How to securely store customer credit card information
If you accept credit card payments, you've probably wondered how to manage data security when it comes to storing sensitive card details and customer credit card numbers. While your tedious excel sheets or worn-out notepads might be working to keep track of it all, there is a better, more secure way that actually makes your checkout process smoother and easier: you can use a customer credit card vault to boost your sales, speed up your payments, and boost your security while boosting your business' PCI compliance.
When considering how to store card data, remember that many of the 12 requirements of The payment card industry data security standard requirements ( PCI DSS compliance) are satisfied simply by using a credit card vault. For example, storing card details automatically restricts physical access by tokenizing and storing your customer's data on your payment provider's infrastructure. You don't have to worry about updating software and virus protection or conducting vulnerability testing on the software.
P.S., not only does maintaining PCI compliance help protect YOU, your customers, and your business against devastating data breaches but it helps you avoid pesky fines as well.
What is a customer credit card vault?
A customer credit card vault is a tool that stores sensitive credit card data and card numbers securely. Gone are the days of flipping through pages when it's time to get paid. Credit card vaulting let's you record payment data at the time of payment, and using tokenization save it for future transactions while storing credit card numbers and customer details.
In most cases, when you accept a card number from a customer during a transaction, the sensitive data does not enter your device, computer, or network when you enter it into the card vault. That's because the software creates a protective barrier between the financial data and your equipment - through tokenization- storing the information on the secure servers of your payment provider.
We've created a video explanation, for a more visual understanding of a credit card vault:
How to store customer credit card information
You only need to collect credit card information from a customer once, then store the card details in the vault. The next time you want to invoice a customer, you can use the stored card information.
Who is a credit card vault best suited for?
Credit card vaults are great for professional businesses that have a lot of repeat clients. Accountants, lawyers, marketing agencies, dentists are all businesses that would especially stand to benefit from securely storing their customer information on file for repeat billing. Clients appreciate not having to divulge their credit card information over and over again, and it makes billing your clients much faster and easier for you. The best part is both you and your clients can rest assured that their sensitive information is safe, as it is stored on secure servers, and not your own.
Tips for setting up and using a card vault for your business
Many business owners are still resorting to their tried and true methods just for the sake of keeping things going without adding another step to their checkout and bookkeeping process.
What you should know is while a card vault boosts PCI compliance and security, perhaps the most beneficial aspect you will notice in your business operations is the convenience.
Spoiler alert: It's just as easy as punching in a customers credit card number for a transaction and saving it.
Here are four ways to access the Helcim Credit card vault:
Log in to your Helcim account, then under Customer List, you can create a customer and add up to 10 credit cards per customer. All added cards are save as a tokenized information for future and secure use.
Log in to your Helcim POS App to key in amount and the customer's billing info via Card Manual Entry. When you hit Process payment, and the payment got through, this will automatically save their tokenized information into your Card Vault.
Process a new customer transaction and save their info for repeat purchases by manually keying in their billing info. Once payment is verified, this will automatically save their tokenized information into your Card Vault.
When creating an invoice for a new customer, you can manually fill in the billing information and save the customeer's details together with their tokenized card into your card vault.
Using an external payment provider credit card vault
It's easy to point out the benefits of secure card vault tool such as PCI compliance,and the tokenization and storage of sensitive card data such as credit card information. However, one point of caution to small businesses looking for a third party payment provider is to choose a payment provider that will allow you to access, export and save that infrastructure in a legible and painless process so that you can access that data base if you switch providers.
If you find yourself trapped in a contract, or deeply integrated in their service and tools you risk losing all your saved card data when you break your contract or switch to another payment service.
Before signing a contract, read our article on how to choose a merchant service provider.
At Helcim, we don't hold your card vault data hostage. There's an Export option under our Customer Tool which you can use to download as a CSV file should you decide to close your (contract-free) account. It contains all the tokenized info of all your customers should you need it for something else.
Three Reasons You Need A Customer Credit Card Vault
Having a customer credit card vault helps you run a modern business by pulling together all of the information you need to sell and get paid. Here's how.
1. Increase Your Sales
It's easier for repeat customers to buy from you because you already have their credit card data on file. It's like offering customers the convenience of an old-fashioned line of credit, except you can invoice them and get paid immediately.
Since customer credit card vaults are modern, you can offer customers flexible payment options such as partial payments or recurring billing that runs on a regular schedule. Your customers will appreciate the speed and convenience of payment, hopefully prompting them to shop more often and buy more!
2. Faster Payment
A credit card vault allows you to get paid easier and faster. Payment is sped up because you already have the credit card information. This means you can invoice, or bill customers, with ease. The vault also allows you to automate recurring billing and subscriptions..
3. Security Boost
The credit card vault helps you stay secure in several ways. You lower your risk of being targeted by fraudsters since you have no payment data to steal. Credit card data is not stored in your devices or networks; it's encrypted and stored on your processor's secure servers.
This lowers your liability (and your PCI compliance obligations) since your processor takes responsibility for storing sensitive card data. Processors are required to stay up-to-date in meeting the highest industry standards for security.
The Bottom Line on Customer Credit Card Vaults
The Bottom Line on Customer Credit Card Vaults
A card vault helps you store customer credit cards on file and store card data securely so you can sell more, get paid faster, and streamline your repeat billing, which is good for both you and your clients.
For small businesses, using a credit card vault can greatly improve your PCI compliance and data security as well as creating infrastructure for greater efficiency and convenience. In an increasingly digitized marketplace where many merchants are using subscription services, recurring billing, and virtual terminals, credit card vaulting allows small businesses to securely store credit card data and payment information, automatically process charges when due, and reduce the amount of time spent manually processing payments.
Storing credit cards through a card vault also helps reduce errors and lost payments due to lost and tedious paperwork or incorrect inputting of card data. Additionally, with a range of highly secure options available, small business owners have peace of mind that sensitive data is protected against fraud. Credit card vaults are a cost-effective way for small businesses to maintain greater control over their data security by streamlining billing operations.
Overall, a credit card vault is an excellent tool to have in your modern small business toolkit - that's why every Helcim account comes with a fully functioning card vault for free.