How to Manually Accept Credit Cards

By Jade Balle

  • Overview

    Sometimes swiping a credit card through a terminal is not possible. Some merchants may be looking for a less expensive way to accept credit cards at their businesses, or they simply need a way to continue taking cards while their regular terminal is being repaired. Accepting credit cards manually definitely isn't as easy or safe as swiping the card through an electronic system, but it can work out as long as the owner follows certain guidelines and uses best practices.
    • Step 1

      Take your customer's credit card. Immediately check the expiration date to be sure it is still valid. Check to see if the card issuer is compatible with your merchant account. For example, some merchants can only take Visa or MasterCard.
    • Step 2

      Once the validity of the credit card is confirmed, ask your customer to show a state ID. Flip the credit card over. Check to make sure that the signatures match. This is to protect you from fraud; if the credit card turns out to be stolen, your sale will be null and void. You will probably even end up paying additional fees.


    • Step 3

      Call in or dial into your online terminal to get an approval. You will be asked for the credit card number, expiration date, credit card verification number, and the total amount of the transaction.
    • Step 4

      Once you get an approval, place the card face up in the manual credit card imprinter. There should be a special square designated for where the credit card should fit. Put a credit card sales slip on top so that it fits correctly into the imprinter. Push down on the imprinter as you slide the handle across the customer's card and slip.
    • Step 5

      Remove the credit card sales slip and have the customer sign the slip. Again, check to make sure that the signature matches the customer's ID and credit card.
    • Step 6

      Remove the part of the credit card sales slip that says "customer" on the bottom. Hand it over to the customer. That is her official receipt. Keep the merchant copy and carbon copies for your own official records.
    • Skill: Moderately Easy
    • Tip: If you are continuously getting denials for a card, even though the customer insists that it is good, check to see if the card is accepted by your merchant account. For example, you may be trying to process an American Express card when you only can take Visas.
    • Tip: Keep all of your credit card sales slip records in a safe place that cannot be accessed by anyone but you. After three years, you should shred the credit card information since it's clear that the transaction went through.
    • Warning:
    • Don't swipe the customer's credit card using the manual imprinter until after you get an approval. You could end up wasting a sales slip if the approval doesn't go through.

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