What is a Merchant Account? and How Do I Get One?

If you are thinking of becoming an online retailer (often called a merchant) then it’s key that you are familiar with what a merchant account is.

Knowing how and where to get a merchant account can be extremely confusing as there are numerous account types that permit online payments. Only through research can you hope to find the easiest and most cost-effective solution for you and your business.

What is a Merchant Account?
A merchant account is a type of bank account that allows businesses to accept payments by card – typically debit or credit cards – when combined with an online payment gateway.  The account is established as part of the payment gateway process. Now for people who don’t work in the online payment industry, a merchant account is a bank account that exists for the purpose of holding funds taken from credit and debit card sales. If you’ve ever wondered where your money goes after you have paid for an item, it goes into a merchant account. From there funds are transferred out to a normal business bank account on a regular basis. This is called settlement.

What is an Acquiring Bank?
An acquiring bank is a bank or financial institution that processes credit or debit card payments on behalf of a merchant. The term ‘acquirer’ indicates that the bank accepts or acquires credit card payments from the card-issuing banks within an association.

How Do You Get A Merchant Account?
It is a relatively simple process to set up a merchant account. There is usually little to no charge in setting up a merchant account and by setting one up early you can overcome any unforeseen obstacles and start accepting payments as soon as possible. You certainly don’t want a scenario where you have customers wanting to pay but no method of taking payments. Fortunately there are a number of organisations that can offer merchant services at great rates – usually better rates than your own business bank. All you will need to do is provide ID and details of your website and away you go. Typically the process can take between two to eight weeks; however, some companies like Secure Trading Financial Services can offer set-up in an eye-watering 48hrs.

If you would like any more information on attaining a merchant account or would like to enquire about merchant services please call us today 0333 240 6000 for one of our payment specialists to discuss how we can provide the best payment solution for your business.