Taking Payments on Your Website

Many of you have asked me how you can add a link on your website for payments. It’s not as simple as that, so this article will explain your options.


You may have paid a bill on a physician’s site or ordered a product from Amazon. There are many ways to make a payment online. In all cases, there is an intermediary that handles the transaction between your customer and your bank. There is no magic link that will work to drop your money into your bank without software and vendors to handle the in-between parts.

Option 1: Merchant Account & Shopping Cart

To take credit cards online, the most common long-term solution is to set up an online merchant account. This can be done with your bank or a merchant account provider. They are the go-between between you, the credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard, American Express), the processor (example: FirstData), and the gateway, which is usually Authorize.net. Yep, there are a confusing number of intermediaries when it comes to collecting money!

Applying for a merchant account is a lot like applying for a loan: there is a lot of paperwork and a credit check.

You’ll also need some software where you can load the products you want clients to purchase. The shopping cart will connect to your merchant account and your website. First, you make a sales page that is a web page describing what the client is buying. Your shopping cart software will give you a link that you can use as an “Add to Cart” button. Once the client clicks the button, the shopping cart software takes over. It records the client’s credit card number and sends the transaction to the gateway. A few days later, the processor handles the transfer and your bank account increases.

A good shopping cart will be able to process one-time and recurring payments. I also use mine to create one-off pay links when they don’t fit with the products I have listed. If you invoice a different amount each month, this is not the best option for you. Instead of a shopping cart, you need a billing system with an integrated merchant account.

Don’t forget: with all of these options, you need to develop privacy policies, shipping policies, return policies, and customer complaints notices so that the consumer’s rights are clear.

Option 2: PayPal – Simple!

PayPal can operate as a shopping cart and merchant account combined. Accept the business terms and you’ll see a place in PayPal where you can make “Buy Now” buttons. You’ll need to specify things like the price, shipping fees, and sales tax, and PayPal will generate a link that you can then put on your website sales page.

You can also send invoices through PayPal, but these are not usually linked on your website. PayPal is a simple way to get started or to handle a low volume of transactions.

Option 3: Third-Party Apps

I haven’t seen one of these in a long time, but third-party apps are similar to PayPal in that they combine features of a merchant account and a shopping cart and roll them into one app.  2Checkout.com is an example of a third-party app.

Option 4: Intuit

If you use Intuit Payments, you can invoice in QuickBooks and clients will pay your invoice. Again, this does not usually include a web link since it’s invoice-specific. There is a Pay Now button you can put on your website according to some Intuit Payments reviews, but I haven’t seen this yet.

Option 5: Billing System and Merchant Account

If all or most of your clients are invoiced and don’t pay until after services are rendered, you need a billing system to invoice the client and a merchant account to process the credit card payments.

The Best Option for You

Your billing business model will determine the best option for you. In many cases, a pay link sounds good at first, but is not particularly useful for invoiced clients who have the pay link in their invoice email. They are unlikely to leave the email and go to your website to pay.

In all cases, when you ask us to post a pay link on your site, we’ll ask you to send us the link – that you must get from PayPal, your shopping cart or third-party vendor. We can’t set up your PayPal or merchant account for you for obvious reasons.

And, remember while your site is secure, it’s not secure enough to take payments or meet PCI compliance, so you don’t want that responsibility on your own site; you want the vendor to process those transactions in their PCI-compliant system.

Payment Setup Forms

You can speed up collections and/or A/R customer service by having ACH and/or credit card authorization forms posted in your Resource section (along with other onboarding documents). Just send those to us and we’ll send you back the link that you can include in a welcome email.

I hope this answers the question about setting up pay links on your site. As you can see, it s short question with a long answer.