The Benefits of Accepting Credit Cards on Your Website

A simple function to offer to customers that you simply cannot ignore

If you currently have or are considering building a website, but are not planning on accepting debit or credit cards, you might be seriously shortchanging yourself. In fact, without offering your website visitors the ability to use their plastic money on your website, you will probably never know how much business you are missing out on until you do. Making matters worse, once you find out how easy it is to set up a website to accept debit and credit cards, you will probably wonder why you didn't do it sooner.

Why Do It?

In today's world, plastic money is simply a fact of life. The development of technology that not only made plastic easier to use for both the customer and the vendor has heated up even more. This doesn't even begin to consider the impact debit cards have had on the whole process. And just when you thought it was safe to go back into the market, the Internet makes it even easier to buy without even leaving your home or office.

Just in terms of websites, debit and credit card payments allow vendors to take advantage of three types of customers:

  1. The general consumer. This is the average Joe who wants to shop from his or her desktop. After all, why stand in line at the store when you can Google it and pay for it, all with a click of the button?
  2. Impulse buyers. After stumbling onto your website a visitor decides to buy your product instantly, and because all they need is plastic to seal the deal, the purchase is made.
  1. The international customer. The Internet has literally brought the world to your door, even those who are overseas. Problems with currency differences are also a thing of the past. There's little telling how many sales you lost if a customer's check payment was the only way you could get a sale from another country.

    Opening Your Business to Debit and Credit Card Payments

    There are two methods of accepting plastic money on your website. These are:

    1. Using a merchant account. Having a merchant account will allow you to accept payments via debit or credit card. Whether you create your own merchant account or enter an agreement with a payment processor who in turn operates a merchant account, you will still need to have a business bank account. However it is done for you, you will have a merchant ID. This will become the portal which will allow you to accept or decline a customer's credit card. In essence, it will become a virtual vendor terminal.
    2. Using a payment gateway. There are numerous independent companies that will accept credit card payments on your behalf for a percentage and various fees. These are also called third-party merchants.

    Which Method is Best For You?

    The method for accepting credit cards for payment is entirely up to you, and there are advantages and disadvantages to both methods. The initial costs are usually higher for setting up a merchant account for credit card processing. In fact, as an added incentive to use their service, many third-party merchants require no set up fees at all.

    On the other hand, transaction fees with third-party merchants are usually much higher than with merchant accounts.

    If you are not sure how much money you will make with a website, it might be best to start out with a third-party merchant. To just "test the water," third-party merchant accounts are a great way to go. By using this method, the merchant also does all the work for you, which makes it a great time saver. The extent of your involvement in the process consists of receiving a payment at the end of each period. These merchants include Paypal, Digital River, and others.

    With a merchant account, although you have transaction fees that are considerably less, you are responsible for dealing with issues such as fraud on your own.

    Putting Yourself in Business

    After you have gotten all of the accounting business for your site out of the way, it's time to set up your order form or shopping cart on your website.

    Each vendor has a different method for this, but most will provide you will pre-made forms to customize for your product or service.