How to Accept Credit Cards Offline


It is fairly easy to set up a website to accept credit cards for payments. All you need is a bank account, credit card number, and an account with an online payment service like But if you want to accept cards offline, the process may become slightly more complicated. You will have to purchase processing equipment and deal with customers directly.

Things You'll Need

  • Merchant account
  • Credit card processing equipment
  • Sales slips or rolled paper
  • Choose whether you want to process credit cards offline by using a full service processing machine (credit card swiper), your computer (wireless merchant account) integrated with a small standalone swiper or a cell phone. You can also choose to process credit card orders through the mail or over the phone (MOTO or mail order telephone order).

  • Find a credit card merchant services provider that offers your chosen method. For instance, companies like, Accept by Phone (cell phone merchant accounts) and your bank may offer some of these offline processing options. PayPal also offers an offline merchant account option. These companies work with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and other credit card processors as well as banks (the merchant's and customer's) to complete transactions. See "References" for a diagram of how the process works.

  • Purchase the equipment that you need in order to accept credit cards, depending on the method you choose. Your merchant services provider will give you guidance on the type of machine that would be most appropriate. You can purchase the equipment from your provider or a third party. You will also need credit card paper rolls or sales slips to provide receipts for the customers who you meet face to face.

  • Get familiar with how to log on to your new credit card system in order to accept payments. You will need to link the device with a phone line or direct Internet connection in order to process payments--the exact instructions vary by provider.

  • Ask for the customer's state-issued identification along with his credit card if you are taking the card from him in person. Make sure the names and photos match and check the signature of the card against the one on the back of the identification.

  • Process the card (swipe or enter in the number in your processing machine) and wait for an approval.

  • Have the customer sign the printed receipt and give him the bottom copy once the approval goes through. Keep your copy for at least a year as proof that the customer did approve and sign for the charge.

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