Online payments on my website are done through paypal, it cost nothing to set up but they do take a small percentage of each payment, I can't remember offhand but it isn't enough to make a noticable difference to takings if that helps?
look at Paypal - it's apparently pretty straightforward to install (they have guides) and the charges aren't that much more than if you do something via a bank (I looked into it for a charity to take membership payemnts, and banks wanted up-front deposits as well as monthly and per-item charges).
depends what you are taking the money for - a business Payapl acoutn works the saem as a personal one - you don't need to do the website/shopping cart thing if you don;t want to, just tell people the PP address to use
As shrinking violet says, you don't need a website or anything, just a paypal account (although this might mean people can only pay if they also have a paypal account which obviously isn't the case if you have a website that takes online payments)
You can get a manual machine from the bank (ie the old fashioned paper slip and swipe system) for about £12 per month: I have one of them because do not want to shell out the vastly bigger sum of money for an electronic terminal. Otherwise there are ways of doing it on your mobile. though I am not sure if you have to be a Fed member for this.
KatyMac, don't be frightened off accepting credit cards through PayPal - it is better and cheaper than anything else available to you. Charge a premium for credit card payments (5%?) to cover the costs: if people want the convenience they need to pay for it.
Better still, put your prices up 5% and offer a 5% discount for cash in advance. That way people don't feel like you are fleecing them for using their credit card (they don't realise just how much this costs you), but those that want/need the lower price can still get it as long as they continue to pay in cash.
Cheques are a pain, you have to take them to a bank and then they can take ages to clear.
Set fees such that they cover the cost of credit/debit card transactions (but don't tell clients that).
Then offer: Paypal (you can send them an invoice via e-mail - Paypal lets you create templates to make this easier) Cash - and consider a small discount for advance payment. Also offer BACS for those clients who use your services regularly.