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How to Accept Credit Card Payments: Your Complete Guide

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Consumer and business technology has progressed at an astounding rate, and businesses must be open to accepting a range of card payments and mobile payment options if they want to make a sale.

Credit card payments are one of the most popular payment methods for Australian shoppers, so businesses risk getting left behind if they don’t accept them. In fact, your customer expects to have a range of options when buying from your business. It can take some time to get your head around the steps involved in accepting credit card payments. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. Let’s explore how to accept credit card payments and set your business up for success.

How To Accept Credit Card Payments In Person

Accepting credit cards for customers in person is easy if you’ve got the right setup. No matter what point of sale (POS) or EFTPOS terminal technology you’re using, the payment processing steps for in-person transactions are pretty much the same.

The Tools Of The Trade: EFTPOS Terminals And Credit Card Readers

When accepting credit card payments in person, common payment services you’ll use in your business include an EFTPOS terminal or credit card reader.

When processing payments with a terminal or reader, you can opt to accept loads of mobile payment options, like Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay.

How Do You Make Plastic Work In Face-To-Face Transactions?

When accepting credit card payments on an EFTPOS terminal or credit card reader, here’s what happens:

  1. The customer swipes, inserts or taps their credit card or mobile/wearable device on the payment processor.
  2. The processor tells the customer’s issuing financial institution (like a bank or credit card company) to check fund levels or credit limits and potential fraud.
  3. If approved by the issuer, your business will be credited with the transaction amount.

Here’s What Else You Need to Know

When accepting in-store payments from credit cards, it’s also handy to consider that:

  • Some EFTPOS providers offer extras such as free EFTPOS machine features with their terminals or credit card readers. 
  • There are costs associated with a terminal or reader, so be sure to find out what they are.
  • It might be better for your business to buy a terminal, or perhaps leasing is a better way to go.
  • Your provider might offer solutions to eliminate merchant fees and terminal rental – be sure to ask them how. 
  • You may need 24/7 customer support, so check how available your provider is when you need help.

How To Accept Credit Card Payments Over the Phone

Most payment providers also give you the option of processing credit card transactions over the phone (also called MOTO payments). You just manually add your customer’s credit card details into your EFTPOS terminal. You’ll need their credit card number, expiry date and CVC or CVV. This feature may need to be set up by your EFTPOS provider once you sign up, so make sure to ask about this during the setup process.

How To Accept Credit Card Payments Online

Keen to be able to take online payments? Your business can accept online credit card payments in two ways – through your own online business or a third-party website. Either way, you’ll need a merchant account and a credit card payment gateway to process those sales.

A Merchant What And A Gateway Who?

It’s okay; you’ve got this. A merchant account (sometimes called a merchant facility) is simply an online bank account you can set up to accept online credit card payments. When a customer buys something from your business, the account temporarily holds the money before moving it to a linked business account. 

But before you set up this account, you’ll need a payment gateway. A simple payment gateway processes online payments, making sure money moves safely between a buyer and a seller. Once the credit card details have been approved through the gateway, the funds are moved into your bank account. Because payment gateway providers manage the security of your customer’s card details, you don’t have to worry about it.

Setting Up These Services

When setting up a payment gateway service for your website, you need to add a virtual shopping cart or an online payment form. To make this work, you sign a deal with a trusted bank or payment provider. This lets you process your customers’ card details securely.

The process of online payments is actually fairly simple. It requires: 

  • the customer to enter their details on your online store’s checkout page
  • the acquiring bank to approve or decline the purchase 
  • the online store to complete the sale when approved, and the customer’s credit card network to transfer the funds to your merchant account.

Introducing Third-Party Payment Processors

Don’t have a merchant account? Don’t worry. Third-party payment processors accept credit cards online on your behalf. This greatly simplifies the process, as all of the components needed to accept online payments are in one place and taken care of by your chosen processor.

Merchant accounts often come with set-up fees and may include ongoing fees, so a third-party processor’s accessibility and low costs make this a great option for new businesses. 

Third-party processors also offer extensive anti-fraud measures, so using their services also lowers the chances of credit card fraud. This way, both your merchant account and your customer’s bank account remain safe.

Accepting Payments Online: Some Suggestions

There’s plenty to consider when choosing to accept payments online, particularly around security and potential fees. Here are some things you might want to consider. 

  • Know the fees involved with your chosen online payment gateway or merchant account before signing up.
  • Your chosen services should provide a 24/7 support network.
  • Always check the set-up process for your services, including how long they may take. If you’re starting your first business, it’s a good idea to set up your payment gateway and/or merchant account ahead of time.
  • Ensure you and your customers’ payment details are secure with your service of choice.
  • Check that your chosen payment platform is compatible with your website, its hosts and services.

A Quick Word About Fees And Charges

When you accept credit cards in your business, whether online or in person, there will always be fees and costs. Our hot tip? Always check out what kind of fees are associated with the payment method you’re considering before signing up. Here are the fees you can expect.

  • Payment Processing Fees: Most credit card payment services charge a small processing fee with every transaction. Generally, it’s a percentage of the transaction, and/or may include a fixed amount. The fees vary depending on the level of service you’ve chosen from your provider, your location and the type of credit card used. Don’t want to be slugged with fees? With Smartpay Zero Cost™ EFTPOS you’ll never have to worry about fees again.
  • Set-up Fees: Some online payment services charge a set-up fee to create a payment gateway or merchant account. This may be a one-off payment or a small ongoing fee. The cost is based on the size of your business and the service you choose.
  • Account Fees: This fee covers the cost of your account and is generally charged monthly or yearly. These fees are fixed and are based on the size of your business, the number of online and in-person sales you do and the features of the package you’ve chosen from your provider.

But Wait, There’s More

There are a few other ways your customers can pay with their credit cards. These payment methods might also work for your business and give your customers even more options.

  • BPAY: If you’re happy to use a billing system rather than accept immediate payment, BPAY is the way to go. With BPAY, your business can take payments from credit cards and other options through a customer’s online banking system, using a customer reference number and biller code.
  • Direct Debit Services: Direct debit allows your bank to withdraw funds from customer accounts. The amount may be fixed or variable, scheduled for specific dates or at regular intervals. It’s a great choice for businesses offering ongoing services or products.
  • Global Commerce Websites: Want to focus on selling your product rather than creating your own website? You can choose to host your products through a commerce website. These sites can distribute your goods efficiently around the world. Small businesses just starting out will often turn to websites like Amazon or Etsy as a way to get started.

The Best Fit For Your Business

The right credit card processing solutions for your business depend on how you want to accept payments and what works for your customers. If you’re just looking to process transactions online, consider whether hosting your own website or seeking third-party support, is best for you. The costs, ease and accessibility of these payment options make them attractive.

To accept payments in-store, a credit card terminal should be your first choice. Want to appeal to as many customers as possible? Go for a machine that offers flexible payment methods, such as contactless, Apple Pay, Google Pay and more.

For those in-store payments, Smartpay is best in class. Our terminals are suitable for businesses of all sizes, in all industries. They offer machine portability, all-day battery life, 24/7 support, secure payments and a stress-free setup. If you’re keen to learn how to accept credit card payments for your small business, or large business, get started with Smartpay today!

Want to know more about surcharging?

Learn more about how surcharging on EFTPOS works, or what you could save for your business, by getting in touch with the team at Smartpay.

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