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< Payments

Authorize.net & FreshBooks: What is the difference between Card Not Present and Card Present? Why does it matter?

When connecting Authorize.net to FreshBooks to receive online payments, it’s very important to make sure that your Authorize.net account is a CARD-NOT-PRESENT account.

FreshBooks only works with a card-not-present Authorize.net account.

When signing up for either a live account or a test account with Authorize.Net, you’ll find that you’re asked which type of account you need: a Card Not Present (CNP) account or a Card Present (CP) account.


So what exactly is the difference between the two?

The answer is mainly derived from the names of the account types themselves:

  • Card Present literally means that the cardholder is physically present along with the card at the point of purchase. This means that the data encoded on the magnetic stripe at the back of the credit card will be read by a magnetic card reader. This term is used in the payments industry to identify traditional “brick and mortar” or retail merchants.
  • Card Not Present literally means that the merchant accepts payment from a cardholder without seeing the plastic card. This means that the card information is manually keyed in instead of being swiped through a card reader. This term is used in the payments industry to identify e-commerce merchants or online platforms, such as FreshBooks.

Why is there a difference?

The reason that there are two main categories mostly has to do with potential risk. Card-Not-Present merchants will generally pay higher transactions fees than Card-Present merchants simply because there is the possibility of a greater chance of potential fraud on transactions where the merchant doesn’t actually see the physical card.

Do you bill over $10K a month? You might qualify for lower transaction fees. Give our dedicated Payments Team a shout at payments@freshbooks.com or call toll-free: 1-866-336-0727


Why does this matter?

Because of the difference between the two account types, you cannot use a Card-Present account to process transactions using a Card-Not-Present connection method and vice versa. If you do try to use an incorrect account type, your transactions will be declined. For example, if you use a Card-Present account and try to process a payment through FreshBooks, those transactions will not be successful. Your invoice will be marked as ‘paid’ in FreshBooks, but the transaction will fail due to the incorrect card-type being used.


To determine what kind of account you have , simply follow these steps:

  1. Log into the Merchant Interface on Authorize.net by going to https://account.authorize.net
  2. In the left-hand menu, under Tools, if all you see is a Virtual Terminal link, then you have a Card Present account, which is incorrect to use with FreshBooks
  3. If you see a plethora of other links like _Upload Transactions, Recurring Billing, Fraud Detection Suite, Customer Information Manager and Simple Checkout_, then you have a Card-Not-Present account. This account type is the only type that can be used with FreshBooks.

If you have any further questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact our stellar Support team at help@freshbooks.com or by phone at 1-866-303-6061 (Mon to Fri: 8am to 8pm EST)

Source: https://community.developer.authorize.net/t5/The-Authorize-Net-Developer-Blog/What-is-the-difference-between-Card-Not-Present-CNP-and-Card/ba-p/16916