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How to accept credit card payments online

If you’re launching a startup or growing your business, here are the easiest ways you can accept credit card payments online or via phone.

Having an online presence opens up tons of opportunities for businesses looking to attract customers from all over the world. But before you can start taking orders, you’ll need to set up at least 1 payment option.

You can set up card payments for your online business through:

  • Your bank. Most large banks offer business accounts complete with payment processing. This is often convenient if you are already a customer.
  • A payment gateway. These companies specialise in setting up online payment systems that integrate into your website.
  • Through an ecommerce platform. If you're set up with a website via an ecommerce platform you can probably use the platform's own payment processing tools.

When deciding on the best approach for your business you'll need to consider the payment processing fees, the services offered and how well they integrate into your business's online presence.

Merchant account credit card payment acceptance

Merchant accounts are provided by banks and let you accept credit card payments online or in-person. Usually, merchant accounts can be tailored to suit the specific needs of your business.

You can get a merchant account with most banks in Australia, including ANZ, CommBank, NAB and Westpac. Some of these merchant accounts offer complete online payment packages, including an online payment gateway.

Others may be available only after you have set up a third-party payment gateway service. This makes the latter more like regular bank accounts, where you receive the payment after an online order is processed.

Payment gateways

An online payment gateway is a secure service that lets you accept payments from your website via a dedicated payment form. In a sense, it’s the online equivalent to the card reader you might use to accept in-store payments.

Some payment gateway services offer their own accounts where you can store the money received from purchases. Others can be linked with your merchant account. Either way, once your customer clicks "buy" on your website, they’ll be taken to the payment gateway. This is where they fill out their payment details and confirm the order. The payment can then be processed into your chosen online payment account.

What are the most common payment gateway services in Australia?

There is a wide range of payment gateway options available online, each with their own benefits, features and pricing options. It’s a good idea to compare a few options based on your business goals and needs.

But if you’re just getting your head around accepting payments online, here are some examples of popular payment gateway services in Australia:

  • Braintree
  • Card Access Services
  • Cybersource
  • eWay
  • Fat Zebra
  • Merchant Warriors
  • PayPal
  • Pin Payments
  • SecurePay
  • Shopify
  • Stripe

How to accept credit card payments over the phone

Many of the payment gateway services listed above can also help you process card payments over the phone.

Interactive voice response (IVR) is a popular option for small businesses. This is an automated phone technology that lets customers select from a predetermined menu. The technology also allows customers to transact and make purchases with their credit cards without the need for a human agent.

Compare ecommerce platforms that also offer payment processing

1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Starting price Hosting
Square E-commerce
Square E-commerce
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
$0/mo + processing fees of 2.2%
Hosted
Easy-to-use online store builder lets you create beautiful layouts to help drive business
Squarespace
Squarespace
Payment processing, Website builder, Shipping software, Scheduling
$12/mo
Hosted, Self-hosted
Create a website that brings your ideas to life.
BigCommerce
BigCommerce
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
$29.95/mo
Hosted
BigCommerce is an all-in-one e-commerce platform created to help you sell more.
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Just like merchant accounts offered by banks, some of these services offer complete packages and others simply offer a gateway that you can use with a merchant bank account. SecurePay, for example, offers a package that combines the payment gateway with an online merchant account as well as a simple payment gateway you can use with your existing merchant account.

Other services that let customers pay with credit cards online

While merchant accounts and payment gateways are the 2 key options to consider when you want to accept credit card payments through your online store, there are several other services you may want to consider based on your business structure and needs.

These include:

  • BPAY. Want to give your customers the option of using BPAY instead of a credit card? You can talk to your bank about adding this option or contact BPAY directly.
  • Direct debit services. If you’re running a subscription service or charging ongoing fees, you may want to consider a payment service that gives customers the option of direct debits. Some examples include Ezidebit (which is also a regular payment gateway provider), QuickPay and NAB Direct Debit.
  • Mobile payment options. While not technically a complete payment service, mobile payment platforms such as Apple Pay and Google Pay can add another layer of security for your customers. Many merchant accounts and payment gateways are already compatible with these services but not all of them are. So make sure you check the options available if you want to accept Apple Pay, Google Pay or any other mobile payment service.
  • Global commerce websites. If you’re planning to set up your business on a site like eBay or Etsy, these websites already have payment gateways in place. So you’ll just need to set up an account where you can receive the payments your customers make.

More information about card processing for small to medium sized businesses

What fees apply when I accept credit card payments online?

It's vital to compare fees and charges between different payment solutions. Over time, and with enough transactions, even a small difference in the amount charged per transaction adds up.

Pricing and fee structures vary widely but you can expect to pay some kind of ongoing account fee, plus a percentage per transaction.

Payment processing fees

Most online credit card payment services charge fees as a percentage of each transaction plus a fixed dollar amount. Here's a simple example taken from a payment gateway provider's website:

  • 1.75% + $0.30 AUD per transaction

This means if a customer spends $300 online with your business in one transaction, the platform charges you $5.25 (that's the 1.75%) plus 30 cents. So your total fees end up at $5.55.

Payment platforms often have various tiers of service, with different charges based on the level of customer support and the volume of transactions. And charges and fees often differ based on location, with international cards incurring higher fees than domestic cards.

Set-up fees

Some online payment solutions will charge you a one-off set-up or service fee to establish the payment gateway or account. The costs usually depend on factors such as the size of your business and the type of payment solution you choose, so you may want to request a quote before signing up for a merchant account and/or payment gateway service.

Account fees

The account fees you’ll pay are usually monthly or yearly charges that are set at a fixed rate. These fees could vary based on a range of factors, including the size of your business, the estimated number of transactions and the features or package you choose. It’s usually relatively easy to budget for account fees because they are a fixed price and charged at regular intervals.

Finder survey: How often are Australians charged extra for paying by card?

ResponseWAVICSAQLDNSW
Less often32.04%26.89%28.77%30.46%24.84%
Not sure31.07%22.73%30.14%22.84%22.67%
At least once a week14.56%20.08%17.81%17.26%22.36%
Once a month10.68%7.95%8.22%7.61%8.39%
2-3 times a month9.71%18.18%13.7%18.78%13.04%
Daily1.94%4.17%1.37%3.05%8.7%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1004 Australians, December 2023
Data for ACT, NT, TAS not shown due to insufficient sample size. Some other states may also be excluded for this reason.

How to compare online credit card payment options

Keep these factors in mind when you’re looking at ways to accept credit card payments online, so you can find the solution that works for you.

  • Fees. This is one of the most important factors to consider. Make sure you factor in all set-up, account and payment fees, along with your estimated online sales. This will help you find an option that balances your costs and profits.
  • Set-up process. Most online payment solutions will give you estimates of how long it will take to set up. Generally, the complete package options that are offered by some merchant accounts and payment gateway providers will be the fastest to set up because everything is bundled together.
  • Support services. If you’re new to ecommerce, make sure you weigh the support services available through your merchant account or payment gateway account, so you can find an option that will work for you.
  • Payment data. To help keep your accountant or accounting team happy, make sure you check how payment data is reported and presented through the merchant account or payment gateway service.
  • Website compatibility. Most major online payment platforms are compatible with website hosts and services. But compatibility also means looking at how the payment process fits with the design of your website. So when you’re considering a merchant account package or payment gateway, make sure you look at how payments are processed and the way this could impact your customer’s experience.

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6 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    BillJanuary 20, 2019

    How does processing credit card payments via email work?

      AvatarFinder
      JohnJanuary 21, 2019Finder

      Hi Bill,

      Thank you for reaching out to finder.

      The process of CC payments online is show below:

      The authorization process goes roughly like this:
      1. Your customer buys an item on your site with a credit or debit card.
      2. That information goes through the payment gateway, which encrypts the data to keep it private, and sends it to the payment processor.
      3. The payment processor sends a request to the customer’s issuing bank to check to see that they have enough credit to pay for your stuff.
      4. The issuer responds with a yes (an approval) or a no (a denial).
      5. The payment processor sends the answer back to you that the sale was approved and also tells your merchant bank to credit your account.

      The second piece of the process is the settlement:
      1. The card issuer sends the funds to your merchant bank, which deposits the money into your account.
      2. The funds are available.

      The email you are pertaining to is normally the email invoice that the merchant sends to the buyer, on the email is a link of where the buyer could pay the transaction. Hope this helps!

      Cheers,
      Reggie

    Default Gravatar
    JulieMarch 22, 2013

    When taking a credit card payment over the phone, what is the legal position when other party gives credit card with name not theirs.

      AvatarFinder
      JacobMarch 22, 2013Finder

      Hi Julie. You should be aware of the merchant’s responsibilities under the terms and conditions of the merchant agreement. It is the merchant’s responsibility, at all times, to ensure that the purchaser of the goods and services is the genuine cardholder. According to the NAB Card Protection Fraud Booklet, ‘Your merchant agreement specifies that you are responsible for preventing fraud occurring via your merchant services, ensuring the physical security of your merchant equipment and the protection of cardholder information.’ The booklet goes on to say, ‘At no times should a merchant process transactions on behalf of a third party. Not only will you pay the merchant service fee but you will also be liable for any charge backs that arise from these transactions. Processing transactions on behalf of a third part without prior authority from NAB, is a breach of your merchant agreement and may result in the termination of your merchant services.’

      The same document from Westpac builds on this by saying, ‘At all times, the onus is on you (the merchant) to verify the purchaser is the genuine cardholder. This applies to all merchants irrespective of the method by which credit card payments are accepted. It’s particularly important for Internet and MOTO (Mail Order & Telephone Orders) to identify the purchaser,’ it continues. ‘If you sell goods to a purchaser who is not the genuine cardholder, you (the merchant) may be liable for the charge-back.’

      To conclude, ‘It is emphasised that authorisation does NOT constitute verification of the purchaser – the transaction can be fraudulent even though authorisation is obtained.’

      Julie – that’s how the banks view this type of transaction.

      Jacob.

      Default Gravatar
      ChrisMay 3, 2017

      So let’s say the merchant was to create a “credit card authorisation form” for customers to sign and send it back (with perhaps copies of ID & credit cards).
      Would the card holder still be able to make a dispute?
      What happens if the card holder makes a dispute saying that the form was never signed by him/her (and also copies of ID & cards were not sent)?

      AvatarFinder
      MayMay 11, 2017Finder

      Hi Chris,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      If the cardholder can prove that they have not signed the authorization and if they were not properly verified by the merchant, then the cardholder can file a dispute and the merchant may have to give a refund.

      So it’s important on the merchant’s part to verify the genuine cardholder and keep a photocopy of the cardholder’s ID’s (with signature) and credit card as your proofs in case of customer disputes/complaints.

      Cheers,
      May

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