The global marketplace called the internet has people tapping their credit card data into their phones and laptops: the long credit card number, the security code, checking off which type of credit card will be used. The more savvy merchants, however, are making the buying process easier for their clientele.

Of course, I’ll read that number to you for the fourth time. This doesn’t take any time at all now, does it, dear?

It’s time to update

Created only a few decades ago, back in the 1950s, the pieces of plastic that fit so well into your wallet were not designed for this type of experience. Processing credit cards was initially designed for the quick swipe, not the detail-orientated data entry that we all do when we want to buy something online. As a result, it’s important for sellers to update the buying experience for their customers.

To keep up with the times and to not lose sales, consider offering these alternatives to your clients:

Forty-six percent of online consumers have used an alternative method for an online purchase. If the consumers have to decide the merchant from which to buy, they are going to go with the most user-friendly and efficient method. Wouldn’t you?

Consider which ones might make the selling and buying experience better for all involved:


This one has been around for quite a while. Consumers are familiar with it, and it’s easy. The seller sets up an account; the consumer probably already has one. With a flat transaction fee of 2.9% plus $0.30, you’ll have confidence that there won’t be variable fees or hidden charges. If your sales are high, you can attain a higher volume-based discount of 2.2%.

Here’s how it works

You send the invoice through PayPal. Via email, the consumer receives the invoice from PayPal, pays for the product through their already established and pre-loaded PayPal account, and the money gets funneled into your PayPal account almost instantly. No “check’s in the mail” here or problems with credit card transaction. Insta-ease. And we all like that.


Created by the makers of QuickBooks and TurboTax, Intuit is a strong alternative for the older ways of accepting credit card payments for small businesses. The reader is free, and there are no set up fees.

They have to make their money somehow, so of course, that’s where the fee per transaction comes in. Rates vary, depending upon the number of transactions. As always, the higher the number of transactions, the less the transaction fee. You can choose from a monthly plan or a flat 2.7% fee per transaction.

Here’s how it works:

You attach a credit card reader to your cellular device. This makes you mobile; from the crafts fair to your shop to the side of a customer’s table in a restaurant, you can swipe the credit card with ease. From your phone, you can easily text or email the clients their receipts, and the transaction is transmitted from their bank accounts to your bank account. Similar to the PayPal method, an Intuit GoPayment Prepaid Visa card can be established, and funds can be to or from that, as well.


With a free app for your iPhone, iPad, or droid, you can be up and running with Square pretty quickly. You plug the card reader right into the top of your phone, and much like Intuit, you can simply slide the card and accept credit card purchases on the fly for that competitive and now predicable rate of 2.75% per swipe — or a flat $275.00 monthly fee if you’re flying through high-volume transactions. The reader is free, as is the set-up, and there isn’t a contract that you have to sign. If you aren’t satisfied, you can easily cut the ties.

The concept of buying goods and services started in the early 1900s, and 50 years later, we connected that concept to a plastic card. (It’s hard to imagine that the ever-popular credit cards have only been around for about 60 years, isn’t it?) Now here we are now again, pondering how best to morph the buying and selling power for both the consumer and the merchant.

This adding machine just showed me our monthly sales are down, sweetheart. Everyone uses these new fangled gadgets!

Let go of covered-wagon days and the era of making dinners in pearls, high heels, and skirts. Join the times, folks, and watch your sales increase!

Valerie J. Wilson is a freelance writer who focuses on a wide variety of topics, mainly business issues such as online reputation management.