Business tips of the day: How to accept payments over the phone

There are many reasons why you might want to learn how to accept payments over the phone. If you own a small business and sell services or products, you might get requests for phone payments. This is true whether you’re selling homemade candles, accounting services, home reno services, or food deliveries.  

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In many situations, it just makes sense to have a virtual terminal so you can accept credit card and debit card payments quickly and easily over the phone. 

For this week’s business tips of the day blog post, we’re sharing exactly how to accept payments over the phone, securely and conveniently for your clients. 

There are 3 ways to accept phone orders 

  1. If you own a restaurant or any type of retail brick-and-mortar business that already has a point-of-sale (POS) system, then you can simply manually enter the credit card info into the POS system. 
  2. If this is your first foray in accepting credit and debit cards, you’ll need to get a merchant account. This account enables you to process card payments. For phone orders, you’ll request access to a virtual terminal. This will make it possible for you to quickly and easily accept credit and debit cards for phone orders.  
  3. If you have an ecommerce/online invoicing system set up already, you can use a sort of loophole to accept phone orders. All you have to do is create and send an invoice to the client, so they can pay online. This way, you don’t need a POS system or a virtual terminal. It’s also safer to accept online payments, so it’s a great way to go if you want to avoid the risk of fraud.  

Expect to pay a bit more per transaction 

Because card-not-present transactions present a higher risk of fraud and chargebacks than in-person transactions, you should expect to pay slightly more per transaction for this service from your payment provider.  

Take steps to reduce your risks 

If you’re considering taking payments over the phone, you should be aware of the risks of doing so. You cannot see the person making the payment, ask for photo ID, see the card being used, or even get a signature over the phone. It might occur that the person making the purchase isn’t the authorized cardholder – that's a risk you’re taking. 

It pays to follow compliance protocols and best practices for phone orders to reduce your risks, such as the following. 

  • Request all relevant card information, including the card number, cardholder name, expiration date, CVV code, and billing address for each order.  
  • Get the customer’s phone number and email address. 
  • Never write down the credit card information on a piece of paper – this can put you at risk of fraud.  
  • Write “phone order” on the printed order receipts and keep the paper receipts for your records. 
  • Purchase tracking for delivery orders, especially for high-priced orders. This ensures you have a paper trail so customers can’t fraudulently say they haven’t received their goods in order to get a refund.  
  • Ensure the billing address postal code and shipping address postal code match. It should be considered suspicious if they don’t match, although there are some legitimate reasons why they might not.  

It’s your responsibility to safely accept, store, process and transmit credit and debit card data during card transactions. By following PCI DSS compliance, you can reduce your risk of being on the hook for fraudulent transactions and security breaches.  

To improve the customer experience, it pays to be flexible in the way you accept payments. You may already have payment terminals at a brick-and-mortar location or an ecommerce store, but, as we’ve learned in this business tips of the day blog post, it doesn’t hurt to have a virtual terminal, too. Learning how to accept payments over the phone with a virtual terminal will allow you to take phone orders at your customers’ request. This will, no doubt, help keep your customers happy. 


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Ben Smith

Ben brings 20 years of experience to his role as IT Director for BNA Smart Payment Systems. Among his many directorial duties, he is responsible for the selection, acquisition, development, installation, maintenance, and support of IT infrastructure. Ben also establishes and leads a cross-functional architectural committee, acts as a technical expert and a critical technical resource across multiple disciplines, and consults on all system implementation, modification and integration activities. He graduated with Honours from Durham Collage in Computer Programming, and takes yearly training courses for security and development technologies to remain up-to-date. Outside of work, he loves playing hockey and skating with his family, and also enjoys gardening and cooking.

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