Getting setup to accept credit cards with a credit card merchant account is a relatively easy process and can be done without much hassle. I’ve put together this brief guide to introduce you to a few components of internet merchant account pricing and a couple of comparisons to Paypal which has a good service as well.The discount rate on a typical credit card merchant account is about 2.1% to 2.5%. This is what’s called a qualified discount rate. Paypal doesn’t break these down into qualified or non-qualified rates, they just charge a flat rate of about 2.9% or so. The downside to this is that if you’re a merchant accepting transactions mostly from individual consumers, you’re overpaying on about 80% or more of your transactions. A non-qualified or mid-qualified rate will usually add on an additional .5% to 1.5% for these transactions that are “downgraded” because they are either a rewards card which cost more to process or a government or business credit card. Each transaction also has a cost, no matter how much the volume of the transaction. Makes me laugh sometimes when I buy a $.49 refill at the local convenience store on my credit card because I know that they’re paying at least $.15 to $.18 per transaction if not a bit more which on a $.49 gross volume transaction, they’re probably losing money. No wonder they sometimes just smile and tell me it’s on them. Most internet based transactions run about $.20 to $.30 which is competitive when you compare to Paypal at about $.30 per transaction. Watch for AVS or the gateway transactions as they can easily get their advertised per transaction cost up there.Batch header fees would probably considered by most merchants one of those “hidden” fees. This is a fee that most merchant don’t ask about and unless they look closely, don’t know about and never question. These batch header fees may be as much as $100 per year or so depending on how often the merchant processes credit cards. What happens is that transactions are batched together usually daily and submitted. Each one of these batches are assessed a batch header fee of about $.25. So, for an easy way to calculate this, if you process transactions every day, you’ll be paying $.25 per day. So, even on your busiest month, this fee wouldn’t exceed $8 per month. Monthly fees include an account maintenance fee or statement fee. Often called something like a customer service fee, etc. These fees are usually only one monthly fee of $5 to $10 or so. If at all possible, work with your merchant service provider to waive the monthly minimum. This monthly minimum fee is usually about $25 or so and if you’re not processing transactions, will be very expensive. Even though not processing usually means you’ll be going out of business soon anyway, paying an extra $25 worth of minimum every month is often more hassle and pain than it’s worth, especially when you can get this fee waived most of the time.If you’re processing over the internet with a traditional account, you’ll need a gateway. Authorize.Net is one of the more popular gateways and although some providers give this away for free, they have costs associated with this and will usually hit you with an annual fee or some other fees along the way to make up for this. Try to negotiate your monthly rates so that they are lower even if you end up paying a little more for the setup. Authorize.Net shouldn’t cost more than about $100 to setup. I’d recommend against leasing as you’d end up paying 5 times as much for the setup over the 48 month lease you’d be stuck with.Getting setup with an internet credit card merchant account isn’t too difficult and should be considered vital to any internet or ecommerce project. This can be done usually about 1-2 weeks before going live which will give you plenty of time to get your account approved (usually 2-3 days at most) and another week or so of testing. You should be able to get this setup without many problems at all.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brian Armstrong has been setting up ecommerce merchant accounts since 2002. His focus is in not only helping internet businesses get setup with their internet merchant accounts, but also helping internet business owners with some marketing techniques.
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