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Merchant Account Providers

If you want your online business to be a success you have to accept credit cards. In order to accept credit cards online you need to have a merchant account.

The exception to this rule is if you use third party credit card processors that will process payments on your behalf. This is a good alternative for low volume merchants but they do have their downsides.

Basic advantages of merchant accounts over third party processors:

Lower credit card processing fees - 2.2% to 2.5%, compared to the 5% to 20% charged by third party processors.
Get paid faster - your own merchant account will allow you to receive funds transferred directly into your checking account within 2-3 business days.
No reserve fee - contrary to third party credit card processors, merchant account providers usually don't reserve a percentage of your sales as security, to protect themselves against chargeback claims from your customers.
Promotes a better business image - when customers receive their credit card statement, your company information is displayed.

The easiest way to get merchant account is to apply through a Merchant Account Provider, a company that helps set you up with the proper merchant account, and provides the software and hardware you'll need in order to perform credit card transactions on your web site.

There are a huge number of merchant account providers and their services are all a little different.Basically, merchant account providers will open an account for you at a financial institution (a bank with whom they're partnered) that can handle Internet transactions, and approves your credit history.

Although many merchant service providers advertise the best and lowest rates, your discount rate depends on several factors that every merchant service provider is subject to. These factors include monthly transaction volume, transaction method and what type of business you have. Merchant Express has the lowest discount rate for internet merchant accounts.

There are also optional fees related to transactions' screening for fraud. Electronic Transfer is one of the few merchant account providers that bundle it for free.

Many merchant account providers do not accommodate international businesses. If you live outside the US, in order to obtain international merchant account you can go with third party credit card processors or work with a merchant account provider that specifically deals with foreign firms.

Fees for international merchant accounts will be higher than if you were a US based business.The most reputable companies that has relationships with international banks and processors and can provide you with an international merchant account are CreditCardCommerce.com and Charge.com.

Below I list top internet merchant account providers, including those dealing with international merchant accounts.

Charge.com

One of the most popular credit card merchant account providers on the Internet. Over 75,000 merchants have already applied to accept credit cards with them.As well as setting you up to accept credit cards on your website, Charge offers e-check services and a free shopping cart. Web hosting and design services are also available.

Charge's Internet merchant accounts, real-time credit card processing and virtual terminal solution enables both automated credit card processing for website orders and manual processing of email, phone, mail, fax and face-to-face orders.

Both you and your customer receive email confirmation of the order. The funds from the transaction are transferred to your bank account within 2 to 3 business days.

Application: Free
Start Up Fee or Lease: $195 one-time payment or $49.95 per month lease for 8 months.
Discount Rate: 2.29%.
Transaction Fee: $0.30.
Monthly Statement Fee: $10.
Monthly Gateway Fee: $15.

For international merchant accounts Charge.com has a $49.00 set-up fee and charges 45 cents per transaction, plus 5.5% of the transaction.

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