You have two options here. One is what is called a third-party processor, and HostCharge and 2checkout are two well-known examples of them. WorldPay is another. These are good choices especially for those just starting out or not doing overwhelmining amounts of business. Shop around for your needs, and consider prices, accepted currency (if you sell overseas this will probably be important), and intervals of payment (some processors will be cheaper but hold your money longer -- works well for some businesses and not for others). With third party merchants you do not see or hold credit card information.
The other option is to become a merchant. This can be a cheaper choice for those doing at least a moderate amount of business, and I personally think it allows much greater control. (If you aren't doing a lot of business, the third-party option is probably cheaper). As a merchant, you take credit card information, research it yourself, and charge at will. One merchant is Echo Clearinghouse (www.echo-inc.com), which I recommend as a good and low-cost company. If you are doing absolutely incredible amounts of business, other options will be cheaper, but for a moderate business, this one is a really good deal.
Many merchants also offer PayPal as a side option. I don't know why, but some people prefer to pay that way. But I wouldn't use it as your main option.
$200 = 20 items @ $10 each
$300 = 30 items @ $10 each
You can see that at $300 the Authorize.net merchant account starts leveling out with the others. In this case I used Wells Fargo, which may be a more expensive option than other Authorize.net resellers, because they have a simple $29 monthly rate (no real hidden fees except that AmEx, Discover + $0.30 per transaction) http://www.wellsfargosecure.com/wpa_pricing.html . I talked to a salesrep at charge.com who was adamit that I pay $195 for a virtual terminal purchase, which I did not need .
Also, I used a fairly large package (compared to your avg. WHT host) @ $10 dollars if you lower that to $5:
$300 = 60 items @ $5 each
Either way you said you wanted a certain level of customization which most of the 3rd party CC don't really offer like your business name on the Credit Card Bill and custom order forms.
Good Luck with your new venture!
p.s. If any errors with calculations please post, I am currently using these calculations to justify my decision to go with Wells Fargo.
We've been using revecom for about 9mths with hardly a problem. They always pay ontime. It costs about 10% of your revenue and they hold back another 5% for 6mths for chargebacks. Their control panel is good. Their fraud prevention is good. I have our account set to a minimum balance and each sunday that amount is usually met, then the funds that were cleared in the account on the Sunday, get wired into my Australian account on the Thursday. Works like a charm.
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