business.
Look out for “convenience fees,” late fees, and other potentially vague charges. Some companies offer an easy to understand flat rate with per-transaction fees, while others use a different model.
On the same note, some payment processors are very flexible, while others lock you into a long-term contract with steep cancellation fees. Make sure you read contracts carefully, and fully understand the policy for cancellations, refunds, and other fee issues. Determine what you want ahead of time, and try to match those terms with whatever contract you sign. Also sign up for recurring payments so that your billing process is automated.
Sometimes, what separates a good payment processing partner from a great one is superb customer service. Make sure you choose a provider with 24/7 customer service, so that help is there when you need it.
This is even more important if you run a 24-hour parking facility, but even if you don’t, issues can still occur outside of normal operating hours. When they do, you want to be able to address them right away to minimize lost revenue.
Integration with your existing hardware, software, and other systems is extremely important—after all, what good is a payment processing partner if their equipment isn’t compatible with your operating system? Do you want a system that automatically
charges parking violations when necessary, and will such a system work within your existing equipment setup? Think about how everything will fit together.
Full integration of a payment processing system may require you to update servers, operating systems, routers, gateways, or other equipment. This might cost you nothing, or it might cost tens of thousands of dollars, so make sure integration will be smooth and easy, without the need for costly upgrades to hardware or software.
Choosing a credit card processing partner is a big decision with a lot of factors to consider. This is a company you will be working with every day, on every single transaction you process, so you want to make sure the choice is right. At the end of the day, it all depends on what kind of facility you own: if you own a parking lot with parking meters, your needs may be different than a multi-floor parking facility that accommodates hundreds of motor vehicles.
Remember that credit and debit cards are only the beginning. Research if your customers want to be able to use mobile payments through their mobile devices, as many payment processing providers offer a variety of payment types that go beyond the physical payment card. You want to offer as good a customer experience as possible, which means providing many different payment options.
With these factors in mind, you can make the right decision for your company, and hopefully find a long-term partner you can scale with as you grow your business.