How do I take card payments over the phone?

Published: 10/ 09/ 2019

Taking card payments over the phone lets you reach customers who wouldn’t necessarily be able to use your business in person, opens doors that would’ve previously been closed, and, needless to say, can be very beneficial to your business.

Wondering how you go about actually doing it? Don’t worry, it’s super simple and you’ve got a couple of options:

Option #1: virtual terminal

Option #2: physical card machine

We’ll dig into what each is shortly, but first, let’s take a quick look at when they might come in handy.

Why take payments over the phone?

Whether you work from home, run a hairdresser or sell software from your store, taking payments over the phone can be really useful all-round, but especially if you:

  • Have a remote or delivery-based business and rarely see your customers face-to-face

  • Work on the go and have little time to take instant payments or meet people at a later date

  • Are after a quicker processing time than, say, cheques or bank transfers

  • Don’t want to leave cash lying around your premises

What’s a virtual terminal?

It might sound a bit technical but don’t be put off, virtual terminals are basically the online equivalent of a physical card machine (the ones you’d use to pay your bill at a restaurant).

As the name suggests though, and because you don’t have your customer in sight, it’s all online so you don’t actually have any of the physical parts. Instead, you just need access to the internet, a computer, tablet or phone to hand and then the process goes like this:

  1. We’ll send you your log-in details and a URL
  2. You log-in to your virtual terminal
  3. You take your customer’s details over the phone
  4. Submit the transaction and get money in your account.

It really is as easy as that.

Are virtual terminals secure?

Absolutely. When you’re getting your customer’s card information you’ll be asked to input their card verification code (or CVC, i.e. the final three numbers on the signature strip) as well as the digits from their postcode. 

These then makeup what’s called an AVS and CV2 security check and ensures the transaction isn’t fraudulent.

How’s the transaction processed?

The same way as Chip and PIN - through a merchant account. In Layman’s terms, this just means the money sits in a merchant account while it’s being checked and processed and then once it’s passed those clearances, it’s transferred to your account for you to access.

What’s a merchant account? It’s a special type of bank account that lets you accept credit or debit card payments.

How many people can use a virtual terminal?

As many as you want. Whether you’re a one-man-band or a team of 20, additional users can be added to your virtual terminal at zero expense, and, better yet, you can grant different authority levels to dictate how much people can and can’t see.

Card machines and phone payments

You can’t just use any old card machine to take card payments over the phone; you need one that’s got the function built-in (spoiler: all our card readers come with this as standard).

When you use a card machine in-person the process is finalised by the customer popping their four-digit PIN code into the terminal, so what happens when they’re not there? You enter it for them. 

A couple of things to consider with this one:

  1. Not everyone will necessarily be comfortable handing their PIN code out over the phone.
  2. Although a card machine might come in handy for occasional use it’s probably not very practical for taking regular phone payments.

If either of those is a concern for you a virtual terminal might be the best bet.

How secure are card machines?

Very. They come with all the same security checks (AVS and CV2) as virtual terminals and mirror the merchant account process too.

Over-the-phone payments: the benefits

  1. It gives your customers a way to pay when you’re not face-to-face

As a business owner there’s nothing worse than having to delay or even turn away customers, is there? By taking payments over the phone though, you can open your door to people near and far.

  1. It’s quick and easy to set-up and use

Either option’s hassle-free. With a virtual terminal, all you have to do is log-in to the URL you’re sent and then you’re ready to start running your business from anywhere in the world (as long as you have access to the internet).

  1. Say goodbye to waiting around for invoices

Gone are the days of waiting up to 30 days for an invoice or trying to schedule the time to meet a customer and make a sale; you can do it in the here and now instead.

  1. You can scale with your solution

With the option to add as many new users as you like (for free!) virtual terminals make it super easy to scale with your set-up. And if you opt for a card machine, all you need to do is invest in a few more terminals.

  1. Start saving the planet

Well, kind of. Once you’ve taken your payment over the phone you can simply send your customers an instant email receipt; you save paper and you get paid, it’s a win-win. 

Enter takepayments

We don’t tie you into long contracts. We don’t funnel everyone into a one-size-fits-all solution. And we don’t just do it all over the phone. We know every business is different which is why we always get to know our customers face-to-face first; because that’s how we create a price package that suits you.

If you want to start streamlining your over-the-phone payment process then get in touch with the team today, and for a bit more info around our phone payments product head here.

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