How to Become a Credit Card Merchant

By Jade Balle

  • Overview

    If you are a small business that does not have a credit card merchant account yet, you are considered a bit behind the times, since nowadays you cannot maximize your business' revenue if you do not accept credit cards from your customers. Credit card acceptance does come with its share of fees, but considering the fact that it can increase you sales by at least 14 percent (according to PayPal), it is well worth the investment, even if you just go with an online merchant account to start out.
    • Step 1

      Check your credit report to make sure you have a decent score. A score above 600 is best if you want to become a credit card merchant.
    • Step 2

      Browse the various credit card merchant accounts that are available (see Resources for links). If you are going to sell your products online and want to avoid upfront merchant fees, just get a PayPal account. If you are a merchant who sells products from a store, you will need to sign up for a POS (point of sale) merchant account that comes with a physical terminal that allows you to swipe credit cards through in order to get an approval. Merchant account providers will charge you a percentage of each transaction, a monthly maintenance fee and sometimes a setup fee. You will also have to pay for the terminal.

    • Step 3

      Apply for the program that is ideal for your credit card merchant needs. You may have to pay an upfront fee. If you need a physical terminal, choose one that will be easy for you to use and maintain (see Resources for a comparison and reviews of credit card terminals). Some terminals may cost less, but require more maintenance and repair over the years.
    • Step 4

      Set up a dial up, cable or DSL Internet connection at your place of business once you get approval. These are the only three ways that you can accept credit cards, other than mobile merchant accounts, which allow you to enter credit card numbers into your cell phone for approval.
    • Step 5

      Connect your phone or Internet connection to your terminal, insert paper and test the terminal using a friend's credit card. You don't want to use your own credit card on your own merchant account because most credit card companies look at this as a deceptive practice.
    • Skill: Moderate
    • Ingredients:
    • Merchant account
    • Credit card terminal
    • Good credit (600 score or above)
    • Tip: Call or email to check on your application if you have been waiting to hear a decision for a week or more.

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