How to accept credit card payments on your website

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Online credit card orders could be the missing link in building your Internet nirvana, but how do you go about setting the system up and what are the best options?

1. Establish a merchant account with your bank

In order to process credit card orders you will need a merchant account with your bank. They charge you a setup fee, there will be a network fee and they put you on a plan that is a percentage commission representative of the volume and value of your transactions, somewhere ranging from 1.85% to 5.90%.

When you contact your bank they will arrange for a merchant advisor to send you out a range of forms to start the application process. They will allocate you a ETSL (Electronic Transaction Services Limited) merchant number. This organisation basically provides the national eftpos facility in New Zealand.

2. Decide how you want to process credit cards

Once you have established a Merchant account with your bank for accepting Internet Credit Card payments, you will need to enable your Internet web site for receiving payments. There are a few different ways to do this.

The automated option

The automated option is to use the software (payment gateway) from a third part organization to process and manage the transaction process. This is appropriate if you plan to have some volume of transactions or have less time to manually process. However, the third party provider will charge an extra ten to fifty dollars and set a limit on the number of transactions per month. They will then charge a variable rate per transaction.

There will be some development required by your website designer to prepare your website to use the payment gateway and the third party provider should supply plenty of resources to get the technical aspects done. Although the lower monthly rate may appear the better deal check the flexibility of the technology and support provided. Sometimes spending a bit more is better. Direct payment solutions and paystation are worth a look as viable third party partners. In terms of security there are options for letting the third party handle this or your website will require a secure feature (SSL certificate) depending on how you want to technically set up the process.

You can also purchase a module that integrates your website directly with the bank; this is only a good option if you have access to very good technical skills to assist and good ongoing support.

If you are comfortable with your money going abroad then paypal may be for you. They have good exposure with internet consumers and are known as a common payment merchant.

The manual option

You can create a secure page; one with a stand alone or shared SSL certificate (a technical security mechanism that you purchase or share), and a form to capture the credit card details. Credit card and customer details are saved securely in a database for a limited period and you use this information to process the transaction manually via paper-based or eftpos solutions. This option is good if you have a lower volume of transactions but it end up just as expensive as the other options depending on the capabilities of your website technology and web designer.

By Hayden Breese

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