Getting Started

Accepting credit and debit cards improves a customer’s experience while also creating greater efficiencies in payment collection. However, having this convenience requires thorough preparation and constant vigilance in order to maintain card data security. This page outlines what a department needs to know and do to become a merchant unit.

Payment Processing Options

Payment cards can be accepted using terminal, point-of-sale, or online systems:

Note! Please contact Merchant Card Services before you purchase any POS hardware or software. We will work with you to ensure that the POS system you are looking to purchase is compatible with the University of Illinois' credit card processor and meets any or all operational and security requirements.
Note! Units are not allowed to accept payments via PayPal. If iPay or FormBuilder don't fit your unit’s needs, there may be other options. Contact so that we can assist you with a solution!
  • Terminals are small, desktop devices that can process credit and debit transactions and allow users to tap, swipe, or insert a card (chip and PIN), or to enter information manually.
    • Merchant Card Services can help with one-time or short-term use of payment terminals with loaner terminals. Terminals are reserved on a first come, first served basis. To request loaner terminals, use the Payment Terminal Loan Request Form.
  • Point-of-sale (POS) systems are computers specialized to process payments for a unit’s specific business needs—typically one or more PCs connected to a central server. A POS system is more complex than a terminal and requires additional security and maintenance. POS systems support the same credit and debit payment cards and entry methods as a terminal.
  • Online (ecommerce) applications enable units to accept credit and debit payments over the internet. Units that have their own ecommerce system can use the iPay system to handle payment processing. Integrating with the iPay payment page requires some programming but eliminates any card data security requirements for a unit’s web site. The iPay system posts payment revenue to unit CFOAPs. If your unit is looking for a customized ecommerce environment, AITS and ATLAS offer the FormBuilder system for free.

All these methods can process Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover cards. Units may determine which of these cards they want to accept, although most accept all four brands. Payments are processed in real time and post to a merchant's general ledger CFOAP the next business day. Any payment processing choice(s) must be approved by Merchant Card Services before any transactions will be processed.

First Steps

Steps for units processing only gifts or donations

Units that want to accept gifts or donations must email at the University of Illinois Foundation. More information on gifts can be found in the OBFS Policies and Procedures Section 11.3, Campus Processing of Gifts.

Steps for non-gift units

  1. Review the OBFS Policy and Procedures Section 21- Merchant Cards.
  2. Complete and submit the appropriate Merchant Card Services Form to begin the enrollment process.
  3. Review our Data Security pages to prepare your unit can comply with all card data security requirements.
  4. Read and follow the Employee Requirements to ensure existing and new employees follow all card data security requirements.
  5. Ensure that employees complete the annual Online Payment Card Data Security Training. This training is required for all employees who handle payment card data.
  6. Read the Training Resources documents relevant to your department's business operations.

What to Expect

Once your request to begin accepting payments has been approved, we will notify your unit and work with you to set up the payment options you have chosen.

  • Terminals typically require a new merchant ID to be set up with the University of Illinois' credit card processor. Allow six to ten weeks for that process to complete.
  • Point-of-sale systems' setup time will vary widely. If a new merchant ID is required, allow six to ten weeks for that process to complete.
  • Online merchant setup time is determined by how quickly you can integrate your website with iPay. FormBuilder is already integrated with iPay so a new site with that system can usually be completed in a few days.