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What is a Merchant Account?

Fundamentally, a merchant account enables a business or service organization (a “merchant”) to accept credit and debit cards. A merchant account is a contract extending a line of credit from an acquiring bank to a merchant so that organization can process card payments. Organizations may work directly with a bank to set up a merchant account, but most work with a merchant services provider, such as 3D Cart Merchant Services, in that regard.

A contract for a merchant account covers three key elements related to payment processing:

  1. Services
  2. Equipment and Resources
  3. Rates and Fees

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Services include initial setup and subsequent maintenance of a merchant account. Setup includes all the tasks related to evaluation and approval or decline of applicants; ongoing maintenance includes customer service, technical support, report generation and more. Click here for more information on services provided by 3D Cart Merchant Services.


Equipment and Resources include:

  • Standard “swipe” terminals for storefront (on-site) locations;
  • Portable swipe terminals (with wi-fi connections) for processing card payments on the road;
  • Payment gateway/virtual terminal solutions for online stores and phone/mail orders; and
  • Related software. Click here for more information on equipment and resources provided by 3D Cart Merchant Services.

 

Rates and Fees fall under two key categories:

  • Discount rate:  This is a fee charged by a merchant services provider to a merchant for the costs of processing card transactions. The discount rate is calculated as a percentage of each sale and includes the interchange fee paid by the merchant services provider to the cardholder’s bank to cover costs of converting a charge on his/her card into a cash deposit to the merchant’s checking account. The interchange fee, in turn, varies according to whether a transaction is classified as qualified, or the mid-qualified and non-qualified levels, also called “downgrades.” Click here for more information on downgrades and classification levels. [LINK to “What is a downgrade?” page.]

  • Transaction fee:  A merchant services provider charges this fee to a merchant for each card authorization request and transaction; the fee encompasses approved and declined sales, returns, voids and batch settlements. Click here for more information on 3D Cart Merchant Services rates and fees.