If you’re not accepting credit cards on your website, you’re losing sales.. A lot of sales.

Whether you’re selling items online or running a brick-and-mortar business, accepting credit cards is a requirement. This is a basic expectation from most online shoppers not doing so pretty much guarantees an unsuccessful business venture.

Want to add another 10-15% in additional sales, complement your merchant account with other payment options like PayPal, or Amazon checkout. These secondary payment methods not only increase the chance of order, they associate your brand with some of the top brands on the web.

So what exactly is a merchant account provider?

Simply put, Merchant account providers are the companies that move money from one account to another using a special account which is linked to a credit card processor. But they’re not the only key to having a successful transaction, you’ll also need a Payment Gateway which authorizes and securely accepts the card from your user. Lucky for us, most banks act as both a merchant account and payment gateway, greatly simplifying the process for merchants.  

Security Certificates increase ecommerce sales

What is required to begin payment processing online?

So let’s start with the basics. To begin payment processing, you need the following:

Security Certificate (SSL)
If you’re taking cards directly on the site, this is a requirement. The SSL insures the credit card information your customer provides is securely transmitted to your payment gateway / merchant account provider.

Payment Gateway
The gateway accepts the credit card information, verifies it and initiates the process of transferring funds to your account.

Merchant Account
Best way to think of this as a bank account that allows you to accept credit cards. To get one you’ll have to go through a credit check. Rates will vary depending on the business’s credit score and various other risk factors.

Now here are ten things to consider that will help you evaluating a merchant account provider: 

  • 24/7 Customer Support – Issues can’t be avoided and can pop up anytime. So, look for a service that provides 24/7 support.
  • Live Support – There are plenty of merchant account providers that offer round-the-clock email support, but when issues arise, you’ll need to speak to a real person either via phone or live chat.
  • Reputable Company – When looking for an online merchant account, you want a provider that is trusted and been in the business for years. You also want to look for a company that has a good (or great) rating by the Better Business Bureau and has serviced companies like yours for a number of years.
  • Online and Offline Transactions – If you’re an established business, odds are you’ve been give both a present and card-not-present rate. If you’re new, be sure to get both and make sure the rates are competitive.
  • Fraud Protection Services – Use the fraud protection services offered by your payment gateway or use a service similar to FraudLabs . Protect yourself from fraud and chargebacks.
  • Be aware of the average processing time for funds to reach your bank – Cash flow is vital to every business. As a business owner, you want to know how long it takes for funds to clear.
  • Length of Contract – Longer contacts can save you a money, but make sure they are worth it. If you’re just getting started, look for something month-to-month and pay the (hopefully, slightly) higher fees.
  • Early Termination Fee – If you’re getting into a contact, be aware of any early termination fees. They can be painful.
  • Extra Fees– If you find sneaky fees and things that just don’t make a lot of sense, it might be a good idea to look for another provider. There’s way too many in the game to deal with this kind of nonsense.
  • International – If you’re planning on doing business in other countries, look at providers that can support popular payment methods in the country you’re doing business in.

Your merchant account gets you paid

Looking for the best merchant service takes time and research. Gather plenty of information so you can have better options. Also, decide based on your customers’ preferences and how much your business can afford.

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