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Online Payment

As an online seller, you will want to offer as many payment options as possible to your buyers. Not all buyers will have the time or the means to sign up to the most convenient online payment services such as PayPal. By not having flexible payment options you could miss out on buyers who may only buy online occasionally.

When selling online, it is also a natural to want to sell internationally - why miss out? When selling internationally, take care in how you accept payment. Always insist your foreign buyer using credit card, PayPal or international money order.

Here are a few payment options you should consider offering.


eMail Payment Services

There are a number of e-mail Payment services available. Online e-mail payment services are the most convenient way to pay when trading online. All you need is your own fixed e-mail account, a bank account and a credit or debit card to sign up for an online payment service that uses e-mail.

For accepting credit card payments, e-mail payment services offer an easy to setup alternative to having to setup your own merchant account. Most e-mail payment services now accept a range of payment card types. For example eBay can accept: Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, Switch, Solo and Discover card types.

If you buyer is using a credit card or has funds in their online payment service account, payment is instant and you can post your goods out immediately. Only rarely, when buyers have to upload cash from their bank account to their online payment accounts is there a delay of a few days before payment clears.



Over 75% of eBay users use PayPal. For personal users that buy and sell only occasionally, it is free to use. If you are selling on eBay, PayPal offers many conveniences over other e-mail payment systems. PayPal is owned by eBay and there are many trading features that are closely integrated with eBay's trading system.

Click here to find out more about PayPal and to sign up:

For business users, you will need to give PayPal extra information and there are additional fees to pay when accepting online payments. If you are a serious seller, these fees are well worth it. It can be used to take Payment internationally and also does currency conversion for you when you take payment from foreign buyers.

According to PayPal (19/12/2004), they have more than 56 million users signed-up world wide. The service is available in 45 countries around the world. As well as eBay users, online retailers, online businesses and traditional offline businesses use PayPal.



For UK users, an e-mail payment system you can use in addition to PayPal is NOCHEX. According to NOCHEX, they have over 750,000 users signed up. NOCHEX don't offer the same eBay integration conveniences as PayPal but their rates are competitive and withdrawing money to your bank account is quicker (3-4 days compared to PayPal's 5 - 7 days).

To find out more and to sign up to NOCHEX click here:


Direct Credit Transfer

Direct credit transfer, is a method of payment whereby you instruct your bank directly to make a payment to an organisation or someone else.

When a buyer wants to pay you by direct credit transfer, the information you need to provide them is:

  • the name of your bank
  • your name used for your account
  • your account sort code
  • your account number

If you use internet banking, banks such as Lloyds TSB (find out more about Lloyds TSB Internet Banking) allow you to pay other individuals and businesses in this way. Lloyds TSB also offers real-time banking. If both you and your buyer use Lloyds TSB personal bank accounts, payment clearance will be instant - as soon as the buyer gives the instruction. In other cases, payment normally takes 2 - 3 days to clear.

Payments from foreign countries and foreign currencies can also be accepted in this way. The only extra piece of information you need to give the foreign buyer is your bank's SWIFT code or IBAN number. These can easily be found by asking your bank. Your bank will charge commission on converting the foreign currency. Check with your bank about the rates and fees they charge.


Cheques/Postal/Money Orders

Buyers who don't shop online that much will certainly want to pay by cheque and you would not want to miss out on these customers. For reasons of not trusting online payments, or not trusting themselves with using online payments, there are buyers who will only pay by cheque.

There's no need to worry about bouncing cheques. The vast majority of buyers and sellers on eBay are very honest. Despatch your goods before the cheque clears and your buyers will appreciate your service. Only when you are selling a valuable item or the buyer has negative feedback should you take care and wait for the cheque to clear first.

When accepting postal orders, remember to instruct the buyer to make postal orders a secure as possible. Tell them to cross the postal orders and put your name on as the payee. You will be surprised by the number of buyers who don't do this - allowing the postal orders to be cashed by anyone.


Accepting Credit Cards - Merchant Accounts

If you already have merchant account facilities, offer to accept credit cards by phone or setup your own secure server to accept credit card details.

If you don't already have a merchant account, don't worry - they are not that difficult to setup. If you are thinking of doing some serious trading online, a merchant account will be extremely useful. Processing payments will be quicker and more convenient.

To find out more about merchant accounts, enquire at your local bank branch.

If you are familiar merchant accounts and want to set one up online, take a look at these services:

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