Accept Credit Cards Online

Any eCommerce website needs to have the ability to accept credit cards online. This article has information on many ways to start accepting credit cards online such as SSL certificates, shopping cart software, merchant accounts, payment gateways, and more.
Related article: Build an eCommerce Site

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A merchant with a storefront in the real world may accept multiple forms of payment, but may still, even in this day and age, work largely with cash and checks. Accepting different types of online payment requires different mechanisms. Accepting payments from a positive balance in a PayPal account is a bit different from echecks is different again from credit cards. Some sites still have a mechanism for sending in a check or money order. But in the twenty-first century, accepting credit cards is fairly necessary for e-tailers, as online merchants are sometimes known.  This article is about accepting credit card transactions on your eCommerce site.

Getting Started

Accepting credit cards online starts with creating an online presence. This involves choosing and registering an appropriate domain name, finding a web host who offers necessary prices at a good price, building a website, and equipping it for ecommerce. Some of the more important aspects are detailed below. For more about some of these steps, see the articles "Best Domain Names" and "Build an eCommerce Site."

SSL Certificate

All of the software elements that make credit card transactions possible on your eCommerce website depend on having Secure Socket Layers certification (SSL) on your site. This allows for safe monetary transactions so customers can trustingly give you personal and financial data. For more about what they are, how they work, and what they cost, see the article "SSL Certificates."

Shopping Cart Software

In most cases the online shopping cart does more than its real world counterpart. In a nutshell, shopping cart software allows customers to collect items they wish to purchase, calculates the cost, and adds shipping and handling charges and taxes if applicable. In many cases, it is also connected with management of the website, including the appearance of the storefront, linked to category and product pages, and connected to the database in which product information is stored. For more about shopping carts see the articles "Free Shopping Carts" and "Best Shopping Carts."

Merchant Account

A merchant account is a contractual relationship between a merchant who desires to accept credit cards and/or any other type of payment cards and a bank that extends a line of credit to the merchant. Cards are either swiped or the numbers are key-entered. For more information on these accounts, see the article "Merchant Accounts."

Payment Gateway

Once the site is designed, the SSL certificate is obtained, the shopping cart software is implemented, the data is loaded, and the merchant account is secured, the payment gateway - a service to authorize payments - is set in place. The payment gateway is the online version of the point-of-sale (POS) terminal in a real-world storefront. The payment gateway may be provided by the merchant account provider or by a separate company. For more information on the payment authorization service, see the article " Paymet Gateways."

Related article: Build an eCommerce Site