Are you looking to sell products or services online? You'll probably want to know how to accept credit cards. Luckily, it's quite easy to get started with credit card payments and you don't need to have a merchant account if you don't want to.
The advantages of accepting credit cards on your website
You might be wondering if you even need to have the option for payment via credit card on your site. Some sites I've seen only offer Paypal or debit cards as a payment option. But there are a few reasons why you might want to extend the payment options.
- It adds legitimacy. Simply by having that Visa or Mastercard logo on your site, you're instantly saying “Hey, I'm trustworthy!” to your visitors. They are well known around the world and it definitely helps to build trust with first time buyers who might never have heard of your site before.
- Sell to international customers. Foreign people have cash too, y'know! Accepting credit cards means that you can sell into any country in the world (as long as you want to ship to them) and accept payments online with no problems whatsoever. Imagine all those extra potential customers!
- It's faster. Your customer can enter their credit card number and within a few seconds be checked out and ready to receive the goods. With other options like Paypal there are extra steps like logging in, confirming the amount again etc. Some people might not make it to the end, so getting the payment by credit card quickly is a huge bonuse.
Which method should you use to accept credit card payments?
There are two different ways to take payments via credit card and each has their advantages. I've only ever accepted them through a third party, and not through a merchant account. Let's look at the differences:
Credit card payments through a third party. For a small fee, there are companies that will accept credit card payments for you and handle all the merchant account type stuff. They're sometimes called payment gateways and are the easiest way to get started.
- Easy to get started.
- You don't need a merchant account.
- Let's you test the water quickly.
- The process is handled entirely by the third-party.
- Higher transaction fees.
- Less chance of fraud or chargebacks.
Payments through a merchant account. For this method, you need your bank to set up a merchant account that you can use to take payments through. There are fees, but they are usually lower than through a third party.
- Better for larger merchants.
- More control.
- Lower transaction fees.
- Higher likelihood of credit card fraud or chargebacks.
Personally, I tend to choose third-party payment processing. It's just easier.
How to accept credit cards with payment gateways.
Okay, so if you decide to go the payment gateway / third party merchant route then there are quite a few to choose from. I haven't used all of these myself (I only use Paypal) but these are all reputable gateways or marketplaces that you can sell products online with and take credit card payments.
- Paypal. Some people hate Paypal (and at times, I do too) but they are universally recognised and do offer a good service. No setup or monthly costs, invoicing tools, simple installation on your site, low fees, fraud reduction, and near instant access to your money are all top notch.
- MyCommerce. MyCommerce have a very robust system with LOTS of options to choose from. They even have an affiliate network so others can sell your products for you. Definitely worth checking out.
- Authorize.net. Probably one of the most well known online payment gateways and used by over 375,000 people. Their pricing is a monthly fee/setup and then as little as $0.10 per transaction.
- CCNow. Very low setup fees and just $0.40 per transaction make CCNow a great choice for selling physical goods or digital goods. Oh, and it integrates with WordPress too – which I love. Learn how to setup WordPress in my guide. 😉
- CCBill. These guys get recommended as well online. I've never used them and can't find a chart of their pricing so you'll have to contact them for more info.
- Kagi. Selling downloadable software? Then Kagi might be a good choice for taking credit card payments.
- Clickbank. One of the biggest digital product marketplaces in the world. If you have an ebook, video course or online membership program this might be a great choice. They have an army of affiliates too that can drive a huge amount of traffic and sales.
Putting an order form or shopping cart onto your site.
Getting your payment processing setup is the easy bit when it comes to accepting credit card payments. Actually taking the payments is a little more work. Not much, but some.
Most of the payment processing gateways above with give you a little piece of code to copy and paste into your website. I use Paypal, and they make it very easy to set up.
If you have shopping cart software or use WordPress with a shopping plugin then you can speak to the company who make the software. Chances are that there will be a way to integrate your credit card payments into it – especially if it's popular software.
I'll do a step by step guide on how to accept credit cards with Paypal soon to show you how I personally do it. Subscribe to the newsletter if you want to be notified when it goes live.
So, to summarise…
If you're selling online then you definitely want to accept credit cards as part of your user experience. People expect it, you'll get more sales, and you'll look more professional too. Which is always a bonus!