An Online Merchant Accounts Beginner's Guide

If you are running or consider starting an e-commerce business, opening an online merchant account can be one of the easiest ways to expand your business. By opening a merchant account, you will get a number of advantages if you know what to avoid and what to look for, of course.

Recently, getting a merchant account was a tiresome task. An applicant had to fill out a great number of documents at a stodgy old bank, and persuade a branch manager that small businesses also deserved merchant accounts. The task was even more difficult if an applicant wanted to open a merchant account for his/her online business. Today, however this task has become quite simple, as a great number of independent sales organizations and various merchant account providers have appeared in the market. 

So want is needed to get an online merchant account?

The application

Always remember that you should never pay any application fee! Of course, an application is required to get an online merchant account, but account providers stopped taking application fee long ago.

When filling out an application form it is necessary to give the basic information as the company name, type of ownership, address, website address, phone, fax etc.  An applicant may be also asked to provide information like Social Security number, federal tax ID number, estimated monthly sales volume, estimated average credit card transaction, bank account number and other official information.

Never fill out an online application, if you are not sure it is safe. It is advisable to check the provider’s privacy policy, before giving any information.

The fees

Merchant account providers charge flat and percentage-based fees for their services. Let’s look at the fees you will have to pay for using an online merchant account.

· Set Up Fee - is charged for opening (setting up) a merchant account.

· Transaction Fee – is an amount charged for each processed transaction.

· Statement Fee - is charged for getting monthly statements of an account.

· Discount Rate – is a fixed percentage paid of each sale.

· Monthly Minimum – is a fee taken if monthly sales do not exceed this amount.

· Annual Fee - is charged annually for the services you get from a merchant provider.


Look for flexibility. Go for a merchant account provider who allows using an Internet getaway and shopping cart on your own. Using everything a provider offers can be rather expensive and complicated. Moreover, look for flexibility in services. A merchant account provider must be always available to answer any of your questions.

The process

You will be able to accept credit cards once your application is approved. Your clients will get an opportunity to make their orders via your site, as well as make immediate purchases. Wonder how it works? Once a customer enters his/her credit card information, it is immediately sent to the processing center, which requests authorization from the issuing bank of the credit card. The sale goes through if everything is approved. This process is almost instant.

By using an online merchant account, you get an excellent opportunity of accepting credit cards from your customers. This service can increase sales even before you notice it.

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