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  Category: Articles » Finance » Article

Setting up a Merchant Account

By John Tillman

Simply explained, a merchant account is the way to accept credit cards as a form of payment for products and/or services on your website, online store (like Ebay), or brick and mortar retail establishment. That's it; so any stressing over the need for credit card services for your ecommerce or other business has just come to a screeching halt. Long gone are the days of major corporations and retailers being the only ones who could set up such accounts, so there are no excuses. All you and your business require now is a gateway to get you set up with the right type of service for your needs.

If you're setting up a website that will benefit from credit card processing, you might need a shopping cart if your website offers such products and services. Most companies who offer merchant accounts don't have the necessary software to place a shopping cart on your site, but the better services will set you in the right direction by having links to websites with such the necessary products to get you up and running. Other than that, you'll just need to know a few things about a merchant account.

First, just about every merchant account service grants you the ability to accept both Visa and MasterCard, with the option to take Discover and/or American Express. All monies accepted will be deposited into your personal or business checking or savings account, usually by days end. Fees do apply to all services including a low percentage rate and nominal fee per credit card accepted by your business. Discover and American Express fees are higher than Visa and MasterCard.

If you're an online retailer as well as a brick and mortar one, you'll need a different type of account for each. Ecommerce accounts are used for Internet website processing and Card Swipe for the physical store. The primary difference lies in the 3 or 4 digit code on the card that is needed when the physical card isn't present to check the signature. This security feature is for the benefit of your customers as well as the protection of you and your business.

After choosing the right service for you and your business, you'll need to submit an online application. When received, your service will send you a Cardholder Electronic Data Storage compliance form that you will need to initial/sign before faxing or sending in and a page with your schedule of fees, Merchant ID Number and the directions for proceeding. You will also need to send in a voided check or deposit slip to the account you wish to have your funds deposited into. If you process transactions before your service receives your voided check/deposit slip, any accumulated funds will be held until the necessary paperwork has been received.
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