Before you decide which merchant service provider you want to work with, you first need to get approved. The application process can vary depending on your company. It’s important to be prepared and know exactly what documentation you have to provide.
Here is a general overview of how you can apply for a merchant account:
1. Generally, you start by either calling a merchant service provider directly for more information or filling out a form online. A form will require basic information about yourself and your business. This includes:
- First and last name
- Business name – DBA and legal entity
- Business address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Company name
- Job title
2. After you contact a merchant service provider, someone should respond very soon by phone or email so they can schedule a meeting with you.
3. At your initial meeting, you will need to supply customer profile information, as well as a recent detailed statement from your current provider. Some merchant service providers don’t require the latter, but it’s the only way to uncover all the hidden credit card processing costs and fees so you can compare the quality of service you’re paying for now with their best offer.
4. A good merchant service provider will prepare a side-by-side, detailed cost comparison usually within 24 hours after obtaining your information, and present their offer to you. After you compare it with what you have, you can decide if you want to cancel your merchant account and sign up with a new provider.
5. Once you sign the merchant application, the merchant service provider’s underwriters review your credit and should be able to let you know whether you’re approved within a day. In some cases, depending on the type of business you have or the volume of business you do, the underwriters may require more information (e.g., tax returns, audited financials, etc.).
6. Once your account is approved, your merchant service provider will help you get your account “activated” and provide you training for how to use your point of sale terminal. Once activated and trained, you will be able to accept credit and debit cards for payment.
Applying for a merchant account needn’t be an arduous or lengthy process. Just be careful who you end up signing with. Do your research to see what you should be looking for in a merchant service provider before you make your final decision.