The Easy Way to Accept Payment Online...

I thought this was going to be another long page, diving into the mysteries of merchant accounts and shopping carts and you name it.

Well, at some point I WILL expand this page to deal with all that stuff; it was a mystery to me for a long time, and actually held me back from acting on some business opportunities.

But for the moment, I'm going to keep this real short and sharp.

If you have a download-able software package or eBook for sale, for under $75 ... consider Clickbank. They take over all the issues associated with credit card processing, dealing with card fraud, unhappy customers, product returns, and so on. And, something of a 2-edged sword, they offer you the opportunity to have an army of affiliates promoting your product for you.

It's a 2-edged sword because many of those affiliates become affiliates only to be able to buy your product at a massive discount; massive because it is common to offer 40% to 60% commissions on sales of these types of products.

And, if you don't have a Clickbank type product and you want to allow people to pay for your products via credit card, I recommend the simplest way out: PayPal.

Paypal is one of those strokes of genius, like eBay (which now owns PayPal) or Hotmail.

The concept is really simple; about 60 million Internet users have opened up a PayPal account, to date, and (typically) it's connected to a credit card that they specify. When they pay for something online with PayPal, they simply specify the e-mail address of the PayPal account of the person (or company) who is to be paid; the PayPal mechanism means the money is taken out of their credit card (so to speak) and into their PayPal account, out of their PayPal account and into the recipient's PayPal account.

The recipient can then withdraw the money by any of several different ways ... a check, for example, or an electronic bank transfer to their bank account.

So, when you open a PayPal account and choose (for example) the PayPal Website Payments Standard option, you get to put some special code on your web site that puts a PayPal button there. Anyone clicking on that button is taken immediately to the PayPal web site, where they can pay by PayPal (if they have a PayPal account), OR ... and this is the beauty ... they can pay by credit card regardless of whether they have a PayPal account or not.

It's quick and painless, and as soon as the transaction is over, the buyer is returned to your web site.

And the best part is, you can do this about 5 minutes after you apply.

The next best part is, PayPal don't charge an arm and a leg for this. At the time of writing, their "take" is 1.9% to 2.9% depending on the volume of transactions, plus $0.30 per transaction. That's very fair, in my opinion. Very fair.

If you're in the US, you have another neat option; for $20 a month you can have a "Virtual Terminal." This means that if someone phones in an order, or faxes or mails you an order, hoping to pay by credit card, you can simply log-on to your PC and process the transaction directly.

Very sweet.