With the use of credit cards and electronic payments expected to jump by 25% in the lead-up to Christmas, how can you ensure you get every sale? Here are some tips to ensure trouble-free payments.

Christmas is without a doubt the busiest shopping season of the year, so it’s no surprise that credit card use also skyrockets. In 2014, finder.com.au found credit card spending increased by 25% between November and December.

During this time, cardholders made a record $217.3 billion worth of credit card transactions for the month (an increase of $43.7 billion from November). Processing credit card payments can be relatively risk-free, but you could run into some mishaps when dealing with card-wielding customers over Christmas.

Here are some steps for an easier Christmas:

1. Check your payment platform is reliable

If you’re using ageing terminals and equipment, it’s time to consider an upgrade. There’s nothing worse than your terminals crashing in the middle of your business’ busiest season. Upgrading your systems is also an opportunity to compare your fees and charges to ensure you’re using the most competitive offer.

2.  Use the right phone/internet provider

If you’ve had issues with your phone and internet provider during the year, you’ll benefit from switching before the Christmas rush rolls in. If your phone or internet connection often lags or drops out, switching providers will ensure smooth transactions and will help reduce potential frustration for both customers and staff.

3. Encourage people to pay with cards

Handling cash when you have an influx of customers can be time consuming. Encourage customers to pay by card. This can be as simple as promoting that you don’t surcharge (if that’s true) or putting up a sign saying “Yes, we happily take EFTPOS and credit cards”.

4. Protect yourself against outages

With a frenzy of pre-Christmas sales, there’s always a chance that your provider platform will suffer a hiccup. Make sure you’ve trained all staff on what to do if that happens.

Options include manual processes or taking customer details. Having these processes in place will ensure such issues are resolved before they have a negative impact on your sales over the Christmas season.

[Editor’s note]: Tyro has invested heavily over recent years in dual data centres and networks as well as quadruple switches, all running “live-live”. The result is Tyro’s near-100 percent reliable core acquiring platform delivers non-stop acquiring without degrading response times in peak Christmas trading hours. In other words, you don’t get drop-outs with Tyro.

5. Fraud detection

Unfortunately, fraudulent credit cards are a reality merchants must deal with. Have a protocol in place for dealing with suspected fraudulent purchases, including asking customers for ID before they make large purchases.

Learn more about the warning signs for potentially fraudulent transactions and some ways to safeguard against the risk at Tyro’s Fraud Prevention Checklist.

6. Make sure cards are activated

Credit card providers often attract new cardholders with sign up bonuses and rewards in the lead up to Christmas, so many of your customers may be paying with new cards. Make sure all cards have been signed before processing payments and confirm whether the card has been activated if a transaction is declined.

Credit cards can be a convenient way for your customers to make purchases over the holidays. However, if you don’t have an efficient credit card handling process in place, you could find yourself losing out over the biggest shopping season of the year.

Sally McMullen writes for finder.com.au.