Apply for a merchant account. In order to accept credit cards, you will need to have a merchant account. There are thousands of available merchant account providers, and your local bank may even have a program that will allow you to accept credit cards. You will need to have good personal credit in order to get approved for a merchant account, but there are options available for high risk businesses.
Set up your payment gateway. Once you have a merchant account, you will need to have a payment gateway to transmit your information to the merchant account provider. Most will provide you with access to a gateway, but in some cases, you may need to set up a third party payment gateway in order to accept credit cards.
Integrate your payment gateway with your shopping cart or store. Now that you have your merchant account and your payment gateway set up, you will need to integrate that with a processing solution. If your business is online, this means setting up a shopping cart that will integrate with your payment gateway. If you are offline, you will need to have a card reader. This can be rented or purchased from your merchant account provider.
Add credit card logos to your site or your physical store. Let your customers know that you accept credit cards by displaying the various logos of the cards you can accept. For online businesses, this can be accomplished simply by adding these logos to the front page of your store. Offline businesses will typically place stickers on the cash register for the different cards they can accept as payment.
Keep track of your accounting. Now that you can accept credit cards, you will need to be able to keep track of the sales that are made. Look for a solution that will allow you to import your records from your merchant account right into your accounting software. Most merchant account providers will provide you with the ability to download your reports so that they can be integrated with your accounting methods.