In today’s society cashless transactions are becoming extremely common. In countries such as Canada 95% of all transactions are cashless. This trend follows through for online businesses too. On average, 85% of all transactions online are done with a credit card.
Considering how prevalent credit card transactions are it only makes sense to be ready to accept credit card payments at your online business. Processing credit card transactions is fairly easy to do and consists of three simple steps. To accept credit card payments you must have a merchant account, have the software required to securely process payments and have a business related Internet Service Provider.
The key to accepting credit card payments is having a special type of account called a merchant account. A merchant account is a special account that allows money be directly deposited and withdrawn for refunds. You may already have a merchant account for normal business but you will likely need to open another one for online payments due to the greater risk of fraud.
There are many merchant account brokers available that can make the process of obtaining a merchant account a lot easier. You must be careful though that they do not over charge for their services. To open and use a merchant account you do not need to buy specific software or hardware from them, a common ploy to earn more money from you. Opening a merchant account should not cost more than $100 and the service fees during a month should not exceed about 7% of your sales.
While you do not need to purchase hardware or software from your merchant account broker, you do need to have some type of processing solution. You have two options in this case; you can either purchase or lease a credit card processing machine from your bank and do things manually, or purchase software that automates the process for you. The option that you choose will depend upon the amount of business that you conduct but most people find it easier to use automated software. While a hardware solution may be slightly cheaper, you should not pay more than about $400 for a software solution.
Your Internet service provider does make a difference as to the costs and options available to you for credit card processing. Some ISPs will offer credit card processing, the fee should not exceed $10 a month, while other ISPs only offer web space and require you to seek other secure solutions.
The basic requirement for online credit card processing, after you obtain your merchant account and processing solution, is a secure server. A secure sever allows a user to be confident in entering their financial details to complete an order. If your ISP does not provide secure server access, then you can rent space on a secure server. Neither the space on a secure server or the services offered by your ISP should exceed $10 a month.
If you are finding that the monthly fee is too high you do have the option of purchasing a security certificate. A security certificate authenticates you and the purchaser thus ensuring that the transaction has not been compromised by hackers or other means. A security certificate will cost you $100 to $350 a year.
Once these three components are working you are ready to open your site for business. One thing that you will need, and is often included with either your secure server or software processing solution, is sort kind of an order processing form and software. Depending upon your business you may be able to make your own custom form or you may need the services of a shopping cart style program. A more complex shopping program can be easily purchased for as little as $30.
As you can see, the process for excepting online credit card payments is not complex but may involve a bit of work depending upon your business. If you have a small number of transactions then a hardware solution may be the best for you. However, if you have a high volume of customers an automated software solution may be the best solution. Regardless of which way you decide to go be sure to investigate your options and ensure that you are getting the best deal possible.