Summary of Options for Accepting Credit Card Payments
The QuickBooks merchant option would keep the processing of county council transactions within the county’s normal operating processes. The MU credit card terminal option is provided as a way to assist county councils who are dealing with particularly tight budgets who feel they are not able to incur the additional cost of doing business associated with adding credit card functionality make a step in that direction with very little cost.
The Quickbooks option uses a virtual Zon environment, which means that county office staff would enter payment information into an online system for processing. This approach was chosen as it has the lowest overall upfront costs. With the QuickBooks option, it is possible to purchase equipment that would allow for swiping of credit cards rather than data entry of the credit card number and expiration date. The credit card terminal option would allow staff to either swipe credit cards or enter card information manually.
Both options are simply methods to receive funds through the additional mode of credit cards. All the appropriate accounting and reporting requirements that apply to the current handling of funds received by cash and check will apply to these funds as well. (For example: taxable items, recording of receipts, handling of gifts, etc.) Security training is required for all staff who process credit card receipts, regardless of the option chosen, and policies, procedures, and training will be developed and delivered to cover appropriate handling of personal financial information, segregation of duties, QuickBooks data entry, and reconciliation. Annual security awareness trainings will be mandatory to complete for all office staff who will be accepting credit card payments on behalf of the county and counties accepting credit cards will be required to be compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) as set forth by University of Missouri Extension.
Option 1: QuickBooks Merchant
QuickBooks merchant is an add-on service to the current county accounting system. There are no setup fees with QuickBooks to offer this option.
A merchant ID will be required for each county. There are two options to choose from: either a pay-as-you-go plan or pay a set monthly fee for service. The set monthly fee is $19.95; this is the base fee for the service and there is no monthly minimum transaction fee for this plan. Transaction fee rates range anywhere from 1.75% to 3.4% per transaction, depending on which option you choose, but transaction fees accrue at a higher rate for the pay-as-you-go service. In addition to the transaction fee percentages, there is also a 25 cents per transaction fee associated with each usage for both options. Counties would need to have approximately $830 in sales to exceed the monthly fee of $19.95.
Revenues will be deposited directly into the council’s bank account within 48-72 hours of the transaction.
Transactions will be recorded in the county accounting system without the need for duplicate entries.
Option 2: MU Credit Card Terminal
Counties would participate under the one merchant ID for MU Extension. Monthly fees and minimums are met collectively by all those who make use of this option, thereby reducing the overall fees in comparison to the QuickBooks option. Counties would be responsible for transaction fees of approximately 2.5% of the transaction amount. If there are no charges, counties would not have any financial commitment.
By virtue of the fact that this option is working as one cooperative, the funds are distributed to just one account held by MU Extension. A payment voucher for each county will be processed on a monthly basis and the amount paid will be the total of transactions less the transaction fees. Refunds would be handled by the county office and all fees would be deducted from the transaction total for the month. For counties with transactions that amount to significant sums of money in any one month the timing of payments could be an issue.
Counties are encouraged to enroll in direct deposit with the University to facilitate faster receipt of funds.
Since this is a separate system there will be some minimal amount of duplicate entry of information in comparison to the QuickBooks option.