How to Accept Credit Cards

The Best, Easiest AND Cheapest Way!

How to accept credit cards is one of the biggest questions people starting their own online business usually have. 

The people selling you stuff will try to make it seem like you must buy a lot of stuff you don't really need in order to accept credit card payments from your customers.  Don't be fooled.  Unless you are a big business you likely don't need everything 'they' say you do.  They are just trying to get as much money from you as they can.

Some people want to know a lot of info about how to accept credit cards and some just a little so click the link below that best fits you.

The Process
Pros and Cons
The Best, Easiest and Cheapest Way to Accept Credit Cards

The Three Most Popular Ways to Accept Credit Cards

The three ways most people accept credit cards on their website are the following:

1.  Merchant Account.  This is what most companies will try to sell you.  With a merchant account you deal directly with the credit card processors.  This requires an ongoing monthly fee, a gateway fee and a transaction fee.  It requires a LOT of technical expertise and is expensive both initially and on an ongoing basis. 


2.  Third Party Gateway - With this option, another company called a 'gateway' has an arrangement with the credit card companies and lets you sell items under their merchant account. 

3.  Pay Pal - Pay Pal is a third party gateway but it's in a class by itself for reasons I mention below. 

The Pros and Cons of Most Popular Ways of Accepting Credit Cards

Merchant Accounts

Pros:  I can't think of one right now.  There aren't a lot of pros for using merchant accounts if you are just starting out.    

Cons:  There are a LOT of them.  Here are a few:

  • Very expensive to set up and requires ongoing fees
  • Requires a LOT of techie capability.  You will most likely need to hire someone to set it up for you.
  • Requires advanced website capabilities so you will pay more for your website hosting fee.
  • Requires a SSL certificate - another yearly fee
  • YOU are responsible for maintaining security on your website so if a hacker gets in and gets your customer's credit card information YOU are responsible.

There are a lot more reasons why using a merchant account for your online business doesn't make sense but you get the gist.  You don't need a merchant account if you are just starting out regardless of what anyone tells you.  Later on, once you make at least $5,000/month from online sales you can decide if getting one is worth the hassle.

Third Party Gateways


  • Cheap - usually costs about $50 or so for set up
  • They handle the security of your customer's credit card information so you aren't responsible


  • Can be time consuming to set up if you aren't technically-inclined
  • Requires you to put html code into your website's source code section which can sometimes be difficult for non-techies

An example of a third party gateway is   They are the best of the bunch if you go this route. 

Pay Pal

Pay Pal is a third party gateway but it isn't a typical one.  It's the best and most popular way to collect money online.  It's owned by Ebay and has been around for years.  It is the best option for most new website owners. 

If you use Pay Pal MAKE SURE to sign up for their Free Business Account (not the personal one.)  The personal one doesn't let you accept credit cards from non-Pay Pal members.  The business one is the one you want.  It's free.


  • FREE to set up
  • Very easy to use
  • Works with most website shopping carts so you don't need to deal with the hassle of importing html codes.  You just put your pay pal address and the shopping cart creates the codes for you.  No techie knowledge needed. 
  • Very good security mechanisms.  Pay Pal has a very good fraud detection department which reduces the chances of someone using a fraudulent card or making a bunch of bad purchases at your site.


  • Doesn't work with all businesses.  Make sure to check the list of acceptable businesses they provide to make sure that you can accept credit cards using their service.  Most businesses are okay but some aren't like network marketing, etc. 

The Best, Easiest and Cheapest Way to Accept Credit Cards

It's no surprise that I recommend Pay Pal.  They are FREE and easy to use.  They are the best choice for 99.99% of all people who are starting out with a new internet business. 

You can always upgrade to a merchant account later on when you start making $5,000 or $10,000/month from your online business but there is no sense paying extra money or monthly fees until you need to. 





Disclosure: I receive payment from about 25% of the companies mentioned on this site.


how to accept credit cards on your website