If you’re an FFL and you’re looking to accept credit cards as payment for firearm transactions, you have probably already found out how hard it is to find a credit card processing company that will work with you.
You also may have found how confusing the entire process can be.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to accept credit cards for firearm transactions.
Selling Firearms as a Business
If you’re not an FFL yet, you’re going to need to get an FFL . Then, you can start selling guns as a business out of a storefront as a gunshop, at gun shows, and/or online.
Of course, in order to sell your guns, you’re going to need a way to accept payment. Cash, of course, is king. Checks can work too but they can be a hassle and carry some risk.
Credits cards, although they have some fees associated, are sometimes the easiest and most secure way to do business. Therefore, you’re going to need to find, and sign up with, a credit card processor (also called a merchant account).
But, as we mentioned above, most companies are not gun friendly credit card processors.
If you’re looking to skip ahead and just want to see who we recommend as a gun friendly credit card processor for your firearms business, it’s Payroc.
Firearm Sales and Credit Cards
If you’ve spent any time looking for a credit card processor for a firearms merchant account, you know that most of them don’t allow firearm transactions.
Not so great for your business.
For example, here’s the language that bans firearm sales from the three most popular online credit card solutions:
PayPal: “You may not use the PayPal service for activities that… relate to transactions involving… ammunition, firearms, or certain firearm parts or accessories…” (PayPal terms)
Square: “Prohibited Goods and Services… Sales of (i) firearms, firearm parts or hardware, and ammunition; or (ii) weapons…” (Square terms)
Stripe: “The following categories of businesses and business practices are prohibited from using the Stripe Service… Regulated Products and Services… age restricted goods or services, weapons and munitions…” (Stripe terms)
These big three won’t open a firearm merchant account because they consider certain industries too “high risk.” There are some companies that will open up a high risk merchant account but the costs are typically too high to make sense for most firearms retailers.
Also, some anti-gun banks and or credit card processors even have an issue with non-firearm shooting related accessories (such as holsters). However, even is accessories are allowed by one company, it makes much more sense to only have one credit card processor for ALL transactions.
Now for the good news: Just because these merchant services don’t allow you to accept a payment for a gun sale doesn’t mean you’re out of luck with credit card processing.
You can still accept credit card payments as a gun dealer as long as you set up your merchant account with a gun friendly credit card processor like Payroc.
Gun Friendly Credit Card Processors
Thankfully, there is more than one payment processor that will work with a firearms business.
This means that you can be a firearms dealer and still get yourself a merchant account for credit card payments. This is especially true now as more an more companies are popping up offering payment processing to firearm businesses.
However, choosing among all of the merchant service providers that are now willing to work with the firearms industry can be difficult.
Credit card processing rates, monthly fees, contracts, and customer service all play an important role in deciding which company to go with.
We’ve worked with and researched the biggest names and we recommend checking out Payroc.
There are two main reasons we recommend Payroc for your merchant account:
1. Customer Service
Customer Service: Of all of the companies that we, and our students, have worked with to process credit cards, we’ve never heard more positive feedback about customer service than Payroc.
They have really gone above and beyond to help get each student up and running with their firearms business.
Flexibility: Each business has different needs. For small FFL operations, they offer a flat-fee service that may not be the lowest price for all transactions but it is much simpler and easier to use.
For bigger firearms retailers, they offer variable rates depending on the credit card used which can save money with lots of volume but it might be too much for a smaller gun shop.
Understanding Credit Card Payments
Signing up with Payroc is the first step of accepting credit cards for firearms sales for your business after you have your FFL license.
But, there are a few more steps that will follow before you can process a credit card transaction for your gun shop.
Let’s explore some of the terms and topics that gun retailers will need to understand:
Payment Processor The payment processor is the company that actually processes the credit card transaction. This company is sometimes referred to as a merchant account provider and they offer payment solutions as a service.
This is the company that actually provides retail firearms merchant accounts. We recommend checking out Payroc as your payment processor to help you set up your merchant account.
But, unfortunately, accepting credit cards can be a bit complicated and they aren’t the only company you’ll need to have an account with.
Payment Gateway Firearms merchants will also need a payment gateway to accept credit cards. The gateway is the company that handles the transaction through your ecommerce platform or in-store POS system. They are the bridge (or gateway) between your customer’s credit card and the payment processor (merchant account).
The biggest payment gateway is Authorize.net but there are more affordable and smaller options available. If you go with Payroc, they’ll help you set up the right option for you.
Financial Institution (Bank) Firearm retailers will, of course, need a bank. You will need to make sure that your bank allows business accounts for gun merchants.
The gateway gathers the credit card details for the transaction, the payment processor runs the credit card and receives the money who then deposits the money you earned into your financial institution.
Chargeback A chargeback is when a customer files a dispute with their credit card company about the transaction – typically because of fraud, unauthorized transactions, or failure to refund money.
These are obviously not good for you.
To avoid excessive chargebacks on your merchant account you should document transactions well and explain any terms and conditions clearly. If you get a chargeback, you’ll have a chance to dispute it and respond with details showing that it was a legitimate transaction.
Simple tips here are having good tracking details for shipments and gathering plenty of details about your customers. Being vigilant not only helps protect you and your business, it will also help protect people who had their credit card numbers stolen and used by a criminal with you.
Ecommerce Making sales in your gun shop is great, but to be competitive in this market, you’ll need to strongly consider online sales (ecommerce).
You can either set up your own website with an ecommerce system, you can use a online store in-a-box system like the ammoready platform, or you can sell on online auction sites like GunBroker.
Whichever ecommerce system you choose, you will need to have a payment processor as part of your payment process.
PCI Compliance This is a confusing term for many gun dealers. To accept credit cards, you need to comply with federal laws and help to ensure that you are properly protecting your customers’ credit card information.
PCI compliance refers to following all of these rules. After you sign up with Payroc, they’ll help walk you through the process to ensure that you are PCI compliant.
If you don’t have this setup within the first few months of accepting credit cards, you can be charged a non-compliance fee.
How to Start Accepting Credit Cards for Firearms Sales
Unfortunately, federal firearms laws aren’t the only thing you need to worry about to run your business. You now need to know about, and comply with federal laws related to credit card payments (see Electronic Fund Transfer Act).
Don’t panic! They aren’t that hard to learn and follow – and we’re going to walk you through each step of your payment processing solution.
Step 1 – Get Your Federal Firearms License. If you’d like help with this, you should consider our Get Your FFL Course. Our course helps to ensure that you set up your business the right way.
Step 2 – Sign up With a Payment Processor. Once you have your FFL and are ready to be a gun store, your business will need to be able to start accepting credit cards. We recommend Payroc.
Step 3 – Set up Bank and Payment Gateway. Choose a bank that will work with a firearms dealer and select the payment gateway that is recommended by your payment processor – this will ensure that you select one that works with your merchant account and also that you select the right one for your needs (smaller ones are free while large ones charge a monthly fee).
Step 4 – Set up Your Ecommerce Platform. Depending on what is right for your firearm business, set up your ecommerce platform and connect it to your payment gateway.
Step 5 – Ensure PCI Compliance. Follow the instructions from your Payment processor to make sure you are compliant with the privacy rules.
Merchant Account Summary
Gun merchants have a few steps to go through in order to accept credit cards for firearms sales.
But, if you choose Payroc, they’ll help you through each step of the process.