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Merchant Account Tutorial

Merchant Account Tutorial

by Peter Cooper

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Chapter 3
Best Offers and Commissions

Merchant Express - Merchant Account Provider / Processor

Merchant Express are based in the heart of New England and pride themselves on their membership of their local Better Business Bureau. They can provide merchant accounts to a variety of businesses and offer competitive rates. There are no AVS, daily batchout, AMEX set up or annual fees, and the application fee is low, at $75.

A rate of approximately 2% is charged on all transactions, as well as a fixed fee of around 30 cents. They will also cater for swiped cards, in retail situations, and charge lower rates in these instances. Merchant Express will also give you a plethora of "free gifts" when you sign up with them. An online pre-application form is available, making the process simple and non time-consuming. Processing services are provided separately.

Advanced Merchant Services - Merchant Account Provider

Advanced Merchant Services offer both merchant accounts and on-line check acceptance. However, they don't publish their rates directly onto their Web site but claim they offer "the most competitive rates and fees in the industry".

They claim that over 50,000 companies use their services to process credit cards, and the company is backed by the Imperial Bank of California. They are compatible with nearly all the credit cards you could hope for. Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover/Novus, Diners Club and Carte Blanche, which makes this account immensely comprehensive. There are also no fees to pay until you're accepted and ready to start accepting credit cards. The company Web site is home to a simple form, which you can use to get the company's rates with.

NetBanx - Processor, Bureau

NetBanx offer a well rounded system which should appeal to the majority of people wanting to accept credit card payments over the net. While the service is based in the UK, it appears as if they'll accept registrations world-wide for their merchant 'bureau' service. You may feel, for real merchant accounts, that they may not be an ideal choice if you're located in the USA.

NetBanx are compatible with a selection of major UK banks, and are able to pass any transactions you receive via your Web site straight to your merchant account provider. To apply for a merchant account, however, you will have to get in touch with one of NetBanx's preferred banks directly and arrange a merchant account yourself. NetBanx will then provide secure server services, authorise any credit card transactions, and then passes the transaction on to your merchant account provider.

Netbanx charge between 1 and 4 per cent per transaction, based on the value of the sales you make. If you do over 10,000 pounds (roughly $16,000) of business within a month, you'll only be paying a 1% fee. For their Bureau service, charges of between 5 and 8 per cent are levied. There is also an upfront fee to pay, depending on the level of service you require, and the number of products you wish to sell.

Overall, Netbanx offer a comprehensive and professional looking service, that would be an ideal choice for those located in the UK. For those in the US, however, it may be advisable to look elsewhere.

Authorize.Net - Processor

While not actually providing merchant accounts, authorize.net do a good job of handling the authorisation and processing of credit card transactions. Their services are used by over 60,000 Internet merchants, which makes them appear as an immensely popular choice.

Authorize.net provide their own system which allows you to authorise, process and manage credit card and electronic check transactions in a real-time, online environment from any computer with an Internet connection and a Web browser. The merchant merely sends Authorize.net the information required using a secure encrypted Internet connection. From here on, Authorize.net handle the details.

As well as providing regular Internet credit card processing services, their Virtual Terminal can be used by traditional off-line business who are looking for a faster, easier way to authorise and manage credit card transactions. For Internet based businesses, the Authorize.net "WebLink" system can be used.

Authorize.net is controlled by Go2Net, Inc, a long standing member of the online community.

CVP Merchant Services - Merchant Account Provider

CVP offer a no-nonsense, simple to navigate Web site, packed full of no-nonsense information. CVP claims a 99% approval rate with all applicants, and they specialise in retail, mail order and Internet businesses. CVP was founded in 1990 with the belief that "our fair prices and customer service [are] unsurpassed in the industry".

CVP will process Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover, as well as debit cards. They can provide a virtual terminal for you to process cards or can sell terminal hardware. Check guarantee services are also provided. At this moment, CVP will only accept applications from US based businesses.

CVP charge a 2.29% discount rate on each transaction as well as a fixed fee of $.20. In a retail situation, when cards are being swiped, the charge is 1.49% and $.15 per transaction. A monthly minimum processing fee of $20-25 is charged. There is also no application fee required.

Electronic Transfer Inc. - Merchant Account Provider, Processor

Electronic Transfer Inc. boast that their service offers you a plethora of options for free. There's no application fee, no AMEX setup fee, no credit restrictions and no processing limits. ETI has been in the merchant account business since 1989, predating the World Wide Web, which gives them experience in dealing with retail situations, as well as Internet based scenarios.

As well as claiming to approve your application within 3 days, ETI offer some attractive rates. A fee of $.30 is charged per transaction, and then a discount of rate of 1.49 to 3.5 per cent is charged. Funds will also be credited to your bank and will be available after 48 hours.

You can choose to purchase terminal software and process your own credit card orders, or ETI can provide their own realtime processing system. Setup for this facility is $195 and a fee of $.25 is charged per transaction. Finally, ETI offer a 24 hour support line, unlike the majority of providers.

eCardNet - Merchant Account Provider

Offering a variety of online and offline solutions, eCardNet claims to be able to find a solution for you. Their Web site presents the whole world of merchant accounts in a concise and easy to understand way, which proves to be quite refreshing, compared to many other merchant account providers.

With eCardNet, as with many other providers, you simply enter credit card details into a special Web site, and then these are processed and charges are credited to your account. eCardNet don't appear to actually provide any automatic processing services of their own, although they resell the Authorize.net system.

As background information, the company has been operating for 16 years and, last year, processed $2 billion worth of transactions. This company has been around a long time, and they explain everything in enough detail to make things smooth and easy.


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