How To Accept Credit Card Payments Online

Payment service providers like Square, Paypal, and Shopify make it easy for small businesses to safely and securely accept credit card payments online.

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As the popularity of ecommerce soars, online credit card processing is an essential part of any successful online small business. Today’s consumers expect a seamless, secure checkout experience, and online credit card processing helps small-business owners meet those expectations.

In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of online credit card processing, then walk through the steps of how to accept credit card payments online.

Table of contents

Benefits of accepting credit card payments online

By accepting credit card payments online, you’ll enjoy a host of benefits that will help your business grow:

  • Reach a wider audience. Accepting credit card payments online makes your small business more competitive and attractive to a wider audience. Most consumers shop around before deciding where to make an online purchase, and if you don’t offer online credit card payment processing, you’ll probably lose out on a lot of customers.
  • Create an easier checkout experience. Online credit card processing streamlines the checkout experience, making it faster and easier for customers to make a purchase. And when the payment process is easy, they’ll be more likely to come back again.
  • Get paid faster (and more securely). Credit card payment processing is also the most secure and safe way to get paid online, and it allows you to get paid faster than alternatives like online invoicing.
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How to accept credit card payments online

Payment service providers

For small-business owners looking to maximize sales, learning how to accept credit card payments online has never been easier.

Many website builders and ecommerce platforms come with built-in payment processing, meaning you won’t have to take any extra steps to set up a merchant account—the account your customers’ funds will land in after the payment is processed. Payment service providers are often free to set up, but they do charge transaction fees that vary depending on the provider.

Here are the three basic steps to accepting credit card payments online using a payment service provider:

  1. Shop around. Decide on the best payment service provider for your needs. Providers like Shopify and Square already have payment processing built in. If you use a website builder like Squarespace or WordPress, you can easily integrate the service with PayPal or Stripe.
  2. Create an account. Sign up for service with your chosen payment service provider. Most providers will ask for basic information about your website builder, company, etc. Once you’ve created an account, they’ll give you the information needed to enable online payments.
  3. Connect service. Using your website builder, connect the service to your online store. If you don’t have a website builder like Shopify or WooCommerce, you’ll need to set up a link on your website so customers can pay through a third-party website.

Merchant accounts

Every time you accept a credit card transaction online, funds are directed into a merchant account. You won’t have to set up your own merchant account if you’re using a payment service provider, since they aggregate customer funds into their own merchant account.

However, if you have higher sales volumes or need more flexibility, you might prefer to set up your own merchant account. Merchant accounts typically give you more customer support specialized to your industry and account activity, but the approval process can take longer.

Best credit card payment processors

Whether you choose a payment service provider or a merchant account, there are plenty of great options for your small business. Square is one of the most popular credit card payment processors for small-business owners, and its $0 monthly fee and 2.6% + $0.10 rate makes it so affordable and our favorite overall pick. To find one that fits your business needs, check out our experts’ picks for the top credit card payment processors on the market today.

Ready to start accepting credit cards?

Square lets you get started for free. The account is free, the app is free, and your first mobile card reader is free. You simply pay as you process.

The takeaway

Accepting credit card payments online has never been easier—or more critical to the success of your small business. Payment service providers like Square and Stripe are easy to integrate with existing web builders, while platforms like Shopify come with built-in credit card processing. If you’re a high-volume small business, a merchant account like Helcim offers added support and reliability when processing credit card payments.

Would you like to learn more about accepting credit card payments online? Check out for Online Payment Security: Top 6 Safety Practices.

Related reading

How to accept credit card payments online? FAQ

How do you accept credit card payments?

Small businesses can accept in-person credit card payments by investing in a payment processor, point-of-sale system, and a card reader. Small businesses can accept online credit card payments using a built-in ecommerce processor like Shopify or by setting up a payment processor like Stripe.

How do I accept credit card payments without a merchant account?

Easy-to-use payment service providers like Paypal, Square, and Stripe have built-in integrations for ecommerce websites, making it simple for small businesses to accept online credit card payments without a merchant account.

What is the best way to receive payments online?

The best way for a small-business owner to receive online payments is by setting up an online payment service provider. Companies like Paypal, Shopify, and Square make it easy for small businesses to integrate these services with their ecommerce website.

How can I take online card payments?

The safest, easiest, and most secure way to take online card payments is by setting up an online payment service provider like Square, Stripe, or Paypal.


At, our research is meant to offer general product and service recommendations. We don't guarantee that our suggestions will work best for each individual or business, so consider your unique needs when choosing products and services.

Brooke Kunz
Written by
Brooke Kunz
Brooke is a copywriter and artisan ice cream enthusiast dwelling in California's sunny Central Valley. She's happiest when hiking in the backcountry, baking an overly complex cake recipe, or reading an engrossing new memoir.
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