When you first start your business, you're so focused on how to sell your product or service you may forget how to accept credit card payments!
There are 4 ways you can process debit or credit card payments.
1. Online Merchant Gateway like PayPal or Stripe
An online merchant gateway (or credit card payment gateway) is like a credit card machine but online: It allows your customers to submit their credit card details on the Internet so you can accept credit card payments.
To set it up, you just provide a company like PayPal your business information, some identification and link it to your personal bank account.
To accept payments, you can go in and create "buy now" buttons, shopping cart buttons, and even accept payment plans (eg. 3 easy payments of $295). You then put these buttons on your website.
Like all methods of credit card payments, you will need to pay merchant fees. These vary from country to country. You can Google "paypal merchant fees australia" which are currently at 2.6% of the transaction + $0.30 (for transactions under $2500).
What if you're not selling online?
You can still use this method of accepting credit cards but it's not bulletproof. Here's what you do:
- Your client gives you their credit card details, name, address, email and phone number.
- You create a web page that has the PayPal "buy now" button code on it (Tip: If you create a plain text document called something like "test.html" and paste the code in it, it will act as a web page, even though you don't have a website!)
- You pretend to be your customer and click the "buy now" button, and enter in all their details
- Submit the payment! Note: Sometimes this method can return an unknown error in PayPal. Errors seem to occur about 10% of the time. If that's the case, you can try submitting it in incognito mode or try a different device connected to a different Internet connection. If that fails, you will need to ask for a different credit card from your client or try one of the other methods on this page.
Tip: As a last resort, you can give the client your bank details for a direct deposit. This isn't ideal because you lose control of the transaction. But if you present your offer correctly, they will follow through with the purchase over 90% of the time.
2. Merchant Account with a bank
This is the most professional solution, but also the hardest to achieve.
A merchant gateway means you haven a bank account, called a merchant account, with an actual bank (not online companies like PayPal etc). This allows you to accept credit and debit cards.
This allows you to have your own online merchant gateway instead of using PayPal. This means you can log into a website, enter someone's credit card number, expiry date and CCV (security code), and debit the money from their credit card like magic!
It also means you can pay less merchant fees (closer to 1% - 2% per transaction depending on what industry you are in).
It also means you can get a physical credit card machine that accepts EFTPOS payments when the client doesn't have a credit or debit card, just their normal ATM card.
A merchant account can be difficult to get though, especially when starting a business. Try contacting a smaller bank or a bank you have an existing history with. The bank's main concern is the risk of credit card fraud and customer complaints.
Examples of low risk to them is having a physical store, where the goods are delivered when payment is made.
Examples of high risk is someone that does not have a physical store, and the service is delivered months after the payment is made.
3. Payment processing company like Ezidebit
These companies allow you to not only accept credit cards, but also can direct debit from your customer's bank account and accept Bpay.
It's easy to create an account with them and is a popular way to accept payments among service based industries such as life coaching or personal trainers.
Ezidebit even provides you with an enrolment form that has all the details you need to accept payment.
Note: The client's statement will appear with Ezidebit, so just make them aware of this.
4. Mobile card reader to Accept credit cards on your phone or with separate reader
This allows you to turn your mobile phone into a credit card machine! You will need a device that plugs into your mobile phone to do it.
You can even get a contactless chip reader to accept tap and go payments like PayPass.
The disadvantage with mobile card readers is the credit card will need to be present. So if you're doing payment plans, it will only work for the initial deposit.
You can Google "mobile credit card reader", but here are the top ones right now:
Update: You can now get a separate mobile card reader with square up which also allows you to debit a person's credit card without the card being present (just using the credit card number). This is called the square reader.
Accepting credits cards online or offline is a critical part of your business. We know it can be frustrating to setup, but just know you only have to go through it once. Then accepting credit card payments will be a breeze and you can focus on selling your product or service!
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