Why accept credit cards online?

BLOG | Retailers and businesses that are selling online or process orders via phone or fax should really consider to accept the major credit brands MasterCard and Visa. Here is why.

1. Credit cards are most widely used and popular online payment methods.

MasterCard and Visa are still the most used payment methods on the internet. Despite competition from alternative payment methods like PayPal and more local payment options like Klarna, iDeal, Bancontact and SOFORT, credit cards like MasterCard and Visa are still preferred by many online and mobile shoppers.

2. Potential reach 4.5 billion cards.

With the acceptance of only two brands your business opens up to more than 2 billion MasterCard cards, and around 2.5 billion Visa cards. Both numbers include all other brands owned by MasterCard and Visa like MasterCard Debit, Maestro, Visa Electron, Visa Debit and V PAY. There are no other online payment methods with such wide coverage and reach. Both brands have strong presence in all mature ecommerce markets, including the US, UK, Germany, and France, and in upcoming and developing markets as well.

3. Offer payment convenience.

Your customer likes to have options when it comes to paying for their online purchases. Whether it is driven by situation (only credit card is at hand at the moment of purchase), the shopper does not have an alternative payment option like PayPal, does not like to use bank transfers, wants to rely on the consumer protection offered by cards, or wants to earn loyalty rewards on their card, they will appreciate the convenience of having the option to pay by credit card.

4. Do not miss out on a sale.

Nowadays online shopping is not only about selling to the ones who have determined what to buy and where. It is also about grabbing the opportunity to convert those impulse buys by fun shoppers. Any obstacle in the payment checkout process could mean these kind of shoppers abandon their shopping basket and you would miss out on a sale for good.

5. If you are selling Cross-Border

Online credit card acceptance is especially of importance for merchants who have buyers from other countries. Besides PayPal, there are no such dominant payment brands that truly allow for online payments across borders and between continents. And still provide merchants the benefit of having real-time transaction approval (crucial to selling online or via phone) and getting settled within days.



6. If you are selling into markets without a strong local payment method

Especially some European local markets have developed their own popular online payment methods, like iDeal in the Netherlands and Giropay in Germany. However, still the majority of the other +200 countries in the world rely on a credit or debit card payment method, most often powered by MasterCard or Visa.

7. If you have Large Ticket Sizes

Online retailers and business who have particular large ticket sizes, above a couple of hundred euro or dollars, will definitely see more conversion when offering MasterCard and Visa as a payment option. Both provide the online shoppers with a credit line above the 1500 euro or 2000 dollar or more (depending on the card issuer and the consumer profile). Not every alternative payment method or digital wallets like PayPal and Google Wallet allow for high value transactions.

8. In case you have recurring billings

Merchants with subscription based services, memberships and recurring billings are able to offer a convenient way for their customers to make payment by accepting cards. They can use so-called ‘recurring payments’ to charge the credit card without cardholder involvement for e.g. magazine subscriptions, sporting club memberships or phone bills. Merchants with recurring billings benefit from not having to wait for consumers to pay the bill and can reduce operational costs for debit management.

9. In case you have returning shoppers

Another advantage of credit cards is the so-called ‘Account-on-File’ feature that allows merchants with returning customers to provide a simplified checkout. Card details are securely stored after the first transaction and re-used every time the shopper buys something new. There is no need to enter card details over and over again, it speeds up payment and checkout, and especially enhances mobile checkouts on smartphones and tablets. (which gain in importance!).

10. In case you want to easily refund money

Credit cards by default allow for returning the money to the cardholder via so-called refunds. Merchants using the services of a MasterCard and Visa payment gateway or payment service provider can rely on this refund service. By just checking the ‘refund’ box in your payments’ back office the purchase amount is automatically reverted back to the shopper’s credit card account. It helps you to save time when you do not have to manually process a credit payment via bank transfer.


11. In case you want to offer payment in your shopper’s home currency.

Known to be important for conversion rates is the fact that shoppers prefer to shop in their own, home currency. Swedish people prefer Swedish Krona, Spanish people prefer euro and the Swiss prefer Swiss Francs. Normally your credit card payment gateway or payment service provider supports all of these currencies. Both MasterCard and Visa transactions can be authorized in more than 150 currencies and settled in about 20 settlement currencies, including US Dollar, euro and British Pound. Please note that the ability to settle credit card payments in several currencies can differ per card processor or merchant acquirer. Bear this in mind when you are considering using the services of a Payments Service Provider or merchant acquirer.

For every business it is different

Whether you are a start-up or already selling online, accepting the major credit card brands seems like a must. However, it really depends on your business model, your margin, your customers and your appetite for card risks like fraud and chargebacks. Good news for ecommerce and MO/TO merchants is that payment service providers and card processors often provide risk mitigating services, like 3D Secure solutions and fraud prevention tools.

In our next blogs will we dig into the how to accept MasterCard and Visa online, and what things to consider when selecting your card processor or merchant acquirer. In the meantime you could already take a look at our Marketplace. Our marketplace is to simplify the selection process for ecommerce and MO/TO merchants to find their best matching MasterCard and Visa card processor.

Consider to accept American Express, Diners Club, Discover and JCB cards online

Depending on your markets, products and services, it might be wise to also accept the other global brands such as American Express, Diners Club International (when servicing the more wealthy consumers) , Discover Card (for US shoppers) and JCB (when shipping to Asia, Japan).


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Blog post by Erik van den Heuvel, About-Payments, July 1st, 2014

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