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How do I Set up a Merchant Account?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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The process you’ll need to complete to set up a merchant account may depend on the country in which you live and the specific requirements of the company through which you are establishing a merchant account. In general, however, you may need to establish a business bank account before you get started. Depending on where you live and plan to run a business, you may also need a tax identification number, Social Security number, or other identifying number to begin the application process. Typically, you’ll need to complete an application to secure a merchant account, gain approval, and then follow the steps provided by the account company to set up a merchant account and beginning using it.

Submitting an application is usually the first step you’ll have to complete to get a merchant account set up and running. Often, merchant account providers have online applications you can complete and submit over the Internet. You’ll typically need to provide your full name, address, and date of birth as well as contact information and the location of your business on a merchant account application. You may also be asked to provide details about your business, such as how long it’s been in existence, what types of products or services you sell, and the volume of credit card sales you think you may process in a given period of time. Often, merchant account providers also want to know how your customers will buy from you, such as through a website, from a brick-and-mortar location, or both.

You may need to provide a good deal of personal information during the merchant account application process. For example, you may need to provide tax identification numbers or driver’s license numbers as part of the application process. You may also have to send a copy of your driver’s license or government-issued ID to the merchant account company before it can create your account. Likewise, you will usually have to give the merchant account provider your business bank account numbers, so it can deposit credit card payments into your account. A merchant account provider may also require you to mail or fax a copy of a voided check from your business checking account.

Once you’ve completed the application process and received approval, the merchant account provider will usually provide instructions for the last steps you need to take to set up a merchant account. You may need to log on to a website or access a link to set up an online merchant account. You may also have to install a secure payment processing system to your site. If you will be collecting credit card payments from customers in person, you will likely have to purchase or rent credit card processing equipment instead. In some cases, there is a fee charged when you set up a merchant account, but some companies offer free setup.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
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Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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