Taking credit cards on the go

by Neil Moncrief on March 24, 2009

Lately, I’ve gotten a lot of requests from retail merchants who need to accept credit cards, but they don’t have traditional retail locations. Several were salespeople who needed to take orders (and payments) while traveling. A couple were contractors who wanted the ability to swipe customers’ cards on job sites (so they could get lower discount rates), but they also wanted a system that could perform double duty in their retail locations, too. One call was from a man who sells products at county fairs up and down the West Coast. The most unusual may have been the youth minister in Oklahoma whose church operates roadside fireworks stands. They wanted to accept credit cards at six locations. But because their fireworks stands are only open 2-3 months out of the year, they needed to avoid the cost of buying terminals.

I had the same solution for all of them – StarCharge from Orion Payment Systems. Unlike other processors who may require a merchant to purchase an expensive terminal before processing credit cards, this ingenious program by Orion utilizes equipment that most business owners have already – a laptop computer. If you attach a USB card reader (optional, available for about $50 online), the laptop will have the same functionality as expensive credit card terminals, without the limitations caused by telephone or network wires.

StarCharge allows mobile merchants to do business on their terms. When a merchant chooses to add a USB card reader, his swiped transactions qualify for the best “qualified” rates without requiring a phone line. Since the software works on any computer (including a laptop), the merchant is free to accept credit cards at his customers’ locations. He only needs an Internet connection to get instant, real-time authorizations. Most merchants connect wirelessly via Wi-Fi or a wireless Internet card (available through their cellular provider), but a wired connection works fine, too.

The service technicians at Orion will walk you through the process of installing StarCharge on your computer(s), both the in-store PC and/or laptop. In fact, they are happy to help install StarCharge on multiple computers at no extra charge. This means you can arm each of your sales reps with StarCharge, enabling them to accept payments on-the-spot and without paying expensive downgrades. And obtaining real-time authorizations gives you the confidence to know you’ll get paid. Never again will you return to the office to process stored transactions, only to find that a customer paid you with a card that was no good.

You might expect to pay a lot for all the benefits offered by StarCharge, but you’d be wrong.  In fact, you get everything I’ve described for less than half the price of a traditional credit card terminal! Here’s the breakdown:

  • $50.00 to purchase the StarCharge software
  • $25 for activation and training (no extra charge for multiple computers)
  • $5/month (in addition to your regular monthly statement fee)
  • $.03/transaction (in addition to your regular transaction fee.)

I’m happy to provide this information free of charge.  If you found it helpful, please subscribe to my RSS feed so you’ll be notified of future posts.  You can also follow me on Twitter, where I regularly post short tips.  I promise to never spam you or pressure you.  Please forward this to your friends in business, and feel free to rate my post or leave a comment so I’ll know how to improve. Thanks!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Brandon Eley July 18, 2009 at 9:13 am

If you are an e-commerce website and use the Authorize.net payment processor, and have an iPhone, you can use one of the programs below to process cards directly from your iPhone:

Credit Card Terminal


iSwipe Credit Card Terminal

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: