Getting a Merchant Account for a Small Start-up Business

You might wonder what qualifies your business to have a merchant account. Maybe you think your business is too small for a third party payment processor. In reality, any business that accepts card payments needs a payment processor. It’s impossible to receive payments without one. Also, most card networks use the Visa merchant classification.

This system divides businesses into four levels. The highest – Level 1 – processes more than six million card transactions in a year. The bottom tier processes fewer than 20,000 transactions a year. So even if you get a single card payment in a week, you still fall squarely into Level 4, and yes, you can still obtain a merchant account.

Bad credit

Another concern you may have could be the age of your enterprise. As a minor start-up, it’s likely that you’re funded by your savings, or maybe even by family or friends. Without a business history, you may worry about your credit score. After all, you haven’t had much time to build it up. While it’s true that some merchant processors avoid bad credit, there are exceptions.

If you shop around, you’ll find some credible merchant processors that are willing to overlook poor credit scores. The key here is to make sure it’s a legitimate payment processor rather than a fly-by-night website out to take advantage of your financial position. To confirm that your payment processor is verified, check how long they’ve been in business, whether they’ve earned any industry awards, and if they have any testimonials available.

If you’ve been bankrupt in the past, it can be hard to borrow money, even from family members. The right merchant processor will be willing to help you rebuild. Check the FAQs and read them carefully. You’d be surprised to see that some payment processors will still support you, even with a bankruptcy in your past.

Risky business

A third misgiving you may be concerned about may relate to the nature of your business. If you’re working in a ‘high risk’ industry (like online gambling, for example) or just something new and unusual, some merchant processors will steer clear. Again, find a reliable, validated merchant processor, then look around their website. If they are the kind of processor you are looking for, they should clearly list their policy with regard ‘high risk’ businesses.

For more information on payment processing requirements, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to

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