Do I Need to Accept Credit Cards?
|August 7, 2008||Posted by Business4Moms under E-Commerce||
For online business owners today, offering the options customers want is a vital aspect of winning the sale. Multiple payment methods give consumers a choice, but credit card payments are far and away the most popular. Credit cards are convenient for consumers to use and sites that accept them show higher revenues from impulse purchases and other add-ons.
There are two ways that ecommerce sites can arrange to accept credit card payments. One is by establishing a merchant account through the business owner’s own bank. Another is to use a third-party service to process the payments.
Bank Merchant Accounts – Most banks offer merchant accounts and processing gateways to their account holders. Funds from credit card purchases, less the agreed-upon fees, are deposited into the merchant account, then moved to the owner’s business or personal account on a regular basis (usually within 24 hours). The primary disadvantage is that approval for merchant accounts is more difficult to obtain for internet businesses than for standard retail businesses. Every bank has its own qualification guidelines and fee schedules.
Third-party services such as PayPal eliminate the need for a merchant account. They offer real-time processing of payments and transfer of funds to the business owner’s account for a fee, usually a small flat rate plus a percentage of the sale total per transaction.
Other features available might include a shopping cart that the business owner can install on the website, conversion from U.S. dollars to foreign currency, the ability to accept multiple forms of payment (such as electronic debits or echecks), customer service, and set-up assistance.
PayPal offers three account types, two of which can be used by merchants to accept credit card payments: the Premier Account and the Business Account. An individual can open a Premier Account, but a Business Account can only be opened by a registered business. A 2.9 percent fee is charged for receiving a payment, but as the dollar volume increases, the rate drops. Premier and Merchant Account holders can incorporate special html code into their website to create a “Buy Now” button. With one click, the customer is taken to a payment page to complete the transaction.
PayPal also provides a shopping cart to merchants. This software lets the consumer select multiple items for purchase, then proceed to the payment page to pay for all selections at once.
The cost for setting up a merchant account, processing gateway, and shopping cart can range from $500 to $1,500, more so if the etailer chooses to hire a web master to consult on or install the system.
For the start-up or small business owner, third-party services such as PayPal may provide a more accessible, affordable alternative to traditional banking options.