The world of online business has its peculiarities. Unlike brick-and-mortar stores, an e-commerce site cannot provide consumers with a physical point-of-sale (POS) terminal. Internet merchants do have their own version of this nifty device that lets them accept credit cards. Online shopping carts and payment gateway systems are the new ways to collect money off buyers. It's not exactly that uncomplicated though. The first thing any profit-minded merchant would need to start exploring this world of modern commerce is a merchant account. In looking for one, you must prepare yourself to be a competitive applicant. Here are ten ways to increase your chances of getting that merchant account you need to start processing payments and raking in the cash:
1. Tenure matters.
Most merchant account providers look at the timespan you've been in the business. This is a way for these service providers to know if you're aware of the risks of the business. It says much about how adept you are to your operating business environment. They will be able to assess your ability to identify and properly handle the hazards that you will be facing.
2. You credit report is crucial.
For any financial institution, credit reports are like business bibles. These show how well you handle your accounts, if you've repaid past debt, if you have liens against your business, judgments or bankruptcies filed by and against you. The depth of your credit is an indication of how financially trustworthy you are. If there are hits against your credit that do not belong there, contact the reporting agency (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) and provide them with proper evidence. It also helps to enclose this documentation with your credit report when submitting your application.
3. They rely on your relationships.
How you maintained your last merchant accounts, in part, reflects how you will handle the merchant account that you are now applying for. Terminated mercantile accounts will show up on MATCH reports (Member Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants file) or the Terminated Merchant File kept by credit card associations.
4. Full disclosure is appreciated
While all merchant account providers have their own way of looking into your credit history and everything else they need to know about you and your company, full disclosure can help make their job easier. As they say, honesty is still the best policy.
5. The paperwork that tells them all.
It begins with an application form. Yes, everyone wants your signature and would like to know your name, but a merchant application form with just these are never easy for the person processing the paperwork. It is a tedious task to fill out everything, but try as hard as you can to resist the temptation of skipping the hard questions.
6. More documents to submit.
The completed application is just the beginning. You should also be prepared to submit documentation such as your company's articles of incorporation, bylaws, company profile, proof of identity of the board of directors, and many other legal documents.
7. Know what you are.
Being a high-risk merchant has its ups and downs. Knowing where you stand from the onset will help you manage expectations. While high-risk accounts can rake in a ridiculous amount of money, it may also be quite difficult to find a merchant account for them. Again, credit card associations, such as Visa and MasterCard, can be unkind to the high-risk merchant. They are very unforgiving of merchants in the high risk category who often exceed the threshold for chargebacks.
8. The questions and the answers.
They've got questions and you've got the answers. Well, let's be fair, you should also get your chance on the other side of the fence. It is perfectly all right to get your turn to ask all your questions. So, to prepare both parties, it is essential that you know what to ask and you know what questions to expect beforehand.
9. Be prepared for a compromise.
In an ideal setting, you would be able to get exactly what you want. Great fees. Great service. Reliable security features. But we don't always get that. Again, it is important for us to highlight that if you are a high-risk merchant, it comes with its downsides. First among these are the fees you may be quoted. Normally, high risk industries such as gambling, adult, pharmaceutical, gaming and travel websites are charged higher fees than accounts that pose less risk for the merchant account provider.
10. Take it as a challenge.
It will take time to find that perfect merchant account provider that you can trust with your business. If you don't get it right the first time, don't give up. Keep at it until you find a payment processor that you are fully satisfied with.
The steps outlined here are meant to better prepare merchants to get an approval for their merchant account application. Remember though that while these steps are essential, you should always consider what the merchant can do for you even before starting the application process. Merchants like eMerchantPay (http://www.emerchantpay.com) provide you with all the benefits you need to run your business smoothly. Once you know that the merchant of your choice is the right one, go ahead and apply with confidence.
By Phillip Carmichael