Since many people don’t carry cash today, taking card payments as a small business will help you become more accessible. In fact, by 2027, 58% of purchases are projected to be made by cards. So, if you take card payments, especially if your products cost more, it’ll be easier for customers to pay you and, as a result, you’ll earn more.

This guide will discuss taking card payments for small businesses, including:   

  • Accepting card payments  
  • Setting payment terms 
  • Using a business card 

Accepting card payments for your small business

The first step to taking card payments as a small business is setting up a system.

Payment methods

Depending on your business setup, you may want to accept card payments in different ways. The two main methods are to take payments in person or online. To take payments in person, you’ll need to get a card machine (or two). 

Then, if you want to add a payment service to your website, you’ll need to invest in software that lets people input and process their card information. You can also accept card payments over the phone. 

Think about what you sell to determine which methods are right for you. For example, if you offer graphic design services, you may want to accept payments on your website and use a service that you can customise based on the client. 

On the other hand, a bakery might want card machines in-store without needing online payments. Then, a hairdresser might find it easier to have people pay over the phone. 

Use a business account  

To accept card payments, you’ll need to open a merchant account, which is an account held by an acquiring company that holds card payments while they go through approval. Once the customer’s bank approves these payments, the acquirer can send this cash to your business account. 

Consider opening a business current account if you haven’t already. Having a bank account specifically for your business will help you separate these transactions from your personal ones. As a result, you can more easily update your bookkeeping to track your earnings and spending. 

The Countingup business current account makes taking card payments simple. You can get paid faster and more easily by sending your customers a unique, branded payment link in just a few taps.

Finding the right tool 

If you want to invest in some card machines, you’ll need to consider what features you want out of them. Each software may offer unique benefits and cost different transaction fees. When you find the right one, you can calculate how much it might cost you for each transaction and slightly increase your prices to maintain profits.

If you only need an online card system, you may want to look at options built into your website or find something that’s easy to manage.

Make sure whichever tool you pick is compatible with your business current account because you need to connect it to get your earnings. 

Be aware of your cash flow 

Not only will taking card payments cost your small business a small fee, but they may also affect your cash flow. Waiting for payments to come through to your bank account will take a bit longer than cashing checks or depositing cash earnings. For example, many card payments take 2-3 business days to be approved. So, consider your regular business expenses and how you’ll make this process efficient to maintain that cash flow you need to keep running. 

Setting payment terms 

Another important part of taking card payments is setting appropriate and clear terms for each sale. Shops with lower-priced items could set a minimum for credit cards. For example, a coffee shop might ask customers to spend over £10 before paying by card. This rule will help you keep more earnings from smaller sales. 

If the client is responsible for submitting their card information, consider outlining payment terms within your work contract. Clear terms will ensure that they pay you on time so you can convert that payment to cash promptly. 

For example, a cleaner might invoice a client after completing the job and offer a credit card option for payment. But you’ll need to clearly outline when you expect that credit payment, such as within 14 days. Plus, explain how clients can complete the payment. 

On the other hand, if you offer more expensive services or have a running contract, you may ask for several payments over time rather than one payment upfront. To do this, make sure you outline the payment timetable in the invoice and how clients can make each payment by card. 

Organise your card payments with a simple app 

With the Countingup app, you can send your customers a unique, branded payment link – so that they can pay you by card in just a few taps

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software. With additional features like invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are.

Find out more here and start your three-month free trial today.