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How To Accept Credit Card Payments Online in 2024

Stephen Wright Stephen WrightFinance Specialist July 05, 2024
July 05, 2024
By now, you’ve probably figured out that starting an e-commerce business means dealing with higher transaction fees for online credit card payments than in-person transactions. Plus, with so many alternatives to cash, payment gateways, and e-commerce platforms, it’s difficult to know where to start.

While finding a payment gateway is crucial for selling online, choosing the right credit card processor is more important as it allows you to minimize your online transaction fees. However, transaction fees aren’t the only expense you need to worry about. If you sign a contract with the wrong processor, you may end up paying full price for your payment gateway in addition to several hidden fees.

To help you accept online credit card payments, I’ve analyzed dozens of payment processors and taken their fees, payment gateways, and e-commerce features into consideration. Of all the processors on this list, I recommend Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) for budget-conscious startups due to its industry-low rates and access to the highly secure Authorize.Net payment gateway.

Keep reading to learn more about LMS and discover 5 more payment processors that can help you cut costs when accepting credit card payments online.

Quick Guide: How To Accept Credit Card Payments Online in 3 Simple Steps

  1. Find
    Expert’s Choice
    1 1LMS_Monogram a top processor like LMS
    Leaders Merchant Services is a popular choice with our readers
    that offers a reliable payment gateway at a discount.
  2. Set up your processor’s payment gateway.
  3. Create an online store or use links, QR codes, and invoices to receive online payments.

How To Accept Credit Card Payments Online in 2024

To accept credit card payments online, I’ve outlined the process to help you get started smoothly:

Step 1: Payment Processor

Finding the best payment processor for your business needs is the most important step in accepting credit card payments online. These services often negotiate fees with banks, provide fraud prevention measures, and handle chargebacks, saving you considerable time and money in the long run. Leaders Merchant Services1 is one of the best due to its highly competitive rates, quick onboarding, and high merchant approval rate.

Step 2: Payment Gateway

Payment gateways are crucial for securely transmitting payment information from the customer to the payment processor. However, you shouldn’t look for a payment gateway until you’ve chosen a payment processor, as the latter often comes with discounted access to reliable gateways like Authorize.Net. Plus, if you decide on a payment gateway and don’t use your processor to access it, you could end up paying 3x more.

Step 3: E-Commerce Store

Once you’ve found a processor and set up its gateway, you need an e-commerce store to display products and manage transactions. If you don’t have a website or an online store, many payment processors offer website-building tools that you should consider. However, if you’d prefer to sell in other ways, you can use payment links and QR codes to enable online payments through social media and digital invoices.

Common Fees for Online Credit Card Payments

Accepting credit card payments online involves several fees that you need to be aware of, including:

Interchange Fee

This is a fee charged by the credit card networks (Visa, Mastercard, etc.) for each transaction. Interchange fees vary based on the type of card used (debit or credit), the card brand, and the nature of the transaction (e.g., in-person or online). They are usually charged as a percentage of the transaction amount plus a fixed fee.

Transaction Fees

Payment processors charge this fee for each transaction processed and can include both a fixed fee and a percentage of the transaction total. It covers the cost of processing the transaction and maintaining network security. Plus, many processors will charge extra for online transactions due to the increased risk of fraudulent activity and chargebacks.

Payment Gateway Fees

Accessing a payment gateway often involves fees, which can be structured as part of transaction fees or as separate monthly gateway fees. Although these charges cover the secure processing of credit card information, you’ll find it cheaper to access a payment gateway through a credit card processor – in some cases, this fee may be waived.

Service Fees

These can include monthly account maintenance fees, PCI compliance fees, and additional service charges like chargeback management and fraud protection. Payment processors may charge these fees to cover operational costs, but this isn’t always the case.

Software Fees

There may be associated software fees if you use specialized software for processing online payments, such as an e-commerce platform. These could be monthly or annual subscription fees or pay-as-you-go fees.

Hardware Fees

For businesses that also operate in-person and need to accept card payments, hardware fees for purchasing or leasing card readers and point-of-sale systems apply. However, several credit card processors offer free hardware if you sign a long-term contract.

How To Choose a Credit Card Processor for Online Payments

To find the best payment processor for accepting credit card payments online, you should look for:
  • Low rates for online transactions. High transaction fees can quickly eat into profits, making it essential to shop around and find the best rates. Plus, with online transactions incurring higher fees, it’s more important for e-commerce businesses to seek out these cost savings.
  • Access to payment gateways. Secure and reliable gateway access is essential for online businesses, meaning your processor should give you access to Authorize.Net, SecureNet, or a proprietary gateway with adequate security features.
  • E-commerce integrations. Seamless integration with platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, or Squarespace simplifies your sales process. These integrations help you manage your online store efficiently, from product listings to checkout.
  • Business management software. Integrating with tools like QuickBooks or MailChimp can streamline your operations. This connectivity saves time and reduces errors, allowing you to focus on growing your business rather than managing administrative tasks.
  • Multichannel payments. Diverse payment options like Venmo, PayPal, or pay-by-link enhance customer convenience. Providing various ways to pay makes it easier for customers to complete their purchases, which can help boost sales.
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Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) offers industry-low rates for swiped card and virtual terminal transactions, making it an economical choice for startups. Transaction fees range from ~0.15% + $0~2.9% + 30¢ and come with a monthly fee as low as $9.00, allowing you to minimize costs and budget more effectively. If your startup is considered high-volume, you may be able to negotiate better rates by contacting LMS directly.

LMS gives you access to the Authorize.Net payment gateway, one of the most secure and reliable. It can integrate smoothly with your website or online store, allowing you to process card-not-present transactions quickly and efficiently. By using Authorize.Net to accept credit card payments online, your customer’s financial information is protected by end-to-end encryption and the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) protocol.

LMS’ Instant Accept feature allows you to use a virtual terminal from within your QuickBooks application, simplifying the process for customers needing to pay invoices. Plus, it’ll automatically sync your data in real-time, covering card, e-check, ACH transactions, and shipping, product, and customer data. Generally, this feature is tailored to high-volume e-commerce businesses, but I’ve found it can be an excellent time-saver for startups.

Features and Benefits

  • Outstanding 24/7 phone support. You’ll be able to get in touch with LMS in under 2 minutes, no matter the time of day. Plus, you’ll get in-depth and well-informed answers to your questions – ranging from payment processing support to industry-specific features.
  • Merchant cash advances. If you need extra funds, LMS offers cash advances that you pay back through a percentage of your credit card sales. You won’t have to put up collateral or worry about deadlines.
  • “Meet or beat” policy. LMS promises to meet or beat your current rates, ensuring you get the best possible deal for your online credit card transactions. If it can’t beat your rates, LMS will offer you $200 to cover cancellation fees.
  • 98% approval rate. LMS accepts most merchants, so you’re highly likely to get approved, regardless of your credit score, transaction history, or risk level.
Read our expert LMS review for more details.

Payment gateway Authorize.Net and NMI
Payout times 72 hours
Customer support 24/7 phone support
Transaction fees on
cheapest plan
~2.9% + 30¢
Monthly fee on cheapest
plan
$9.00

Like LMS, Flagship Merchant Services uses Authorize.Net to secure online transactions. It, too, offers robust tools to combat fraud, including AVS (Address Verification Service) and CVV2 (Card Verification Value) checks. Plus, with customized restrictions that allow you to limit the total amount spent in one or multiple sessions, you can rest assured knowing that your business is protected from fraudulent activity.

I also found Flagship’s iAccess 3.0 business management portal valuable for e-commerce businesses, as it lets you gather comprehensive business insights, monitor transactions, track sales trends, and more. You can also see how your business compares against the competition and discover what you need to do to stand out.

With both tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans, Flagship’s pricing structure is ideal for accepting credit card payments online. Although its tiered pricing plan offers lower rates for online transactions (1.98% + 0.21¢ (online)), I recommend negotiating a more affordable interchange-plus plan with Flagship’s sales team. Plus, its gateway fees are some of the lowest I’ve seen, allowing you to save a considerable amount over time.

Features and Benefits

  • Same-day funding. For a price, you can expedite payouts with Flagship’s same-day funding program, ensuring faster access to your funds.
  • Month-to-month contracts. You can enjoy flexibility with no long-term contracts or cancellation fees, making it easier to adapt as your business needs change.
  • Quick setup. Setting up online credit card payments is quick and straightforward, allowing you to start accepting payments in around 24 hours.
  • Security and compliance. Flagship helps you keep your business PCI compliant while offering tokenization to protect sensitive customer data and payments.
To learn more, read our comprehensive Flagship review.

Payment gateway Authorize.Net
Payout times 48 hours as standard,
optional same-day payout
add-on
Customer support Phone support
Transaction fees on
cheapest plan
1.98% + 0.21¢ (online)
Monthly fee on cheapest
plan
$7.95

Square Payments offers versatile solutions for online startups, making it ideal for businesses without a dedicated website. You can create and launch an online store for free using Square Online or integrate payment solutions into your existing site. In addition, you can sell online using buy buttons, links, and QR codes – allowing you to generate sales through social media or email.

With Square, you can benefit from a free account with transaction fees as low as 2.6% + 10¢ and no compulsory subscriptions, monthly fees, or PCI fees. In addition to its free plan, Square has 3 separate plans for online merchants, allowing you to acquire a custom domain, customer review integrations, abandoned cart recovery, and a real-time shipping calculator. However, you must contact its sales team to add these features.

Square also offers seamless integrations with major website builders like WordPress, Wix, WooCommerce, Ecwid, and Shopify. But I was even more impressed by its other integrations, as it consolidates your payment processing, accounting, and marketing all in one place by connecting with platforms like ZohoBooks, Quickbooks, MailChimp, and ActiveCampaign.

Features and Benefits

  • Advanced business software. Square’s dashboard offers comprehensive reporting, team management tools, and an app marketplace to enhance your business operations.
  • Instant payouts. By opening an FDIC-insured small business checking account with Square, you get instant access to your funds. Once you’ve opened a merchant account, you can sign up quickly without the hassle of paperwork or credit checks.
  • Free compliance. Square handles all compliance, regulation, and processing matters, ensuring you meet PCI requirements at no additional cost.
  • Payment methods. Square accepts US and most internationally-issued magstripe or chip cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, JCB, and UnionPay. Plus, it integrates with PayPal, Apple, Google, and Cash App Pay.
Take a look at our in-depth Square review to find out more.

Payment gateway Square
Payout times 48 hours as standard,
optional same-day payout
add-on
Customer support Phone and email support
available Monday – Friday
(24/7 on some plans)
Transaction fees on
cheapest plan
2.6% + 10¢
Monthly fee on cheapest
plan
N/A

4. Stax: Predictable Subscriptions and Easy Integration With E-Commerce Platforms1

Stax offers a proprietary gateway that seamlessly integrates with popular e-commerce platforms like BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, and Salesforce. It also connects with essential business tools such as QuickBooks, Xero, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, making it a good choice for online businesses looking for flexibility and efficiency.

Stax’s subscription-style pricing can save you up to 40% on processing fees if you’re a high-volume e-commerce business. Instead of paying markups on each transaction, you pay a fixed monthly fee and a small flat fee per transaction. However, Stax charges more per month than other payment processors ($99.00 on its Growth plan, $159.00 on its Pro plan, and $199.00 on its Ultimate plan), making it inaccessible for low-volume, budget-conscious startups.

For those seeking customization, Stax API allows you to tailor your checkout page to match your business’s aesthetic. With tools like Stax.js and SDKs for Android and iOS, you can easily embed a credit card field within your existing payment forms, enhancing your customer’s experience without extensive coding knowledge​.

Features and Benefits

  • Optional same-day payouts. For a price, you can expedite payouts, ensuring faster access to your funds in times of need.
  • Responsive live chat. You can contact its support team outside regular business hours for assistance without extensive waiting times.
  • Business management software. Stax integrates with Zapier, offering project management, marketing, and accounting software to streamline your operations.
  • Payment methods. In addition to Visa, Mastercard, ACH transfers, and Google & Apple Pay, Stax accepts payments from peer-to-peer payment platforms like Venmo.
To see if it’s right for you, read our detailed Stax review.

Payment gateway Stax and Authorize.Net
Payout times 72 hours as standard,
optional same-day payout
add-on
Customer support Live chat, email, ticket, and
phone support
Transaction fees on
cheapest plan
0% + 10¢ (online)
Monthly fee on cheapest
plan
$99.00

5. Paysafe: Accept Over 260 Local and International Payment Methods1

Paysafe is a great option for e-commerce businesses looking to accept credit card payments from anywhere, as it supports over 260 payment methods and 40 currencies across 120+ markets. No matter where you sell, you can cater to your customer’s preferences and guarantee your ability to process credit card payments online.

Paysafe’s partnership with Vindicia, an advanced subscription management solution, provides an all-in-one platform to increase conversions, optimize pricing, and more. Plus, with Vindicia Retain, you can recover up to 50% of failed transactions by using its AI-driven data analytics and algorithms to determine why your customer’s payment failed.

Notably, you can access Authorize.Net at a discounted price by choosing Paysafe as your credit card processor for online transactions. Its tiered online plan is very expensive depending on the card your customer uses. I examined the fees closely and found that you’ll pay between 0.99% + 25¢ (debit cards)3.99% + 25¢ (foreign credit cards) – much more than with other credit card processors. Fortunately, Paysafe makes up for this somewhat with its interchange plus pricing plan, which has quite affordable rates (0.50% + $0.10).

Features and Benefits

  • Chargeback program. For an additional cost per business location, you can get reimbursed up to $250 per chargeback, protecting your revenue from disputes.
  • Security. Paysafe offers a dedicated risk management team to handle chargebacks and potential fraud. You can also opt for the Enhanced Security Package, which acts as an insurance policy.
  • Multichannel payments. You can pay via digital invoicing, MOTO, pay-by-link, subscriptions, and even QR codes through Paysafe’s partnership with Applova.
  • Comprehensive dashboard. The Merchant Back Office lets you view transaction history, take orders through a virtual terminal, generate reports, and process refunds.
Read our extensive Paysafe review to find out more.

Payment gateway Authorize.Net
Payout times 1-2 business days
Customer support 24/7 technical support line
for customers; other
support available Monday
to Friday via phone and
email
Transaction fees on
cheapest plan
0.50% + $0.10
Monthly fee on cheapest
plan
$7.95

6. Helcim: Fully Hosted E-Commerce Platform for SMEs Processing Online Payments1

Helcim offers a fully hosted e-commerce platform tailored for small businesses, allowing you to create an online store, customize its design, and manage your products without coding knowledge. Better yet, if you already have products set up in your Helcim account, it’ll automatically copy them to your e-commerce store – simplifying the setup process and making it easier to accept online credit card payments.

Offering a proprietary payment gateway free of charge, Helcim is a great choice for recently established businesses on a limited budget. Plus, integrations with popular e-commerce platforms like Magento and WooCoomerce allow you to process online payments quickly and easily.

I like that Helcim’s pricing is very transparent, offering interchange-plus pricing as low as 0.50% +25¢ (online) per transaction if you process less than $25,000/month. If you process more than $25,000/month, you can contact its sales team for discounted markups and transaction fees. Unfortunately, Helcim doesn’t integrate with third-party POS systems – meaning you’ll need to purchase its proprietary equipment and won’t be able to reprogram it if you switch processors.

Features and Benefits

  • Borderless transactions. You can accept payments in almost any currency and country. Your customers can pay in the currency of their choice and their bank will automatically convert it to USD at that day’s conversion rate.
  • Built-in CRM. Helcim gives your customers access to their transaction history and pending invoices 24/7, allowing them to make payments anytime. Plus, you can securely store all their financial information in its card vault.
  • Customizable payment pages. You can create a basic shopping cart, complex setups for recurring subscriptions, a sign-up page, and even invoices without coding skills.
  • Compliance support. Helcim helps every merchant become PCI compliant at no extra cost, offering tutorials and a built-in PCI compliance questionnaire.
For more information, check out our expert Helcim review.

Payment gateway Helcim
Payout times 48 hours
Customer support Phone, email, and ticket
support available 7 days a
week
Transaction fees on
cheapest plan
0.50% +25¢ (online)
Monthly fee on cheapest
plan
N/A

These Are the Best Processors for Accepting Credit Card Payments Online

Every business has different needs, making it crucial to find a processor that aligns with your specific requirements.

For negotiable pricing, industry-low rates, and basic e-commerce features, Leaders Merchant Services is the best option1. Plus, you get access to Authorize.Net and Instant Accept, which allows you to use QuickBooks as a virtual terminal.

Flagship Merchant Services is a great choice1 if you’re looking for address and card verification technology. In addition to the iAccess 3.0 business management portal, you can get some of the lowest gateway fees available.

However, go with Square1 if you want to launch a store or process payments without a website. It allows you to create or launch an online store for free, integrate payment solutions with your existing website, and sell items via email or social media using payment links and QR codes.

Here’s a quick comparison of my top credit card processors for online payments.
Best Feature Best For Monthly fee
on cheapest
plan
Transaction
fees on
cheapest
plan
Leaders
Merchant
Services
Industry-low
rates for online
payments
Budget-conscious
startups
$9.00 ~2.9% + 30¢
Flagship
Merchant
Services
Address and
card verification
technology
Security-focused
e-commerce
businesses
$7.95 1.98% + 0.21¢ (online)
Square
Payments
Launch a store
for free or sell
via email and
social media
using links and
QR codes
Recently
established
online
businesses
without a website
N/A 2.6% + 10¢
Stax Seamless
integrations with
numerous
platforms and
business apps
High-volume
e-commerce
businesses
$99.00 0% + 10¢ (online)
Paysafe Accept over 260
payment
methods and 40
currencies in
120+ markets
Online
businesses
selling or
operating
globally
$7.95 0.50% + $0.10
Helcim Fully-hosted
e-commerce
platform
Small
businesses
processing less
than
$25,000/month
N/A 0.50% +25¢ (online)

FAQ

How do I accept credit card payments online?

The best way to do this is to get a payment processor that offers access to a payment gateway like Authorize.Net and integrate it with your website. For low rates and basic e-commerce features for startups, I recommend Leaders Merchant Services. For card and payer verification in addition to industry-low gateway fees, go with Flagship.

What is the best platform to accept online credit card payments?

Square is a great option for small businesses due to its ease of use, affordable rates, and robust e-commerce features. You benefit from low transaction fees, a free merchant account, and access to several website builders like WordPress, Wix, and Shopify. Plus, it allows you to sell online without a website using buy now buttons, links, and QR codes.

How can someone pay me with a credit card online?

To enable online credit card payments, you need to set up a payment gateway through your chosen processor. Customers can then pay by entering their credit card details on your website or via a payment link sent through digital invoices. A great example is Flagship Merchant Services, which offers access to the Authorize.Net payment gateway with minimal fees.

What is the cheapest way to accept credit card payments online?

The most cost-effective method to accept online credit card payments is through a payment gateway with low online transaction fees. Leaders Merchant Services offers industry-low rates, especially for small businesses and startups. Alternatively, you can check out the best credit card processors for low rates in 2024.

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