One of my clients wants to begin accepting online credit card payments for their annual membership renewals. The renewals only happen 3 months out of the year and the other 9 months there will be absolutely no CC activity. They already have the merchant bank account setup (bank uses First Data) so the backend processor is all that's needed to get it working. They also want a "real-time processing" gateway instead of using a "batch processing" system. All the gateways I looked at have a recurring monthly fee involved, so the end costs really add up when the system won't even be in use 9 months of each year.
Is there such a thing as a real-time processor that ONLY charges on a "per transaction" basis?
I mean - aren't they already paying for the merchant account for the other months?
If I understand your point, yes they are in effect paying during all 12 months for their merchant account. But they've negotiated a "per transaction" agreement with the bank and they only pay when there's actual CC charges. For 9 of those months there won't be any charges so there's no actual cost. What they're looking for is a payment processor that can offer them a similar arrangement.
Have they considered using Paypal instead?
Paypal may be an option since they no longer require you to be a member, but the client prefers that our visitors stay on our site when submitting their membership renewals. Does Paypal offer such an option, or will our visitors have to go to the Paypal site to enter their CC information? Also, will Paypal work with the client's existing merchant account or does it require a different arrangement?
It may be that the client will have to use a processor such as Paypal if they want to avoid the monthly charges - or be prepared to pay monthly charges for the convenience of a "real-time" processor such as Authorize.net.