A Lesson Learned From the Olympics: If you’re MasterCard, it’s Priceless…

Who wants to go to the Olympics?

Let’s all go to the Olympics! And let’s go buy things while we’re there: Like food, and drink, and beer, and souvenirs, and fun flags to wave about when we cheer our country!

And when we finish waiting in the long lines and picking our overpriced selections, let’s hand over our hard earned cash to make the payment… oh, wait. Not cash. We’re modern-day travelers; we don’t use cash, so we travel with our credit cards. And which piece of plastic have we got on hand? Well, some of us have MasterCard. Some have American Express. Some of us have a Visa. And at the Olympics, those some of us were the lucky ones.

This week, Google Wallet announced they will now be accepting multiple credit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, as athletes fought for gold on Day 10 of the Olympic Games in London, visitors were confused and irate over the lack of payment processing options at the sporting facility. It turns out that competitive agreements meant that no one but McDonald’s can sell French fries in the venue, no one but Coca Cola can sell carbonated drinks – and no one but Visa can facilitate credit card payments, meaning many customers showed up with wallets that may as well have been empty.
As this piece in Business Insider points out, even customers with multiple credit cards prefer to have a choice, due to the varying rates for transactions on different cards – particularly when the transactions are foreign, as is the case with many Olympic visitors. Add to the fact that thousands of others only possessed cards that weren’t Visa, and we’re left with a branding problem for not only the Olympics, but Visa too. All the while MasterCard, Discover and AMEX are laughing at the whole debacle.

Accepting multiple credit cards is a key feature that all businesses (including the gosh darn Olympics) should offer. While credit card swiping fees may vary across the major credit cards, being open to a variety rather than sticking with one will benefit your customers – and you – in more ways than one:

If you’re MasterCard, it’s Priceless…

1. Make it easier for your customers to pay you.

It seems obvious, but the more options you give your customers to pay you, the likelier you are to get that payment – and get it faster. That’s why at E-Complish, we enable you to take payments from customers via credit card, debit card, check and ACH, but it’s still easy for you to process via the one portal with VirtualPay. Cash only small businesses miss out on transactions when customers aren’t equipped with cash at the time, and businesses accepting only one credit card type without others (due to perceived costs) is only putting themselves at risk of missing out on a hefty sale from say an American Express cardholder.

2. Empower your customers by giving them a choice.

Many Americans hold multiple credit cards, but that doesn’t mean they are readily interchangeable. With a variety of interest rates and fees depending on the purchase made, the time of the month, and if it’s foreign or not, customers often prefer to select which card is best for their pocket at the time. Don’t force that decision on them: Let them make it themselves, and they will be eternally grateful.

3. Differentiate yourself from the competition.

Show yourself as being ahead of your customers by exceptional customer service on top of your high-quality product or service. Enabling your customers to pay with their preferred Diners Club or Discover Card may incur some fees, but it will keep them loyal to you – and selecting you above your competitors.

4. Enable a transaction that wouldn’t otherwise be made.

Don’t miss out on the chance to make a sale by denying your customer’s shiny American Express card because “We only take Visa or MasterCard”. The same goes for a personal check. Installing systems such as CheckVerify and the E-Complish Fraud Detection Suite enables you to check immediately if funds are unavailable, accepting even obscure or costly methods of payment that could have you missing out on a sale.

5. Take advantage of small business offers.

American Express small business offers helps you get customers in the door by offering them a cashback discount by shopping on certain days. Other credit card providers incentivize customers to patronize certain stores or spend money in certain industries with similar cashback or bonus points options. Use this to your advantage, and get customers through the door!

6. Allow customers to earn a variety of rewards points.

The primary reason for multiple-card toting Americans is the variety of benefits and reward points available. Let your customers use their cards that will get them a vacation in the Bahamas, and who knows, you might be the one they call on to outfit them with all the goods and gear they need for the trip! Just another aspect of making customers happy that will benefit your business, in the long run.

7. You can still encourage the use of one credit card over the other: Just leave all options open.

Businesses can team up with live events for sponsorship without inconveniencing other customers – simply highlighting the benefits by providing perks to their existing customers, or new sign-ups. For example, at the US Open Tennis Tournament, American Express cardholders are offered a free radio headset when they enter the grounds. At the Australian Open in Melbourne, MasterCard holders are invited to step through a shorter line to enter the grounds. Many event companies offer pre-sales to specified credit card holders – but they still let the others in through the door!

Don’t be scared off by the fees of one credit card provider over another. View your credit card processing fees across the board and compare them to the increased revenue and brand loyalty you’ve generated.
Bottom line, learn from the Olympics and how not to accept payments…now that’s priceless.