Setting up a merchant account is easy, but it can be very complicated for an individual who does not know the right information and/or depends on faulty advice. While many people may claim that they can help you set up a ‘quick and easy’ merchant account, in reality this is highly unlikely. Even if they were able to get you into an account, it’s likely that you would be paying far more than the average merchant.

The first thing that you will need to do is locate a reputable payment processor. A payment processor can be any bank or credit card company that processes online transactions for other companies on their behalf. Payment processors are necessary because they act as an intermediary between the website that is receiving the payment and the bank where the money is deposited.

To locate a reputable processor, it’s important to get recommendations from people who have experience using such services. If you already have a company in mind, you can call their customer service line and ask for a referral. The business should be able to refer you to at least one or two people who have been working with them for a number of years.

Another good source to find highly reputable payment processors is the Better Business Bureau website. By searching online, you can search by location and/or type of company and get instant access to reviews on potential processing companies in your area. If you use this method, you can find out which processors have the best reputations before you even pick up the phone.

Once you’ve found a payment processor that you think will be able to help your company, it’s important to use some of your research time to get yourself prepared for the initial call. It may not seem necessary to spend a lot of time researching, but it will be well worth the effort.

Payment processors are responsible for verifying your company’s information before they can even begin processing payments on your behalf. It is important to have all of the following information prepared in advance so that you don’t waste any time while completing this step:

  • Federal Tax ID number (EIN)
  • Contact information for your company’s primary individual(s) responsible for signing up for a processing account, as well as those who may sign on behalf of the business in the future.
  • An official company name and website address.

Once you have gathered all necessary information to get started, it’s time to make that initial call. If you have done your research online, you may already know the types of questions that they ask during their verification process. If you’re not sure what to expect, it’s a good idea to schedule a time where you can take notes and reference them back while on the call.

By having a list prepared in advance, you will be able to answer all of the processing company’s questions quickly and efficiently. It is also a good idea to prepare some talking points in advance for when they ask about your business, such as:

  • The best time for them to call you back (if no times are available, at least try and give them a range)
  • A brief description of your company’s business model
  • A list of your website(s) if you have any. If possible, provide them with the pages that are used for accepting payments.

Another important thing to remember is to stay focused during this process. It can be very easy to get distracted or lost in the phone conversation, but it’s important to stay as focused as possible. You may not realize it, but you could be wasting valuable time if you’re not on the call giving your full attention; especially when dealing with a payment processor.

To avoid getting distracted, it is also a good idea to have all of the necessary information and company paperwork prepared in advance:

  • A list of questions that you would like to ask the processor.
  • Copies of any documents that they need for verification purposes (such as company licenses, tax registrations, business bank accounts, etc). If possible, have these items ready to scan and email over instead of having to mail them or fax them separately.
  • A copy of your contract, if they are willing to provide one. If they do provide a contract, read it thoroughly and make sure you understand every line before signing on the dotted line.

Once you have discussed all of the necessary information with the payment processor, schedule a time for them to call back and give them permission to verify your company’s information by calling the phone number that you provided. Once they have verified your company information, you’ll be able to complete the next step of setting up a processing account.