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How to Accept Payments Online

Leva Duell

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Increase sales by accepting credit cards.

Credit cards are the most popular way to pay for products and services on the Internet. The majority of online customers will pay by credit card, debit card, electronic check, or PayPal. Very few people will mail in a check or money order. If you are not accepting credit cards online via a secured server, you will lose sales. The more card types you can accept, the better your sales will be.

You typically need a merchant account to accept payments online.

To accept online payments, you’ll need a merchant account, a payment gateway, and a shopping cart. A shopping cart on a web site collects the payment information, communicates with the payment processor and gateway, verifies that the credit card or echeck is good, and returns the authorization or denial to your site. This all happens very fast.

You can set up a thank you page on your site that will automatically appear when the payment is authorized. When selling ebooks or software, you can put your download links in your thank you page and automate the complete process so people can buy from your site 24/7.

You’ll typically pay an activation fee and monthly fees for both the merchant account and the shopping cart (approximately $30/month for each).

I recommend 1shoppingcart if you are already generating a good amount of sales and will use your own merchant account.

This is one of the most powerful shopping carts I’ve worked with. You can set up many products, do recurrent billing, set up membership sites, provide upselling options, have your download page expire automatically after a certain period of time, and provide your own affiliate programs. They also provide unlimited sequential autoresponders.

They have many plans depending on your needs. You can start with the basics and upgrade anytime as needed. I like the convenience of having the shopping cart and autoresponders all in one convenient place. 1shoppingcart is one of the best options available.

How to process payments without a merchant account

Third party providers allow you to take payments online without having your own merchant account and without paying monthly fees.

Third party payment processors include PayPal, Clickbank and 2checkout.

A third party provider gives you a link to a secure site where your customers place orders using their credit card or check. You receive your payment from the provider instead of from a bank or financial institution.

It’s easier and faster to use a third party provider. You don’t have to quality for a merchant account which typically involves having good credit. And you save the monthly fees for both the merchant account and the shopping cart. Typical fees include an activation fee and transaction fees. The transaction fees are higher than you would pay when having your own merchant account. When you start generating enough sales, you can switch to a traditional merchant provider to save on transaction fees.

Popular Third Party Providers

Fee Comparison (fees may change any time)

Sale Price ClickBank®
$1 + 7.5%
$0.45 + 5.5%
$10 Sale $1.75 $1.00 $1.00
$20 Sale $2.50 $1.55 $2.00
$47 Sale $4.53 $3.04 $3.00
$97 Sale $8.28 $5.79 $3.00
$197 Sale $15.78 $11.29 $3.00

* Note. For affiliate sales, the fees are typically split between the affiliate and the vendor.

Below are inexpensive options to accept credit cards online without a merchant account and without monthly fees.


Every online merchant should accept PayPal payments in addition to credit cards.
Although only about 20% of your orders will be paid through PayPal, you don’t want to lose sales from people who are familiar and comfortable with using PayPal.

  • No Sign up fee, no monthly fees.
  • Lower transaction fees than other merchants. 2.2%-2.9% of sales + $0.30 USD per transaction.
  • The money goes into your account within approximately 4 business days.

Click here to sign up for a Paypal account.


Clickbank is a great choice for digital products such as electronic books and software but doesn’t not allow sales of physical products (unless they are complimentary to digital products).

  • $49.95 activation fee for EACH account. You can set up many products on 1 account. You need a new account or third party software to create affiliate links for separate products.
  • No monthly charges.
  • $1.00 per transaction + 7.5% of sales.
  • Money is held for 2-4 weeks and additional money held in reserve.
  • Clickbank will accept credit cards, online checks, and PayPal payments.
  • You get a check in the mail from clickbank every 2 weeks. There is a $2.50 check processing fee.
  • Typically, the maximum price Clickbank allows for publishers inside of the U.S. is $200 but you’ll need their review and approval for products over $50.
  • You receive additional exposure through a free listing on their website (Clickbank Market Place)
  • You have your own built-in affiliate program and get additional exposure through the Clickbank Mall. Many affiliates look at Clickbank to find affiliate products to promote. ClickBank has over 100,000 affiliates who know how to promote digital products. ClickBank's affiliate tracking systems will award commissions and pay affiliates on your behalf. You decide how much commission you are willing to pay to your affiliates. And, you only pay if there is a sale.
  • 2Checkout has a sophisticated shopping cart that supports recurrent billing (e.g. memberships)
  • Very popular.
  • $49.95 one time set up fsee.
  • No monthly fees.
  • Transaction fee: $0.45 per sale + 5.5% of sale amount.
  • Payment is electronically deposited directly to your bank account twice a month.
  • You need to be a PayPal member and get paid instantly through your PayPal account.
  • Sell physical and digital products.
  • Your customers pay you via PayPal. They can use their available PayPal funds or their Checking Account, Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, Eurocard, Bravo, Visa Debit, MasterCard Debit, or Novus that is on file with their PayPal account.
  • Free sign up for first product. You can add multiple product lines for a one-time $29 activation fee.
  • No Monthly fees.
  • Transaction fees: $1-$3 per sale + Paypal fees (approximately 3%)
  • Supports recurrent billing for subscriptions and membership sites.
  • No pre-approval required.
  • Provides stats tracking.
  • Provides a robust affiliate management system with promotional tools for your affiliates.
  • Paydotcom is a relative newcomer that is gaining popularity rapidly. It has a lot of benefits, including low fees. At this time, it won’t give you the same exposure that Clickbank can give you but this can change fast.

Click here to sign up with paydotcom.

Give your customers several different payment options to order your products or services. It’s essential to accept credit cards when doing business online. Some customers don’t have a credit card or don’t like to order online, so you still want to give them the option of faxing their credit card information or sending you a money order.


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