Do you need to accept credit cards online?
There are three different processing methods that you can use for accept credit card payments. So which one is right for your business?
Well, that depends on the type of business you have, the type of products and/or services you offer, and whether or not you need to set up recurring monthly billing, or not.
Let me explain…
Accepting credit card payments online
What are the three methods you can use for accepting credit card payments?
- direct linking to your website
- using your gateway as a virtual terminal
- integrating your gateway to your shopping cart software linked on the site (API Integration)
Retail merchant accounts differ from online merchant account in one major way — the latter does not use a credit card machine.
Where the retail account is concerned, the terminal of the credit card is usually pre-programmed and shipped to the business. In essence, the terminal is the method or tool you use to link your bank account to the credit card of the customer.
Online merchant accounts operate differently.
The payment gateway is the source through which your bank account and the customer’s credit card is linked.
And your payment gateway can be utilized in three manners…
Payment gateway integration
When the gateway is linked to the website by way of the shopping cart (either an online service or a software program), this is where integration plays an extremely important role.
You must ensure that all the components will fit together prior to registering with a provider of a merchant account. This is important because not all shopping carts are compatible with every gateway. There are a number of business owners who have bought costly software to serve as their shopping cart only to discover afterwards that it is not compatible with their merchant account and gateway.
So check before you buy… or sign up with a merchant account provider.
For online security you will need to ensure:
- the security of your shopping cart
- that the shopping cart is linked securely to the website
- that a SSL certificate is in place
Gateway as virtual terminal
Whenever your gateway is used as a virtual terminal, it requires that you log into your account in order to process payments by directly entering the credit card information of your customers.
Simply fill in the blanks in order to get the process started.
This method is ideal for web designers, accountants, attorneys and other professional practices in which customers are not there in person to present a physical credit card.
Accepting credit card online via this method will be better served when some type of authorization form is used for the credit card that can be filled out and faxed by customers. This will safeguard you against possible chargebacks.
Additionally, an SSL certificate is not required to use this method.
Though this payment processing method does not directly involve your website, it is nonetheless the simplest of the three methods to use.
Direct integration with your website
Direct linking is another method of linking your website to your gateway.
Essentially, a code for “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” can be generated by the gateway. If you make the decision to directly link your gateway to the website by utilizing gateway generated code, then integration is not a difficult task. As long as you are aware of how to add HTML code to the pages of your website.
This method for integrating with the website is ideal for service providers who offer monthly subscription, membership sites and businesses the offer products for sale. In addition, you typically do not require a SSL certificate, in view of the fact that the online security function is handled by the payment gateway that is being used.
The method that is right for you will depend on the business you operate ,and how payment processing fits into your general business model.
There are weaknesses and strengths associated with each method, primarily involving:
- how difficult or easy it can be integrated into your website
- the amount of effort and time that is involved in processing the payment
- the steps you need to take to ensure that your transactions are always secured
Your best best?
When in doubt you can ask your web designer or the vendor you’re speaking with which method might be right for you.
In any event, any gateway you choose is flexible enough to handle all three methods for you.
I hope you found this information helpful. Please feel free to share your comments below.
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