Starting a business can be expensive. One of the largest recurring costs that any business owner will incur is accepting payment for goods and services rendered, especially if you plan on selling online, or even offline through your website or catalogs. Merchants who sell to the public must have a merchant account for credit cards. A merchant account is an arrangement with a financial institution to process credit card transactions.
Setting up a merchant account can be expensive and take time, but it is absolutely necessary for businesses wishing to accept credit cards as payment. Because of this, there are companies that will help you open a merchant account without all the hassle, making the process quick and easy.
The first step is to call a merchant account provider and tell them what you need to do as far as accepting credit cards on your site. They should be able to give you all the information you need about costs, time frames, and payment plans for setting up an account with their company.
Once you have made the decision to use a particular company, you should ask them for a copy of their “Application for Merchant Account.” This application will need to be filled out and faxed or mailed back to the provider. Once they get this information, they will contact you with all your account details, including costs and monthly minimum fees.
Next you need to provide the merchant account provider with any and all information and documentation that they require. Usually, the merchant will need to provide:
- The name of your business and its physical address;
- Copies of the articles of incorporation;
- A bank statement; and, if you are selling goods or services online, a copy of your website’s home page.
You should also ask what kind of reports they will be providing you with in order to track your activity and revenue in detail, whether it is in the form of a monthly statement or an annual report. Generally speaking, the more detailed the merchant account provider’s reporting process, the better chance you’ll have at having them lower your monthly minimums. It is up to you to decide what level of reporting you need for your business, but keep in mind that the more detailed their reports are, the better.
It can take several days or even weeks to process all the information you provide, but once they have everything they need, it’s simply a waiting game until you receive the actual merchant account information. Once you have received your information, it is important to read through all of the documentation carefully so that you fully understand everything about the account and what fees are associated with it. You should then sign all of the forms included with the merchant account package that will be sent over to you.
Before moving on with the application process, you should go online and research the company that has offered to help you set up your merchant account. There are several reputable companies out there that can get you started quickly and easily with a merchant account for credit cards. However, there are some more unscrupulous companies out there that will scam business owners into signing contracts without fully explaining all the costs and fees associated with their services. The best way to avoid such scams is to research the company you plan on hiring to help you set up your merchant account before signing any contracts.