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Steps to Getting an Online Merchant Account

Aug 17, 2007
For all those who have recently begun a business, the words merchant account, merchant account provider, credit card machine, online payment processing, etc will pop up sooner or later. The Internet is brimming with advice on this subject and you are certain to see the comparison between merchant accounts and other payment methods.

This article will explain the basics of what's truly involved in taking credit cards and the required steps to getting a merchant account - online, offline or otherwise...

What is an Online Merchant Account?

A merchant account is an account obtained from a reputable financial institution like a bank through which you are allowed to accept credit card payments.

The merchant account can also be acquired from specialized financial institutions called "merchant account providers". These financial institutions work with banks to supply unique features that would not be available otherwise.

As soon as you are able to accept payments via credit card, you will see an instant increase in sales, simply because there is now a more expedient payment option for your clients. Since many customer these days prefer to pay with plastic, sales transactions are quicker, and there's decreased risk and less "work" in terms of parting customers and their money.

There are various advantages that can greatly increase your profits once you open your own merchant account: (i) customers will impulse buy more readily, (ii) real time transaction processing, (iii) the resulting flexibility attracts additional customers to finish sales without holdup, and so on. Shortly, you will discover that your business profits (and word of mouth marketing) will will begin improving - simply by being able to accept credit cards - and service more clients...

To set up a merchant account, some things need to take place: The bank or financial institution will conduct a basic investigation into your business' credentials. They will look into your credit history, your business plan, your organization's financial stability (whether you can pay the fees - fixed and per transaction - imposed by the merchant account, etc). After the bank and/or financial institution is confident that the business is able to sustain a merchant account, they will establish the ability of your company to take payments by credit card.

This is the reason any company who owns a merchant account is more trustworthy to a customer. It is well known by consumers that the company who has a merchant account has undergone the rudimentary inspections required by a bank or financial institution and were deemed acceptable. It's similar to having a "stamp of approval", other than the fact that it simplifies the sale on various levels.

You need to be conscious that the majority of merchant accounts require minimum monthly fees to be paid that will be charged regardless of whether you process sales or not that generated fees that month. It's advisable to analyze the fees and features of several merchant accounts providers prior to deciding which one you will choose. And no matter what you do, be certain to read all of the terms and conditions of each potential merchant provider prior to signing on the dotted line...

Another benefit that comes with a merchant account is a comprehensive monthly statement of transactions. This statement will provide you with the credit card number of your customers. This will make it simple for you to match charge-backs or returns, and it will give you precise monthly and yearly sales figures and reports. (Hopefully, you won't be getting any charge-backs...)

Other than the fact that - assisted by the right merchant account - you are able to obtain superior service at the lowest possible costs (the profits skyrocket after your sales volume increases), you can also simplify and automate your company when you're selling online.

And that's what's called working smarter, not "harder". Being able to accept credit cards - and knowing the steps to getting a merchant account - makes it so much easier to see a real level of success with your business...
About the Author
Chris Rempel, marketing director of Accept by Phone, recently started a "Lens" on the Squidoo Network about merchant account credit card processing.

Check it out here: Merchant Account Credit Card Processing
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