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How to accept credit cards – Guide to navigating merchants

If you are in the credit repair business you probably have realized that only accepting cash or check is a major pain.  Don’t get me wrong, money is money, but accepting checks is often a time consuming, unorganized process. You have to pick up the check from the customer, take it to the bank and wait for it to deposit and log it into your QuickBooks (if you billing monthly forget about it!!). Fortunately accepting credit cards is easy process that will allow you to streamline and centralize your billing process. Credit cards will allow you to expand your customer base and provide a more convenient method of payment than cash or checks. And if you are interested in selling credit repair over the Internet, accepting credit cards is a must.

Merchant Accounts
If you want to accept credit cards, you will need to open a merchant account. A merchant is usually a bank somewhere who will take the money directly from you clients credit card company (Visa, MC, AMEX) and deposit it into your bank account. For this service, you often have to pay a “transaction free” typically a percentage of the sale. This is where the selection process

How to locate a merchant account
There are two ways of locate and open a merchant account. The first involves paying a visit to your local bank.  Go to your local bank or 2) shop around on the internet for a better deal.

Can anyone get a merchant account?
The answer is NO. The approval process will be made by reviewing several factors including proposed sales forecast, you credit history, and what industry. Those with poor credit history will find it especially difficult. Another thorn in your butt is what industry you are in. Unfortunately, the term “Credit repair” often rings fear in some companies, so you may find out when you apply for some merchant accounts you will be declined based solely on your industry. The reason being is that the merchant is worried about “charge-backs”, which is when the consumer disputes a charge and the merchant refunds it. Don’t lose faith. There are plenty of merchant’s that approve credit repair businesses. I have included a list below. Merchants like Charge.com  and PayPal have an easy signup process.

Merchant (payment) Gateway
To make matters even more confusing you will need some type of tool to transfer the customer’s credit card information to your merchant account. This is referred to as a merchant or payment gateway. Since most of your customers will not psychically give you their credit cards, you can use a “card not present or virtual” system which is an online version of the credit card swipe machines. 

The Virtual termal is basically a web page where you enter your customer’s credit card information and it relays it to your merchant account for approval. Gateways often come with complex feature which allow you to connect your website directly to them for e-commerce transactions. See the list below for recommended merchant gateways.

Hello PayPal and Google
There is an easier way to accept credit cards thanks to PayPal. Although their rates may not be quite as low some merchants, the service is super easy to use and setup. With PayPal there are no monthly fees and a light approval process. They have even proved to be “credit repair” friendly. Both Paypal and Google offer all the features needed, such as virtual terminal and web site payments. The search engine powerhouse, Google has entered into the merchant market with “Google checkouts”. Currently Google is offering free credit card processing until 2008 with no monthly, setup or gateway fees.

Recommended merchants / gateways
Charge.com (the largest merchant of the internet with 99% approval rate and FREE merchant gateway )
Authorize.net (they are actually a gateway, but can get you approved with a merchant.)
Google Checkout (no  pay no monthly, setup or gateway fees until 2008)

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