Credit Card Merchant Services: What To Look For

3rd December 2009

When a business decides that it is going to start accepting credit

cards and has decided on setting up merchant account it is vital to

understand credit card merchant services.  Basically there are three

types of accounts: physical card, phone/mail order and over the

internet.  These categories can be broken down further but for all

intense purposes those are the three to focus on.

With a physical card account the business will be able to process cards

that are used at the time of the sale and swiped through a provided

credit card terminal at the point of sale or in the back office.  If

your business has a set location with stores already set up then this

is the right way to go as all orders are done in store.

Utilize your credit card merchant services by determining if your

business uses phone or mailings. If so, it is vital to have a

phone/mail order account that does not require the card to actually be

present for the sale to take place.  Verification can often be provided

over the phone or through the mail.  This account is basically the same

as the over the internet account with the only difference being that

the customer enters their own personal information onto your business

website for processing.  Some businesses will need a mixture of these

accounts if they utilize all the above mentioned options.

At this point your credit card merchant services determine exactly how

the transactions will be processed.  Your business will need either a

Point of Sale (POS), payment processing software or an internet payment

gateway.  In some instances companies will need all three and services

are made available to do that if needed.

After setting up your account the company that you decided on will have

responsibilities in processing your transactions and fees will vary

from company to company.  The process starts with a customer purchasing

from your business, providing their credit card (either physically, by

phone/mail or over the internet), and if the transaction is approved

the funds are transferred to your merchant account (if the transaction

is not approved then funds are not transferred).  Once funds have

cleared into your merchant account the funds are then transferred to

your business bank account, this process usually takes about two days

to complete but can vary.

Some credit card merchant services that you should look for and expect are:

• Customer Service (should be live 24 hours a day)

• Low Start-up Price

• Low Monthly Fee

• Easy Application Process

• Gateway Fee

• Statement Fee

• Monthly Minimum Fee

• Discount Rate

• Transaction Fee

• Address Verification Fee

• Virtual Terminal

• Payment Gateway

• Point of Sale Payment Machine (PDQ Machines)

• Number of Days to Clear the Account

• Is eCheck accepted

• Fraud Protection

• Credit Cards Accepted (Visa, Master Card, etc.)

Each of these is very important to discuss with your merchant account

provider.  Be sure to get the answers to all of your questions before

simply settling for what is offered.  Accepting credit cards can be

very profitable if the right account is utilized with the appropriate


Great credit card merchant services can help increase your businesses

in accepting all forms of payments and accept those payments anywhere

and anytime.  Often times overlooked when selecting a company for

merchant services is fraud and security protection.  The company should

offer you updated encryption technology and valid security certificates.