How do I take card payments over the phone?

Phone Payments (1)

How do I take card payments over the phone?

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Taking card payments over the phone lets you reach customers who can't come to your business in person, opens doors that would be closed otherwise during this period and could help you keep trading until everything returns to normal.

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.

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). 

It's also worth noting that it will usually be more expensive to take phone payments through a physical card machine, rather than a virtual terminal.

Instead of going through a normal face to face transaction, you'll need to take the customers' details over the phone, and type them in, including their 16 digit card number, card expiry date and security code from the back of the card. You'll also be asked for a house number and the numeric digits of the postcodr that the card is registered to. 

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.

2. 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).

3. 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.

4. 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.

takepayments can help

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.


Bryony Pearce

Bryony Pearce


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