Although Paypal is a viable option for accepting online payments, there are scenarios where handling online payment on your own website is beneficial. You may consider doing this if:
- sales exceed $5000/month
- over 100 items are offered on your site
- need better tracking for SEO
Setting up your own process for online payments can be tedious and overwhelming. Yet, knowing what’s involved upfront will ease the process. Additional upfront fees are involved with setting up to accept online payments as well as ongoing monthly fees. These costs will be detailed below. We’ll also look at alternative options that make setting up this process much easier.
The items needed to set up your own process are:
- Internet Merchant Account (IMA)
- Payment Gateway
- SSL Certificate
- Approval from credit card processing companies
Internet Merchant Account
This is a special type of account used to accept credit cards online. If you already accept credit cards in your business (which means you have a merchant account), contact your bank to let them know you want an online merchant account.
If you don’t accept credit cards yet, there are dedicated merchant account providers you can use. Your merchant account provider will give you the account details that are necessary to set up online processing. Costs associated with an Internet Merchant Account include 1-2% transaction fees. (compared to Paypal or Google Checkout at 3-5%)
Online transactions require a payment gateway. They may also be known as Payment Service Providers (PSP). They handle the pages on a website where customers submit their payment details. A payment gateway or PSP transfers customer card details and payment instructions to your bank (IMA). Authorize.net is one of the most popular payment gateways. Payment gateways usually have a set up fee ($99 for authorize.net), a monthly cost ($20), plus a transaction fee.
An SSL certificate allows for secure connections over the internet. A secure connection means all data is encrypted. This is required for credit card transactions. A secure connection is indicated when the url address includes an ‘s’ after the http. For example, http://onwardstudios.com indicates a secure connection. (I never enter credit card information that does not have the ‘s’ in the URL address.) An SSL certificate can be purchased from most web hosting companies. Another common source is Verisign. Costs for an SSL certificate can run $30-$200/year.
Approval from Credit Card Companies
If this is the first time for accepting credit cards, you will need to apply for approval from the credit card companies. You may contact each credit card company individually, or use a Payment Processing Company (see below) to pool the application process. There is usually a monthly fee, along with transaction fees, from each credit card company to accept credit cards within your business.
Payment Processing Company
If you are ambitious and up for a challenge you can obtain each of these one-by-one. However, an easier option is to use a payment processing company. They will handle obtaining an internet merchant account, if needed, the payment gateway and the SSL certificate. They will also take you through the steps in obtaining approval from each of the credit card companies to accept credit card charges. There are number of options available, including:
I have used Propay and found them to be very good to work with.
Most online shopping carts also offer services for setting up credit card online payments. Many will handle the IMA account, payment gateway, and SSL certificate. One example of this is BigCommerce. I am most familiar with BigCommerce, but there are certainly other options out there. Shopify is another common one. These are viable options if you have various products to offer.
Although setting up your own processing for accepting online payments can be overwhelming, going with someone like Propay or Paypoint or a shopping cart option makes it easier. Keep in mind the additional costs associated with accepting credit cards through your own account versus someone like Paypal. The Paypal fees (3-5%) are minimal compared to the fees associated with doing it yourself. However, if your scenario requires something other than Paypal, a Payment Processing Company makes the setup and management of accepting credit cards online much easier.
Onward! Studios can assist you in setting this up, if needed.