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Washington Graphic Services is a Washington DC area Graphic Design Communications Company. We specialize in the design and development of marketing materials, brochures, annual reports, logos, customized graphics, web sites and website maintenance, ecommerce solutions, custom web applications, content management websites and branding.

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Accepting Credit Cards on Your Website

john mier

Accept credit card on your website for:

  • Registrations
  • Conference sign ups
  • Memberships
  • Product purchases
  • Client pay services
  • Donations

If you don't accept credit card you may be missing out on some great business opportunities. Clients often ask me about how they can get started accepting payments in this form, this article provides some basic information on adding credit card payment facilities to your website.

Why Do It?

Credit card payments allow you to take advantage of the following types of customers:

  1. Impulse buyers

    After reading your advertisements and hype on your site, buyers would be all fired up about your product. If they have a means of making a purchase immediately, you've secured that sale. If you only allow cheque payments, the additional time it takes for them to get their cheque book and mail out the cheque may be a deterrence. They may also have second thoughts later.

  2. International customers

    Credit card payment is a tremendous convenience if your customers are overseas. It automatically takes care of the problems of currency differences as well as the time it takes for a cheque to travel to the vendor. You will lose a large number of overseas customers if cheque payment is the only way you can accept payment.

Methods of Accepting Credit Card Payments

There are actually two ways in which you can accept credit cards on your site.

  1. Using Your Own Merchant Account

    To do this, you will need a bank that will allow you to open a merchant account. Requirements for this will vary from country to country, and you should check with your local banks for more information on this.

  2. Through a Third Party Merchant

    There are numerous companies around that are willing to accept credit cards payments on your behalf in exchange for various fees and percentages. These are also known as "payment gateways".

Which Method Should You Use?

The initial costs of opening your own merchant account is usually higher than when you use a third party merchant. Indeed, some third party merchants have no setup fee at all. However, the transaction fee (which is what you pay the bank or third party merchant for each sale) is much higher when you use a third party as compared to when using your own merchant account.

A third party merchant is usually convenient to use when you don't know if you can actually make much out of your product or service. If you just want to test the water to see how things are, this is usually a good way to start. It is also convenient in that the merchant takes care of everything for you. You just get a cheque at the end of each payment period (if you have earned enough) and concentrate on your products, services and customers.

Another benefit of the payment gateway is that if you use a reputable one, your visitors may be more willing to buy your goods online since they trust that merchant to keep their credit card numbers safe.

While having your own merchant account lowers your transaction costs, you have to be careful to minimize your risks since you'll be processing the credit card payments yourself. By risks, I mean that you will have to deal with things like fraud (where people buy things with a stolen credit card number) and chargebacks (where someone forcibly reverses the payment to get a refund through their bank) yourself. This is not to say that there are no risks attendant in using a third party merchant.

Washington Graphic Services can take care of the entire setup, website design and coding to get your credit card system up and running.

John Mier