What is it? Merchant account services act as middlemen between the business and the customer’s credit card company or bank. Merchant account services process payments and make sure the money is appropriately withdrawn from a credit card account and placed into the business’s merchant account. Once the money clears all of the processing protocols, it can be transferred from a merchant account to the business’s regular bank account.
Who should use it: Merchant services providers are an option for nearly all types of businesses, including brick-and-mortar, mobile and online businesses, but some methods of accepting credit cards don’t require the use of a merchant service.
When opening a merchant account, it is important to ensure the merchant services provider offers the type of merchant account you need, based on the type of business you run.There are a few different types of merchant accounts:
Regular merchant accounts: The merchant services provider usually, but not always, offers merchant bank accounts that allow debit and credit card payments. These accounts act as holding locations for the debit and credit card payments a business receives. Once the funds have been approved, the merchant services provider transfers the money, minus its commission, to the business owner’s bank account.
Retail merchant account: This option is typically chosen by businesses that operate in a storefront location, where the customers’ debit and credit cards are physically swiped through the payment terminal.
Internet merchant account: This type of account is for businesses being run online. It allows businesses to collect and process credit and debit card information from their e-commerce website.
In addition to the payment-processing services and merchant accounts, merchant services providers offer many other tools for businesses — including the physical equipment needed to accept debit and credit cards, such as in-store point-of-sale swipe terminals, and a number of fraud and security prevention tools.
Equipment: Merchant services providers offer businesses a variety of equipment needed to accept debit and credit cards, including point-of-sale terminals, simple swipers, PIN-pad terminals and wireless terminals. Most merchant services providers give businesses the option to rent or buy the equipment. Business owners can also purchase the equipment from a source other than the merchant services provider.