A merchant account is an arrangement a merchant makes with a bank or other merchant account provider in order to facilitate payments with a credit or debit card. Obtaining a merchant account is a necessary step for an online store wishing to accept payments online rather than having payments mailed to them.
If you have an online store and want to accept credit or debit card payments, efficiently, you will need a merchant account. You can compare merchant service providers online, which will help you find the best providers for you and your business.
One would think obtaining a merchant account would be relatively simple, but the process can seem difficult and overwhelming if you are new to the business sector. The main reason you will need a merchant account is to have the ability to accept credit or debit cards on your online store.
There are some ways to get around needing a merchant account including going through a separate payment gateway that does not require one. However, going through a payment gateway without a merchant account will cost you much more in fees and charges.
Obtaining a merchant account can take anywhere from a few days up to six months depending on which merchant account provider you go through, which paperwork is needed and if there are any mistakes made on any of the paperwork or if they are hard to verify. If you are unfamiliar with this process, you will want to start as soon as feasibly possible, especially if you go through a bank as they are notoriously slow.