What is a Mobile Merchant Account?

N. Madison
N. Madison

A mobile merchant account allows a business person to process credit cards while he is traveling or away from his traditional business location. For example, a traveling salesman may use a mobile merchant account to process credit card sales he receives while going door to door or temporarily setting up shop in different towns. A person may also use a mobile merchant account to process sales obtained at a trade show, fair, or a flea market. Sometimes people in service businesses utilize these accounts as well. For instance, a plumber or electrician may have a mobile merchant account.

Businessman with a briefcase
Businessman with a briefcase

Traditionally, a person who accepts credit card payments for his brick-and-mortar business has a credit card machine or processing system that isn't moved from location to location. An online business may, on the other hand, have its customers input their credit card information via a special order form on a website. A merchant account used in a brick-and-mortar store is often referred to as a traditional merchant account while an online system is called an Internet merchant account. A mobile merchant account differs from both of these because it doesn't include a credit card machine that is used in a fixed location, and it does not require the customer to input his own information online.

When a person has a mobile merchant account, he may process payments in much the same way as traditional merchant account holders. He may, for example, take a credit card from a customer and swipe it through a credit card machine. Once the payment is authorized, he may provide the customer with a receipt to sign. This procedure can be accomplished through a wireless swipe terminal that can be moved from place to place based on the merchant’s needs.

Sometimes a mobile merchant account allows a business person to process payments in the same way as an Internet merchant account holder. If a merchant has a computer with an Internet connection handy when he travels, he may process payments through a web-based credit card terminal. In such a case, he may just enter credit card payments online and click "submit."

An individual who opts for a mobile merchant account may even have the option of processing credit card payments via phone. He may call a phone number provided by his merchant account service and enter the required details of the payment. Some mobile merchant accounts allow telephone processing with any type of phone, allowing a merchant to use a traditional land line or a cell phone to process payments.

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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