Are you still relying on cash or check payments to keep your business afloat? Are your customers frustrated when they get to the counter and read the words “cash only”? Have you been accepting credit cards with a Square or PayPal reader and need something more robust?
If your head was automatically nodding in response to these questions, you’re in the right place. Today, we’re taking you on a voyage to increased customer satisfaction and better business operations. It’s the journey to credit card payment processing, and it starts with a merchant account.
Table of Contents
- What is a Merchant Account?
- How Do I Get a Merchant Account?
- Merchant Account Ins and Outs
What is a Merchant Account?
A merchant account is a special type of bank account established under an agreement between a merchant and acquiring bank for the settlement of payment card transactions. Many business owners may read this definition and think, “isn’t that just a business bank account?”, but it is very different. Allow us to explain.
A business bank account is a safe place to store all the revenue you make from business sales, whether those funds came from cash, checks, or credit cards. It’s also the account you use to pay bills and fund payroll. However, this account alone isn’t enough to help you through the process of accepting electronic payments.
After your payment processor coordinates with card networks and issuers to clear a transaction, funds from the card payment are deposited into your merchant account before being transferred to your business bank account. Generally, you will have access to these funds in one to two business days. However, in some cases, you can access funds sooner.
Is it becoming clearer now? Merchant accounts and business bank accounts are very different but equally essential. To accept modern forms of payment like credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallets, you need to equip your business with both these account types.
How Do I Get a Merchant Account?
Ah, yes. Now that you understand the important role of a merchant account, the natural next question is, “how do I get one?”. Luckily, this is the perfect website for merchants like you.
Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS) is a leading provider of merchant services and payment processing. We’ve been in operation for more than 30 years, helping business owners just like you improve their financial well-being with innovative, secure, affordable payment solutions.
And where do all our payment solutions start? You guessed it – with a merchant account.
Next, we’ll explain more about merchant accounts and the process involved with securing one. However, if you’re not interested in combing through the rest of this post (don’t worry, we’re not offended), just give us a call! Our team of payments professionals would be happy to talk to you about merchant accounts, services, and solutions.
The Ins and Outs of Merchant Accounts
To start accepting credit card payments, you first need to apply for a merchant account. There will be various steps and entities involved with this process, but as long as you provide all the information that is requested in a timely manner, it can be relatively painless.
When you set up your merchant account, you begin an important partnership between three parties: you (the merchant), an acquiring bank, and a payment processor. These partners will then work with you to select the credit card brands your business will accept payments from, such as Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.
Once your merchant account is linked to your business bank account and everything is ready to roll, you can start accepting payments.
But first, you’ll need some payment processing equipment. There are plenty of solutions out there, from online shopping carts to point of sale terminals, smaller countertop terminals, and even mobile options. Talk with your processing partner about the options available and choose which will best suit your business needs. If you need help or don’t feel that your current partner can meet your needs, contact us! We offer a full suite of high-quality, modern solutions backed by 24/7/365 live support via phone and email.
Keep in mind there will be fees associated with your merchant account. The amount of these fees will depend on the payment partners you choose, but it’s important to make sure there are no hidden fees involved. No one wants to be hit with an extra charge they didn’t expect!
Be sure the fee structure is clearly explained before signing up for your merchant account. We also recommend watching your monthly statement closely, especially in the beginning, to make sure the amounts deducted are what you anticipated. Some common fees to expect include:
- Application Fees
- Setup Fees
- Monthly Fees
- Transaction Fees
- Credit Card Processing Fees
- Equipment Fees
If you come across any questions or discrepancies, contact your processing partner.
Need Help Getting Started?
We hope you found this information helpful. Especially if you’re just getting started with processing credit cards, here are a few other blog posts that you will want to check out:
As we mentioned before, Electronic Merchant Systems is a leading merchant services and payment processing provider. We’d love to talk with you about your merchant account and equipment needs. Click the button below to send us a message or give our sales team a call at (866) 472-2141 to talk about your business!