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How to Create a Merchant Account

merchant account
January 19th, 2014

Credit cards are very flexible; they can be used in both online and offline transactions. Many customers prefer them over cash. That’s why, if you own a business, it’s to your great benefit to have a credit card processing facility. You can start off by knowing how to create a merchant account.

Remember that by having an online merchant account, you can accept payments even without the buyer or his credit card being physically present. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Prepare

Make sure that you have the following business documents and credentials on hand. Not all banks or Internet Merchant Accounts (IMA) merchant services providers will require all of these documents, but to save time and effort, make sure you have them readily available.

• Detailed Business Plans or Detailed Statement of Business Activities (as applicable)
• Description of your products and services (as applicable) – be prepared to have support photos ready for submission
• Proof of Identification (prepare at least three)
• Social Security Number
• Federal EIN (Employer Identification Number)
• Business Checking Account
• Business Tax returns and financial statements
• Working and active Website (for online businesses)
• Secure checkout system (for online businesses)
• Details about Suppliers
• Statement about the Delivery Process
• Online terms and conditions
• Statement on projected revenue, current transaction levels, order values, current and projected number of credit card transactions
• Secure server details
• Details of current business bank accounts
• Trading history (as applicable)
• Details of business owners and/or partners (name, position, contact details, and other business affiliations)
• Personal and business references

2. Verify

Make sure that your credit history is beyond reproach. If you find anything that has badly affected your credit rating, clear it up first. This can help you avoid being rejected for your merchant account application.

3. Research

The third step in knowing how to create a merchant account is research. You can apply for the creation of your merchant account either with a bank (for both brick-and-mortar and online merchant accounts) or with an IMA merchant services provider (only for online payments).

Whichever it is you choose, find out as much as you can regarding account options and requirements, as well as fees you will need to pay upfront (application and set-up fees, if any, as these are sometimes waived by banks, but seldom by IMA service providers) and on a recurring basis (transaction charges). Narrow down your choices further, based on the results of your research.

4. Apply and Submit

Once you have made your choice, apply for a merchant account. If you are applying with a bank, prepare to present a voided check for the bank’s verification purposes. Submit all the documents and information that the bank or the IMA service provider requires.

For Online or Internet Merchant Accounts (IMA):

Make sure your website is active and has its own secure server, domain name, and web host. Ensure that details and instructions about product purchases, deliveries, and a secure checkout are clearly shown onsite. The IMA service provider may visit your site for verification and inspection purposes.

5. Pay the Fees and Wait for an Update

Pay all required fees. Once your application has been approved by the bank or the IMA service provider, your merchant account is ready, and you will receive additional information about how to accept payments using credit cards.


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