Can't find what you're looking for? Shop all ink and toner cartridges by brand
Whether you're building a Web site or a traditional business, you must first open a merchant account before you can accept credit cards as payment.
When you swipe a credit card through a point–of–sale terminal at the grocery store, you are not completing a transaction. The grocery store is verifying that your credit card is active and you are within your spending limit. The transaction is not completed until later (e.g. end–of–day) when the grocery store sends a collected batch of transactions to its merchant account provider for processing.
Credit card orders can be initiated in one of three ways:
Real–time verification reduces the potential for charge–back fees and prevents the hassle of card entry errors. Here's how real–time verification works: After a credit card order has been received by the merchant, the identifiers and sales price are sent to the secured server(s) of the merchant account provider, who then forwards that information to the customer's credit card company and bank. Once the customer's bank approves the transaction, that approval is sent back to the merchant, verifying the credit of the customer.
Customers are more likely to initiate purchases if they are able to buy on credit. And they are likely to spend more than if they paid with cash or by check.
It is possible to purchase a merchant account service without real–time verification. Though set–up costs may be less, if you expect to process more than 25 credit card (non–present) orders a month, most vendors will advise you to purchase a real–time service.
Note: Point–of–sale terminal transactions are always verified in real–time.
Once the merchant account provider receives the full amount of the transaction, they credit the merchant's account for the transaction. This process, from start to finish usually takes two to four business days (compared to 25–40+ days for invoice payment methods).
If you are building or expanding your e–commerce presence, setting up an online merchant account makes perfect sense. It enables you to expand your customer base, and it facilitates a fast and efficient purchasing process.
Make sure that the online merchant service provider uses SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) or SET (Secure Electronic Transfer) technology (or proven equivalents). Also be sure that the merchant can provide for:
If you are interested in processing transactions in–house, then you need to also consider two additional security issues:
There are two types of offline accounts:
The psychology of credit cards is fairly straightforward. Customers are more likely to initiate purchases if they are able to buy on credit. And they are likely to spend more than if they paid with cash or by check. As a merchant, you are also reimbursed within two to four business days. This may significantly reduce your payment lag, especially if customers you are currently invoicing pay by credit card. On the flip side, a merchant account does require you to pay initial setup costs, as well as fees for each customer transaction.
A few things to keep in mind when reaching your decision: