Show Me the Money: Collecting Payments with Online Forms

Written by Amy Jorgenson on September 5, 2012

Posted in Form Hacks, Payment Processing

So, you’ve created your form and added all your products. Now you need to bring in the dough. You’re wondering, “How exactly DO I get my money?” Unfortunately, the funds don’t magically appear in your bank account…but close. If you want to accept payments online, you have three options: collect payment information on your form and process it manually from the information in the submission database, collect payment information and integrate with one of our third-party integrations to send an invoice, or integrate your form with a payment processor.

This is going to be a pretty informational post with a lot of exciting tips on how to make your money flow, so get your pencils ready!

Manual Payment Processing
First, you will need to include the following fields directly on your form:

  • Total Field: This can be a “number” field or even a “short answer” field, but I would set the field to “read-only” so that individuals filling out your form cannot edit their amount due.
  • If you have multiple products and intend to use a calculation in your total field set up, you need to make sure your product fields have values associated with them as well or the calculation will not work. I will explain more about this further down.

form option values

  • Credit Card field: You will need to use the available “Credit Card” field option.
  • Credit Card Expiration Date Field: You can use the “Date/Time” field for this.
  • Optional CVC Field (for further security and validation): You should use a “short answer” field for this. I know this is confusing because you are asking individuals to enter a number here, but the “number” field does not accept “0” as the first digit to a number and will not include it in your data. Some CVC’s begin with a “0” so it’s just safe to use the “short answer” field.

payment form fields

It is important to note that you need to turn on SSL and other property security settings in order to collect and store sensitive information on your form and in your database. If you are storing credit card numbers, which you would need to do if you are charging individuals manually without sending the data to a third-party integration for invoicing, then you also need to encrypt the saved data in your database and make sure the notification email is PGP encrypted as well. Check out this support document to learn more about securing your form and database.

form security options

If you decide that invoicing is the way you want to go, you can integrate Freshbooks with your forms to make online invoicing, estimates and client management easier. When it comes to selecting a payment processor, you have two options – processing payments directly on your form or redirecting to the payment processor website to complete the payment.

On-Form Payment Processing

Payment Processor Options:

  • PayPal Pro
  • PayPal PayFlow Pro
  • Authorize.Net
  • Stripe
  • Chargify
  • FirstData

Benefits: Simple and easy for those completing your form. Some individuals get confused when they are redirected off the form after hitting submit to process their payment.

Note: You must have the above security features in place on your form.

Redirect to Payment Processor Website to Complete Payment

Payment Processor Options:

  • PayPal Standard
  • WePay

Benefits: You don’t have to worry about adding payment fields to your form or encrypting your database because you don’t have to collect sensitive data.

If you are using a payment processor or invoice integration, make sure your products have appropriate values associated with them and that the total amount field in the integration settings is mapped to a field with a number value associated to it. The prices/values in each product/total field need to be unique (different) numbers only. If you have characters in the value sections, it will interfere with the functionality of your payment processor and essentially, “break” it. Also, make sure your total field calculation is mapped to the correct product fields, in order, and that each product with values is included in that calculation whether it will be selected or not.

The final decision you need to make is, do you want to process recurring/subscription payments, or one-time payments only? In the integration settings, you cannot chose to offer both types of payments with one payment processor integration; however, you can integrate multiple payment processors and apply Conditional Logic and smart routing if you want to offer both options to your customers.

Some payment processor integrations that allow recurring/subscription payment are the following: PayPal Standard, Authorize.Net, and Chargify.

And there you have it! Now that you have an overview of how it all works, get out there and start processing…or let the magic begin!