So what do you do with the card details once you have them? Well,
actually, you should consider this before you start
thinking about secure forms, but I wanted to get my plug in first. Sorry.
The first thing you should try is to go to your bank and ask if they
can set your business up with a merchant credit card account. This
can be very difficult if you're only a small business or an individual,
or if they find out you're doing business on the Internet (they'll wince when
you mention this word). Take it from
me, I applied to several banks several times and most of them said 'no'
straight off the bat. It took a lot of perseverance and bloody mindedness
before I was accepted which is why, for about a year, I used an online service
to process my credit card orders for me.
Online card processing services charge higher rates than your own merchant
account would, but if you can't get an account (highly likely) then this is
your only alternative. They'll process your orders and send you a monthly
check, minus commission.
There's a large list of them in Yahoo's Merchant Services category.
The vast majority of people will want to order with their credit card using
your secure online order form. However, not everybody will. The more
payment methods you offer, the less barriers will be between you and your
This hasn't really taken off because it involves a complicated setup process,
both for the merchant and the customer, so it seems to have died a death.
Phone And Fax
Some people will want to call or fax you with their credit card, mail a check,
or whatever, so don't overlook the simple things like displaying these details.
It doesn't hurt to have a PGP public key (PGP site)
but for general commerce it's not much good because very few people know how to
use it (sadly). I've only ever used my key
once to take a card payment.
If you're outside the USA, like I am, you might be tempted to display
prices in your local currency. Show your prices in US dollars
because everybody understands dollars and you want to avoid uncertainty about
pricing. The trouble of converting to your currency is a small price for you to
pay for a sale! Just put a disclaimer at the top of your order form mentioning
that the cost might vary by a few cents because of currency conversion. This is
what I do, and nobody has ever batted an eyelid.