Gravity Payments

What is Text to Pay and How Does it Work?

Learn what the benefits of text to pay are and why you should accept text payments in your small business.

 Reading Time: 4 minutes

In a world of ever more convenience in day to day life, people want to pay as fast and efficiently as possible.

Contactless payments and mobile payment methods such as Apple Pay are on the rise and are quickly becoming the norm for in-store payments.

Text to pay, or SMS payments, is another popular payment method customers are increasingly expecting small businesses to offer.

According to a survey by Weave, 30% of small business customers would frequently or always pay by text, if they had that option. Yet, according to the same study, only 4% of small businesses offer this payment option.

Keep reading to learn what text to pay is, how it works, and why you need it.

Text to Pay Definition

Text to pay is a mobile payment solution that allows businesses to accept payments through text messages. It is a contactless payment method that makes the payment process more efficient and convenient for both the merchant and the customer.

With text to pay, no physical credit card is required and the payment can be processed on a mobile device.

How Does Text to Pay Work?

With text to pay, the merchant sends the customer an SMS message containing a payment link the customer can use to pay.

Here is the step by step process of how paying by text message works:

  1. The merchant sends the payment link to the customer.
  2. The customer clicks the link, which takes them to their invoice.
  3. The customer chooses one of the payment options offered, such as their Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit card, or ACH bank transfer.
  4. The customer completes the payment directly on their phone with the payment method of their choice.
  5. The merchant confirms the payment and the customer receives a confirmation text and a receipt.

A common way to generate the payment link and initiate the payment process on the go is via a virtual terminal. The process can also be initiated on a POS terminal or via a web interface.

Benefits of Text to Pay for Small Businesses

The main benefits of offering text to pay as a payment method are:

  • Text to pay is fast. The customer can complete the payment process within a few clicks on their phone, saving both the merchant and the customer time.
  • Text to pay is secure. There is no need for a physical credit card to be swiped or even be present, the customer doesn’t need to share their payment details, and it is PCI compliant.
  • Text to pay reduces human error. Payments completed via the payment link require no manual data entry and simplify end-of-day reconciliation for the merchant.
  • Text to pay can improve customer experience. Being able to pay with their preferred payment methods gives customers a positive experience with your business and brand.
  • Text to pay can speed up collection of accounts receivable. Managing accounts receivable can be challenging, and sending a payment request by text makes it easy for customers to pay their outstanding invoices.

Text to Pay Use Cases

Text to pay is particularly convenient if you need to accept payments on-site at a customer’s location, often send invoices to clients, or if you don’t have access to a physical POS terminal. It can also serve as a solution for card-not-present transactions.

Here are three examples of real world use cases where text payments can be convenient:

Veterinary Practices

Veterinarians can use SMS payments during home visits in order to take payments on the go. It’s also a useful payment method to offer in the clinic for those clients who may have come in a hurry and only have their phones with them, or choose to pay their invoice later.

HVAC Businesses

HVAC businesses can use text payments to accept payments in the field or over the phone. With at times unpredictable schedules and work days, being able to offer your clients an easy payment option takes away unnecessary stress and administrative tasks.


Restaurants can use pay by text to optimize revenue. This is not only because it facilitates a more streamlined process in the restaurant, but it also makes it easier for the customer to pay in advance for to-go orders and avoid expensive third-party apps.

Text to Pay Best Practices

Keep the following best practices in mind when sending payment links to your customers:

  • Send the payment request from a verifiable business phone number. If customers don’t recognize your phone number, they may think they are being scammed.
  • Consider the SMS character limit that is displayed on the most popular phone types, both in the various types of notifications and the full text message. A full text message can contain 160 characters before it gets broken into several messages.
  • Consider what you are sending the customer before and after the payment request. This is an opportunity to create an outstanding customer journey and experience – for example, you can offer coupons or ask for a review after the payment has been completed.
  • Use branded payment links and include the payment experience in your brand marketing. Paying by text is another touchpoint for your customers with your brand, and an opportunity to send them to a branded payment checkout with a great user experience.
  • Personalize your messaging. Include the customer’s name where possible – for example, with repeat customers who are already registered in your system.

How Much Does Text to Pay Cost?

There are different types of cost structures used by payment processors to charge for their text to pay solutions, such as a fee per text message sent, a one-off purchase of the text to pay functionality, or a flat monthly fee.

Gravity Payments offers paying by text as part of our integrated payments solutions and we charge a low monthly fee per payment integration to keep our fees as transparent as possible.

RELATED: How to Understand Credit Card Pricing Structures

Implement Text to Pay With Gravity Payments

Offering text to pay as a payment method provides numerous benefits for both small businesses and consumers.

With Gravity Payments’ merchant services, you can choose whether to include the capability to pay by text into your payment integration or not.

Not sure whether or not you need text to pay, or still have more questions? The team at Gravity Payments can help – contact us here.

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