What is an Instant Merchant Account?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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An instant merchant account is a type of account a person may establish in order to process credit cards for his business. In most cases, there is a time period a person has to wait between applying for a merchant account and being able to process credit cards for his business. When it comes to an instant merchant account, however, the general idea is that a person can set up and use this account instantly. Often, business owners are excited by the opportunity to get credit card processing up and running right way. Unfortunately, this usually doesn’t happen instantly.

The reason it can be so hard to find a legitimately instant merchant account is the fact that companies usually have to verify the information the applicant provides before approving a merchant account. A merchant account provider typically has to make sure the applicant is who he says he is and check his credit as well. In some cases, a merchant account provider also contacts the references an applicant provides on his application or verifies his bank information. A merchant account provider may also require the applicant to fax or mail signed paper work as well as a copy of his identification, such as a driver’s license. Taking these steps can sometimes take days and may prevent an applicant from securing a truly instant merchant account.


In many cases, companies advertise instant merchant accounts when what they’re really offering is fast approval. For example, a company merchant account provider may look over applications within 12 hours and provide applicants with paperwork to complete and sign. If an applicant completes his application quickly and the company is able to verify his information in a timely manner, he may be able to begin processing credit cards soon after completing his application. The process may not be instant, however. There are a few companies that say they will approve most applicants and allow them to process credit cards on the same day, but these setups are often delayed as well.

Sometimes a company may also advertise an instant merchant account approval process because it really does provide an instant answer. For example, it may provide a tentative approval based on an applicant’s credit score and then require the applicant to complete the rest of the application process, which may require him to fill out paperwork or provide proof of his identity to begin using the merchant account. In other cases, a company may advertise instant merchant accounts because a person can get started with account setup instantly rather than accepting credit cards instantly.

An individual may sometimes gain the ability to process credit cards instantly by using a third-party processor. This is not the same as securing a merchant account, however. Additionally, some third-party processors may have application processes that keep their accounts from being instant as well.



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