We are often asked by our clients to add the ability to accept credit card payments online. This process can be confusing for our clients. It involves several different parties all working together to make a successful transaction. Additionally, setting up this feature on a client’s site involves the client having a to do a little leg work, of which I’ll explain.

There are several ways to accept payments online. The most popular methods include PayPal, Google Checkout, Stripe, Braintree and using a payment gateway and merchant account. PayPal and Google Checkout do not require a merchant account, but require the website visitor to leave the website to finish the transaction.  Stripe and Braintree are newer methods that do not use a gateway while allowing the user to stay on the vendor’s website.  Stipe and Braintree are both very easy to set-up and work well with most popular e-commerce frameworks.

In this article I am going to explain the method using a payment gateway and a merchant account of which does not require the user to leave the client’s website.

There are several players that have roles in the online credit card transaction process:

  • The Customer
  • Your Website
  • The Payment Gateway
  • The Merchant Account Provider
  • Your Bank


The customer wants to pay for something that they find on your website. They enter their credit card information into your secure payment form and clicks “order”, “submit order” or something similar. The payment amount and credit card information is sent to an “Internet payment gateway”. The payment gateway then sends a request to the merchant account provider to see if the credit card information is accepted or declined. If accepted, then the payment gateway marks the transaction to be “captured” and sends a “success” message and transaction ID to the website. The website then notifies the customer that the payment has been accepted. At a time later in the day, the payment gateway “captures” the accepted credit card transactions from the day. When the transactions are captured, the customers credit card is charged and the merchant account provider send the money to your bank.

What you need to get this setup on your website:

  • You’ll need a merchant account that you can obtain through your bank. Your bank may also provide you with the gateway service(Authorize.net) as a package.
  • You’ll need to contract with a Internet Payment Gateway service. We recommend Authorize.net for which we are a reseller. Authorize.net’s application has an option to apply for a merchant account through their partner providers if you don’t already have one.
  • You will need an SSL(Secure Socket Layer) certificate. This is used to give your customers assurance that their payment information is safe.
  • You will need a shopping cart or code on your website to communicate with Authorize.net.