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As there are a variety of merchant account providers, choosing the best one for a business can seem like a difficult task. This is complicated further by the different types of account provider available - retail banks and dedicated merchant services companies - and the not always clear distinction between the two. There are also differences between merchant accounts used for taking face to face payments and those used for taking payments online. It is therefore advisable to look carefully into al the options available, weighing themn against your projected card payment revenues to assess value for money.
What is a Merchant Account?
A merchant account is a specialist form of bank account used soley for processing credit and debit card payments from customers. The account lies between that of the customer and that of the merchant and holds funds until such time as transactions have been cleared by the card holder's bank and verified by the relevant card association (e.g. Visa, Mastercard). Different merchant account providers will release funds from transactions into the merchant's business bank account with varying periods from as short as 24 hours to as long as a couple of weeks.
Choosing a Provider
Before choosing a company to provide your merchant account, the first thing to establish is whether you'll be taking card payments in person at a fixed location or via a website.
Chip and PIN Merchant Accounts
Merchants who will be taking card payments from customers face to face need a chip and PIN terminal. Such a terminal can be hand held, integrated into a cash register, portable or mobile. A chip and PIN terminal communicates with the relevant banks and card associations via a telephone line to verify and authorise card transactions. The terminals can be bought outright or rented. The technology and software is updated from time to time, teh cost of which is normally incorporated into rental deals.
Internet Merchant Accounts
Merchants selling online need a suitable payment gateway integrated into their website. This gateway performs a similar function to a chip and PIN terminal via an encrypted internet connection. An online merchant services provider will provide such a gateway at a fixed price or roll the cost into that of the merchant account.
Fee and Charges
Charges and fees vary considerably between providers so that a careful comparison of several providers is essential to finding the right deal for your business. As well as fixed fees, charges might include transactional fees which vary with card type, charge-back fees, software update fees, minimum charges etc.
Compare Merchant Account Quotes
Approved Index aims to make it as easy and as straightforward as possible to compare quotes from several leading merchant account providers.
Simply fill out one quick form to receive up to 4 free quotes from UK merchant services companies today with no obligation to buy.
So whether you're getting a merchant account for the first time or looking for a better deal than you're currently getting, use Approved Index's service to save time and money.
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