Q: My husband and I plan to open up an e-commerce Web site. How can we accept credit-card payments? -- C.I., Lakehills, Tex.

A: If you're just starting up and need to get online fast, sites such as www.bigstep.com, Yahoo! Store (store.yahoo.com), iCat (www.icat.com), and Excite@Home (www.excite.com/storebuilder) sell e-commerce packages that include credit-card processing. If you want to add e-commerce to an existing Web site, E-Commerce Exchange (www.ecx.com) and CCNow (www.ccnow.com) will help you apply for a bank merchant account, or become your online retailer, processing your sales through their own master merchant accounts.

Fee structures vary widely. Some sites charge monthly hosting fees ($39 to $199 a month), per-transaction fees (10 cents to $3), and setup ($95 to $295), while others charge flat monthly rates with free setup. Still others take a percentage of sales. Which one is best depends on your business model and priorities.

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