As a small business owner, it’s hard to know where to turn when it comes to payment processing.  You want to make it convenient for your customers/clients while being easy for you to manage.  As both a small business owner & accountant, I probably come in contact with more alternatives than the ‘average’ smbo.  Here are a few that I have encountered, a few I’m sure you have heard of and a few that will be new to you.

Depending on the number of transactions and where you are in the startup process some alternatives may be better than others.  Check the websites for their current fees and service offerings.

First tier:  You invoice your client (or set up payment buttons) and the client initiates the payment.  You are never in posession of their account or credit card information.   If you’ve used Paypal as a customer, you’ve used this tier of payment processing.

  • paypal – https://www.paypal.com
  • intuit payment network – https://paymentnetwork.intuit.com/PaymentNetwork/
  • paymeplz –  http://www.paymeplz.com/

Second tier:  You set up a shopping cart or a checkout interface for the client.  The client goes to your website, shops/makes their choice and initiates the payment.  Like the first tier, you are never in possession of their bank account or credit card information.

  • google checkout (editor’s note: google checkout is no longer available, effective Dec 2013)
  • fastspring – http://www.fastspring.com/

Third tier:  You set up a merchant account with the provider of your choice for processing.  Unlike the other two tiers, you can initiate payments with the permission of your client, therefore, you have more control over your cashflow & it’s timing… but with control comes responsibility (like making sure you keep your client’s account information safe).

Disclaimer:  I am not endorsing one alternative over another and this is not meant to be an all-inclusive list.  I’m just putting it out in the atmosphere as a starting point to let you know that there are indeed alternatives – do your research, get out there/try them and figure out what works best for you and your business.

If you’re reading this and you’ve had a good (or bad) experience with any of these alternatives or you have an alternative that’s not listed…feel free to post a comment!

Good luck – much success!!

**Image: Andy Newson / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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