Taking card payments is an essential step in any business’ growth and can open up new markets of customers around the world. However, with so many card payment options available to you, it can be difficult to know where to start, which is why we’ve made this guide to help you out!
So let’s take a look at the benefits small businesses can receive by taking card payments.
- Benefits of taking card payments in the UK
- How to take card payments face-to-face
- How to take card payments over the phone
- How to take card payments online
- Next Steps: Saving money for your small business
Benefits of taking card payments in the UK
The benefits of taking debit and credit card payments for SME owners are far-reaching as the majority of customers now expect to be able to at least have the option of paying on card, while research shows that taking card payments has a significant impact on a business’ bottom line and profit margins.
Not only does taking credit card payments ensure your business remains competitive, but it also lets customers to make quick and easy payments to complete transactions – even if they don’t have enough cash on them.
Giving your customers more ways to pay will increase sales, boost profits and introduce scalable options for your business to support goals and growth.
Additionally, taking card payments can improve your cash flow as card transactions are processed immediately and are paid directly into your merchant account. From here payments are processed, verified and transferred to your business bank account within 4-7 days.
A further benefit is the greater degree of transparency in card payments. This can make financial tracking easier as there will be no need to count cash because you can get a list of every transaction from your merchant account provider.
Want your business to take card payments?
If you decide to start taking card payments for your current business, then the introduction and implementation should be smooth with minimum disruption.
The most essential part of the card payment process is ensuring that you have a merchant account, as you cannot take card payments without one.
A merchant account can be relatively quick and easy to set up, as you can see in our supplier reviews, and enables you to verify customer’s card information. It also acts as a holding pen where funds from card transactions are held temporarily before being transferred to your regular account.
Card processing providers have very strict security measures to ensure both you and your customers’ peace of mind, and to guarantee legitimacy to your operation.
How to take card payments face-to-face
Face-to-face card payment technology has developed significantly in recent years with the introduction of mobile and contactless card payment machines.
The go-to option for businesses looking to take card payments is the standard PDQ (Process Data Quickly) machine, more commonly known as a Chip and Pin machine.
Most modern PDQ machines no longer require customers to sign when using their card. Instead, the terminal reads data from the card’s magnetic strip when it is inserted and automatically takes payment.
If you want to take card payments by Chip & Pin, then there are three main options for you to choose from:
Desktop / Countertop Terminal
The first option is a desktop or countertop terminal that connects to a landline and has a keypad so customers can enter their PIN.
These devices are ideal for retail businesses where payments are taken from a single fixed point, such as the reception desk at a hair salon or hotel.
Portable / Bluetooth Terminal
The second option is a portable terminal, which can work within a 100-metre range of a central wireless or Bluetooth hub.
These machines are great for taking payments on-the-spot at a customer’s convenience, e.g. showrooms, restaurants, cafes, etc. They work indoors or outdoors, which is supported by a long battery life for smooth, easy transactions.
Finally, there is the mobile terminal, which is becoming increasingly popular with the rise of pop-ups, start-ups business and workers without a fixed office address.
These terminals work in any area with mobile phone reception and use GPRS signals to accept payments whenever you need to e.g. at a trade show, festival or marketplace.
Mobile terminals, such as the iZettle, can also use apps to take payments. However, you’ll need to download the app and use it in tandem with the Chip & Pin keypad to take payments.
You find out more in our in-depth buyer’s guide to PDQ machines.
How to take card payments over the phone
Taking card payments over the phone can improve the growth of your business, capture opportunities outside your local area and maximise mobile sales.
The first step is to choose a card payment provider that can accept ‘card not present’ and telephone transactions. The best card payment providers will make things easy for your customers when taking payments over the phone.
They will allow your business to take all major debit and credit cards, generate repeat orders and use your mobile, computer or tablet to take payments. When you choose to take credit card payments over the phone, this opens up even more avenues.
Once you have selected a merchant account provider, you’ll be set up with a virtual terminal (otherwise known as MOTO), which makes it safe, quick and easy to take card payments over the phone.
To take a payment, you will need to enter the long credit card number, expiry date and security code as provided by the customer. You may sometimes need to request additional information for security purposes, e.g. the address the card is registered to.
This information is then submitted in order to complete the process. Make sure your customer stays on the phone to ensure that the payment is taken without any issues arising. Most providers will give you the option to email the receipt directly to the customer.
How to take card payments online
Taking online card payments opens your business to new, global markets by letting you process overseas currencies. There are two main ways to take online payment:
Do it yourself
If you wish to take online payments directly, you will need a merchant account and payment gateway that takes both debit and credit card payments such as Braintree or PaymentExpress. The payment gateway acts as a bridge between your website and the banking system and checks that everything is ok before processing the payment.
If you have a site with a shopping basket, then the payment gateway can be integrated on your site directly, or can redirect users to a secure landing page generated by your merchant account provider. Both options will guide customers through a secure payment process.
Use a payment processor such as PayPal
You can also choose to outsource online payments to a service provider who will manage the payments for you. They will act as both your merchant account and payment gateway, as well providing additional services such as fraud management and subscription billing so that the payment process remains safe and straightforward for customers.
Taking credit card payments online is also a lot easier with the support of a service provider.
A relatively recent development has been the use of apps to accept online payment. Apps such as Dwolla allow your business to accept transfers directly from the customers’ bank accounts with a flat processing rate.
Next Steps: Saving money for your small business
Does your business need to take card payments from customers?
If you want to increase sales and profits, then take advantage of our free price quote comparison service today!
We’ll listen to your unique business needs, discuss your situation with you and then connect you to the UK suppliers who are best suited to your business, location and needs.
Kick-start your small business today by taking card payments! All you need to do is complete the form at the top of this page.