Understanding the Different Types of Merchant Accounts
When you are starting a business you will need to consider how you expect to process credit cards. This is done through a process called a merchant account, there are a variety of different accounts available and which will suit your needs best will depend on the type of business and physical set up you have available for you company. Gone are the days where business only accepted cash or paper check. We are now living in a virtual world where plastic is the way to pay. Your business will not have a chance of making it without accepting credit cards and obtaining a quality and consistent credit card processing account to do so. Depending on the type of business you run you may take cards physically in your location where the customer would actually physically swipe the card or you may obtain the information over the internet through your online webs store. No matter the type of platform you use it is important to be sure you are considering all options for your business.
Merchants accounts are accounts with a band or payment processing center that allow you to actually physically accept and draw money from the credit card for your businesses products or services. Many different platforms exist including physical locations, e-commerce and telephone processing. The beauty of excepting credit cards it will allow you to have customers from all the world opening many opportunities for you to grow your business.
There are two many types of merchant service accounts which are card present and card not present accounts. These basic types also have a variety of subgroups, which we will discuss in detail below.
A card present account is just that, the card is present at the time of swiping the card on the transaction. This is the type of transaction where the merchant is able to take the physical credit card from the client and swipe it through their magnetic card reader. These type of processing accounts are very low risk as the customer themselves is present when they make the purchase and are required to sign, which shows they made the purchase. This merchant account will also yield you the lowest fees and rates. Physical retail locations will want to consider this type of account, as it is most convenient for their customers and will cost them the least amount of money in the long run. It is also important for a retail location such as this consider a mail order credit card processing account as well.
When a vender has a portable credit card machine this is called a wireless merchant processing account. The vender will still swipe the customers card the same way but the actual credit card machine is portable and wireless allowing for portability and use of the machine in various locations. The fees with this type of account remain very low but the cost for equipment is higher for this type of unit. This would be a good option if you area business that needs to accept credit cards while you are in the field. This would include home repairs, craft or farmers market sellers or salespeople. This will greatly increase the number of sales you can receive from your business.
A store and forward account is the type of credit card processing account where the credit card information is stored but not processed into a handheld machine. Once the unit is hooked up to a phone line and Internet connection the unit will process all stored credit cards. Since the real time credit approval is not granted. This is an option that is ideal for business that are on the go and require credit card acceptance but have low ticket value and few credit card declines. It is very similar to a wireless account but more cost effective for the merchant.
There are a few smaller types of accounts designed for specialty businesses. The first is a grocery merchant service account, which is specifically designed for locations that sell perishable food and no gasoline. It does not have to be a large market but it does have to meet the guidelines. UPOS of accounts are generally considered very low risk and have very low fees. Lodging accounts are for those businesses that are within a hotel, motel or other unit where customers spend the night. The lodging accounts have much higher rates then most card present locations. This is due to the fact of various incidental charges that can be accumulated during a customers stay which may cause the card to be declined at the final point of sale. One final kind of specific card present account is the restaurant merchant account. This allows the restaurant to authorize the customer's card and then go back and adjust for gratuity. These types of restaurant accounts can get a bit tricky to use and could end up costing the restaurant on high tip amounts. It is very important to consider all these options before signing up for a restaurant processing account.