TOP 10 TIPS – How to Find the RIGHT Merchant Account Provider?

You’ve come to the conclusion that you really need to be able to accept payment via credit card, and ideally would want to be able to process it on your website. Lets face it: the hard task of choosing the right merchant account provider is upon you! I am not gonna waste valuable cyber-space to tell you how much trouble you will go through trying to open a merchant account with your (local) bank. Well maybe just this: DON’T do it!

There are plenty of online merchant account providers that provide excellent service. They specialise in various types of accounts for specific businesses. Thus it is hard to judge which ones are the best, as the criteria to judge them on is vast, and is also locked within the type (amount) of services/products your business provides. 

If you Google ‘merchant account provider’ you will find zillions. Lets have a look at some of the most common ones:

PayPal – if you are a small business owner your best choice in terms of fees, credibility and reliability; approval and quick setup (upon receipt of your next bank statement), which holds your security code; no business plan required; limited in terms of amount of services/products when invoicing.

Global Payments – although they have monthly fees that you need to consider in terms of profit, clients always speak highly of them.

Chase Paymentech – as their motto states they are ‘fast, reliable, easy’; you choose from one of their online store building partners, and if you choose a good combination of a gateway partner with their virtual terminal, it can be a bargain; application for the virtual terminal and gateway only takes a day.

Moneybookers – although they charge a hefty 8% transaction fee (inc chargeback guarantee) they have NO registration or monthly fees AND they do a bit of marketing (SEO) for you by adding you to their global shopping directory.

National Post Office – in some countries (ie Australia, Canada) you might be surprised by the options it gives you re creating a virtual store, accepting credit cards, and even multi-currency payments.

10 TIPS to find the right MERCHANT ACCOUNT provider for YOU:

  1. Before you jump in, first establish what is your (business’) average number of monthly transactions, profit margin, average order size, number of times credit card payments are requested, etc.
  2. Save yourself some effort and time by establishing (asap) whether the provider supports your country (where bank account is held) as merchant banks are country specific.
  3. Be pro-active and rather choose a provider that accepts all the major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, etc); some only accepts Visa. AND if your need is to be able to accept payment in various currencies, double-check if the provider supports those currencies.
  4. A provider should not require a substantial security deposit, my local bank required one of 1mil AED (lol).
  5. Get a confirmation of ALL documentation (or information) needed in order to process the application; some merchant banks require your business plan or other ‘unforeseen’ paperwork, if so, make sure it is ready and at hand.
  6. A provider should have NO hidden costs, their fees (rates) should be published on their website. Make an informed decision by checking out ALL the following typical fees: application fee; setup fee; per-transaction fee; gateway fee; monthly fee; statement fee; discount rate (should be single, non-changing and locked-in); monthly minimums; chargebacks; rolling reserves; cancellation charges (how much, minimum term duration, etc). The real time payment gateway should be included.
  7. Transactions should be processed and approved in real time. Remittance should be done on a weekly basis directly into your account, thus only one week delay from the transaction processing date.
  8. If you need a merchant account urgently, make sure it can be approved and processed within the requested period.
  9. Familiarise yourself and fully comprehend the provider’s Terms & Conditions, if it is not available on their website ask for a hard copy before you sign-up.
  10. Research, Research and Research. Only then will you be able to sign-up with the best (most applicable) provider for your business (situation), with the most transparent T&Cs, and with a good reputation!

Sussa Bailey (aka express-VA) is a business and marketing graduate and the principal of The Virtual Express Ltd. She is a Virtual Assistant and freelance writer based in the Middle East (Dubai). She offers off-site virtual office, marketing and web support to ease the workload of progressive entrepreneurs and small businesses, AND in the process save them precious time and money. She welcomes visitors: []