View Full Version : Processing Payments

08-31-2009, 10:39 PM
I'm finally going ahead and getting some of this legal stuff taken care of for my new business...so far I've been able to find what I need online. I'm a little bit stuck now, though.

I want to get set up to take payments from clients but I'm really not sure where to begin. There seems to be a hundred options.

1. I'm going to open a business account at my bank. They do offer merchant processing via https://www.merchantconnect.com. I'm not exactly sure what fees are associated with this and how it all works. That's something I'd have to call and ask about.

2. I'd like to be able to accept several payment types: check, debit/credit cards. What I think I want to do is set up a secure portal to accept debit/credit card info, then manually do the payment processing myself. Anyone have any suggestions about this? I want it to be simple for my clients - that way they don't have to interact with any 3rd party.

3. I'm not sure what type of payment portal to go with. As I said, I want to do the processing myself. Should I stick with the service my bank offers, use paypal, what? I know they all charge differently and I'll probably have to find a balance between convenience and cost, but what suggestions do you have?

I think that covers it. I appreciate any help I can get! :)

09-01-2009, 01:00 AM
You'll probably want to offer several methods of payment. When I started I wanted to only take credit cards and I managed to get a merchant account through Authorize.net. One nice thing about Authorize.net is they usually have been integrated into a lot of applications.

Over time some clients requested PayPal so I added that and then later some clients asked to pay by check. I only take checks from longer term clients though. Taking checks is easy. You just have clients send them to you. Do make sure you trust the clients who you let send checks.

PayPal is easy to set up and easy to use. All you really have to do is give clients your PayPal address and they can login and send you the money. I have a Premiere(?) account. I think that's what it's called. You may not need anything more than the personal account. The Premiere account doesn't cost anything, though PayPal does take a fee on every transaction, similar to a merchant account that lets you charge a credit card. The fee is 29 cents on each transaction plus about 3% of the total transaction. On $100 they keep $3 and change.

Merchant accounts will charge similarly to PayPal, usually a little less, but for the most part it's the same fee. They can be a little harder to get and you'll likely be filling out a bunch of forms. With a merchant account you should be able to login directly to their site and enter a card yourself to charge it, but most likely you'll want an application running on your site or some software that connects to the merchant account.

In my case I use an application called ClientExec. It's more a billing application geared specifically to web hosts. I offered web hosting when I first started. It has more features that a web hosting company would use, but since I had bought it already I continue to use it. It does allow me to create a one-off invoice and charge a card. Clients can login and add their credit card, but I usually just grab the info over the phone and enter it myself.

You'll probably want some kind of 3rd party application that manages invoicing as well as having the ability to take credit card info and send it to your merchant account. You'll have to make sure the application can handle whichever merchant you go with.

I do like having the different options for charging clients. Each works best with some clients and I wouldn't want to lose a client because I couldn't take their money. With checks just be careful with who you trust. PayPal will be the easiest to get set up and most people will be fine with it. A merchant account is nice to have, but it will be the hardest to get and possibly the hardest to integrate with your site.

09-01-2009, 01:48 AM
I have always considered going the merchant account way, but for me paypal is enough. The few dollars off the top isnt enough to make my run away yet. I think to offer those type of transactions, you have to pay someone, either merchant fees or paypal.

09-01-2009, 08:43 AM
Accepting multiple types of payment makes sense...does anyone have an experience with the PayPal Payflow Payment Gateway? That gives me all the options and links it up to my merchant account. Then I can either do all the processing myself or have Paypal host it for me. It seems like a great option.

09-01-2009, 11:08 AM
I've used Cardservice International, affiliated with FirstData (formerly, Linkpoint), since 1998. While they may not be the least expensive, I have been totally satisfied with them. They are easily integrated with most website hosts and have an easy to use virtual terminal to enter phone or mail order sales.