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If own an e-Commerce business, i.e. online store of some sort, etc., you will surely need to sign up for a credit card processing gateway. Credit card processing services, or rather e-Commerce merchant accounts are usually obtained directly from banks. It was much easier to obtain a merchant account from a bank in the early nineties than now. Competition nowadays is so harsh amongst these banks that they offer their credit card processing services and merchant accounts at sky high prices and on severe terms. Of course, offshore merchant accounts are much easier to acquire (see the “Advantages of Getting an Offshore Merchant Account” article), but contacting offshore banks can be quite a hard task.
Today, internet resources point e-Commerce merchants to many merchant account service providers which actually offer different types of merchant accounts and credit card processing services. With so many of these account providers around it is hard to find the best one.
Some e-Commerce merchants tend not to trust merchant account service providers preferring to go directly to a bank instead. This usually brings no results, or just bad merchant account terms for a specific e-Commerce business. The advantages of having a merchant account service provider are many. First of all, and most important of all, decent merchant account service providers are made up of professional staff. Who does one turn to when one needs legal advice? A lawyer. Who does one turn to when one needs to have a car serviced? A mechanic. Analogically, one would turn to a merchant account service provider when one needs to obtain a merchant account.
Merchant account service providers have many bank affiliates, plus they have third-party merchant account databases. This means that you are able to choose an e-Commerce merchant account from the hundreds offered, thus, getting the exact terms you need at the lowest fees possible. If you are not really into all the difficult terms and fee names merchant account service providers will help you out. Firstly, they will explain the terms, provide a glossary of credit card processing terms, or have articles explaining these terms on their websites. Secondly, you will not have to study anything; merchant account service providers will study you (i.e. your e-Commerce business) and provide you with a number of the best suiting merchant accounts and solutions. This is very important. E-Commerce credit card processing consulting is the best advantage and benefit of using merchant account service providers instead of going directly to a bank. Consulting, which is usually free after you have signed up, will save lots of time, nerves, and money.
Third-party merchant account databases provided by merchant account service companies are also important. Such accounts are so-called free merchant account services, as they usually involve no initial expenses and membership fees. Third-party merchant accounts are great for certain types of e-Commerce businesses (see our Articles section for more on third-party merchant accounts) and small volume businesses. It’s exceptionally hard to find a third-party merchant service on your own; merchant account providers will provide you with many in a matter of minutes.
Offshore banks are also very hard to obtain, as phoning up foreign bank managers may involve speaking other languages and spending a fortune on international phone calls. A great offshore bank [offshore merchant account] will be chosen for your e-Commerce company by the professionals working at the merchant account service company.
Support is also an issue that is not to be underestimated. Banks will never setup your website to work with their credit card processing gateway; you’ll have to do on your own, or with the help of a good PHP programmer. Banks will give you some settings and security codes to your gateway and nothing more. Merchant account service providers will actually help to setup your existing website to work with the gateway. In case of any problems (technical problems, questions, etc.), they will be solved as soon as possible (depending on the account provider policies and working hours). This, again, saves time, nerves and money. Shopping cart systems may also be included in the service bundle of some merchant account companies. This means that they will either install a free shopping cart system of your choice, or will let you buy elite, powerful and expensive shopping cart systems at special discount prices.
Merchant account service providers are an indispensable part of e-Commerce and credit card processing nowadays. Another reason to turn to a provider is the fact that your provider will handle all the chargeback issues with the merchant account providing bank without actually involving you. Any disputes will usually be solved, too.
The best place to acquire general and in-depth knowledge on credit card processing, except Wikipedia (which in some cases has less information than some merchant account providers’ Articles sections around), are actually merchant account service providers. Some of the best providers around have whole sections with more than 100 articles on credit card processing, merchant accounts and e-Commerce. Gathering knowledge is important before trying to obtain an ecommerce merchant account.
In conclusion, it is important to mention that it’s vital to get to know all the credit card processing services around you, rather than blindly accepting one provider. Merchant account providers offer many different account types, i.e. they specialize in gateway accounts for certain types of e-Commerce businesses (for example: high risk, pharmaceutical, gambling, etc.). There are many resources with e-Commerce merchant account provider comparison charts and reviews, with Top-10 lists, and so on. Some providers’ websites contain links to such websites; others have reviews, comparisons and overviews of other companies, which prove to be effective when researching and searching for the perfect merchant account.
Two things are certain: e-Commerce without a merchant account (i.e. the possibility to process credit cards and conduct transactions) is ineffective; and merchant account service providers for your website give you a better chance to get hold of the best merchant account for you and your e-Commerce company.
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