How to Choose the Right Merchant Bank for your Business

merchant-bank-card-readerIf your small business deals directly with retail customers, you need to be set up to accept card payments. Unfortunately, this isn’t simple. Confusing terminology, rules and fee structures mean that if you don’t understand what you’re doing, you’ll end up paying much more than you should.  It doesn’t make sense to simply choose whatever merchant bank other businesses that you know, use. They could easily be making a mistake, as well. You need to do our own groundwork.

Understand swipe or interchange fees
Each time a customer swipes a card on your card machine, the merchant bank processing the transaction charges you a swipe fee or interchange fee. Merchant banks have for long been criticized for overcharging merchants in this area. While the Durbin Agreement attempted to limit what merchant banks could charge, it was poorly designed legislation that actually ended up allowing merchant banks to charge retailers more on small transactions.

It’s important that you compare the fee structure across different banks for the smaller transactions.

Buy your own card processing terminal
Card processing terminals are cheap devices that cost no more than a couple of hundred dollars. Leasing a processing terminal from a merchant provider, though, could cost as much as $50. It makes no sense to lease when you can buy for so little.

Don’t fall for the bait-and-switch
Many credit card processors will offer attractive low interchange fees for the first few months, and then switch to an expensive, regular plan afterwards. It’s important to look at the long-term costs of any deal. If there is low rate on offer, you want to make sure how long it lasts.

Make sure that all your systems talk to one another
Your online card processing terminal needs to be able to communicate with your sales tax program and accounting program, among other things. It isn’t a given that it will. You need to carefully go through information available about inter-operability with all of your software.

The contract is important
Merchant account contracts are usually not boilerplate that you can skim over. Every contract is different, and can include information about fees and charges that cost you significantly. It’s up to you to go over the fine print carefully, and to understand. There could be special fees, different fee tiers for higher sales levels. You want to understand your contract.

Try to combine services
Your own bank, the one where you get your business credit cards and banking needs met, will possibly be your first choice when you go around looking for a merchant account. While you should shop around, it does make sense to combine services where possible. You could get discounted services.

Look for responsive customer support
Sensitive customer support is an essential. It can be hard to understand card processing when you’re starting out. When problems crop up from time to time, you’ll need help.

Escape Your Debt – The Checklist

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Debt can build up fast and can get out of control before you know it. People in Arizona may not typically have as much debt as some areas, but it’s still a problem that can delay your dreams of financial independence, and disable you from achieving many life goals. All is not lost. This checklist will enable you to escape debt. Following this checklist will enable you to get out from under debt and move on to achieve your life goals.

First, get in control. This means stop acquiring new debt and get a handle on the debt that you have. Make every effort to lower monthly mortgage payments, car payments, and all other types of expenses. You may want to look into a mortgage refinancing company. “Stop acquiring new debt” means stop using credit cards, lines of credit, or any other loan. This includes student loans, car loans, or personal loans. Stopping taking on new debt is the best way to stop the bleeding before you start to fix the problem. Getting in control also means getting a handle on the debt that you have. Get a list of all your debts and the interest rates on each. This will help you when deciding which debts to pay off first.

Next, pay off the debt you have. Paying off your debt is the only way to get out from under it. There are two ways of thinking when it comes to paying off debt. First is the snowball method. In this method, you throw all available money at the debt with the smallest balance. After that is paid off, you throw all that same money at the second smallest balance. This allows you to have the satisfactions of paying off debts one at a time, which is very gratifying. The second method is the control interest method. Here, you figure out which loan has the highest interest and put all your money towards it. This eliminates the evil of compounding interest, which can really drive up debts. Soon, you will have all your debts paid off.

The next step is to live frugally and save. Saving is essential to getting out and staying out of debt. Saving an emergency fund is essential in case you lose your job and have to look for work. An emergency fund allows you to not go into debt if you lose your job. After you build an emergency fund, you can save other money for retirement or big ticket purchases like a home. Living frugally is a great way to stay out and get out of debt. If you live frugally you can dedicate more money to paying off debt or saving. Try packing your lunch or not driving so much.

With this checklist, anyone can escape debt. Enjoy your future and achieve your financial dreams.

How to Pick the Right Auto Insurance For Your Car

auto insurance quotes in League City TX

Choosing the right insurance for your car can be a hair-pulling ordeal. There are deductibles,  quotes, comprehension, collision, medical payments, and on, and on, and on. Some insurance agents seem to be more like salesmen trying to sell you everything they have instead of just what you need. The trick is to know just what you need and also what you don’t need. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for car insurance.

​Understanding your state’s laws for auto insurance is the first step. Different states have different minimum requirements and you should check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles in League City, Texas to be sure of your state’s minimum requirements. Once you have done this, you should ask yourself a few questions before calling an agent. What type of vehicle are you insuring? How many drivers will you need to insure and what are their ages? How many moving violations has each driver received? Is your car paid in full or are you still making payments? How many miles do you drive on an annual basis? Do you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance that you can combine for a possible discount? These are some of the questions that can help you to make the right determination as to what you need in your car insurance.

Knowing the car insurance language is the next step in getting the right insurance. When you speak to an agent for a quote, be sure to ask him or her exactly what their company defines as comprehensive and what is covered under collision. Ask them to explain their uninsured motorist policy to you. Beware of extras that you might not need or may even have under another service, such as roadside assistance being on your cell phone bill, or medical bills being covered by your health insurance plan. Also, ask them about any discounts that they may offer. Some insurance companies offer discounts such as a good driver discount or good grade discount for younger drivers. Be sure to take advantage of any offer that applies to you.

​Having a car insurance company that you can trust to take care of you when you need it is also very important. Speak with family members and friends about their experiences with their own car insurance companies and if they would recommend that company or not. Try an internet search to see what customers think about their insurance companies. Some companies have a reputation for great customer service and quick claim response while others may be the nightmare that you didn’t want so be sure to get more than one opinion on the companies that you are considering.

​Getting the best car insurance for the best price can be a little tricky sometimes, but going into it with a good understanding of what you need and want, and what you don’t need and don’t want, can make the whole process much smoother.

Can You Purchase a Home in the Current Economy?

Purchasing homes in the current economy can be difficult for many families in America. These are some ways to know if you will possibly be able to purchase a home in the current economy. The first and most important factor is your income and credit score. You should get your credit score before even considering going to look at houses and try to improve your credit score as much as possible. By improving your credit score, buyers and your banking institution will be more likely to approve you for the home that you want. Although income does significantly matter, the amount of money you make is correlated to the value of the home that you want. If you are looking for a small home, or a large heritage home, whether in Los Angeles, New York, or even in a place like Franklin, Tennessee, your income could be drastically different and acceptable from people who are searching for a four or five bedroom home.

After considering these factors, you can apply to lenders a few weeks before even going to look at a new home. By applying to several different lenders, you may get pre approved to buy a home. Also, you will now know what you can afford as well as what you can get approved for. Another plus side to going through the lending process and becoming pre approved is that it gives you an advantage over other possible buyers. Because you are already guaranteed to afford the home and get approved for the lending process, buyers will be more likely to consider your offer first.

Another method to determine whether or not you can buy a home in today’s economy is to realistically envision how much you can afford, and actually want to, put down on a home. You should also consider how much you could afford your monthly payments to be. It is a rule of thumb that 28% of your income should cover your housing expenses, which include the mortgage and other factors, such as electricity.

Additionally, you could check with your banking agencies and/or local government and see if you qualify for a first home buyer’s program. These programs offer an advantage to new buyers because they include lower down payments as well as lower interest rates, which will save you a ton of money and make your home much more affordable in the long run. If you are on the verge of being able to comfortable afford a home, the first home buyer’s program can definitely push you past the point and allow you to afford a home.


Are Luxury Homes Really Out of Your Price Range?

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If you are getting ready to purchase a new home but are worried about your options, you are going to want to read further. Some people have found that they have the desire for a luxury home, but their belief that they cannot afford it sends them off into another direction. However, you might be able to afford more real estate than you once thought in places like Springfield, MO.

Think about the repairs you might have to do on a “run down” property. Sure, your mortgage payments will be smaller, but how much money do you think you might have to spend every single month on repairs, updates, and random improvements? Most likely, you are going to find that the additional money that is spent every month could be applied to the mortgage payment of a luxury home. Therefore, if you can afford to fix a place up, you should be able to afford something that is already everything you need for it to be.

Another thing to consider is the atmosphere for your family. When thinking in terms of what you can afford, what you need to consider is whether you can really afford to send your children to play in a neighborhood that you are not comfortable in. If you purchase in a peaceful neighborhood, you will find that you are going to be much more relaxed when it comes to sending your children off to play outside. Some of these luxury options might even come with more suitable yards and play sets already in place for your children.

You might also want to look  for the residences that were turned into luxury homes after a complete renovation. These homes might just end up costing a little less money because they were not originally built with luxury in mind and might be in a less expensive neighborhood. A previous owner that simply wanted to live a better life and therefore made the appropriate upgrades are what you need to look for.

As you can see, you might just be able to afford a luxury home after all. It is important to make sure that you are doing all that you can to keep a list of the luxury aspects that you will not want to live without. This way, when you are searching for the perfect house, you will not have to worry about missing out on the things that are most important to you.


Choosing the Right Divorce Lawyer Can Save Your Finances

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Don’t let choosing a divorce attorney add more stress to your life. There are some simple things to keep in mind when choosing a divorce attorney. When choosing the right divorce lawyer you want to ensure that you not only have someone dependable, but knowledgeable as well. Researching the attorney before you choose, getting an attorney with good recommendations, and making sure you can afford the costs are some simple things you can do; to make sure you select the right attorney. First, makes sure you are prepared for anything that may come up. If you think your spouse is cheating, then hiring a private investigator like Martinelli Investigations in Atlanta, GA may help you give your lawyer some ammunition in the court proceedings and to help protect you from any lies.

You will be tied to your attorney throughout the divorce procedures. Therefore, it is imperative that you can get along with your attorney. Before selecting the attorney speak with them beforehand. Interview the attorney in person or over the phone and find out if your personalities and schedules are compatible. Ask him about past experiences; both successes and failures. Pay attention their professionalism, as this is a good indication of their future performance.

Hiring an attorney with good recommendations is perhaps one of the most important things you can do. Ask friends and family if anyone has gone through a divorce recently that could offer some advice on attorneys. Online reviews are an excellent way to see what people think about attorneys in local areas. Read the reviews to get insight how the attorney performed with past clients. Pay attention to the prospective lawyers credentials. Most lawyers have an online presence that show certifications as well as associated organizations. Check to see if any of these organizations fit into your specific needs.

Affordability is also a key factor when choosing the right lawyer. Depending on your specific needs and the time involved attorney fees can become quite costly. Speak with your attorney and make sure that you understand all the costs involved. Ask for a preliminary guess on costs involved. Asks if other costs and fees are involved in addition to his time. Beware that some attorneys charge fees for items such as: photocopies, travel time, and emails. Knowing fees and charges in advance can help prevent additional complications. Keep in mind that most attorneys charge large fees if you want to make changes to the original paperwork.

Remembering that you will have to work closely with the lawyer you choose. You should feel comfortable with the attorney you choose and confident in his abilities. Speaking with the attorney beforehand and choosing an attorney with good recommendations is a great start in getting the right one for the job. Keep in mind that attorneys are expensive and often times charge a lot of hidden fees. Having the attorney disclose all the costs involved can prevent overly large legal bills. If you are looking for a good divorce attorney then you have enough stress already. Understanding these simple yet important aspects when choosing a lawyer can greatly improve your chances of finding the perfect divorce attorney.

Tips For First Time Home Buyers in Oshkosh, WI

Making your first big real estate purchase can be both nerve-racking and exciting. No matter what it is it will be affecting your pocket book, so it’s wise to stay collected while making your decisions. In many cases the people showing the item you are looking to purchase will most likely see or know ahead of time that you are a first time buyer. This will pass you off to be gullible and easily sold. It is up to you to keep your reputation up to prove you are not an easy sale simply because you are a first time buyer.

Oshkosh WI real estate
Stay aware of your options before making any final decisions. Depending on how comfortable you feel with taking a large step alone, it may be best to do research ahead of time or bring a real estate agent who has previously purchased property of equal quality so they may help lead you in a stable direction. Know what you’re looking for. It’s never wise to simply take other people’s opinions if you do not have any knowledge on the subject. Do your homework before you throw yourself into such a situation, or consider reaching out for a real estate agent based on your area. It wouldn’t make sense to search for a real estate agent in Appleton, WI if you’re already searching for a home in a neighboring community such as Oshkosh, WI. And always be mindful of the market; you don’t want to go search for a house when it’s about to change from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.

There are also upsides to being a first time buyer other then getting special treatment from the sales person. In many cases there are incentives to buying for the first time such as first time buyer discounts or first time buyer trade offers. These discounts should be thought highly of and used to their fullest extent. If you do not feel you are getting close enough to your offer or preferred interest rate, look around because differing offers are often limited. The company or bank may avoid releasing this information if you do not request due to the fact it simply means less money for them in the long run.

As a first time buyer you have many options to increase your success rates in the outcome of the product. It all depends on who you go with and how you attack the situation. Go in stronger and knowledgeable and they will have no choice but to give you the deal you deserve at the right cost. Remember not to show the fact you are a first time buyer and to stand behind what you want out of the deal. If one person cannot give you the deal you’re looking for, there are always other options out there.


Why Appleton, WI is a Great Investment for Your Future

appleton homes

If you’re in the market for a new real estate investment, then Midwestern suburbs aren’t a bad place to look. Let’s look at one city in particular though, Appleton, WI. It has been recently deemed one the most affordable places to live. Appleton is known to be one of the safest cities in Wisconsin and boasts of a very low unemployment rate. For those who residents who opt to live without a car, the city offers an impressive public transportation system.

There are over 100 restaurants, shops and bars, which make for a vibrant scene in downtown Appleton. The outlying area neighborhoods feature many walking trails and parks, which extend to the adjacent Fox Cities region. Appleton home prices are roughly 20 percent below the national average. Typically, an Appleton resident spends less than 30 percent of their income on housing costs and about 18 percent on transportation costs.

Whether you’re looking for a real estate investment property, or just a nice place to relocate your family, Appleton and communities like it provide an excellent opportunity.