“Can I use my credit card? Can I pay online?” Few would argue that the answer to both questions needs to be YES!

By Susan Saldibar

“Can I use my credit card?”  “Can I pay online?”

Few would argue that the answer to both questions needs to be “yes”. These are expected ways of paying and senior living community payments are no exception. Yet many operators have been reluctant to accept online credit card payments, primarily due to the high fees traditionally associated with accepting credit card transactions.

So they continue to box clients into using outdated methods and everyone suffers in the process. Here’s why:

  • An ever-increasing number of people don’t like to write checks.

  • Manually processing checks is time consuming and error prone.

  • Handling money can lead to fraud.

  • You may lose your competitive edge to newer communities.

Isn’t this 2016?

Jeremy Ford, Payments Industry Principal with RealPage, a Senior Housing Forum partner, is well acquainted with the issues of payment processing in senior living communities. RealPage is a pioneer in the area of integration of rent/lease and payment platforms and has led the way in designing systems that have eliminated virtually all of the negatives associated with credit cards and automation.

“The bottom line is that continuing to deprive residents and their families of the convenience of paying the way they want to has a negative ripple effect that hurts communities,” says Jeremy. “At some point, they’ll have staff and clients alike shaking their heads and thinking ‘Isn’t this 2016?’”

It is indeed, and many communities are turning to integrated online payment systems to help keep pace with today’s tech savvy clients. But not all payment systems are alike. So it’s important to shop around.

Online Payment Systems

Here are seven things an automated, integrated online payment system should enable you to do:

  1. Process credit card payments without incurring “convenience” fees.

  2. Provide families with an online portal to make single or scheduled payments.

  3. Provide families with multiple point of sale locations to pay with a money order.

  4. Accept payments from multiple sources.

  5. Integrate with other property management systems for seamless recordkeeping.

  6. Save time (RealPage estimates at least 16 hours per month) by freeing up staff from manually processing checks.

  7. Eliminate the potential for fraud by taking money handling out of the hands of employees.

To achieve the above, especially item #1, you need to make sure that your provider is accredited to enable “fee free” credit card processing. RealPage is a licensed money services business (MSB), which allows them to eliminate costly fees and save their clients hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Do residents still have to pay credit card fees?

While operators will avoid large “convenience” fees, resident families wishing to pay by credit card will still incur the standard processing fee. But, like all of us, they are used to paying a small fee for credit card transactions and expect to do so. It’s worth it for the convenience.  

The key benefits to using online payment processing and management are clear; convenience for resident families, elimination of tedious tasks, fraud reduction and providing a competitive advantage in a crowded market.

“Today’s clients expect things like online payments. Providing the latest tools and technologies demonstrates a commitment to both clients and staff,” says Jeremy. “And if you can do it all economically, without disrupting the balance of your bottom line, it’s truly a win-win for everyone.”

For more information on integrated online payment processing solutions, visit the RealPage website.