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How to Accept Credit Card Payments Online and In-person

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Miranda Russell | October 17, 2020

“If you're just getting started, here’s what you need to know about choosing the best payment provider and pricing model for your business.”
6 min read
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    Last Updated on January 19, 2023 by Ryleigh Stangness

    Are you running a small business but haven't started to accept credit card payments yet? Perhaps you already do but are looking for ways to upgrade your point-of-sale (POS) experience.

    You probably already know that no matter how good the hotcakes are or the signature sauce is, the last point of contact, and possibly the biggest lasting impression with your customer, is paying the bill.

    In this blog post, we'll help you understand how integrating credit card processing works, explain why it is important for small businesses to accept digital payment methods like credit cards, and provide 5 easy-to-implement methods for businesses to accept credit card payments.

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    Which Businesses Can Accept Credit Card Payments?

    Do you run a business? You may fall into one of two categories:

    1. You are looking into how to take payments and setting up your business. Or,
    2. You are looking for more, alternative, or better ways to take payments.

    If you're just getting started, here’s what you need to know about choosing the best payment provider and pricing model for your business.

    Processing credit card payments is no longer restricted to traditional brick and mortar establishments. It may surprise you to learn of all the non-traditional business models that qualify, such as:

    • Online and eCommerce stores only (perfect for your vintage taxidermy business)

    • Small businesses

    • Freelancers and contractors

    • Mobile businesses (now customers can pay for your mobile dog grooming service via credit!)

    • Brick and mortar businesses

    If you already accept credit card payments at your business, we will be diving into 5 ways you can expand the way you offer credit card payments with various tools to better serve your customers while streamlining your operations.

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    5 Ways to Accept Credit Card Payments Online and In-person

    Here are the most common methods and features merchants use to take credit cards:

    • Online invoicing
    • Virtual terminal
    • In-person card transactions (chip and PIN, swipe, tap)
    • Contactless payments
    • Secure card vault/ remote billing
    • Credit card app

    1. Accept Credit Card Payments In-person with a credit card reader and POS system

    Every new business that hopes to make sales (so most) requires a POS system.

    Even established businesses may want to look at how to revamp their POS systems to make processing and receiving payments even more manageable.

    These systems are how businesses process transactions and payments.

    Still, a POS system can do so much more;

    • Contactless payments
    • Invoicing
    • E-commerce capabilities
    • Remote inventory monitoring, tracking and processing orders remotely, and many other features that are customizable to your business and industry.

    A POS system comprises a few essential components. Most card readers accept contactless, keyed, tap, swipe, and insert payment methods for credit (and debit, for that matter) card payments. To do this card readers must be EMV and NFC enabled.

    NFC technology allows you to accept contactless payments such as Apple Pay and mobile wallets. It allows customers to use their credit card via their mobile device, app, or watch. This is a great option for customers who are prone to forgetting their wallet (aren't we all?) or who like to load loyalty cards like their Starbucks app. Contactless payments are secure, encrypted and tokenized, and don't actually require any fancy equipment other than a basic POS setup to start accepting payments with Apple or Google pay for example.

    Taking the time to find the right payment processor and/ or card reader may have added benefits such as sales and transaction history, sales insights and analytics, and even card vaults to store frequent customer payment information.

    You can customize your POS setup by adding accessories and devices such as:

    • Phones, computers, and tablet screens
    • Card readers and terminals
    • Tablet and card stands
    • Barcode scanners
    • Cash drawers
    • Receipt printers

    When it comes to POS software and hardware, you can even choose mobile options so that you can take payments on the go, such as a great card reader and a cloud-based setup. Perhaps all you need is a standard desktop computer checkout and card reader. It's as simple as choosing the right equipment and payment processor to match your needs for the right price and features.

    Once you've decided which systems you want to work with, you might be wondering how many ways your business can accept credit card payments.

    2. Invoicing: How to accept online credit card payments

    Online invoicing allows you to send customizable invoices to your clients via email or text so you can ditch the snail mail that gets buried under flyers and bills. Some invoicing platforms include an option for customers to pay the bill directly and submit their credit card information in just a few clicks. This tool can even send payment due reminders so you don't have to chase your clients down for payment.

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    3. Virtual Terminal: How to accept online credit card payments without equipment

    Virtual Terminals: Accept card-not-present payments from anywhere, anytime

    Need to settle a layaway or put a deposit for an order? Virtual terminals allow you to take your customer's credit card information remotely and manually key it into a secure, virtual POS. Neither you, or the customer need to be in-store which saves everyone a trip and time.

    4. Card Vault: Store customer payment information and charge credit card payments online

    There are PCI compliant options such as secure credit card vaults that allow you to take down your customer's payment information once and store it securely for future payments. The next time a client visits your office or needs to pay over the phone, you can simply charge their card on file. It's an easy way to accept a payment that gives you and your client more time back in their day.

    5. A Credit Card App So You Can Get Paid On the Go

    The right payments app is going to be your best friend when it comes to accepting credit card payments on the road, and Helcim's app not only allows you to process payments, but keeps track of your inventory, provides sales insights, keeps track of full and partial payments, and lets you send payments and e-receipts to your customers.

    Ready, get set, go! Now you know how to accept credit card payments

    So you're ready for the big league?

    You've read how credit could be the secret ingredient to attracting all the eligible cardholders and "wow-ing" them with your fantastic credit card payment service. Plus, now you know what you'll need to get started taking credit cards at your business ASAP.

    One last thing:

    There are a few things you have to make sure your business is doing to be eligible for payments. That could look like this:

    • Make sure your business is PCI compliant

    • Practice safe merchant practices

    • Prepare your business to be assessed as a low-risk merchant (and get approved) by a payment processor

    Read High-risk merchant processing: getting approved to start processing payment.

    Dive deeper into how your business can accept online credit card payments

    Everything is on the internet nowadays, so how come we aren't all multidisciplinary instrumental geniuses speaking 12 languages with black belts in Karate?

    Two things:

    1. It can be intimidating to learn a whole new topic and skillset, and
    2. Who has the time?

    All this to say that if you're a business owner, you have a million and one other things to devote your energy to.

    Learning about how to accept credit cards can be daunting. That's where the value of a great payments company comes in.

    At Helcim, we are all about simplifying and educating our merchants. Our support team is here to walk you through everything you need to know. Give us a call or signup for a free Helcim account today!

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