One of the best features of owning an online-based business is the amount of money you save on start up costs, and ongoing overhead in comparison to businesses with physical locations. Not only do you not have to pay high rental or mortgage payments for the space, but you save on utilities, business insurance, and even credit card processing accounts!
As an Internet business, you almost have a requirement to accept credit card payments for your products or services. Have you ever been to a website that does not accept credit cards as payment? Consider how you would feel if you wanted to purchase something online but you could not enter your payment details in the site – would you take the time to write a check, put it in an envelope and mail to the company or would you just find the next website offering the same products that DOES accept credit cards? Web sites that accept credit card payments have sales that are 50-400% higher than web sites that do not accept credit payments. It is so easy to get set up to accept credit card payments that there really is no excuse for an Internet business not to accept them!
As a web business, you have a choice. You can apply for a traditional merchant account at any of the local banks and hope to get accepted (and likely pay a set up fee and sometimes an ongoing monthly fee for having the service), or you can use one of the numerous card processing companies that operate online and are geared towards online businesses just like yours. Many of the card processing providers you can use online allow you to set up your website for accepting credit cards with no set up fees!
Merchants Providing Credit Card Processing
When you are just starting out as an online business, or you are a small business- you are probably not going to want any credit card processing provider that requires you process a minimum number of transactions each month. It is hard to predict what your minimum will be for a new business, and it might be better to pay a slightly higher per-transaction fee than to pay a higher monthly fee in exchange for a lower per-transaction fee based on a minimum number of cards processed each month.
Paynet Systems: Offers a variety of merchant accounts, with a few focused on Internet based businesses. You can get your account set up to accept credit card payments (ATM, and Debit also) for no set up fee. You pay a small monthly fee for the account ($ 8-10) and fees per transaction processed.
Merchant Express: Offers a merchant account for Internet businesses that can accept credit card payments in real-time. Your account with Merchant Express will also give you access to a free "virtual terminal", which will allow you to accept credit card payments by phone or mail as well as online.
Charge.com: Similar to Merchant Express in that it provides both a real time processor for web site orders, and a virtual terminal in case your customers provide their payment information via telephone, fax or mail. The software will automatically send you an email to help you fill the customer's order once the card has been successfully processed.
There are many other providers that allow internet merchant account providers that can set your internet business up with the ability to accept credit card payments at no set up fee. Researching each company before signing up will help you compare the features and make sure you sign with a company that can provide you with the necessary options for your business and at the lowest fees.