Littera Scripta

Merchant Credit Card Accounts

When you're just starting out, it's perfectly acceptable to accept payment by cheque or money order only. Eventually though, you'll probably want to accept credit cards.

If you sell on Amazon zShops or auctions, you can sign up for the 1-click payment system. You will pay .25 cents per transaction + 2.5% per transaction.

On the Advanced Book Exchange, you can sign up for the ABEcommerce program. There are no fees for selling through ABEcommerce. The customer is charged a handling fee.

PayPal has a commercial account available now. The fees are 1.9% per transaction, with a $2000.00 limit. Both you and your customer must be signed up with PayPal.

To be completely independent, you will still eventually want your own merchant account. There are any number of merchant account providers who are willing to work with US merchants. here are a few:
Cardservice International
Novus Network Services
Electronic Transfer Inc.

If you are selling in US dollars, but are in another country, your problem becomes a bit more complex. This is the position I'm in. I use Cardservice International . However, I have an advantage that many Canadian booksellers don't... I have a social security number, a bank account in a US bank, and a US mailing address (in addition to my Canadian address). I'd be interested in hearing about any solutions any of you have come up with.

One thing to be very clear about when you apply... you are not an internet business, you are a mailorder/telephone business. These companies assume that an internet business sells only from its own website, and will set up a realtime processing gateway for you. This is NOT what most of us are looking for. With real-time processing, the transaction is processed before you see the order. Thus if the book has been sold elsewhere, you'd have to reverse the transaction.

You will have a number of processing options. The cheapest is usually telephone authorization. If you are doing very low volume, this can work well. You punch in your merchant number, and the credit card number using your phone. It's a bit tedious though, and if you don't like automated phone systems, this will be a living hell.

Software allows you to process through your own computer and modem. I use PC Authorize. It's clunky and stupid-looking (and remarkably expensive), but it works well.


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Copyright © 2000 by Deanna Ramsay