How to Take Card Payments Over the Phone

Whether it’s requesting a deposit or chasing an invoice, taking payments over the phone can save you valuable time. People are busy, but that doesn’t stop you needing things to move fast.

Although the process is decades old, there’s some unease surrounding how to accept credit cards via phone. Still, over-the-phone payments hold incredible potential for all businesses, so let’s clear up some of the biggest questions and worries that merchants have.

Is it possible to take card payments over the phone?

Yes, and many people actually prefer it. Over-the-phone payments are especially good for business when:

  • You have a remote or delivery-based business where the customer doesn’t visit you or your store in-person.
  • You work on-the-go, leaving no time to take immediate payments or visit customers at a later date.
  • You and the customer would both prefer a quicker processing time than with cheque or bank transfer.
  • You don’t want to keep cash on your person or at your business premises.
  • You want to create safeguards for your business by taking upfront deposits from customers.

For customers, many simply prefer the human interaction before parting with their money. If they’ve called up to ask about your products, it’s also easier for them to just pay there and then. Plus, if paying over the phone means they’ll get their items faster, that’s a huge bonus.

Over-the-phone payments - done properly - require a virtual terminal. This feature allows you to manage transactions without a card reader wherever you are, whatever time of day.

Is it safe to take payments over the phone?

Yes, when you follow the right process.

As a business, the biggest risks associated with phone payment processing come from not following PCI DSS compliance. In short, this refers to your consent to safely and securely accept, store, process and transmit cardholder data during card transactions.

Non-compliance can result in fines for your business, so it’s always worth ensuring you’re doing things properly. Read our PCI guide for more information.

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How to take payments over the phone

Taking payments over the phone is simple and secure when you follow these steps:

Square Virtual Terminal
  1. Sign in to your virtual terminal via Square Dashboard
  2. Hit ‘Take a Payment’ in the menu
  3. Call the customer and ask them to provide their card details
  4. Complete all payment fields
  5. Double check the information with the customer
  6. Hit ‘Charge’
  7. The sale is complete

The payment will then be deposited into your account as soon as the next business day.

Keyed in payments in Point of Sale App

If you’re using the Square POS App, you might receive an over-the-phone payment request while you’re at the till. You may also be required to manually key in someone’s card details whilst they’re in-store, for example if they’ve left their card at home.

The process is just as easy as with Square Virtual Terminal:

  1. Key in the amount or add the items that the customer is purchasing
  2. Hit ‘Charge’ and select ‘Manual card entry’
  3. Key in the customer’s card details and hit ‘Charge’

You can see a full list of the information required for manually keyed in card payments here.

How much does it cost to take card payments over the phone?

It’s worth noting that manually entered card transactions carry a higher risk than those when the cardholder is present to complete the information themselves. As a result, credit card networks put protection measures in place, resulting in slightly higher fees from your payment provider.

At Square, we charge 2.2% per transaction for payments made through our Virtual Terminal or digitally via invoicing. Your customers won’t pay any extra.

Faster payments, on-the-go flexibility and quicker deliveries for your customers are all great reasons to accept over-the-phone payments from your customers. Though it may feel a little unnatural when you’re so used to one-click ordering online, the more flexible you can be as a business, the better. Rest assured, that with Square Virtual Terminal you can provide that flexibility safely and securely.

And remember, if your customers prefer not to pay over the phone, Square Invoices is a great alternative, allowing them to pay the invoice via card from their own device.