Switching Payment Processors

This article covers the process of changing your payment processor, gateway, or both.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Step 1: LearnThinkReservations' role in payment processing

First, it's essential to understand that ThinkReservations is not a gateway, processor, or merchant service provider. That means that ThinkReservations isn't responsible for any of the functions associated with processing credit and debit cards, including validation, charging refunding, voiding, or storing customer card data.

ThinkReservations connects to a processor or gateway to send and receive information.

Sending Data:
ThinkReservations will securely send card information to your gateway or processor so that it can be validated and retained. When you perform a transaction, ThinkReservations sends information to the gateway or processor so that card can be charged, refunded, or voided.

Receiving Data:
The connected processor gateway will send back information on the status of the transaction (submitted/settled), and if the processor runs into an error, they send us the error information. We expose the status of the transaction in the Status column of the Payments table. If there is an error sent to us, we alert you in the form of a popup.

Step 2: Understand you will lose access to retained cards

This is something we want to be very clear about. As mentioned in Step 1, ThinkReservations doesn't store any card data. ThinkReservations uses something called tokenization that allows us to tell the processor or gateway which card they have in their vault to charge. You can only be connected to one payment processor or gateway at a time. If you disconnect from your current payment processor, ThinkReservations no longer has access, and the tokens become useless.

This becomes a potential problem in two situations:

  1. A future reservation is a no-show. You don't have the card on file anymore to charge a cancellation fee, and they won't provide one to you on the phone to charge the fee.
    • This is mitigated by reaching out to select future reservations that don't have a deposit large enough to cover the fee or those that you might deem as high-risk, such as reservations booked on holiday weekends or that have large balances.
  2. A past reservation needs a refund. You don't have a "linked transaction" anymore to issue the refund.
    • This is mitigated by giving the guest their money back via an alternate method. The most common (and least expensive) is to send the guest a check.

Step 3: Decide on the Payment Processor or Gateway that you would like to do business with

It's your responsibility to understand the limitations and costs associated with your new payment processor. Our preferred partners are MPI and Heartland because they offer competitive rates and an excellent experience for our clients. However, we also provide connections to Braintree, Stripe, and Authorize.net. It's your responsibility to understand the limitations and costs associated with your new payment processor. Navigating this can be complicated, so we advise you to do your research carefully to make sure you are getting the best deal you can while operating your business smoothly.

Step 4: Choose the best date to make the switch

You may want to perform the switch on a day of the week or time of year that a switch will have the most negligible impact on your business. The most common is during a slow period. ThinkReservations will be able to make the switch fairly quickly so simply reach out to us when it's convenient.

Step 5: Sign up with your new processor.

You will be responsible for sighing up with the processor you found to be the best fit for your business.

  • MPI - Mercantile Processing, Inc. - wynn@casablanca-ventures.com or (203) 253-7259
  • Heartland Payment Systems - dave.mattingly@heartland.us or (609) 332-9640
  • Braintree - (877) 511-5036
  • Stripe - Visit Stripe's website
  • Authorize.net - Contact your MSP/Processor to have them create the account
    • Authorize.net accounts must be "Card Not Present" and "eCommerce."

Step 6: ThinkReservations is notified of a new gateway or processor

When you sign up with MPI or Heartland, ThinkReservations is automatically notified via email from them directly to alert us that your account is configured and ready to connect. Reach out to us anytime after that to get the accounts connected!

Braintree, Stripe, and Authorize.net accounts require you to inform us that the account is ready to connect. Reach out to us on the date that you would like to have the switch performed. This can also be scheduled to ensure the switch happens on a specific date if that's important. Only an authorized account owner can request this change.

Step 7: ThinkReservations makes the switch

Each payment gateway and processor has a slightly different process on our side to complete.

Switching to MPI:

  1. MPI will send ThinkReservations an email when the account has been created. This email is also sent to the property owner.
  2. We ask the property to confirm via phone or email that they are ready to make the switch. We proceed at this time or schedule to pick up at a future date and time.
  3. The old processor is disconnected.
  4. All previously-retained cards are removed. (This does not impact existing transactions.)
  5. We will connect the MPI account to ThinkReservations.
  6. A test credit card transaction is run to ensure a card can be retained, charged, and voided.
  7. We confirm to the property the connection has been made.

Switching to Heartland:

  1. Heartland will send ThinkReservations an email when the account has been created. This email is sent to the property owner as well.
  2. We ask the property to confirm via phone or email that they are ready to make the switch. We proceed at this time or schedule to pick up at a future date and time. 
  3. The old processor is disconnected.
  4. All previously-retained cards are removed. (This does not impact existing transactions.)
  5. We will connect the Heartland account to ThinkReservations.
  6. A test credit card transaction is run to ensure a card can be retained, charged, and voided.
  7. We confirm to the property the connection has been made.

Switching to Braintree:

  1. Once the property has a "production" account, they are ready to move forward.
  2. Please inform us at the time you are ready to switch to your new Braintree account via phone. Expect this call to last 20-30 minutes.
  3. A ThinkReservations employee will log into your Braintree account to check settings and get the API keys.*
  4. The old processor is disconnected.
  5. All previously-retained cards are removed. (This does not impact existing transactions.)
  6. We will connect the Braintree account to ThinkReservations.
  7. A test credit card transaction is run to ensure a card can be retained, charged, and voided.
  8. We confirm to the property the connection has been made.
  9. The property changes its Braintree password (we will not need to log in again).

Switching to Stripe:

  1. Once the property has an active account, they are ready to move forward.
  2. Please inform us at the time you are ready to switch to your new Stripe account via phone. Expect this call to last 20-30 minutes.
  3. A ThinkReservations employee will log into your Stripe account to check settings and get the API keys.*
  4. The old processor is disconnected.
  5. All previously-retained cards are removed. (This does not impact existing transactions.)
  6. We will connect the Stripe account to ThinkReservations.
  7. A test credit card transaction is run to ensure a card can be retained, charged, and voided.
  8. We confirm to the property the connection has been made.
  9. The property changes its Stripe password (we will not need to log in again).

ThinkReservations doesn't use Stripe's front-end for the connection. ThinkReservations handles the connection for security on the backend, so we have more control over it. We are fully PCI compliant via a 3rd-party audit and exceed the minimum standards. I share this extra information about security because Stripe will send an email with some scary verbiage about credit card security that is very misleading. Rest assured, our connection with Stripe is fully compliant and secure!

Switching to Authorize.net:

  1. Once the payment processor has created your "Card Not Present" and "eCommerce" Authorize.net account, you are ready to proceed.
  2. Please inform us at the time that you are ready to switch to your Auth.net account via phone. Expect this call to last about 30 minutes.
  3. A ThinkReservations employee will log into your Authorize.net account to update your settings and get the API credentials and keys.* We will generate new keys for security.
  4. An email or phone pin will be generated that you will need to share with us to generate the new keys.
  5. The old processor is disconnected.
  6. All previously-retained cards are removed. (This does not impact existing transactions.)
  7. We will connect the Authorize.net account to ThinkReservations.
  8. A test credit card transaction is run to ensure a card can be retained, charged, and voided.
  9. We confirm to the property the connection has been made.
  10. You will receive an email from Authorize.net confirming the transaction (and each subsequent transaction, unless disabled -reach out to Authorize.net on how to disable if you wish to do so).
  11. The property changes its Authorize.net password (we will not need to log in again).
  12. You may also need to update your refund or deposit policy with your staff as refunds cannot be performed more than 180 days per Authorize.net policy.

* If you do not wish to share your processor or gateway login credentials, as an alternative, we can schedule a screen-sharing session where you can log in on your own computer, and we can perform the tasks needed by working on your machine.


How do you refund a charge made on your old processor?

It's not possible to refund these transactions because the transaction is actually tied directly with the processor. As ThinkReservations doesn't have access to that account, the refund cannot be completed as normal. You will need to use an alternate method to return funds to your guests. The most common is to send a check. Another option may be to issue a gift certificate as a type of credit or voucher. If your new processor allows it, you may be able to what is called a "blind credit", where you charge a credit card in the negative. Please reach out to your processor if you have questions on that.

Related: Frequently Asked Questions about Payment Processing

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