Accepting credit card payments on your website is a requirement if you wish to do business online. There is simply no other form of virtual payment that is as widely accepted and easy to understand.
To accept credit card payments on your website you will need a merchant account. This service is the interface between your website and the credit card network. It handles the credit and debit of funds transacted by your website as well as the authorization for all transactions. Most merchant accounts will accept all major credit cards so it is likely you will only need on merchant account for your website.
Here are the important factors to consider when choosing a merchant account:
1. Transaction Fees
A transaction fee is a flat rate charged on each transaction regardless of the amount. It typically ranges between $0.20 and 0.35. This minimum fee amount is the reason why many businesses require minimum charge amounts.
2. Discount Rates
A discount rate is a percent fee charged on each transaction. This fee typically ranges between 1.8 and 3%. Internet-based transactions are always charged a higher discount rate than retail-based transactions because the banks believe that swiping a physical card is safer than simply entering the credit card number.
3. Virtual Terminals
Similar to physical terminals seen in retail stores, a virtual terminal is a way for the merchant to accept credit card numbers over the phone. The merchant will have the virtual terminal software on a PC and it will prompt the merchant for all the fields needed to process a payment.
4. Shopping Cart Integration
When your customers are ready to check-out your merchant account needs to be able to accept data from your shopping cart such as the checkout amount. All merchant accounts offer some kind of checkout page where your customer can enter their credit card information. The problem with this setup is it requires your customers to leave your website and enter a completely different to complete the transaction. Most customers will become suspicious at this point and abandon the transaction. The ideal shopping cart integration will allow your website to collect the customer’s financial information and then interact with the merchant account behind the scenes. This will require a programmer to enable this type of setup but the end result is a website that has instant credibility.
Do you have a merchant account for your website? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.