Accepting Credit Cards

Are you accepting credit cards or planning on doing so. This has been several years of trial and error and just when I thought I had it all figured out I learned something new. Let me share with you what I have learned.

All the different ways to have a merchant account:

Virtual terminal (online) – this usually means the card is not present and you are manually keying in a credit card or you have a shopping cart or purchase button on your website.

Mobile (phone, iPad/tablet or computer) – the Square, most merchant accounts will offer you a swiping device or PayPal type of accounts.

Card reader (card reader machine, magnetic swipe and now chip) – where you swipe the card and you can also manually key in the purchase. cardreader

Telephone – with almost all of these you can call in a charge at usually a higher rate.

Merchant fees

The state of California does not let you pass off the merchant fees to the customer. What you are allowed to do is offer a discount for paying by cash or check.

The most common credit cards are Visa and MasterCard. American Express recently sent me a notice that they were changing their fees to be the same as the fees for Visa and MasterCard.

There are two fee structures:

  • The percentage rate you are charged for each transaction and a transaction fee.
  • The merchant fees you are charge
  • The flat fee programs like Square or PayPal

Costco is a good example:

On Site & In Store = 1.38%    .19 each transaction (card swiped)

Online = 1.99%                        .25 each transaction

On-the-Go = 1.38%                 .19 each transaction (card swiped)

The cheapest rates you will get are for when you have the card present and swipe it. Costco does seem to have the cheapest rates. You pay $5.00 fee for your monthly statement and if you have the card present and swipe it you can have 1.38% rate and .19 per transaction.

12/10/16 – Update
I have recently experienced using Stripe as a merchant account. It only allows for a shopping cart on your website or mobile device and the use of a plugin to create the shopping cart. Though it does seem to have the lowest of merchant charges. 2.9% + .30 per transaction, no monthly fees and no PCI charges. Stripe to me is a bit confusing and does need a web developer to set up. They are constantly coming up with new platforms that may eliminate the need for plugins but I would encourage you to look closer and what it offers. 

I prefer to have the ability to place a purchase button on my website for workshops or groups. This is a virtual account. What I have learned is that if you want to swipe cards you should get a merchant account for that, you will get the best rates and fee structure. Then if you wanted to do virtual you can still log in and run credit cards, you can also use a card swiper (but you will be charged at your virtual account rate) and you can place purchase buttons or a shopping cart on your website.

Sounds clear but it gets more complicated.

There are 4 types of cards for the most part:  (this is just an example)

  • Basic Credit Card = Qualified Card @ a rate of 1.99%
  • Rewards Card or Business Cards = mid qualified @ rate of 2.65%
  • Corporate cards = non qualified @ 2.89%
  • International Cards = I didn’t use this but I think the rate was over 3%

I understand why merchants often want to switch to square or PayPal where you are charged 2.75% as a flat fee.  Fact checking the rate I see that Square is going to offer a chip reader. This may be the best way to go. What I still need to find out is can you swipe or chip the card as well as do online purchase buttons.

So far with all of the companies I have spoken with you would need a merchant account to use a card reader machine and a second account if you wanted it to be virtual. I can swipe cards with my virtual account but I will not benefit from the lower rates I get when the card is present. It all has to do with risk, they prefer you have the card present and now use a chip reader, second is card present and magnetic swipe and last is not having the card present and either manually keying in the charge or having them online with a shopping cart or purchase button.

Having the ability to log in and make the charges when I want to has been useful to me. I have many clients that will pay me at the end of the month and I can log in when it is convenient for me to run the charges. I like to do all my billing at one time. The marketing rule of thumb has been that the easier you make it for someone to sign up and pay for a workshop or group you increase your registration by 8%. I know if print out a form and plan to send a check or credit card information I might procrastinate and then not do it at all. So accepting credit cards has been helpful in my practice. Learning about the right merchant account has been a nightmare. A final example of the nightmare. When I was speaking with the account person, asking them to go over my account, I learned the rate charged could change by how much information I put on the form. I had noticed with Costco all they wanted was the card information and zip code. With the current service I use I put in credit card info as well as name, full address and email if the person wants an email receipt. I had no idea this made a difference apparently to MasterCard, Visa and American Express it does.

I hope that my research has been helpful and if I can help in any way developing your practice or accepting credit cards please contact me at

Licia Ginne




Technology Withdrawal and It’s Use in a Private Practice


First computer- Imagine trying to get this to sit on top of your desk.

It wasn’t until I was out of town, and the small town I was in had hit and miss WI-FI and cellular coverage that I went into technology withdrawal. I didn’t realize how much I relied upon these tools. I had planned on my vacation to make several business calls and to follow up on some projects but the irregularity of the service made the task frustrating and not worth it. I had experienced this before where I had gone on vacations and left all the technology behind this time I was not prepared and it woke me up to the limits of technology in how I practice and market my psychotherapy practice.

I am embarrassed to admit this but since I have left Los Angeles and now live in Santa Cruz, CA I am bit surprised at the amount of people who don’t use computers (compulsively). I think the surprise is more related to feeling of Silicon Valley being just over the hill.  I have been talking with a old high school buddy and her last computer crashed a while back and she is waiting to gather the funds to purchase a new one. I have been offering some advice and trying to help her out on how to purchase a computer.  But I am really not talking about the financial aspects I am talking about people who already have a computer but don’t use it very often.  My recent trip to Mendicino, CA also shed some light on what happens to me when my iphone and ipad can’t get access to anything! I started to go through technology withdrawal,  I missed having what we so fondly call the answer machine. Watching a movie ever wonder who that actor is or what other movies they were in, quick reach for the phone, ipad or computer and straight to for the answer. Last night I wasn’t sure if I could freeze roasted chili peppers another quick google to find the answer.

I am currently helping ICP the psychoanalytic institute I belong to strengthen their live streaming program. Now what this means is I helped to find a knowledgeable technician who could evaluate what we need and how to improve our sound quality. The institute offers many of its workshops to long distance participants over a program www., it is actually a very good program for an inexpensive price if you are looking to do live streaming You can use it free but for only 45 minutes at a time, great way to test it out. If you want more information about contemporary psychoanalysis and the programs they offer go to and on the events page you can join their email list and you will be notified of all the programs and most come with continuing education credits.  Working on this project always adds to my knowledge of computers and live streaming, Chris Killen has been helping us and he sent me over a short article on the first things to do when you open a computer, some great tips. I want to offer it to you here.

Also if you’d like to contact Chris for a consult here is his information:
Chris Killen
AMA Pro Racing/

Now how does this all tie into psychotherapy. I promised I would keep you informed of my progress as I continue to grow my psychotherapy practice here in Santa Cruz, and finding technology is as helpful as I’d like. I’ve also known marketing is not one tool its the use of many tools. Like all my consulting clients I too complain there is never enough time to get it all done and patience is required.  Every city has its own rhythm and Santa Cruz has always danced to its own drummer.  So as I have done over the years is to find the middle ground where I feel comfortable. It’s what I teach those that I work with on practice development. You have to push the boundary of comfort for yourself and for me that boundary is I tend to get a bit shy in groups and its hard for me to introduce myself where I don’t know anyone. So I have signed up to speak at the Santa Cruz CAMFT Chapter on Friday, September 12, 2014 on the clinical aspects of working with all types of addictions. I have found the Santa Cruz Psychoanalytic and Psychotherapy Society and look forward to attending and meeting more people. Building a network is so important and slowly I begin to create the network that I need, for people to know my work and me to know theirs. The process is slow and takes a support team, when it gets disappointing it helps to have someone offer support to get you back out there. The biggest lesson I learned is to make sure you are in a supportive environment where you feel comfortable. Now its finding that network.

Licia Ginne, MFT
Individual, Couples and Group Psychotherapy
Private Practice Development
831) 471-8647