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??? Merchant Account Questions ??? 

What kind of businesses do you accept?

We accept and specialize in retail, professionals, trade shows, mail order, telephone order, Internet based, and home based businesses. We may accept high risk and adult related businesses through one of our offshore partners. Call us.


What if I have less than perfect credit?

Our approval rate is 98%, so even if you have bad credit you are likely to get approved. If you do happen to get declined, you have nothing to lose, we do NOT have an application fee.


What credit cards will I be able to accept?

We set you up so that you can accept MasterCard, Visa, Discover, and bank ATM debit cards. We will also apply for American Express at the same time. There is no extra set up fee for American Express but their rates are slightly higher than the other three card types. Discover rates are currently the same as Visa and Mastercard.


Are there any monthly fees for accepting Discover Card or American Express?

Discover's discount rate and transaction fee is almost the same as Mastercard. American Express charges a transaction fee, but instead of a discount rate, for just $7.95 a month American Express allows "keyed" merchants to process up to $5000 per year, resulting in an effective discount rate of just 1.59%. American Express Corp. will determine a discount rate for your specific business for amounts processed over this amount.


Do I need a business license?

You need to have documentation showing you have registered your name -- such as a business license, trade name registration, dba certificate, etc. Each state has its own requirements. Generally, sales in interstate commerce are not taxable at this time. Check with your state's Dept. of Revenue as to the taxability of sales within your state.


What is the discount rate?

Every processor charges a discount rate. The minimum discount rates are normally set yearly by the Visa/Mastercard Association. The discount rate is the percentage of each transaction that the processing company charges to handle the transaction for you, Our discount rates are exceptionally low, starting at under 0.25% for retail debit(swiped) merchants and 2.19% for mail order/telephone order and Internet merchants. Foreign credit cards, rewards cards, and corporate cards carry a small surcharge. Tell us if you plan on taking those types of cards so we can classify your business properly.


Do I need a Gateway or Shopping Cart or an Order Form?

If you sell through the Internet, you have to pass the transaction information to the credit card networks. This is why you need a Gateway. Now, in order for the networks to read the data sent through the gateway, it needs to be a format it can recognize....hence, the need for an order form or shopping cart. There are dozens of order forms and shopping carts available, some are FREE! Most do not require any programming expertise. Remember, you get what you pay for. You just need to be sure that the formats are compatible with the gateway selected or your transactions will never be processed. Ask us about compatible Shopping Carts.


What is a Virtual Terminal?

The gateway selected will have a Virtual Terminal so you can enter telephone orders, mail orders, issue credits, void transactions, or even search for specific transactions or customers within a secure, password protected website. If you do not have a website connected to the gateway or an order form, this is where you would enter manual type transactions. This is also called the administrative site. After logging in, you can view the details of all of your transactions. You are able to run reports for specific periods, change your sales confirmation email addresses, change security features, etc.


What is the Address Verification System (AVS)?

If you sell mail order/telephone order, or through the Internet, you don't want to send a product to a false address and have a risk of receiving a chargeback. The Address Verification System (AVS) lets you enter the customer's home or billing address and zip code and compares it to the address on file with their credit card company. If someone uses a stolen card, and wants products shipped to a false address, AVS will detect this for you. You can set the system to accept or reject "negative" AVS responses. Foreign (non US issued) credit cards do not adhere to AVS regulations at this time.


Will I receive a statement?

Yes. A statement is mailed out at the end of every month with the information on all deposits into your account, your total sales volume, and the charges for the month. There is a combined Monthly Statement/800 Help Desk Fee. You must notify us of any mailing address changes. Daily transactions may also be viewed on the internet 24/7.


How will I get my money?

Your money will be automatically deposited directly into your current business checking account within 2 business days. Amex transactions usually take 1 more day to reach your account. Note: Discount fees may be deducted from each transaction so your deposits will be slightly less than the gross amount of your at the end of each month you won't have to pay all those fees!(except for Visa/MC regulated surcharges) Gross deposits normally require underwriting approval.


How do I apply?

If you have not already done so, just fill out the FREE, SECURE, no obligation, online merchant account application at BOTTOM OF PAGE. We will contact you within 24 hours (not including weekends and holidays) and let you know what program you have qualified for, and answer any questions you might have. If you would like to go ahead with your application, we'll send you a simple hard-copy application package via email or fax. When you receive it, you will need to sign where indicated, and return it along with the requested documents. Some of our underwriting banks require hand written original signatures but many will send with electronic signatures..


How long does the approval process take?

Once all necessary paperwork is received, and a credit check is completed, most accounts are approved in 24-48 hours or less. NOTE: We have a 98% approval rate. Once approved, and all networks are tested, we will immediately inform you of your acceptance and send you and/or your web developer complete set up instructions along with credit card processing safety and security tips for your specific business type and gateway selected.


Is there a service phone number that I can call if I need help?

Yes! Once approved, you will be given a "live", toll-free merchant assistance phone number available to you 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, 365 days per year.


Can I SET A LIMIT or charge a SURCHARGE for credit card sales to my customers?

YES and NO....the highest minimum purchase amount you can require for a credit card to be used is $10.00 Effective Aug. 2011--"Merchants may require minimum purchase amounts on credit card transactions. The minimum purchase amount must not exceed $10 (or other amount as set by law), does not apply to transactions made with debit cards, and cannot differentiate on the basis of the issuer or payment card network. Maximum purchase amounts can only be applied by federal agencies or institutions of higher education on credit card transactions, and cannot differentiate on the basis of the issuer or payment card network. Merchants may also offer discounts or in-kind incentives for payment by use of cash, check, debit cards, or credit cards, provided that such discount for payment by use of a debit card or credit card does not differentiate on the basis of the issuer."!! Visa U.S.A.'s rules for merchants used to state, "Always honor valid Visa cards, in your acceptance category, regardless of the dollar amount of the purchase. Imposing minimum or maximum purchase amounts used to be a violation." Visa's rules are available online at Visa Merchant Rules(1200 pages) MasterCard Worldwide's rules usually follow Visa's rules and regulations. All rules are subject change..

Visa's rules provide that merchants must "always treat Visa transactions like any other transaction; that is, you may not impose any surcharge on a Visa transaction. "You may, however, offer a discount for cash transactions, provided that the offer is clearly disclosed to customers and the cash price is presented as a discount from the standard price charged for all other forms of payment." Fundamentally, the distinction between a surcharge and a discount is minimal. MasterCard's rules provide that "a merchant must not directly or indirectly require any MasterCard cardholder to pay a surcharge or any part of any merchant discount or any contemporaneous finance charge in connection with a MasterCard card transaction. "A merchant may provide a discount to its customers for cash payments. A merchant is permitted to charge a fee (such as a bona fide commission, postage, expedited service or convenience fees, and the like) if the fee is imposed on all like transactions regardless of the form of payment used.


Can I ask for identification from a customer?

Yes! Visa rules do not preclude merchants from asking for cardholder identification. But merchants cannot make providing identification a condition of acceptance. Therefore, merchants cannot refuse to complete purchase transactions simply because cardholders refuse to provide identification when asked. According to Visa, merchants should not ask for identification as part of their regular card acceptance procedures. Also, it is illegal in several states for merchants to write cardholders' personal information, such as an address or phone number, on a sales receipt. If a merchant is suspicious about a transaction or feels the need for additional information to ensure a cardholder's identity, the merchant should make a Code 10 call. Code 10 authorization requests can alert card issuers to suspicious activity, without alerting customers. During a Code 10 call, a retailer speaks with a card issuer's special operator, who provides instructions on any necessary action. This type of authorization request is the most likely to result in a call to law enforcement. MasterCard rules provide that merchants must not deny MasterCard-card transactions solely because cardholders refuse to provide additional identification. However, merchants may require additional identification from cardholders if it is required for shipping purposes. Merchants using Address Verification Service may require cardholders' ZIP or postal codes to complete cardholder-activated POS transactions, or cardholders' addresses and ZIP or postal codes to complete MO/TO and e-commerce transactions. In-depth answers to these and other questions merchants and MLSs often ask are available online in MasterCard's "Merchant Rules Manual"(360 pages)


What types of transactions are PROHIBITED?

"I've often heard that it's against the Visa and MasterCard rules and regulations for merchants to process their own personal credit card through their merchant accounts. Is this true?"

YES...This issue falls under the card Association rules stating 1) merchants are prohibited from making cash disbursements and 2) merchants are allowed to accept cards only for transactions that are bona fide sales of goods or services to third parties. Only financial-institution card Association members may disburse cash. This can be both at their facilities (for example, bank branches) and through authorized agents. Also, card Association rules state neither a merchant nor a member bank may accept any transaction that represents the refinancing or transfer of an existing cardholder obligation that is deemed uncollectible or that arises from the dishonoring of a cardholder's personal check. It is a violation of Association regulations for business owners to take CASH ADVANCES using their personal credit cards!


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