How do I Choose the Best Free Merchant Account?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A free merchant account is a merchant account for which you don't have to pay up-front fees, such as application or setup fees. Choosing a free merchant account usually means comparing providers based on a number of factors, including reputation, processing fees, and other account-related charges. You may also compare them based on the terms each provider offers and any restrictions that will be placed on your account. The amount of time that will pass between payment submission and receiving the money in your account is an important consideration as well. In general, you may choose the best account by selecting the most reputable provider and the account with the lowest fees, fastest processing times, best terms, and fewest restrictions.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Part of choosing the best free merchant account may be selecting a provider that has a good reputation. You may do well to select a provider known for dealing with account holders in an ethical manner. If a provider has a history of cheating account holders out of payments or failing to live up to the terms of its contracts, you may be better off choosing a different provider.

Processing fees are also important when you’re trying to choose the best free merchant account. Each company may charge a different fee, and you may prefer to choose the lowest. While comparing fees, however, you may do well to look for hidden costs that may make a free merchant account less affordable. For example, you may be charged a monthly fee on top of the processing fees or face high fees when a customer requests a payment refund. Generally, you’ll want to choose the account that is associated with both the fewest and lowest fees.

You may also consider the terms offered by free merchant account providers before you make a choice. Some may restrict you to processing a maximum amount in a given period of time. Others may restrict the type of business you may run. For example, some may not accept businesses that sell pornography. As such, you’ll likely need to check a provider’s terms and restrictions to make sure it is a good fit before you sign a contract or create an account.

Payment processing time may also prove important when you are trying to choose the best free merchant account. Some may allow you to receive payments right away or within a couple of days of processing. Others may require you to wait several days to have money transferred to your bank account. You’ll likely want to choose the company that allows you to have access to payments in the least amount of time.

Many people are confused by the term free merchant account. This may be because the word free implies that a person can process payments without incurring any charges. This isn't usually the case, however, and you will typically have to pay a fee to process payments. The fees will likely be deducted directly from the payments you receive, however, so you won't have to pay anything out of pocket. Additionally, free merchant accounts can typically be setup without buying or leasing equipment or paying application or setup fees.

N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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