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Merchant account

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What is a merchant account?

Any business that wants to start taking card payments must first set up a merchant account. This is an account designed specifically for the handling of credit and debit card transactions.

Your merchant bank account is responsible for processing card payments and manages the relevant charges associated with credit and debit cards transactions.

The money you take from all card transactions is held in the merchant account before eventually being passed on to your business bank account.

There are different types of merchant account for businesses taking payments in store and online.

Why do I need a merchant account?

It’s simple: without a verified merchant account or merchant ID your business will be unable to accept card payments of any sort.

The merchant account plays a key role in the payment process as it checks the customer’s card details are correct and makes sure there is enough money available for the payment to be completed successfully.

How do I open a merchant account?

Opening a merchant account is pretty straightforward and there are a number of options available to you. If you are a small business you should seek out a merchant service provider that specialises in merchant accounts for your type of business, as very often the larger providers overlook the specific needs of smaller businesses.

The merchant service provider will assess whether or not they can offer you a merchant bank account and will most likely ask you to provide the following information:

  • Business accounts
  • Current/expected turnover
  • Average transaction value
  • Frequency of transactions
  • Nature of business/product being sold
  • The percentage of transactions taken by credit/debit card

If you need to start taking cards quickly, then look for the provider that offers the fastest possible set up, as some can take up to six weeks to process your merchant ID.

How much does a merchant account cost?

Depending on which payment processor you sign up with, it shouldn’t really cost much at all. The good merchant accounts are free to open, and this is because the small transaction fee is enough to cover the cost.

You will have to pay a small monthly amount to lease the card terminals but that’s the only other fee you should really be paying besides the merchant fees.

The merchant fees are what you pay on each transaction. There are two types of merchant fees: percentage and flat rate. It all depends on what sort of a business you run when it comes to these two. You’ll be able to work out which is best when you consider the type of things you sell.

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Online payments

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Pay by phone

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