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Taking Card Payments Over The Phone: Tips For Set Up And Ongoing Use

Stephen Hart

Stephen Hart

Founder - Cardswitcher

Former - Chief Financial Officer @ Worldpay

So many businesses have recently taken up different payment methods for when a customer isn’t physically in the store.

While online payments may be at the forefront, a popular alternative is to take card payments over the phone.

Customers could be uncomfortable entering their details online, or simply want the convenience of paying while they speak to you on the phone. Whatever their reasoning, taking a telephone payment can be simple and easy to set up.

In this quick guide to taking card payments over the phone, we’ll cover how to do it, whether it’s safe, and how much it costs.


Can you take card payments over the phone?

Yes! Taking payments over the phone is incredibly simple to set up, and can work for a number of different businesses.

Consider looking into telephone card payments if you:

  • Own a delivery based business - Where delivery focused businesses are remote or don’t have the facilities to take in store payments, telephone payments offer an alternative to online payment systems.
  • Solely handle payments for a business - If you handle credit accounts and payments for a business, telephone payments are a great way to stay up to date with your customers and get payments when you need them.
  • Don’t want to handle large sums of cash - It may be difficult for smaller businesses that take large payments to securely store cash on the premises. With telephone payments you can accept large amounts without worrying about keeping it safe.
  • Want to receive payments more quickly - Telephone payments are processed more quickly than cheques or transfers, so you can get the money into your merchant account as soon as possible.
  • Work freelance - If you often go back and forth with clients over changes and additional work, you may find yourself constantly chasing up invoices. With telephone payments you can discuss the work with clients, and get paid there and then.


woman making telephone payment

How to take card payments over the phone

Taking payments over the phone is really easy to establish, and the main thing you’ll need is a virtual terminal.

Put simply, a virtual terminal allows your computer, phone, tablet or terminal to be used as a payment processing device.

For telephone payments, it will usually be through a page on your merchant service provider’s site, where you can securely enter data, or a physical terminal (or pdq machine) where you’ll be prompted to enter a customer’s details.

The process will vary slightly depending on your provider, but whichever you method you use, you’ll need:

  • The customer’s long number on the front of the card.
  • The card expiry date.
  • The three digit CVV2 number.
  • The amount of money.

You should then be notified whether the transaction has been approved. Just stay on call with your customer, and address any issues with the payment as it’s approved or declined.


Benefits of telephone payments

A telephone payment is essentially a card not present transaction, and works similar to the way you make payments online.

There are a bunch of benefits to telephone payments like:

  • Quicker processing times so payments will be settled quickly.
  • Avoiding large sums of cash on site.
  • Reassuring customers with real interaction.
  • May reduce chargebacks as you’re discussing the payment in live time.

In addition to this, it can also improve cash flow for businesses waiting on invoiced payments. When getting in touch with customers via phone to track payment schedules, just ask for a payment there and then.


woman making phone payment

Is it safe?

Provided you follow the process advised by your provider, telephone payments are as secure and safe as any other.

All businesses accepting telephone payments are required to follow PCI compliance regulations. This means only using cardholder details for the agreed transaction, for the correct amount, and only storing cardholder data as necessary and when consented to by the customer.

Failing to follow PCI compliance can lead to hefty fines, investigations into your business practices, and even legal action.


How much do telephone payments cost?

Though it’s convenient for many reasons, the charge for a telephone payment is slightly higher. With most providers, there will be a greater fee than for in store card machine charges, where the customer is present using chip and pin.

This is due to the customer not fully completing the payment themselves, so there is a greater risk associated.

Unfortunately this means higher charges than normal, but you can still get a good deal. Both Square and SumUp charge a flat rate of 2.5% on each transaction, and require no monthly subscription fee.

PayPal charges slightly more at 2.9% + £0.30 charge per transaction, however does come with the handy tool of using any device (phone, tablet or computer) as a virtual terminal to accept payments.

Whichever provider you decide on, be sure to head to CardSwitcher first. As the UK’s only price comparison site for card processing, we can help you save up to a massive 40% on your debit and credit card processing!

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Written by:
Stephen Hart

Stephen Hart

Founder - Cardswitcher

Former - Chief Financial Officer @ Worldpay

Stephen brings a wealth of experience honed through years in the financial sector, particularly in the card processing payments industry. His illustrious career spans key roles at PwC, Natwest, and the role of CFO at WorldPay, before going on to found card processing comparison site, CardSwitcher. He is passionate about helping growing businesses to understand the card processing landscape so they can make savvy financial decisions.