Unlike one finds in so many industries, the window tint profession is more of a community than a competition. Tinters from shops across town, across the state, and across the nation stay in close touch, exchanging information about the latest tint technologies and installation techniques, about new products, new marketing initiatives, and discussing tradeshows and events.
While communication about products, practices, and other day-to-day topics is common in the window tinting industry, tinters often have infrequently addressed questions about business practices, regulations, and other behind-the-scenes issues.
One of the most common questions is what credit card processor do window tint companies use.
Knowing which credit card processing company other window tinting businesses use can help you choose the right credit card processor for your tint shop.
Knowing why a given credit card processor is a good choice for your window tint business is even more important. And more often than not, the matter simply comes down to cost.
Popular Window Tint Business Credit Card Processors
The five most common credit card processing companies window tint businesses use are Helcim, Quickbooks Online, FreshBooks, Square, and PayPal. All five of these credit care companies are reliable, efficient, and a fine choice for a window tinter to use. But taking a closer look at the rates each company charges and the services offered can help you select the right credit card company for your shop.
Credit Card Processing Companies – The Quick Breakdown
Helcim charges seven cents for every credit card transaction plus an average transaction rate of 1.65% of the total sale. That’s a competitive figure overall, but it’s not the whole story. If your mid-sized shop makes an average of $1700 daily and is open six days a week, you can assume monthly revenues of a little over $40,000. At that rate, Helcim will charge an average of 1.7% per sale. A smaller shop making less than $25,000 monthly is charged even more, at 1.73%, while once dealing with monthly revenue over $100k, a larger shop sees its rates closer to 1.6% and falling as the revenues (and average sale size) goes up.
Quickbooks Online charges a relatively low average transaction fee of 1.6% total sale price, but that rate is reserved for companies that use a monthly payment plan; non monthly plan users face a notably higher 2.4% fee. However, QuickBooks Online monthly membership plans are affordable, starting at around $20 a month for their most basic plan and costing only about $60 monthly for the advanced option.
FreshBooks charges higher transaction fees than most of its counterparts, with a 30 cent charge per sale and rates of 2.9% for Visa, Discover, and MasterCard charges and 3.5% for American Express credit card charges. That said, the company has no monthly or setup fees, so you will only incur charges from FreshBooks when you make a sale.
Square’s transaction fees are on the higher end (though lower than FreshBooks) with the average rate of 2.5% charged per sale, plus ten cents charged for each transaction. Their rates are higher depending on how payments are collected, with register sales being the lowest priced, while Square Reader payments collected via mobile device, for example, are charged at 2.75%. There are no additional fees.
PayPal’s credit card processing fees operate on a sliding scale. For most sales, such as those under about $2500, they charge as much as 2.9% of total sale price plus a 30 cent flat fee. Above $10,000, and the rate drops to 2.7%. And for larger sales, such as one might see with a vehicle fleet tinting job or for a major tint project at a residence or commercial location, rates can drop below 2%.
So Which Credit Card Processor Is Right for Your Window Tint Business?
When choosing the right credit card processor for your tint shop, first consider sales frequency and average monthly revenues, and then consider how your customers usually prefer to pay in the first place. If your shop does more than $100K each month, Helcim is a great choice, as their rates fall the more your revenues rise. This is, of course, assuming most of your clients use plastic to pay.
QuickBooks Online is a good choice for the tinting company with steady business that is often conducted using credit cards, as that can help justify paying a monthly fee, said fee being requisite to get the processor’s lower rate.
FreshBooks is not the most competitive company in terms of rates, but because they charge no fees for setup or monthly membership, they are a great choice for the window tint company that does most of its business in cash but that wants to be ready to accept plastic should some customers prefer to pay that way.
Square’s rates are neither the highest nor lowest, and they charge no fees beyond the transaction fee. What makes them a good option is their flexibility of payment acceptance. A tint shop can set up a regular in-store register or can accept payments via mobile phone using a Square Reader, so for the shop that offers both in-house and mobile tinting services, they are a good choice.
Finally, PayPal is not the best choice for smaller window tint shops or for those that handle plenty of sales volume but modest per-sale pricing. For shops that handle larger projects, such as major residential or commercial tinting, their fee structure is much more desirable, as large sales are charged lower rates.
Selecting the best credit card processor for window tinting shops is a decision each business owner must make after considering his or her own business’s sales and customers. There’s another question many tinters wonder about when it comes to credit card processing that’s more universal, however…
Can You Charge Your Customers MORE for Using Credit Cards?
The short answer is yes, a retail business like a window tint company can charge customers more for using a credit card than cash or debit. That is the case legally, anyway. While a handful of states have laws barring companies from charging more for plastic (those are, at last check, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas), in most states it is perfectly legal to issue a surcharge for credit card use.
The law simply stipulates that credit card surcharge fees are disclosed to the customer prior to completion of any sale, that the customer’s receipt clearly display the additional charge, and that the credit card surcharge does not exceed the fee the retailer itself is charged by its card processor nor can it exceed four percent of the total sale price should said fee be higher. (Which would be a terrible rate, of course!)
You May Still NOT BE ALLOWED To Charge a Credit Card Fee
Now, that said, you may still not be allowed to charge a credit card fee, but not based on the law, but rather on your agreement with the credit card companies themselves. Before you charge fees, take the time to carefully read through your contract, and consult with the company directly with questions of you have them. A breached agreement, whether done so inadvertently or with intention, could result in you losing the ability to accept credit cards, and that could cut much more deeply into your profits than simply absorbing some transaction fees.
(And while it is legal to set a minimum rate for credit card acceptance, the most common minimum is just $10, so few tinting companies will find this relevant.)
Should You Charge Window Tint Customers Extra If They Use a Credit Card?
Once you know you are legally allowed to charge credit card fees based on state laws and contractually allowed to do so based on your own business’s arrangements with the credit companies, there comes the question of whether you should. Will you make more money by steering customers to cash payments, or lose out by losing the business of those who insist on using plastic?
The answer is a case-by-case business that must be made informed by knowledge of your own customers. But one idea is to take a different approach and, instead of charging a bit more for credit card use, charging a bit less for cash. Offering discounts for cash payments can incentivize a customer who might otherwise be set on the benefits offered by their credit card.
You can also always simply raise your prices slightly to factor in the costs of credit cards, but if you choose to do so, note that repeat customers may notice.