Top 5 Ways to Accept Online Payments from Customers

online paymentsCha-ching! Let the good times swipe! It’s never been more important or easier to accept credit card payments for your products or services. Making the purchasing experience as easy as possible for your customers is key.

Who even carries cash anymore? Not too many of us. With the points programs connected to the various credit cards and the ease of the quick swipe, data shows that over 70% of our purchases are done with a debit or credit card.

Get this: Varied market research firms predict that by 2017, we’ll be up to almost 80% of all purchases being made with plastic. If you are in business, you need to accept credit cards and other services that ease the transfer of funds – right into your bank account. Take a look at some of the more popular methods that successful online merchants are using:

1. Stick with the Biggies: Visa, American Express, Discover, and MasterCard. Let the rest go. Yes, you’ll have to pay a nominal fee per swipe, but this is the way of the world. Build these fees into your sales margins as you set your price points, and you’ll be all set.

2. Credit Card Readers: Make the process easy! Use one of the stress-free new methods. There are so many websites out there that make the apps and hardware – for example, Intuit, which is one of the more efficient and effective apps and credit card readers. The credit card reader clips right into your cell phone, and you’re up and running. For online processing, a lot of these services can sync right to QuickBooks, as well, and the customer service folks will talk you right through it.

3. Chase QuickPay: This is a free service, and neither the merchant nor the customer must have a Chase account. (Of course, the process is a whole lot more efficient if one or both parties have accounts from this institution, though.) If a customer requests to pay this way, the merchant needs to enroll in the Chase QuickPay service, and then it’s easy to accept the incoming payment. It generally arrives into your linked bank account within 24 hours, but given certain circumstances, it can take a bit longer than that.  A lot of online shoppers make their purchases at night, so it’s important to note that with this service, if either party does not have a Chase account, the amount of time it takes for the transfer of funds to occur may increase.

4. PayPal: What’s worse than identity theft? Not much. What a headache! More and more people are shopping with PayPal because it keeps all financial information completely secure and not floating around on the Web. The customers’ financial information is not shared with any merchants. Customers’ bank account(s) or credit card(s) can be linked to their PayPal account, and/or they can keep a balance in their account. So when the customer finds that perfect item on your website, it’s 100% easy to click and buy. The cost of the shopping will first come out of their Pay Pal account; if that account is empty, no worries. The purchase amount will quickly be retrieved from the next account listed (either a bank account or a credit card). Voila: Financial Information is protected, payment is transferred really quickly,  and YOU have a happy customer!

5. Good ol’ Western Union: Yes, they’re still around, and they have jumped into the times by offering a “zap.” Let’s face it; everyone is completely vulnerable to the impulsive, quick buys. That’s what you want! Online retailers can accept an old-fashioned check through Western Union’s MoneyZap program. It’s hard to believe, but more than 80 million American consumers do NOT use credit cards. (Go Grandma!) Hey, a lot of people have good reason to fear identity theft, and if that’s a big concern, this service might be the way to go for your customers. This one is a small charge to use this service, but like PayPal, it’s one of the safer methods.

So, you’ve had the million dollar idea, you’ve got your funding, and your business is up and running. Congratulations! Consider these ways to increase your business by multiplying the swipes and upping those revenues! You’ll be walking around hearing that “cha-ching!” song all day long. (And really, that’s not a real song. Go on. Make one up, and jump and click your heels as you collect those revenues!)

Valerie Wilson is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics including finance, entrepreneurship, and online buying.

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