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Credir Card Processing
How to Accept Online Payments Without a Merchant Account

by Merle

If you operate a small business from your home and have been thinking of moving it online to take advantage of a "global audience," this article is for you.

A lot of people I talk to are hesitant to start selling online due to the "red tape" of getting a merchant account, a secured server certificate, and if needed, shopping cart software. That is not to mention the huge expense of paying someone to put it all together for you.

Well, listen up: Forget all of that. I'm here to tell you that you can test the waters of online selling without going to a lot of trouble and expense.

There are many third party credit card and online check providers who are willing to help you get your e-commerce business up and running in no time. Some of them may only work with sites selling tangible goods and others for intangibles, like services. Before choosing one make sure you thoroughly check them out and pick the one that suits your needs.

So what do they do? Well, they provide a secured Web site you can link to, where they process your customers' credit card orders. For all of this convenience they take a small piece of the pie, usually ranging from 7 to 15%.

Let's take a look at a few of them and what they have to offer:

1) iBill: This is the one I use to sell my promotional services. If you sell services or other intangibles, this one will work for you. There are no set up fees, or software to download and your services can range in price from $2.95 to $100.00. You do need to make what iBill calls a "webgood page," so you need to know how to create a Web page and upload it to their server. iBill takes 15% of the amount charged during any billing period and sends you a check twice a month. They make it easy to get started, and after signing up you can be up and selling online within 48 hours.

2) Valid Check: I've used Valid Check for years to accept online check payments. Being able to accept checks and credit cards is important because it gives potential customers a choice when ordering from you. The more choices you can give them, the more sales you will have. Basic charges are as follows:

- $4.95 monthly minimum
- $29.95 One-time setup.
- Free Secure Order Page
- FREE Remote Printing Software*
- NO percentage fees
- 99¢ Transaction Fee**

Once you sign up they supply you with easy-to-set-up links that you can paste into your site. You have two options when it comes to collecting your money: You can download their free software and print out your own checks, or opt for them to mail your checks twice a month (for an added fee of 36¢ per transaction).

3) ClickBank: This is the e-commerce choice for thousands of business Web sites. ClickBank can also be used to set up your own Associate program, where you allow others to resell your services or products for a small commission. While this service is not available to process payments for tangible goods, it is the perfect solution for real-time sales of your services or digital products. ClickBank allows you to accept Visa, MC, Amex, and Discover. They charge a one time activation fee of 49.95 and $1.00 plus 7.5% fee on each sale.

4) DigiBuy: This one is ideal for those selling software or information. DigiBuy allows you to accept Visa, MC, AMEX, and Discover. Setup is quick and easy. You have complete control of pricing, order forms, and delivery options. Their fee is 13.9% of each sale.

5)Online Billing Solutions (OBS): Allows you to take all major credit cards. After review of their site I could not find if you can sell tangible or intangibles, so I'm assuming you can do both. There are no setup or monthly fees, but they do take a 15% cut of your sales. It is simple to set up; you place a line of HTML code on your site, linking into their secured server. Transactions can range in price from $3.00 to $100.00 and money is paid to you twice a month.

6) CC Now: Used for selling tangible merchandise, CC Now is a full service electronic commerce solution. Their integrated shopping cart software encourages customers to purchase multiple items at once. It is free to sign up, and they charge no monthly fees, however they do collect a 9% commission on each sale. Pay-outs are twice a month. CC Now allows you to take all major credit cards and notifies you by e-mail of any sales, so you can ship the product.

If you're looking for an easy way to start selling online without putting up a lot of cash, this really is the best way to get your feet wet and see if Web selling will work for you. If it does, you can always apply for a merchant account down the road and save on the transaction fees.

The ability to sell your products/services online is not difficult or expensive, you just need to know where to look for help.

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