7 Keys to look for a Internet Based Merchant Services Account

This story was recently shared with Data One
Recently I went looking for an online merchant account, with disastrous results. I made the mistake of taking information at face value and relying on the ecommerce merchant account provider’s good reputation in other areas.
Fortunately, you can avoid the same experience I had by asking the right questions of a potential ecommerce ecommerce merchant account provider.
Merchant Account Provider Questions:
Understanding the answers to these questions before signing an application or agreement will help make for a solid partnership between you and your merchant account vendor:
1. As a merchant, can I accept credit cards both online and offline?
Do I need to get separate authorizations or permissions when setting up my ecommerce merchant account for different types of transaction (Internet, retail, phone orders, etc.)?
What other merchant fees are involved if I accept both online and offline credit card charges?
2. Can I accept ecommerce payments using methods other than Mastercard and Visa (Discover, American Express, Diner’s Club, online checks, debit cards, etc.)?
If so, what are the fees and do I need to do anything to “activate” those ecommerce payment methods?
3. What are the different discount rates and fees for different types of ecommerce and other charges through the merchant account (Internet, in person, telephone, mail, etc.)?
4. What are the other fees related to this ecommerce merchant account – yearly, set-up, application, monthly minimum, statement, support, cancellation, discount, per-transaction, gateway access fees, card reject fee? Are these subject to change?
Are there any other fees involved in order to get my ecommerce merchant account functional?
5. Do I process ecommerce charges manually or automatically?
If manually, is it possible to get automatic merchant account processing?
If so, do you provide a secure online payment gateway for my ecommerce merchant account?
How do I get up and running and what extra charges will I pay to do so?
6. What other software and services do I need to become fully ecommerce enabled online (such as secure gateway provider, etc.)?
Do you have a list of these additional ecommerce providers that are compatible with my ecommerce merchant account?
7. Do I need additional hardware or software not previously mentioned?
If so, what is the cost and how do I get this equipment?
Many of these questions are different ways of getting at the same issue — you want to know every component, every function, every fee, and every charge association with making your ecommerce merchant account work effectively for your business.
If you ask these questions while establishing a mutually comfortable relationship with your ecommerce merchant account provider from the start, you can avoid “traps” and lay the groundwork for a long, solid partnership.
What other items are key to getting a successful Internet Merchant Services Account?

1 comment. Leave a Reply

  1. matt

    While this consumer of a merchant account is asking some great questions around features and costs, what they are missing is that any merchant service provider can answer these baseline questions.
    What they really need to do is get under the hood and look at what the Processor’s experience is in E-commerce. Questions such as:
    How many clients do they have with a similar business model? What is their experience level? Don’t let them tell you they are the largest or partnered with the largest, make them get into detail. This gets into what is the underwriters experience in looking at similar businesses versus retailers and even CNP Card Not Present. This question will get at their customer service and technical ability to correctly service an Ecommerce business as they have different needs)
    What Gateways do they recommend and Why? Do their partners fraud scrubbing and to what level, why exactly are they recommending that gateway? Is proprietary to them and what is unique about it?
    What is the bank’s appetite for E-Commerce? (If it is a mainstream bank your sales rep is looking at their own pocket if they are saying yes, these banks knockdown new or high growth ecommerce merchants every day because of the contingent liability) Seek someone who specializes in Ecommerce and can validate it through knowledge and customer references.
    I think the article above is good as it helps a new Ecommerce business try to make sense of a complicated payment scheme and then add the complexity that banks and it becomes impossible. I would recommend that they just don’t negotiate themselves to a low cost structure with a bank that inevitability will give them a pink slip 3 weeks or 3 months in business disastrously shutting them down. I commend the person who shared their experience above, but would tell you there is much more involved in selecting a payments provider for an Ecommerce solution.

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