Accept Credit Card Payments Online or Anywhere [3 Things to Get You Started]

Accept Credit Card Payments | Find a Merchant Account

Merchant Account: If you sell products to customers, you need to know how accept credit card paymentsto take credit card payments online or in person from your customers. This can get complicated. We’re here to help you sort this all out. For those who just want our recommended list of payment processors, click below to browse our reviews. Or see the the payment processor list below. Find a Payment Processor

We’ll help you learn about the things below:

  • How do credit cards work and what should I know about them?
  • What do you need to get started accepting credit card payment online?
  • What do you need to get started accepting credit card payments in-person?
  • How do find a payment processor?
  • How do you get a merchant account?

How do credit cards work?

Credit cards have been around for a while but how they work is not common knowledge. Let’s cover that quickly so you have some information to help you. Let’s jump into the big things you need to know to accept credit card payments.

Here is what you learn:

(1) Who is involved to accept credit card payment?

(2) What do I need to know to accept credit card payments?

(3) How do I add credit card payments to my website?

Who are the players in the credit card business?

Most of us have credit cards and the credit cards were provided to us by our bank. When we pay our monthly credit card bill we pay our bank. But there are other players in the credit card business. There is VISA, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, JCB, UnionPay and other credit cards. There is also you the business or merchant who sells products online. Finally there is the company from which you buy credit card payment processing. This company is typically called a gateway. Sounds like a lot of information but we will break this down.

payment gateway

Online Seller (Merchant): This is you the business who sells to your customer.


Payment Gateway: The Gateway is the entrance or gateway to the network of credit cards and banks.

When your customer purchases something from you, your customer enters their credit card number and this is passed by your payment gateway to the credit card network. The credit card network passes this information to the customer’s bank. The bank decides whether the customer can pay with credit card or not and sends a message to credit card network, the payment gateway and back to you. This sounds like a long trip but this happens in a less than a second. Here is a picture to help you understand how this works.

The gateway has a responsibility to pay you for the purchase price of the product you sold. Also the gateway has a responsibility to ensure that you are a reputable business and not some type of bad person up to no good. The gateways do not always sell to you sometimes they will use other ways to sell credit card payment processing.

They will use affiliate salespeople or resellers. These companies sometimes have the weird name “ISO.” However, most of the time you be dealing with a gateway so that is where will focus most of the information to help you learn and get the best deal for your business.

Visa, MasterCard or American Express: These are credit card networks who have a brand name and an actual network of computers that connect the banks together. These guys set all the rules for credit card payment processing. You’ll need to follow these rules. The rules are pretty simple. Also your payment processor and merchant acquirer will follow most of the rules for you. They will also make sure you understand and abide by the rules that pertain to you.

Banks: These are financial institutions that provide your customers with a credit card and who collect payment from your customers. The banks are also called issuers as they issue the credit cards to their customers. Issuers are really in favor of their own customers the people who have the credit cards. These are also your customers. So in general you and the banks are on the same side.

Accept Credit Card Payments

There are some basics that we need to quickly cover.

Credit Card Number Safety: The payment card industry (PCI) has strict rules for anyone who collect payments from customers using credit cards. These rules are PCI rules. If you collect credit card numbers you must abide by these rules and undergo inspection every year. The rules require you to protect the credit card numbers and keep them encrypted and restricted access by your organization. Here is a link to learn more about PCI.

Many gateways offer a solution where you do not have to store credit card numbers and this is what we typically recommend. Instead of storing a credit card number you will store a useless combination of letters and numbers. This is called a token. We will go more into this later.

Display Logos: You must display credit card logos of Visa, MasterCard and others in your website. Typically displaying logos helps you increase sales so you will want to do this whether it is a rule or not.

Customer Service Contact: You need communicate to your customers how they can contact you. This can be an online form, an email address or a telephone number. We recommend all three.

Returns and Refund Policy: You need to communicate your refund policy to the customer.

Disputes and Chargebacks

Sometimes the customer will complain that they did not make the purchase from you. When this happens the customer complains to their bank and the bank begins a “chargeback” process. The bank will ask for information about the purchase and if you are unable to provide information, provide inusufficient information the bank will notify your gateway who will take the money back from you. This is called a “chargeback.” If you have too many chargebacks you can be labelled a high risk merchant and therefore you will want to work to avoid chargebacks. We will go into that in more detail.

These are the big items or very parts of offering credit cards online. Now we will look at how to implement credit cards in your website.

How do I add credit card payments to my website?

All websites that sell online have shopping carts. So what is a shopping cart? A shopping cart is software that allows your customer to select items from you website and pay for them at checkout. Sounds pretty simple but it can be complicated at times. Your customer may stop shopping before checkout and leave your website. When they return to your website you will want to the items they selected to be in their cart so that they can make a purchase. In most case your customer will pick one to two items, add them to the cart and checkout. The shopping cart tallies the price of both items, calculates the tax and shipping and then sends the full purchase price to the payment gateway. Shopping carts were typically added to websites that were built separately from the shopping cart. There are still many of these shopping carts around.

Ecommerce Solutions

There is much more to ecommerce than a shopping cart. You also need to display images of products and provide useful information to your customers. You will want to show video of models or other customers using the product and also you will want customers to leave reviews of the products that you’re selling. So there is quite a bit that you need to make ecommerce work. Fortunately there are full blown ecommerce solutions or software that handle this for you. Before we go there let’s breakdown some of the basic functions of an ecommerce solution.

Product Catalogue

Database of products that has the product name, description, image, price and special information about the product. When you sell a product the database may also decrement or substract the product from your inventory.

Content Management System

This is the software that helps you make web pages and add information to the webpages.

Customer Reviews

This is part of the content management system and allows your customers to write reviews about your products.

Customer Identity

This is where your customer where create a profile or give you information such as their name, shipping address and other personal preferences. This will be password protected so that your customer can login and shop.

This all may sound complicated but there are some really easy solutions that don’t cost much and make it easy to get started. The ones we like are Shopify, Magento, Volusion and Big Commerce.

You may also want to take credit cards in person or face to face. This is called “card present” and one example is Square Payments where you can swipe a credit card on your smart phone.

That is a lot of information so let us take a quick break before we dive into the steps of how you find the right payment processing provider and how you get started.

Find a Merchant Services Provider

Accepting credit cards is one of the best choices a small company can make. If you only accept money, you’re missing out for sale majorly. However, for lots of company owner, the hardest part is choosing a bank card processor. With numerous charge card processors readily available as well as with the several ways companies can accept bank card, it’s very easy to seem like you’re in over your head.

The most effective credit card processor is one developed with your small company’s one-of-a-kind demands in mind. It not just allows you to pick the sorts of services that are best suited for your services and products, yet is also budget pleasant and also does not impose strict requirements or restrictions even if you’re a tiny business.

Here is a roundup of our finest choices and exactly how we chose them.

Best Credit Card Processor for Small Business: Payline Data

Payline Data provides a thorough and inexpensive credit card handling service for all sorts of small businesses. We like that it lets you accept bank card in different ways– with a credit card machine, smart phone, tablet POS system and also online– which there are various prices alternatives based on your sales volume. The firm also provides a seller account, consisting of those for high-risk businesses that commonly have problem acquiring one. Payline additionally has 24/7 phone assistance, in addition to e-mail, helpdesk and live conversation assistance.

Best Credit Card Processor for Canadian Merchants: Helcim

You’re charged the credit card network fees + a fee to Helcim. There are no termination fees: You can end your contract when you want without a penalty. There are no setup fees. There are some free things. Getting your terminal programmed, for example, is free. No monthly minimum: You pay credit card processing fees when you make a sale. They’ve made huge progress by being very straight forward about credit card payment processing fees. Charity Accounts: If you’re a non-profit organization, you can get lower payment processing fees. Helcim has written and provided an easy to understand webpage that tells what each and everyone of their fees is for. There are no early termination fees or cancellation fees charged. Read our review here.

Best Credit Card Processor for Low Volume and High Dollar Orders: Fattmerchant

Very easy to understand fees. You’ll pay a monthly subscription fee, a per transaction fee and credit card interchange. That’s what makes this cheap for merchants who have large dollar amount orders. Fattmerchant makes getting started accepting credit card payments very simple. They have virtual terminal, mobile credit card processing, API, payment gateway, and online reporting. These are basic payment processing offerings and this is really all you need to accept credit card payments. It has online reporting, card processing, eChecks or ACH, and pre-authorizations. E-checks, echecks, ACH or simply paying by checking account can be handy if your business has customers who don’t want to use a credit card. This gives you a wide range of choices for credit card terminals. We see that Fattmerchant is advertising EMV-compliant credit card terminals. There are the terminals where your customer inserts their credit card and the transaction is encrypted or secured with a computer chip in the card. If you already have an up-to-date credit card machine, Fattmerchant will reprogram it free of charge. This is a feature that checks the customer’s address against the address on file with their credit card company. When you add the NPC Mobile application to the NPC Mobile Card Reader you can convert your mobile device into a point of sale terminal. You swipe the customer’s credit card through the reader. Read our review here.

Best Low-Volume Credit Card Processor: PayPal

PayPal uses adaptable bank card handling for all kinds of services with low-volume sales, at an affordable cost. Whether you make sales in person, online, on the go or all the above, PayPal has a bank card handling option for you. Developed especially for local business as well as startups, the solution additionally has added perks like a total POS system, the capacity to expand credit scores to customers, a rewards service MasterCard program, and also 24-7 phone and email support. Read our review here.

Best High-Volume Credit Card Processor: Flagship Merchant Services

Flagship Merchant Services is an all-in-one charge card processing service that uses versatile, low rates for high-volume businesses. The service consists of a merchant account and a wide variety of credit card handling options, including in-person, on the internet as well as mobile bank card handling. If you require an advanced remedy, you likewise have the selection of using a full-featured iPad POS system. We likewise like Flagship due to the fact that it features a very easy application process, 24-7 customer support, and also no long-lasting agreements or very early termination charges.

Best Online Credit Card Processing: Stripe

Stripe is a simple online credit-card-processing service that aims to eliminate the legwork of approving credit cards online. It does not require a seller account, so your on the internet store can start processing bank card sales as soon as possible. You can choose from the easy checkout system that you could replicate and paste right into your on-line store, or program the Stripe API right into your shopping cart. We additionally such as that Stripe is packed with features and also customization options, which lets you tailor the service to fit your ecommerce organisation’s unique demands. The company also has transparent rates, so you’ll understand specifically what you’ll be paying and can avoid any surprises later on. Read our review here.

Best Mobile Credit Card Processor: Square

Square is a quick as well as simple means to approve charge card anytime, anywhere. Just sign up for an account, download the Square app, plug Square’s credit card viewers right into your iphone or Android smart device or tablet, as well as you’re ready to go. You can additionally use Square’s standalone terminal to transform your iPad into an effective POS system at your check out counter. Square supplies specialized services for all types of organisations, from merchants as well as restaurants to provider, health and wellness, amusement business, companies, and extra. We additionally like that Square includes easy rates, quick down payments, a cost-free online shop as well as other benefits. Read our review here.

Best Credit Card Processor for Medical Practices: TSYS Merchant Solutions

Tsys Merchant Solutions uses inexpensive rates and personalized prices to fit the special requirements of medical practices. In addition to in-person, mobile and also online credit card handling, TSYS likewise uses various other services such as credibility tracking and fraud avoidance. We likewise like that TSYS becomes part of the American Medical Association’s Member Value Program (AMA MVP), which partners with suppliers to provide price cuts and benefits to doctors. As well as unlike many bank card processors, TSYS secures doctors with its Card Compromise Assistance Plan (C-CAP), which covers to $1 million in annual damages to assist you recover from a cyberattack.

Here is some more information to accept credit card payments.

Chasepaymentech is the 10,000 pound gorilla of the payments industry. They do credit card payment gateways for massively big companies. You may not want to use them for your own business But they have some great information on how to accept credit cards in their website. Read our review here.

PayPal, of course, is the well known payments provider in the small to medium size business space. It’s worth your time to read their website and understand what they offer. If you’re in a hurry and want to start accepting credit cards online, on a mobile device or at your retail location, PayPal may be a good way to go. They won’t negotiate with you. The price is the price at PayPal. But they have solid services. Read our review here.

Square Payments Website

Square Payments is only a few years old but they’ve shaken things up. Most people know square for their mobile device payment processing. If you’re selling at a farmers market, hot dog stand, arts & crafts fair, or any outdoor event you’ll want to consider these guys. Heck even if you’re a taxi driver, delivery person, carpenter or anyone who works with customers face to face, you’ll want to think about Square. Their website is well written and explains payment stuff in easy to understand language. Read our review here.

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