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How to accept payments over the phone

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Last editedJun 20222 min read

With everyday transactions moving online, it might seem old-fashioned to take an over the phone payment. Yet many customers still prefer speaking to someone over the telephone before agreeing to a sale. Fortunately, getting set up to take payment over the phone is straightforward for most businesses. Here’s how to get started.

When to accept payment over the phone

Not all customers will be interested in making a payment over the phone, but there are some industries and business types where this practice is more common. Businesses with a clientele that prefers human interaction may find that they make more sales either face-to-face or over the phone. Here are a few additional circumstances when you might need to accept payment over the phone:

  • You sell services that require an upfront deposit

  • You have a remote business without regular footfall

  • You perform a high level of telephone outreach

  • You don’t want to keep cash on your business premises

Can you accept payment over the phone?

Phone payments can be fully secure if businesses follow all proper procedures. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is the need to remain PCI compliant, and that requires using an appropriate portal. Take care not to record or store payment details anywhere else besides your payment system.

How to take payment over the phone, step by step

For secure phone payments, you’ll require a virtual terminal. This is an online portal or secure webpage used by businesses to accept remote card payments. There’s no need to download any special software, but you will need to have a merchant account to accept the funds from any card-not-present transactions. You can obtain your merchant account through services like First Data or WorldPay, or through a participating financial institution. Another option is to sign up for an inclusive payment gateway like Square or SumUp, which offer virtual terminal services.

Apart from the virtual terminal, you’ll need an internet connection and phone to get started. Here’s how to take payments over the phone:

  1. Log into your virtual terminal interface.

  2. Input the sale price and select ‘manual card entry’ as a payment option.

  3. Ask the customer for their card details and type these directly into the secure portal.

  4. Complete additional payment fields, including address for verification.

  5. Hit ‘charge’ or ‘confirm’ to complete the payment.

How much does it cost to accept payment over the phone?

When you start shopping around to find the best virtual terminal or payment gateway, you might notice that fees vary considerably between different suppliers. Some offer a virtual terminal service at no extra charge, while others will charge an additional per-transaction fee to use this service. You can typically expect to pay a per-transaction surcharge. For example, SumUp starts at 1.69% per transaction, while Square starts at 2.5 %. Both companies offer lower prices for contactless or chip and PIN transactions and higher rates to process typed-in credit cards over the phone.

Other suppliers, like WorldPay and PayPal, will charge both a per-transaction fee as well as an additional monthly rate. Because fees vary quite widely, it’s important to compare the sliding scales along with other features to find the right fit.

If you serve customers without email addresses or your business model relies on in-person and telephone sales, GoCardless can help. Businesses can accept payment over the phone using GoCardless’ Pro plan, which also includes our Success+ intelligent retry tool to reduce failed payments. Set your customers up with Direct Debit mandates for a smoother payment experience, both online and over the phone.

We can help

GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.

Over 85,000 businesses use GoCardless to get paid on time. Learn more about how you can improve payment processing at your business today.

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Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help
Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

Interested in automating the way you get paid? GoCardless can help

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