As a dentist, being able to accept credit and debit cards is convenient for your patients and can help eliminate the frustrations of sending invoices to collect payment.
Here’s what you need to know about taking credit cards at your dental office.
- The Basics
- What’s different about accepting credit cards at a dentist’s office?
- How do I take cards at my practice?
- Is taking credit cards with Dentrix right for my practice?
Credit Card Processing for Dentists: The Basics
When accepting credit cards, the basics stay the same whether it’s a retail store or your dental practice. Every time you take a card for payment, you’ll owe a portion of that transaction to a credit card processor, who in turn will pay the banks and card brands. There are three components of credit card processing costs: interchange, assessments, and markup. The interchange charges go to the bank that issues credit cards to your patients. The assessment fees go to the card brands, such as Visa and MasterCard. The markup is what your processor makes for facilitating the credit card transaction for you.
What’s different about accepting credit cards at a dentist’s office?
Unlike in a retail store, when clients pay at a dentist’s or orthodontist’s office they’re not expecting a full credit card terminal. This allows you to potentially save on equipment costs while still securely processing cards. Some dentists or orthodontists also look for the ability to integrate credit card payments with their practice management systems, such as Dentrix, which we’ll discuss toward the end of this article.
How do I take cards at my practice?
There are two pieces to accepting credit cards. You’ll need a processor (the company that handles the transaction) and a way to take credit cards.
Finding or Switching Processors
The easiest way to find a competitive credit card processor is to sign up for free at CardFellow. After entering basic information about your processing needs, you’ll receive instant quotes from leading processors. You can also request a quote from any processor you want, ensuring you’re able to see how all pricing options stack up so you can make an informed decision and secure the lowest pricing.
We work with several processors that can help you accept cards in a HIPAA-compliant manner.
If you don’t want to use CardFellow, you will need to do research on your own for each credit card processor you’re considering. Be sure to read our blog about credit card processing and don’t get sucked in by reviews or promises of money if a processor can’t beat your rates.
As a dentist, orthodontist, or oral surgeon, there are several ways to take credit cards at your office, including using:
- A virtual terminal
- Credit card equipment
- An integrated solution, such as Dentrix
A virtual terminal is a method of accepting credit cards using an existing computer instead of dedicated credit card processing equipment. With a virtual terminal, credit card information is entered into a secure online form for your processor. Cards can be hand-keyed or swiped using optional card readers that connect via USB port. In many cases, swiping cards is faster, more secure, and may result in lower processing fees that manually entered cards.
See also: Virtual Terminals for Your Business.
Credit Card Equipment
If you’d prefer to use traditional credit card equipment, such as countertop machines and PIN pads, you can accept credit cards using any equipment supported by your processor. If you’re choosing a processor through CardFellow, you’ll be able to easily browse supported equipment and add it to your quote. You can view available credit card machines in CardFellow’s product directory.
For taking credit cards using an integrated solution, such as Dentrix, you’ll need to know if the equipment or software requires a specific processor. If so, you’ll need to have a merchant account with that processor in order to accept credit and debit cards through your current system.
Is taking credit cards with Dentrix right for my practice?
If you’re a dentist or orthodontist who already uses Dentrix software for practice management and patient records, you may be wondering if it makes sense to integrate credit card payments with Dentrix. For most offices, the answer is ‘it depends.’
To accept credit cards with Dentrix, your office will need to open a merchant account with a company called PowerPay, who processes through another company called Moneris Solutions. There are no other options for processing credit cards directly through Dentrix. While working with PowerPay will allow you to integrate credit card processing with your Dentrix system, be aware that limiting yourself to one specific processor may result in higher costs to accept credit cards. If lowering costs to accept credit cards is a priority for your dental practice, it may not make the most sense for you to use PowerPay for Dentrix.
Note that just because PowerPay is the only processor that directly integrates with Dentrix doesn’t mean you can’t use Dentrix and also use a system to accept credit cards. You would still be able to take cards with a virtual terminal or credit card machine. However, if you wanted to include transaction and payment details with patients’ files in Dentrix, you would need to enter or import than information manually.
Limitations of PowerPay for Dentrix
Accepting cards with PowerPay for Dentrix may not be for you if:
- Keeping costs of processing low is a priority
- You accept or want to accept American Express or Discover
If low cost credit card processing is your priority, accepting credit cards with PowerPay for Dentrix may not be for you. The reason is that you have almost no bargaining power to negotiate lower rates. When you get quotes from multiple processors, you have the ability to choose the lowest option. If you choose a processor through CardFellow, you’ll also benefit from a lifetime rate lock, meaning the markup charged by your processor will never go up.
If you accept or want to accept American Express or Discover Cards, PowerPay for Dentrix may not be for you. PowerPay allows practices to accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards, flexible spending account cards, and debit cards processed as Visa cards.
Benefits of PowerPay for Dentrix
With PowerPay, payments are automatically posted to the Dentrix ledger instead of requiring manual entry. Additionally, PowerPay securely encrypts and stores patient credit card information so that you can set up recurring payments or process payments after insurance reimbursements. However, secure encryption technology and recurring billing options are also available with other processors.
PowerPay for Dentrix promises competitive transaction fees and a rate match guarantee, but as we’ve written about previously here at CardFellow, matching rates isn’t necessarily a sign of good pricing.
Whether integrating credit card payments with systems like Dentrix is right for you depends on your specific needs and priorities. To determine if PowerPay for Dentrix is right for your dental practice, consider the following:
- Is saving money and cutting expenses a top priority?
- Do you want to accept American Express and Discover cards?
- Do you need transactions automatically sync with your patient records or can staff enter the payments?
If you absolutely need transaction details to sync automatically, PowerPay for Dentrix may be a good choice. However, you can likely save money and accept more types of cards by working with other processors.
Want to know what other dental practice managers think? Courtney Roberts, a Fellow of the American Association of Dental Office Managers, details her quest to save money on credit card processing and how CardFellow helped her in this article for Dentistry IQ: Does the Merchant Service Provider for Your Dental Practice Think You’re an Idiot?