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What is a merchant account?

A merchant account is an account held with an acquiring bank or merchant acquirer (that's us) that you need in order to take card payments from your customers. It’s not the same as a business bank account, as no money is kept there – it's just an account you hold specifically to take card payments. If you’re new to this, don’t worry, we’ll set up everything you need at no extra cost.

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How does a merchant account work?

A lot of things happen in the few seconds it takes for your customer to tap or swipe their card and for your card machine to confirm their payment. Here’s what goes on behind the scenes.

Customer taps or swipes their card

Your card machine reads their card details and sends it to your merchant account together with the payment details.

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Merchant account checks your customer’s account

Your merchant account checks with your customer’s bank to make sure there’s enough money to cover the payment.

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Merchant account sends money to your bank

Once the payment has cleared, the merchant account transfers it to your bank account – which takes 3 to 5 days.

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Need help getting started with your merchant account?

Our friendly team can explain what you need then set things up for free.

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Merchant accounts - how many will I need?

Depends what you’re doing really. If you’re taking card payments with a card machine, you’ll need one  for each location you’re taking payments but you can have multiple card machines at each site.

For online payments it’s a bit different. You’ll need an merchant account for online payments (even if you already have one for a physical shop) and you’ll need a different one if you want to accept payments by email or phone, or both.

But don’t get hung up on the numbers. We’ll look at your whole business, figure out the best and most efficient solution for you, explain it, agree it with you, and set it all up for nothing. We’re nice like that.

1. One shop and one card machine = one account
2. One shop and five card machines = one account
3. Three shops and three card machines = three accounts
4. Online shop = one account (even if you also have one for a physical shop)
5. Phone or email payments = one account

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Take payments in person, online or by phone


In person

Card machines to help customers pay:

  • At the table with a portable machine
  • On the go with a mobile machine
  • At the till with a countertop machine

Plus heaps of extras at no extra cost

Learn about card machines


Give your customers more ways to pay:

  • Online through your website
  • Over the phone
  • By email

Plus heaps of extras at no extra cost

Learn about remote payments

Keep your payments rolling in

Card transactions seem simple, but are actually pretty complex. That’s where a merchant account comes in. It’s different to a business bank account or personal bank account (if you're a sole trader) and if you want to accept card payments, you have to have both. The merchant account acts a bit like a middleman between you and your customers. When they make a payment, it checks there’s enough funds in their account, takes the money, holds it while the process completes, then drops it into your bank account 3-5 business days later. Get in.

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Why choose Paymentsense?

Here’s why more than 70,000 small business owners like you use Paymentsense.

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Free to set up

With no set up costs, low monthly rental and transaction rates based on how much you take in card payments, we could save you money.

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Plug in and go

From easy online sign up to 3 day set up, even our chip and PIN machines are quick. When you receive your kit just plug it in and you’re off.

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24/7 tech support

Our award-winning tech support team is available 24/7. They’re a friendly bunch whose mission is to make things easy for you.

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Till meets machine

Integrated payments lets your card machine and till talk to each other for faster cashing up. And we include it in the price.

Ready to set up your merchant account?

Get your free quote