Dear M & M: I am not selling online. I know I need to. What should I look for in a credit card processing company? – Jack

Dear Jack: If COVID-19 taught us one thing, everyone needs to figure out a way to continue to do business 24 hours a day seven days a week selling online.

Service-based businesses as well as businesses selling products can do this. Online shopping carts, creating websites with compelling photos, having a call to action to enable a purchase seamlessly are all part of this.

How you are going to be paid is an integral part of all of this. Let’s start down this road with some things you should not do.

Every business has to accept credit/debit cards. Accepting this form of payment comes with processing fees. This makes payments easier for your customers while making every payment more expensive for you. Generally speaking, processing less than $3,000 a month, flat-rate service companies like PayPal or Square might be the best route.

Processing higher amounts, you would want to look into some full-service third-party credit card processing companies. Make sure you get at least three quotes on rates. Stay flexible and don’t sign any long-term contracts.

Be really cautious on purchasing any equipment. Leasing generally comes with paying a higher price in the end. There are many credit card companies out there; some better known are Vantiv, First Data and Wordplay.

Most banks offer credit card processing services. Make sure you do some comparison shopping. If your business is mobile, make sure you can process a payment on your mobile devices.

Before you make a choice, try calling customer service. Check it out for yourself. How friendly and helpful were they? How long did you wait on hold? How many times did you get transferred around?

Generating the sale takes a lot of work. Getting paid shouldn’t. You want to be certain you are paying a fair price to the company processing your payments. Get several quotes and don’t lock into any long term solutions.

ASK M&M is prepared and submitted by Mark Schmitt, director of the Small Business Development Center at Cochise College; and Mignonne Hollis, executive director at the Arizona Economic Development Foundation. To ask your questions: Call the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Cochise College (520) 515-5478 or email schmittm@cochise.edu or contact the Arizona Regional’ Economic Development Foundation at (520) 458-6948 or email hollism@aredf.org; www.aredf.org.