4 ways to accept online payments – Forbes Advisor


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Doing business online is pretty much a given for any business, even if your primary product or service is purchased in person. Accepting online payment for your goods or services helps you reach a wider audience and keep the customer experience running smoothly. We break down four quick, easy, and efficient ways for your business to accept payments online.

4 ways to accept online payments

There are many ways to accept payments online, and which methods are right for you will depend on the type of business you run.

1. Online payment service provider

If you operate a service business or sell products online, an online payment service provider may be the most common way to get paid by customers or customers.

PayPal and Stripe are the most popular payment service providers, although you can also use the processor built into Shopify or WooCommerce if you operate an ecommerce business through one of these platforms.

Most modern website builders, like Squarespace, Kajabi, and WordPress, integrate easily with payment service providers. All you need to do is create an account with PayPal or Stripe and then enter this information into your website builder to enable payments on your website.

Online payment service providers allow you to accept credit card payments or payments directly from your customer’s account with the provider (for example, PayPal) to yours.

Creating an account with most payment service providers is free, and you’ll pay a per-transaction fee of around 3%, depending on the platform. Many popular point of sale (POS) systems also offer e-commerce modules with online payment processing.

2. ACH transfer

The Automated Clearing House (ACH) is a network that transfers money electronically between bank accounts in the United States. This is how you get money if you ever get paid by direct deposit.

To accept ACH transfer payments, you usually don’t need any special capabilities. All you need to do is give the client or client your direct deposit information, which includes:

  • Your bank’s routing number.
  • Your bank account number.

Some businesses require a void check, which includes these numbers, or an authorization form from your bank. But many will initiate ACH with just your banking information.

Receiving payment through ACH is usually the responsibility of the payer, as they must have access to the necessary accounts and tools, including an ACH payment service provider like Gusto, Bill.com, or Stax. The payer also covers the costs of an ACH transfer, versus a credit card transaction, where you cover the costs as the recipient.

You can, however, receive ACH payments through Stripe with your own account. You will pay a 0.08% fee per transaction (cap of $ 5) and the customer must connect their bank account using the Plaid network.

Related: Cheapest way to accept credit card payments

3. Mobile payments

Mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay make online payments very convenient for your customers. Their credit card information is entered automatically, so they don’t have to fumble around typing all those numbers from a physical card.

To implement mobile payments on a website that you build from scratch, you need to follow the developer guidelines for integrating them into your site:

The most popular ecommerce platforms support mobile payments and make it easier to accept this payment method by simply activating the option – no coding required.

4. Billing and invoicing

You can make it easier for customers to pay for your services by using an invoicing platform that enables one-click payments directly from their email.

Billing platforms, including QuickBooks, Zoho, Xero, Wave, and Harvest, offer integrations with major payment service providers, including PayPal and Stripe. You can invoice customers via email, and platforms create messages that include a checkout button to entice them to pay immediately.

You can choose which payment methods to accept: just activate your preferred method or activate several and give options to the customer.

Benefits of accepting online payments

Even if you run a business that promotes and sells services online, you might get away with not accepting payments online. You could go the old fashioned way: send an invoice and wait for a check in the mail.

You could. But you’ll probably want to accept payments online for all the opportunities and convenience they add to your business.

Regardless of what you’re selling, your business can benefit from online payments because they:

  • Expand your audience. Accepting multiple payment methods makes doing business with you more convenient for more people. The more transparent your payment process, the more positive the customer experience and, therefore, the more likely customers are to do business with you again.
  • Make it easy to set up memberships and subscriptions. Payment service providers like Stripe and PayPal facilitate automatic recurring payments. This saves you the trouble of billing customers and collecting payments every billing period. Plus, it improves retention, as customers don’t have to see the bill and decide to renew their subscription every month.
  • Get paid faster. It can take days or weeks for a customer to receive an invoice and mail you a check. Online payments can be made instantly or, at most, within two or three days.

Challenges in accepting online payments

There are some trade-offs with the convenience and benefits of online payments, although the pros tend to outweigh the cons. When setting up online payments for your business, keep these potential pitfalls in mind:

  • Costs. Unlike a check in the mail, online payments require an intermediary and that intermediary must be paid. You will sacrifice part of your income for payment processing fees.
  • Data management. The potential for identity theft and credit card fraud is much higher when customers shop online than in person (or with a payment method other than their credit card). If you are using a self-hosted payment gateway, you will be responsible for protecting customers’ financial information on your servers. You can discharge this responsibility by using a hosted payment gateway or a payment service provider.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How are online payments processed?

Online payments are processed through a payment gateway, which communicates between financial institutions to authorize a transaction. It connects the issuing bank to the merchant’s account and connects to the credit card network to ensure availability of funds and prevent fraud.

How do I accept free online payments?

You can usually accept payment online for free by ACH transfer, as long as the payer facilitates the transaction. Most banks allow you to accept an ACH transfer free of charge. You can’t avoid charges for credit card payments, but you can waive them by adding a surcharge for customers paying by credit card.

What is the safest way to accept payment?

Besides cash, a certified check is the safest way to receive payment for your business. However, if you want to get paid online, you will need more flexibility. Choose a reputable payment service provider to process credit card and ACH payments to keep your financial information (and that of your customers) safe. Look for vendors that use security measures like encryption and multi-factor authentication to prevent theft and fraud.


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