3 Easy Steps to Create a Secure Internet Merchant Account
You don't have to understand every last detail about how payments are processed online in order to take credit cards, just like a credit card company doesn't need to understand every piece of your business in order to deposit funds into the company's bank account. If you're looking to set up an internet merchant account, follow these three basic steps.
1. Decide What You Want
Consider these factors before contacting merchant services:
- Which payment types are favored by customers (Standard cards, specialty cards, digital wallets, etc.)
- Whether or not you'll accept phone orders or only online transactions
- If you will need to take recurring subscription fees
There's a bit of simplification here, but the answers can help you determine the best type of merchant account for your online business. For example, virtual terminals are excellent options for those who still take orders over the phone. It can turn any computer into its own processing terminal, which is perfect for those who may be just starting to fulfill orders or who have a steady clientele who likes to pay a certain way. A secure payment gateway may be needed for businesses that want a payment system integrated with their website to securely take orders at any hour of the day. If you're dealing with recurring monthly fees, then you'll likely want to be able to take ACH payments as well as credit cards.
2. Start Comparing Options
These steps are simple, but they definitely require some work. Processing companies are seemingly everywhere, and you may find ones that make enticing promises. When talking to a salesman who promises insanely low processing fees, ask yourself how they can afford to make it so low? There are real risks involved with processing credit cards, and low-budget companies often sacrifice on quality in ways that businesses can't afford — literally. An insecure payment system or trouble with fulfillment can take businesses down. Or the rates may be low, but they recoup their costs by charging for setup, cancellation, customer service, statements and annual fees. Find out exactly how much a company charges for each transaction, and how they determine their pricing structure. Typically rates depend on how payments are accepted, which payments are taken and the daily volume. A company with eCommerce experience is typically a smart bet when it comes to setting up an internet merchant account, as they've already worked out many of the kinks that have come with processing payments online.
3. Setting It Up and Making It Happen
This is another perk of choosing an industry leader, with a strong track record of getting their merchants up and running quickly. Some processors might take multiple days to accomplish every step involved with account activation. If you had a planned opening date, and the payment processor is still setting up your account, you may be losing sales. Or if you're switching from one provider to another, and you encounter a major delay, you may end up with no ability to process payments during the switch, or incur greater costs by having to delay cancellation of the other account.
No matter what type of business you operate, there will be problems that arise from time to time. Having a qualified credit card processing partner on your side is the key to keeping the day (or month) on track.