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Quick Guide to Merchant Services

Merchant services can describe an array of financial services that may be used by a business. In most cases, merchant services will refer to any service that will enable a business to accept and process a transaction that involves a customer paying in the form of a credit or debit card.

Merchant services can also refer to check guarantee and conversion services, gift card and loyalty card programs, and automated clearing house check drafting services. Other services can include employee payroll tracking functions, age verification, and electronic benefits transfer programs, like food stamps.

Businesses with merchant accounts are outsourcing their credit card processing. Credit card processing companies will handle the accounts that your business is generating. Nowadays, both Internet and in-store transactions need the assistance of merchant account providers.

Merchant services allow your business to process credit card payments from customers. Merchant services can describe an array of financial services that may be used by a business. Merchant services refer to any service that will enable a business to accept and process a transaction that involves a customer paying in the form of a credit or debit card.

Depending on your business you will have different needs with the use of merchant account providers as they determine your cash versus credit needs. Retailers find that merchant credit card processing services allow them to handle the influx of day-to-day consumer credit card payments. Most business-to-business sales also involve payment terms and credit card sales. Presently, credit sales are the norm for almost all business-to-business transactions.

Also, with the advent of online business, merchant services will handle online processing. Given that 100% of sales online are credit card, most service companies will offer scalable solutions for your business.

Merchant services are provided by set up by credit card processing companies.  Merchant services can also refer to check guarantee and conversion services, gift card and loyalty card programs, and automated clearing house check drafting services. Other services can include employee payroll tracking functions, age verification, and electronic benefits transfer programs, like food stamps.

Some things you may want to take in to account with regards to your merchant services provider.

Setup Fees
Smaller companies may not even require a merchant service setup fee.  If you have an in store terminal, merchant account provider will be able to set you up with this. If you are conducting mostly online business you may be able to lease gateways that will process electronic orders. Generally, merchant services gateway rentals range from $10 to $30 a month.

Another reason to make sure your business is paired with the best merchant account provider is that almost all providers charge a percentage on every business transaction. The percentage is likely less than keeping credit card processing services in house, but it will be worth noting in your search for merchant services.

If your company needs a credit card terminal-a piece of electronic equipment that allows a merchant to swipe and process a credit card transaction, you will likely need to outsource to a merchant account provider. The risk of default is work the extra costs associated with theses service providers.

If your company is online, a payment gateway is an e-commerce service that authorizes payments. Some merchant account providers have their own payment gateways to offer your business through lease, but many use 3rd party gateways. The gateway will either have a virtual terminal that can allow for a merchant login and key in credit card numbers, or a shopping-cart connected to the gateway for real time processing from the merchant's website.

Merchant service providers all vary in their offerings and expertise. One business owner may decide to contract a local bank, where the other business own feels more comfortable with a credit card processing company. The search for a viable merchant services provider is often a daunting task but can be made easier with prescreened vendors. Some credit card merchant account providers are not 100% direct about exactly what they provide their customers so you need to make extra sure that you are contracting the best merchant account provider.

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