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Accept Credit Cards by Phone: What you need to know about the process

If you accept credit cards by phone, there are some technical and accounting issues you should be aware of. This is important in order to help you understand what could go wrong and why.

More importantly, by understanding the merchant account phone payment process, you’ll know when to expect to have the money deposited into your account.

The process begins when a customer calls your business with an order. Your staff enters the customer’s credit card information into a computer using credit card processing software.

Alternately, you can use a credit card terminal to accept credit cards by phone. The difference is that instead of swiping the card, you enter the credit card information manually.

In other words, for your purposes, accepting credit cards by phone is almost identical to accepting credit cards in a retail setting.

At this point, you’ve probably realized one of the decisions you have to make before you can accept credit cards by phone. You must choose whether to process credit cards using a PC or a credit card terminal.

We’ve provided another article to help you make this decision. (“Credit Card Terminals vs. Software”) When accepting credit card payment by phone, it’s important to choose the method that best fits your overall business plans and needs.

Once you’ve entered the credit card information, your computer or credit card terminal dials a toll-free number and connects to Ensight Merchant Services. Your terminal or PC will send the credit card information and the amount of the purchase to our processor.

If you’re using PC software to process credit card transactions by phone, you may be able to use your internet connection to reach Ensight Merchant Services.

Ensight Merchant Services processor will then send your customer’s information to the bank that issued the credit card.

The bank will confirm the validity of the credit card, and make sure there is enough available credit to cover the requested purchase.

If everything is in order, the bank will set aside the requested funds, and send an approval number back to the Ensight Merchant Services Processor. If there are any problems, the bank will send a “decline” message.

Our processor will send all of this information, including the approval number, to your credit card terminal or PC. At this point you’ll be able to print a receipt for your own records.

The whole process usually takes about three to fifteen seconds, so you can process many credit card transactions by phone in a short time period if you or your staff can enter credit card numbers quickly

The only way technology might slow down a telephone credit card payment is if your printer fails to rapidly print out a receipt. For a comparison of some of the quickest printers on the market, see our Printers and Printer/Terminal Combinations section.

Of course, the biggest question we get about processing credit card payments by phone is “How soon will I get my money?” Here’s how it works.

At the close of your business day, you can choose to manually “settle” your terminal, and this begins the final step for processing the day’s credit card transactions.

Or if you prefer, Ensight Merchant Services can usually settle your transactions at a specific, predetermined time. The advantage of this second option is that your credit card transactions will be settled automatically at the same time each day.

As soon as you initiate the settlement process, the bank that issued your customer’s credit card will transfer your funds, and Ensight Merchant Services will electronically deposit them into your checking account.

From the time of the original credit card phone transaction, it will usually take two business days for the funds to reach your checking account. At this point, the availability of the funds depends upon the policies of your bank.

This last step is important. Once you know how soon your funds are available, you can make use of those funds and plan your own payments, transfers, or other accounting procedures.

Ensight Merchant Services is committed to making things run smoothly whenever you process credit cards by phone. If you have any questions, feel free to call us toll-free at 866-377-2292.

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