Accepting Visa cards: A guide for small businesses

Visa cards are one of the most popular payment methods in the UK. Find out why small businesses should accept them here

Visa cards are a widely accepted payment method and are issued by the majority of UK banks. With so many cards in circulation, accepting this type of card is a necessity for many small businesses, due to its popularity.

But how and why should your business be accepting Visa cards?

In this article we’ll cover:

Visa offers some of the most popular payment card options in the world. Read on to find out why accepting Visa cards is becoming increasingly essential for small businesses.

You can read it section-by-section for a complete overview, or jump ahead to the part that you need to know about the most.

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What is a Visa card?

Offering the payment service to the card issuer, Visa’s role is to check, confirm and process the necessary details for a transaction to take place. Visa is available in two types: credit and debit.

Visa credit card – funds are available on a pre-agreed line of credit from the customer’s credit card issuer

Visa debit card – money is coming directly from the customer’s bank account

Visa is accepted in 123 countries in the world, making it one of the most popular card types


What are the different ways of accepting Visa cards?

There are a number of ways to take and process payments with Visa cards. So which one is best for your business?

Chip and pin machines – Offering a convenient, fast and secure way to pay, card machines with chip and pin functionality are an ideal way to process Visa cards. As it’s widely accepted, you can be sure to find a machine that suits your business needs and accepts Visa, whether they’re credit or debit cards.

Using the smart chip in the card and the pin your customer enters, you can process payments at the pay desk, out on the floor, or wherever there is mobile signal – depending on the type of machine you use or the kind of business you run.

It’s also possible for customers using Visa cards to make payment via swipe and sign.

While not best practice in the UK, this way of authorising payments is still very popular in the US, although it’s gradually being phased out there too. So if your business relies on tourists – such as a bed and breakfast or a travel agency – it’s worth considering accepting Visa cards to cater for overseas customers.

Mobile card readers – This type of device connects to your compatible smartphone or tablet via an internet connection.

Ideal for small businesses that don’t have a traditional store or physical location but still want to take card payments and a plus for your customers who want to pay by card. Visa is accepted by many of the top mobile card reader brands.

Offering chip and pin and contactless payments, these kind of machines work in a similar way to traditional card machines, except that they’re portable and use wireless technology.

You may also want to create a merchant account. Essentially, it’s a type of account that acts as a gatekeeper for funds between your business’ bank account and your customer’s account. This type of account is suitable for a range of businesses, including those that offer high risk services.

Similarly, a payment gatewayoffers an online service through which your customers can make card payments. It works by receiving and processing the information required to process transactions paid with cards.

Your business can accept a Visa card by using:

  • Chip and pin machines
  • Mobile card readers
  • Merchant accounts
  • Payment gateways

Are there any other options?

Visa and Apple Pay – Customers can use their compatible Apple device, along with their Visa card, to have a mobile wallet to make payments.

By accepting Visa cards in this way, you can stay up-to-date with the latest technological trends. Plus, it can allow contactless payments above the usual £30 threshold.

Visa and PayPal – Also accepted by PayPal, Visa cards can be processed in this way using a business account.

You can accept payments online, or in person with the PayPal Here card reader. PayPal is internationally recognised and offers an alternative way to process card payments.

Whichever device or platform your business uses, one of the most important details is the Visa debit card number or the Visa credit card number. This key piece of information allows the transaction to take place.

When processing card payments, it’s essential to be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). These are a set of 12 requirements used globally to manage card data security.


What are the potential positives for your business?

Wider customer appeal – As more and more consumers turn away from cash purchases, the ability to take card payments – and especially those from one of the biggest providers in the world – is something your business needs to offer sooner rather than later.

Also, you can reach more customers and make your business offering available to more people, increasing its appeal too.

Increased payment options – Card payments make your business more flexible in how it can take and receive money. Whether it’s online, in-person or over the phone, cardholders expect to be able to pay in a variety of ways.

Enhanced security – With the Verified by Visa scheme available for online payments, you can be assured that accepting this type of payment is secure.

These are additional checks made when customers pay for goods or services online to ensure that the payment details are valid. So this also offers an extra layer of security and protection for the funds you receive too.

Improved business image – By displaying signs in-store or logos online that show you accept Visa cards, your business image is likely to improve as well.

Visa is a recognisable brand worldwide and so this can help your business with its professional image too. Taking card payments is a way to secure your business’ position in the modern day marketplace.


In a nutshell

We’ve covered a considerable amount of information in this article. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Visa is one of the most well-known card payment types in the world
  • Visa debit cards and Visa credit cards are commonly issued and accepted in the UK
  • Choose between chip and pin machines or mobile card readers to take card payments
  • Merchant accounts and payment gateways are other processing options too
  • Visa cards are compatible with Apple Pay and PayPal
  • Increase your payment options and help to increase your customer base as well
  • Offer a secure, established and internationally recognised card payment option

What are the next steps?

From reading this article, you’ve learned about Visa cards, including the different types available and how to accept and process payments with them. Now, the next step is to speak with an expert – Startups can help with this. How?

Complete the form at the top of the page to compare quotes now.