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7 Great Ways To Accept Payments Online in 2024

Nobody wants to work without getting paid. Thankfully – we’ve got the internet.

It’s the perfect contactless means for people to get their stuff and businesses to stay afloat in challenging times. By 2025 it’s expected that the eCommerce industry will be responsible for almost 25% of the world’s retail sales!

And it’s not just businesses looking for ways to accept payments online. So are many remote workers and freelancers, including me. If you’re stuck in limbo and uncertain about your digital payment options, this is an awesome time to get started.

There are so many options available that you’re sure to find one to fit your needs.

How to Accept Payments Online

There’s less challenge in finding a way to accept payments online than finding one that’s right for your needs. Those needs, by the way, also have to meet your customers’ expectations. Trends change and not everyone may want to go the ole credit card route.

So, here are 7 great options.

1. Set up a secure online payment gateway

A payment gateway intermediates between the customer’s payment method and your bank account. Although this may sound like it processes the payment, that’s not entirely true. A payment processor might also be involved, but the payment gateway acts as the conduit.

Using a payment gateway offers two distinct advantages over directly opting for a payment processor. The first is that it reduces the security risk to you and the customer since the service provider handles much of the process.

The second is that payment gateways can offer access to multiple payment processors. That saves you the time, effort, and potential headache of dealing with multiple companies.

When choosing which gateway to use, consider factors such as pricing models (e.g., flat fees vs. commission), available features (e.g., recurring billing), integration options, security protocols (SSL encryption), and international availability, among others.

Want to start using a payment gateway?

We’ve written much more on this in our guide to the best payment gateways – go check that out!

2. Enable credit and debit card payments

You’ll want to accept credit card payments if you prefer the traditional route. There’s a good argument for this since, in the US alone, 70% of the population have one or more credit cards. That’s a pretty big customer base to miss if you don’t support this old-school payment method.

Credit card payments can also make life much easier for customers willing to let you save their payment details. If so, there’s no need for them to enter their payment information every time they purchase something from you.

They just enter their card number once, then you keep track of all the transactions made on that card and charge the customer at a later date when needed.

Credit cards are also secure as they require identity verification before allowing any transactions through a payment gateway such as Stripe or PayPal; this protects both parties against fraudsters trying to steal money.

3. Set up recurring billing

Recurring billing is excellent if you sell long-term-use products like web hosting or software services. It allows customers to authorize payments once with further payments automatically processed. However, there are essential factors to consider in recurring billing.

Two of the most important factors are to ensure that customers are aware of the recurring charges and have a way to cancel their subscriptions easily. You should always be clear on how customers can cancel their subscriptions if they choose to do so.

To accept recurring payments online, you need a recurring billing service like Stripe Billing. Many service providers that support this payment option can also allow one-time charges.

4. Accept mobile payments

With mobile payments, we’re moving more firmly into the 21st century. Everybody and their pet iguana today has a mobile phone. The mobile phone has become a vital tool in allowing the unbanked to tap into the global financial system.

If you want to accept mobile payments for your business, there are a few options. I’m pretty sure you can guess that most are tied closely to companies deeply entrenched in the smartphone industry – Apple (with Apple Pay) and Google (with Google Pay), for example.

Mobile payments are growing strongly, in case you’re stuck in the credit card mindset. There are interesting statistics that might offer better insight into this payment option.

  • More than two billion users (and growing) pay via mobile each year.
  • 50 Million have signed up for Apple Pay in the US.
  • Even in 2019, Google Pay saw over $110 billion in annual transactions.
  • Paytm handles over 75% of mobile transactions in India.
  • The US ranks third in global mobile payments adoption.

5. Use email invoicing

Prefer the convenience of email communication over snail mail? Invoice your customers through email and make sure they pay before they forget. You can send invoices to customers from your computer or use a service like FreshBooks to send invoices from their computers.

Suppose you want to ensure that every customer pays on time, set up reminders for yourself and each of your clients. If a customer misses their payment deadline, it’s easy for you to send an invoice reminder via email—and if they don’t respond within 30 days (or whatever number you choose), then it’s time for an official “late fee” letter!

6. Accept electronic checks (eChecks) or ACH

ACH stands for Automated Clearing House, an electronic system for making financial transfers. The US Fed (Federal Reserve Bank, not FBI) and the National Automated Clearinghouse Association established this system to reduce check fraud.

Today, ACH is used to make all sorts of business-to-business and business-to-consumer transactions, from payroll to bill payments. The most common types of ACH payment processing are Electronic checks (eChecks) or Direct Deposit (ACH credits).

7. Accept cryptocurrency payments

The most exciting part of accepting cryptocurrency payments is that you can tap into a growing market segment. We’re seeing more and more online merchants accepting cryptocurrency payments thanks to its explosive growth.

Today, you’ll find many cryptocurrency payment processors available. More straightforward and secure wallets have also moved crypto past the geek domain into adult Americana. It’s moved out of “untested” and encroaching on the territory of mainstream businesses.

For example, The Winklevoss twins recently launched Gemini USD (GUSD), which allows businesses worldwide to accept US Dollar-backed stablecoins as payment over the internet.

How Can I Bill My Customers Online?

The most common method to bill customers online is to use a credit card processor like PayPal or Stripe, but there are other ways. For example, some services help you create invoices, invoice templates, and even send out reminders.

Here are some ideas on how to bill your customers online:

  • Payment buttons Work great on websites, and you can embed them in multiple locations. They serve as an easy way to link customers to your payment system. Once there, the system will take over the process.
  • Digital Invoices Help eliminate the paperwork and allow you to bill customers via email. It’s faster and more convenient on both ends. You can even embed a payment button or link in your digital invoice.
  • Shopping Carts Are more suited for eCommerce websites that need to support multi-product purchases. Most shopping carts will also offer powerful features that help drive more sales. Examples include abandoned cart recovers, customized offers, etc.

Don’t forget to check out our guide to the best invoicing software if you’re interested!

What’s the Cheapest Way to Accept Payments Online?

Getting paid online isn’t going to be free. It takes a lot of investment in technology and security to make that magic happen. Hence, you’ll need to be prepared to cut some of your business profits to payment service providers.

The best option would be to use a payment gateway. It’s the easiest and most cost-effective method that benefits you and your customers. However, this isn’t free, and you must be aware of the potential fees.

For example:

  1. Setup fees Most newer service providers don’t charge setup fees anymore. Integration with modern systems is a lot simpler than it used to be.
  2. Monthly fees Some service providers may want monthly payments if they offer a tiered pricing product. For example, $25/mo gets you Package A while $50/mo gets you Package B.
  3. Transaction fees Service providers earn most of their income from transaction fees. Most transaction fees are composed of two parts; a fixed fee per transaction plus a percentage of the overall transaction.
  4. Support fees While uncommon, some service providers may try to charge support fees. This fee can stack up costs quickly, so clarify it before signing with any service provider.

Looking to send or receive money overseas?

Check out our roundup on the best ways to transfer money internationally without breaking the bank.

Benefits for businesses who accept online payments

First and foremost, accepting online payments provides a way to increase revenue by introducing new customers who may not have otherwise come into your store or restaurant.

You also get the chance to build a relationship with those customers and get feedback on how well you’re doing.

As a bonus, it can be easier to keep track of all your transactions than if you were only taking cash or checks. This means fewer problems with lost receipts and keeping up with the money in your register at the end of the day.

Challenges With Accepting Online Payments for Businesses

In the early days of the web, many companies balked at accepting payments online because of security concerns. Many have since embraced digital payments, but some concerns still linger.

Security needs focus if you intend to accept payments online. That applies to both you and the service provider you select. It’s crucial to prevent fraud or theft and assure customers that their money is safe in your hands.

Another issue with online payments is that some payment methods like credit cards can result in chargebacks. That means customers can claw back payments by claiming unauthorized purchases on their credit cards. Chargebacks can result in Visa and MasterCard penalties ranging from $15 to $25.

Service providers often charge variable percentages in their fee structure. It can be challenging to clearly understand how much you’re bleeding just to facilitate overall payments. While you can make rough estimations, not all fee structures are simple.

Wrap Up – So, What’s The Best Way To Accept Payments Online?

You might think the cheapest way to accept payments online is the best, but that isn’t necessarily true. The best payment method must meet your needs and your customer segment. For example, if your customers mainly pay by credit card, accepting just cryptocurrency payments will be an issue.

Understand your customer needs and combine them with what the various service providers offer. You’ll often find that a more agile approach like a payment gateway is a happy middle ground.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What’s the difference between payment processors and payment gateways?

Payment processors often support a single payment method, such as credit cards. Payment gateways will act as a conduit toward multiple payment processors, increasing the agility of business payment acceptance.

2. What do I need to start taking payments online?

First off, you need a merchant account. This is the account that your customers will use when they pay you. You will also need a way to handle the payment, such as a payment gateway or payment processor.

3. What is the safest way to accept payment?

The safest way to accept payments online is through an online payment processor or payment gateway. These options have robust security features and often need to comply strictly with financial regulations that oversee the payments industry.

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