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When Should You Ask Your Customer for Credit Card Details?

People often ask: when is the best time to ask the customer for their credit card details? Should they ask them while the customer is signing up or maybe later?

Few years ago it was really popular to ask the customers for their credit card details at the very beginning, while they were signing up. That could allow you (the business owner / merchant) to verify your customer’s credit card upfront.

Currently it’s not so popular. I’d even advise against it. Because of a few reasons:

  1. It reduces conversion rate.
  2. Your user doesn’t know you yet. You didn’t have a chance to build trust.
  3. You didn’t have a chance to present your service. You didn’t allow your customer to try it.
  4. It may cause more fraudulent transactions on your merchant account. Everyone could put anything in your sign-up form.
  5. It means absolutely nothing. It doesn’t mean that you will be able to charge your customer later (e.g. today they can have some money on their credit card, but it doesn’t mean that they will have the money in the future).

So when to ask for credit card details in your SaaS/service?

Only in these situations…

When you want your customer to pay for your service

After a free trial period, after the first couple of days of trying, once your customers want to upgrade their accounts to a premium version, after the customer places all items to be bought in your web store’s shopping cart.

Once you know how much they have to pay. Once you want them to pay for your product or service. Not before that.

When you want to give your customers an ability to pay using single click payments

If you want to give your customers the opportunity to pay using single click mechanism (so they won’t need to put their credit card details in the future).

But still… that should be an option, not an obligatory thing.

And my modest recommendation: ask them about their credit card details while they have to pay for something and save their credit card details/sale’s id for the future. Do not ask them for these details in advance.

When you want to protect yourself

Let’s say for instance that you have a travel agency, or you have a car rental company, or a fashion company that sews for individual orders, or you’re ordering something on behalf of someone.

In case of a travel agency – what if your guests damage something? You will need to have a chance to charge them for costs of repairing.

In case of a car rental company – what if something is wrong with a car after the rental period? Like above.

In case of a fashion company – what if your customer changes their mind after you order all the materials?

In case of being an intermediary – what if your customer changes their mind after you pay for the ordered stuff?

To summarize… do not ask your customer for credit card details upfront. That can cause more fraudulent transactions on your merchant account, more chargebacks and more troubles. And at the same time that will reduce your conversion rate. For sure.


Experienced executive, people-oriented leader, doer, entrepreneur. CEO at PayLane. Business educator on Also on Twitter.

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