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How to Accept Credit Card Payments Online

Online shopping is skyrocketing, with a record number of Canadians now turning to the web to purchase items. With COVID-19 restrictions, almost half of Canadians reported buying more items online since the start of the pandemic. It’s not just novelty shopping anymore. Consumers are buying groceries, getting their prescriptions filled, and having household essentials shipped right to their door. In a recent study, over 90 per cent of Canadians said they plan to either do more online shopping or the same amount as before. And the trend is going to keep going strong. 

What does this mean as a small business owner and entrepreneur? Well, if customers can’t purchase from you online, you’re losing out on a huge target market and potential sales. To take your shop online, you need to have the capacity to accept many payment methods, from PayPal to online debit, Visa to Mastercard. 

As a small business owner, figuring out how to accept credit card transactions online, securely, inexpensively, and easily, can feel like a job in itself. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We’ve created this guide to help you start accepting credit card payments online right away. 

How to simplify credit card payment processing 

Gone are the days of complicated online payments. Accepting credit card payments on your online store is now more simple than ever, and more secure. 

There are plenty of online credit card payment platforms available for all sorts of business owners, small and large. With the growing popularity of online shopping, companies like PayPal, Moneris, and Stripe, as well as online store platforms like Squarespace and WordPress all have integrated credit card payment options. 

Here are a just three of the most popular credit card payment platform options:

1. PayPal

PayPal is one of those multi-functional platforms that works as a payment gateway, a bank account, can handle international currency, and now has a credit card payment integration option. 

In order to use PayPal as a payment gateway for credit card processing, you need to have a business account and link your bank account with it. There are merchant fees, which can vary, so it’s best to do the math and make sure this is the right option for you.

2. Moneris

Moneris is a merchant platform dedicated to bringing payment solutions to business owners, including online credit and debit cards. Moneris provides payment solutions for everything from point of sale (POS) terminals to secure online credit card processing. It’s fully integratable and Moneris offers a simplified pricing plan, which makes it easier for business owners to take control of expenses relating to POS systems.  

3. Square

Like Moneris, Square is another POS system that offers eCommerce solutions. Square also has a per-transaction pricing system with no start-up costs. This is great for low-volume online stores simply because their per-transaction rate is flat, meaning that no matter how much you sell, you pay the same for each transaction. 

How to easily accept credit card payments on your WordPress site

Another way a lot of online businesses accept credit card payments is through their website. Web building platforms, like WordPress, offer a variety of online credit card payment options.

By default, a website hosting platform like WordPress doesn’t actually accept credit card payment options, but it can add this feature through a “plugin.” You can use this option even if you don’t have an official online store. 

The easiest way to accept online credit card payments with WordPress is to install and activate a forms plugin like WPForms or WP Simple Pay. A lot of plugins will have an extra subscription fee on top of the web host fees.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed your plugin, follow the steps to set up your credit card payment form and start accepting credit card payments with WordPress.  

If you’re looking for something a bit more robust, there are a few plugins that offer more, such as automatic subscription renewal. 

What to consider when choosing a payment gateway

Deciding which payment gateway is best for you entirely depends on your individual business needs. Some business owners want to provide the option for their customers to create an account or renew subscriptions, while others might simply need a guest checkout service. Whatever they are, there is most likely a credit card payment gateway that will fit your needs.

Here are five things to consider when choosing a credit card payment gateway for your eCommerce business:

1. Does it display the cost of shipping to customers?

It only makes sense that a credit card payment gateway would offer a cost of shipping feature. But not all options do, or if they do, it’s an extra fee or a higher-priced package. 

A payment gateway system that offers shipping should have up-to-date shipping costs based on the customer’s region, an option for a discounted shipping rate (or free shipping based on point of sale dollar value), and a shipping tracking system or integrated tracking with the shipping company (such as FedEx or UPS). 

2. Does it have an inventory management system?

If you are a business owner who carries inventory, or maybe you do dropshipping and need to keep track of your inventory, your payment gateway system should have the ability to track in real-time. After all, there’s nothing worse than selling products you don’t have (and won’t be able to get) or your potential customers thinking that there isn’t any inventory when there is. 

A payment gateway system that accepts credit cards should also be able to track what’s being sold and what you have left in stock, with you having to manually input information.

3. Does it have subscription renewal capabilities?

A lot of small businesses are now offering subscriptions and auto-renewal features, for things like subscription boxes, membership perks, and exclusive access to content or merchandise. The last thing you want is to have to manually process payments every month.

Many credit card payment gateways offer an auto-renewal and the ability for your clients and customers to create an account. 

4. How user-friendly is the payment gateway system?

This applies to both you on the business end and your customers who are making credit card purchases. If your payment gateway system is too complex, it will hinder both you and your customers, and that spells trouble for your business. 

Some payment systems are simple with an easy-to-use dashboard, while others might require some coding experience. 

5. Price

It bears mentioning that price should always be a consideration. With the plethora of payment gateway options available, prices can vary, but so can features. Do your research. Sometimes a package plan that is less expensive might not offer all the features you need or charge an additional, per-transaction cost. 

When doing your research, take a small inventory of your needs, then have a look at pricing options from there. 

Using third-party apps on your existing or new site

There are a whole host of third-party credit card processing apps that can integrate with your current or new ecommerce website. Most web hosting platforms, such as Squarespace and WordPress, offer a full range of third-party app integration capabilities. But some third-party apps might be available only with some web hosting platforms and not others. 

Third-party apps are applications (or plugins) that you can use integrated with your website in order to accept credit card payments directly on your eCommerce store. Most third-party apps can:

  • Run debit cards
  • Complete credit card processing
  • Provide real-time exchange rates when processing international currencies
  • Link to your business bank account so you can deposit your money there

As many third-party apps offer an e-transaction fee, processing credit card payments is a great way to start out—especially if you’re not going to be processing a large volume of payments. 

Processing credit cards online without a website

There’s also the choice of accepting credit card payments online without actually having a website. This makes sense, particularly if you’re only selling the occasional product or offering unique services. In this case, all you need is an order form with a credit card payment option for your customers. 

There are a few ways you can process credit card payments without a website:

  • This is a PayPal account that allows you to create a link, share it, and receive money directly from customers. There are no monthly fees, but there may be some transaction fees depending on the amount of sale and currency. 
  • SimplyPay: This is much the same as where you create a link and start receiving funds. There is a nominal monthly fee. 
  • Stripe: Stripe is a free invoicing solution with low-cost credit card payment processing solutions. 
  • QuickBooks: QuickBooks is a catch-all for a lot of accounting needs for business owners and it also has a credit card payment feature with invoices. 

Four online fraud trends and how to stay ahead of them

As online sales have skyrocketed, so has the opportunity for fraud, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. As an eCommerce business, you want to make sure that your information and assets are just as secure as your customers’. 

Here are a few online fraud trends and how to stay ahead of them:

1. Card-not-present fraud

Card-not-present (CNP) is exactly what it sounds like: a scam where someone is trying to make an online purchase without having the actual credit card in their hands. This type of fraud happens with both debit and credit cards. 

This is why the security number on the back of the credit card is required during payment processing. Often, if the card is not actually present, the scammer won’t have the information on the back. 

2. Bulk purchasing

Stolen or forged credit cards are often used in odd ways that, with a little knowledge, you can spot quite easily. Things like bulk purchasing when it doesn’t really make sense to do so might raise a red flag (for example, buying ten iPhone chargers). In these cases, it doesn’t hurt to inquire with the credit card company or call the customer yourself. 

3. Friendly fraud

Friendly fraud is not so friendly. This is when a buyer tries to gain money back from a legitimate purchase through the credit card company by claiming the transaction was fraudulent. This is called a chargeback. There are actual professional refunders on the dark web who can lie to online merchants (that’s you) that they never received their purchase. When the credit card company investigates, there is a chance that the chargeback will be deemed valid and you will be out of both the product and the funds. 

The best way to avoid this is to ensure your shipping procedures are seamless. When in doubt, always deliver with a signature required option. Collect as much information from your customers as possible in order to ensure that all their packages are received. 

4. Malware and man-in-the-middle attacks

Malware and man-in-the-middle attacks are corporate network attacks from a remote worker’s home network. Through these attacks, scammers are able to skim sensitive personal information, including credit card numbers, social insurance numbers, and bank account information. 

In these cases, sometimes even the best security systems are foiled. This doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that you can do to prevent malware or man-in-the-middle attacks, though. Your credit card payment gateway should have security features to keep your customers’ information secure. Implementing a real-time network-based transaction monitoring tool can actually catch the fraudulent activity as it is happening. 

Online fraud can be scary, particularly for a small business owner. When you’re investigating online credit card payment gateways, do your research and ensure you’re making the right decisions to keep both you and your customers safe. When in doubt, you might want to consider outsourcing this branch of your business to an IT freelancer who can advise you on security and help you get set up safely and quickly. 

Set your business up for success

Online sales are booming and you want to ensure you’re able to offer your customers a variety of payment options, easily and securely. Now let Ownr help you with your next steps and register your business today. 

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