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Credit Merchant Account Services - To Accept Credit, merchant account services are essential

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When planning to open your own business, online or retail, one of the first things you need to do after writing up a business plan is to set up your merchant account. This will allow you to accept credit. Merchant account services are the nearly the only way a business can access payment by credit cards, debit cards or gift cards. Merchant accounts also offer a variety of other business friendly services that make your job, as business owner, easier.

Apply Early, it Takes Time
When applying for a merchant account, expect to find some difference between providers. Each provider will have a set of fees that you need to analyze in order to make the best selection for your business.

Among those fees you will find;
1. Transaction fees – charged for each transaction your run
2. Discount fees – the percentage of each sale the MA keeps
3. Equipment fees – fees for any equipment you rent
4. Chargeback fees – fees that cover the expenses involved in refunds and returns
5. Setup Fee – charged to set up your account and equipment
6. Monthly minimum fee – charged to make up any income the MA provider doesn’t if you don’t process enough transactions
7. Termination fee – a fee assessed if you terminate your contract early
8. Reserve fee – an extra fee that can be charged in a lump sum or as a percentage of monthly sales if you run a high risk business
9. Teaser rates – make sure you know the actual rates, not those being offered to entice you to sign.

Expect to provide a copy of your business plan, your bank statements and your identification. Your credit report will be pulled and a general picture of your financial health will result. As long as you have a reasonable credit profile, you are likely to be offered some sort of merchant account. Shop around and compare, since rates can differ dramatically.

Just a few tips; never lie on your application, start early and apply to several firms at once – narrow your choices later, and if you are turned down for being too much of a risk, ask what you need to do to get approved. Sometimes even small changes in your business plan will get you the account you want.

Taking your Merchant account Online
Most merchant accounts are set up for retail based businesses, but the online business community is growing rapidly and online entrepreneurs need merchant accounts too.

You have the option of using a third party payment system, such as Paypal, but if you want to have access to the largest pool of potential customers, you must have a merchant account with gateway access as well. Some merchant account providers offer both retail and internet accounts, others don’t – so don’t be surprised if you end up doing business with two firms.

Online the steps involved in processing credit card purchases are a bit different, and requires additional safety protocols. Make sure that any company you work with offers point to point encryption so any data you send is properly protected. Only transmit data on a phone line, since most other transmission formats are not secure. You, as the business owner, have specific responsibilities when it comes to protecting your customer’s data, so take the time to understand what needs to be done, and if you can’t handle the requirements, outsource this job.

Small business financing
Another benefit of having a merchant account comes in the form of available financing. Many merchant account firms offer something called factoring agreements. These arrangements involve you selling anticipated future profits, at a discount, to the merchant account firm. Your payments are automatically taken from sales at a set percentage. It is a viable way of getting quickly needed cash for improvements, unexpected repairs and other short term expenses.

Marketing and Loyalty programs
Some merchant account firms offer assistance in email marketing programs and also help you set up card based loyalty programs – ask your provider if they can set you up with either or both services.

As essential to your business as regular customers will be the ability to take credit. Merchant account services make it possible, and offer a number of other benefits as well.

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