How to Set Up a Merchant Account

When Western Union first began issuing metal plates called “cards” to their employees in 1914 in lieu of salary payments in cash, little did they foresee an era where a swipe or dip could purchase almost anything you need.

This was a “closed” system where card-holders could only shop at company-owned stores. In 1946, a credit-system called Charg-It was introduced to enable shoppers to charge their purchases to merchants who deposited the payments in the bank owned by Charg-It. The bank paid the merchant and collected the amounts later from customers. The first real credit card as we know it today was the Diner’s Club card issued in 1950. When American Express debuted in 1958, the modern credit card was here to stay.

What Is A Merchant Account?

This is a type of bank account that facilitates acceptance of different types of payment-methods such as credit cards and debit cards. It is established between various parties, including the merchant and an “acquiring bank” that allows the merchant to accept card payments. An agreement is signed where the merchant agrees to comply with regulations established by card associations like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.

A business that wants to start accepting card payments needs to have access to a merchant account with an merchant bank. This helps you to accept payments based on your business model: in-store, online, by phone or email, on-the-go, and via your e-commerce website.

Small business owners can create a merchant account via their own banks, through any other suitable bank, an independent sales organization or a member service provider who work as agents for banks.

Setting up A Merchant Account

  • Choose a card brand or brands that you prefer. Most merchant accounts automatically include Visa and MasterCard, but American Express and Discover may be included, or they may be optional, or even unavailable.
  • Check the rates and fees and compare them across other similar providers.
  • If you plan to service international customers, then confirm that your merchant account will permit sales in all of the countries where your customers may be.
  • Optimize your website (if you run an e-commerce site or provide online payment facilities) for compliance with your card association requirements.
  • Ensure that your checkout and product/delivery options are in place.
  • Check whether the payment gateway is included with the account.
  • Complete your application form with current/valid business and personal data
  • The bank may access your personal or business credit score so check it ahead of time and fix any problems
  • The bank will send you a contract with terms and conditions
  • Install the required software, and you’re ready to go.

Partner with a reliable and well-established card processing company to simplify the process.

For more information how to set up a merchant account, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to

Leave a Comment