Frequently Asked Questions
What is a merchant account?
A merchant account enables you to accept credit cards and debit cards as payment for the purchase of goods and services. There are different types of merchant accounts. Most common are:
- Ecommerce/Internet. To accept credit cards on your website, you need a special “internet authorized” merchant account. Instead of a terminal, you’ll use a “gateway” to connect between your secure shopping cart and your merchant account. Certain safeguards need to be used to help prevent fraud.
- Mail order/Telephone order. A “MO-TO” merchant account allows you to process cards online with a “Virtual Terminal,” or using a standard terminal or computer software. Again, certain safeguards need to be part of this process to help prevent fraud.
- Wireless Terminal. If you’re on the move, you can still accept credit cards and securely process them for payment. Ideal for delivery, onsite service companies, outside salespeople, and event sales. Our wireless terminal connects through the cellular network in most parts of the country.
- Retail. Standard retail locations with terminals connected to the internet or a phone line to process authorizations.
When an order is processed, you obtain “authorization” through your gateway or terminal. Daily you’ll “settle” the transactions, which deposits them to your account and initiates a transfer to move the funds to your local bank account.
How big does my company need to be do do this?
We have processors that love small companies, and others that love big companies. So it doesn’t matter.
You can be a small one-person shop, a small business with five to 200 employees, or a big company like WalMart or Target. You’ll probably save money here. (Yes, even WalMart could probably save thousands by shopping here for a merchant account.)
How do I get an account?
Applying for a merchant account is easy: First get quotes from our participating merchant service companies. Choose one. Complete their merchant application and submit supporting documents.
Do they approve everyone?
No. No payment services company will approve everyone, because there are various risks involved. And some banks favor certain business types over others.
That’s one reason this is a good place to start. When you apply with our simple “pre-application,” you’ll get quotes from companies that like to do business with firms like yours.
What if I have bad credit?
We are happy to report that 98 – 99% of applications are approved. To find out if you qualify click here.
How long does the approval process take?
This depends on the type of business. After selecting a merchant services provider most merchants are approved within 24 – 48 hours or receiving a complete application. If you order terminal equipment or software it might be another couple of days before you are actually processing.
How much information will they need from a merchant to get started?
- Application Completed.
- Copy of drivers license of applicant.
- Copy of Business License, Retail License or Tax Certificate.
- If switching from another processor send us at least three of your most recent merchant statements.
- Copy of a business card, yellow pages ad, internet website addresses, and other marketing material, if available.
In certain cases, the underwriter may need additional information.
Why do they need so much information?
This is a financial transaction. For your protection, they want to be sure that you are a real person and not someone else trying to use your information.
Do I have to change my bank account to get my funds?
No. They transfer your funds to your bank using ACH Debits and Credits. Nearly all banks have this capability. You can keep your existing checking account.
How quickly will I receive the money for the credit cards I process?
It generally takes 2-3 business days after a batch is closed to receive the deposit into your checking account. (Business days are Mondays through Fridays, excluding holidays.)
What does “ACH” mean?
ACH is short for “Automated Clearinghouse.” This is the system that handles electronic transfer of funds between banks. It’s used to deposit funds from your credit card transactions, and to withdraw fees, in your checking account.
What is an authorization?
As you accept cards, you process them, either online or with a terminal in your face to face business. Each time you process a card, you receive an “authorization.” This means the issuing bank has approved the transaction. It does not actually put the money in your account. That occurs when you “settle” by running a “batch.”
What is a batch?
A batch contains all the transactions that were authorized since the last batch was run. Typically, businesses “close out” their batches at the end of each business day. The batch actually results in the charges being processed and deposited to your account.
I already have a retail merchant account for my business. Why do I need another account for my internet business?
Banks and credit card companies look at internet transactions as carrying different risks because you can’t see the customer’s card. With different risks, the banks want to evaluate and track your business separately. That normally takes a separate account.
What is AVS?
Address Verification System – With this service, you save on fees because it helps secure the transaction. Your POS terminal will ask for the address number and zip code in most cases. This service is only used when the card cannot be swiped, as in Mail order, Telephone order, and ecommerce business, or when the card terminal is unable to ready the card.
What is CVV2?
It’s a security feature, a three or four digit code on the back of each card. This insures that the card holder actually has the credit card in hand. (American Express places the code on the front of the card.)
What’s an Internet Gateway?
The gateway is software operating on the internet that functions as your credit card terminal. When a customer places an order at your website, your secure shopping cart system sends the charge request to the gateway, which communicates with the processor to get authorization.
Virtual Terminal – This is the online credit card terminal, part of your gateway account, that lets you manually process card charges, returns, etc.
What is a debit card?
Debit cards (sometimes called Check cards) are linked to a user’s checking, savings, or money market account. Rather than creating a credit transaction, as with a credit card, a debit card transaction subtracts the funds from the users bank account.
PIN-based Debit card transactions: Because the customer enters their PIN code, the likelihood of fraud is greatly reduced. These are processed through special ATM networks. Therefore, merchants may be charged a lower fee than credit card fees. PIN based transactions cannot be handled in online, phone, or mail order sales, but may be accommodated with a wireless terminal.
Signature-based Debit card transactions: Signature-based debit cards have a Visa or MasterCard logo and are processed like a credit card, meaning no PIN is entered. The merchant generally incurs the same discount rates and fees as credit cards. Merchants can accept signature-based payments via the Internet, telephone, or via a retail terminal.
Can I accept Diners Club® cards?
Yes! In 2004, Diners Club entered into an agreement with MasterCard, so Diners Club and Carte Blanche cards can be accepted just like a MasterCard. Now you’ll see the MasterCard symbol on the card. This change applies to all Diners Club cards issued in the US and Canada, and to most foreign issued Diners Club cards as well.
Because of the Diners Club – MasterCard alliance, it’s no longer necessary to sign up with Diners Club to accept their cards in the US and Canada.
How do you earn money?
We make most of our money through publishing books, software, and training, including SellBetterToolBox.com. We are paid a small referral fee by the processor you select.