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Taking Online Card Payments Part 1 - Basic

Getting paid, it's the number one reason you run an eCommerce website. It can be a bit of a minefield when you're starting out with your own website, not to mention expensive. There are two main ways of accepting credit and debit cards on your website, what I call the 'soft' option and a 'proper' merchant account. We'll discuss the first method in part one of this article . This is often the easiest, quickest and cheapest option to accept card payments on your website, and there are a number of quality options to get you started.

PayPal

By far the most well known online payment system is PayPal. They offer a range of services to equip your website to receive credit and debit card payments. PayPal Website Payments Standard is an easy and secure way to receive payments online. Getting started is easy and you can add a payment button in just a few minutes. You can receive payments from all major debit and credit cards, as well as bank transfers and payments from a PayPal balance. If you're driving some of your eBay buyers to your site, it makes sense to have PayPal as an option for customers to make payments to you.

For a faster and more professional option, PayPal Express Checkout enables customers to checkout in just three clicks. You can receive payments from all major debit and credit cards, as well as bank transfers and payments from a PayPal balance. This can be used as a sole solution or as an additional payment option in your checkout. If you want to be able to take card payments over the telephone then Website Payments Pro gives you all the benefits of a merchant account and gateway, plus PayPal Express Checkout and Virtual Terminal - all through a single payment relationship. Accept payments directly on your website or via phone, fax, and email. Virtual Terminal is simply an on-line version of the traditional credit card swipe machine, making it possible for you take payments over the phone.




Nochex

Nochex are a leading UK based on-line payment company, specialising in providing on-line payment services for smaller businesses. They offer two basic services for accepting payments, the Seller Account and the Merchant Account. The Seller Account is an ideal entry level account suitable for small businesses and sole traders. Easily collect payments from major credit and debit cards on your website. There's no monthly fee, and a flat rate for transactions of 2.9%+20p. The basic Nochex Seller Account can only be used for UK payments, and is easy to integrate into many popular eCommerce shopping carts.

For larger businesses, or if you need to accept international payments, Nochex offer the Nochex Merchant Account. This offers you a total on-line payment service. Unlike many other payment services, there is no need for a separate internet merchant account and a payment gateway (sometimes very hard to obtain for new businesses without a lengthy trading history). You can accept payments from all major credit and debit cards with no customer sign up required. You get UK phone and email support with a dedicated account manager and competitively tiered transaction rates. The rates are tiered, depending on your turnover and the type of goods or services you offer. There's no monthly fee, just a one time only set up charge.

Moneybookers

Moneybookers is a good option to consider if you have international buyers, with the ability to accept on-line payments from over 30 countries. All that's needed to receive money is for you to simply provide the customer with your email address and they can send you payments via Moneybookers. Anytime someone sends you money using Moneybookers, the funds will be instantly credited to your Moneybookers account balance. The transaction fees for the basic Email Pay Account start at a very attractive 1.9%+19p per payment received, with lower fees for higher turnover.

For easy website integration and a more professional payment solution, there's the Moneybookers Merchant Gateway with fees starting at 2.9%+19p per transaction. This account enables you to accept credit and debit card payments with their secure quick checkout system.
Another good reason to consider Moneybookers for your website, is that they include you in their on-line shopping directory at no extra cost.

Google Checkout

Google Checkout is another popular choice for accepting on-line card payments. It offers users a fast, convenient, and secure way to pay on-line. With Google Checkout, there are no additional monthly, set up or gateway service fees, and there's no charge when you want to transfer funds from your Checkout account to your bank. You can process card payments from Visa (including Visa Electron), MasterCard and Maestro (including Switch/Solo). Many of the popular ecommerce solutions offer easy integration with Google Checkout too. The fees start at 3.4% + 20p per transaction, with lower rates for higher volume.




These payment services are recommended as quick ways of setting up card payments on your website. You don't have to limit yourself to one - you can have them all if you want to - and it's good to give customers a choice. Generally you will pay more in fees for these type of payment gateways, but if you're just setting up your shop, you might not be keen to pay a monthly fee or a set up fee right away, after all it may be a while before you get sales in decent quantities. Eventually you will probably want to set up a full merchant account, which we will discuss in another article.

As usual, we strongly recommend you read all the small print before signing up to any of the payment gateways discussed.
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