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How to Set Up a Merchant Account: A Step-by-Step Guide for Businesses

business owner learns how to set up a merchant account

Merchant services is a term used to describe payment-related services and equipment for businesses. It’s also referred to as credit card payment processing. If you want to accept credit or debit card payments, one of the first things you’ll need to learn is how to set up a merchant account. Here are some general guidelines to help you with that task.

Summary: Setting up a Merchant Account

  • When setting up a merchant account, you need to decide how to accept credit card payments (in-person, phone orders, or online).
  • Consider fees, customer support, and security features before making a choice.
  • Setting up a merchant account requires providing your business name, address, financial information, and bank account details. 
  • Carefully review the contract and address any concerns with the provider before signing to ensure your satisfaction with the agreement.

Setting Up an Account with a Merchant Account Provider

Besides getting a business license, one of the first things you need to do when starting a business is to get a merchant account so you can start accepting payments. Here are some of the decisions you must make when choosing a merchant services provider.

 1. Decide how you want to accept credit card payments.

Will all of your business be in person? Do you want to be able to take phone orders – or allow customers to transact business online? Merchant service providers must first understand HOW you will accept customer payments before they can recommend the right system for you.

2. Research merchant account providers.

The typical methods to open a merchant account are through your bank, an independent sales organization (ISO), or a member service provider (MSP). Examine each organization’s fees, customer support, and security.

  • Fees: Fees may be determined by your company’s size, credit score, and potential risk factors. Fees vary by service provider, but expect to pay transaction fees, which are calculated by the actual transaction amount, and a flat fee. There may also be gateway fees if the merchant services provider uses a third-party payment processor.
  • Pro Tip: If you are a small company with intermittent business, ask if your contract requires a minimum number of transactions per month. You may be charged a monthly minimum fee if you fail to meet the minimum.
  • Customer Support: Unforeseen issues, both large and small, can arise anytime. While such problems are uncommon with merchant accounts, selecting a provider that delivers exceptional customer service is crucial. Since payments and a steady cash flow are essential for your business, you need a service that can assist you whenever necessary.
  • Security: The Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council enforces the PCI Data Security Standards to ensure all customer and credit card information is handled securely, reducing the risk of data breaches. Ensure the system protects your customers’ payment data from the moment it is entered, ensuring secure transmission for processing. 
merchant services companies help set up QR codes for payments

3. Apply for the account that suits your needs.

Setting up an account with a merchant account provider is like setting up a business bank account. You’ll need to provide your business name, address, financial information, and business bank account information. 

  • Pro Tip: “Low fee” merchant service providers are not always the best option. Don’t overlook security and customer service when choosing a company for merchant account services. It’s too important!

4. Review and sign the contract.

Once the merchant accepts you, they will prepare a contract for you to sign, outlining all the terms and conditions. Carefully review each section to ensure you are satisfied. If you have any concerns, contact the provider to discuss alternative options.

Choosing a Merchant Service Provider for Your Business

Cardconnect is ready to help you set up a merchant account for your business. We are very transparent about our rates and fees and will ensure you understand how and when you will be charged. When opening a merchant account with Cardconnect, you are assured of secure customer transactions and top-tier customer service. Do you need a merchant account? Contact Cardconnect.

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