There are currently 576.4 million credit cards in the United States. There are just about as many debit cards, at 507 million. That’s over one billion cards that people are using every day to make purchases for their families, purchases that include shoes. Every day, shoe retailers across the country accept credit and debit cards at the register, over the phone, and through the Internet for boots, stilettos, loafers, sneakers, heels, and sandals.

Most retailers do not think about what happens when the credit card is swiped or used to pay for something through the Internet. But the truth is that working with the right partner to make that transaction happen can actually be a strategic advantage for any business. Making a few simple changes to the way you accept and process credit and debit cards can impact your bottom line.

Debit or Credit?

You’ve probably asked or been asked this question too many times to count. Unfortunately, many store employees don’t know why they ask the question or what the answer means to the company that pays them. The truth is that every time a customer chooses credit, the retailer who takes the credit card loses a few pennies. Those pennies add up over hundreds—or even thousands—of transactions.

In the payment processing business, credit transactions will always cost the retailer more than debit transactions. This is because debit transactions are processed electronically with the customer’s bank and happen very quickly. They are simple transactions and don’t need to go through a third party, like Visa or MasterCard. When a customer chooses credit, those third parties need to get involved and therefore charge you for their services.

Doing more debit transactions instead of credit transactions can save you a lot of money over time. First, make sure your register or terminal accepts pin pad IDs. Then, instead of asking “Credit or debit?” train your staff to ask, “Do you mind if I run this as debit?” Most people will agree. And you’ll all be happier.

Take Cards, Get Cash

Cash flow is critical to running your business, especially these days. You need to have it to pay your employees, order inventory, advertise, and make your rent. Every time you do a credit or debit transaction, it takes cash out of your business for a time. In some cases, it’s just a few days, but those few days could make a difference in ordering the hottest shoe on time or paying your electric bill.

Most payment processing companies out there have found a way to shorten the number of days it takes to get you the money you have made. You should be able to turn most of your card payments into cash no later than the next business day. Take a look at your agreement with your processing company. If you’re not currently getting your money by the next business day, ask them if it would be possible. If they don’t offer this option, consider looking elsewhere.

If there is room for negotiation, take advantage of it. At the very least, this section of your statement should show the number of transactions made during the month, the dollar volume of the transactions, the breakdown of card types (VISA, MasterCard, American Express, etc.), general discount charges and, possibly, more fees or charges depending on your provider and the program you have purchased.