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How to Find the Best Merchant Account Provider

ByDave Stopher

Oct 15, 2018

With the thousands of different merchant account providers out there, it can be difficult to know which one would work the best for you. However, if you know what to look for and what questions to ask, you should easily be able to figure out which services are the right fit – and which ones you should avoid. Here are some of the things you should be looking at when picking a merchant account provider.

Customer Support

You just never know when something could happen, and anything that interrupts payments can be catastrophic for any business. Maintaining cash flow is absolutely vital for any business, so you have to be sure that you’ll have somebody to help you in case anything happens.

Whether it’s through the phone or through a chat system, you have to be able to reach customer service easily and at any time of the day. In the best-case scenario, you should have your account manager’s contact info and they should be available to you whenever you need them.

Due Diligence

Do a background check to see which type of provider you’re working with. You should know if you’re applying for an account directly with a banking institution (direct MID), or a payment facilitator or aggregate MID.

There are a few questions you’ll have to ask the payment provider before you do decide to go with them. First, try to find out if they are working directly with the issuing bank or a middleman. You should also know where the issuing bank and service provider are based. Also, ask whether the institution is UK/EU regulated and whether they have a PCI compliant gateway.

Another important thing to know is whether they serve your industry. This is an issue if you’re in an industry like the adult business, for instance. A lot of merchant account providers won’t work with people within the adult industry, which can make it a bit harder to get an account.

Knowing how to open an adult merchant account is handy if you want to set up something like recurring monthly payments for your customers. Well, the best way to go about it would be to use a service that connects adult business owners with merchant account providers that work within the adult sector. These services will allow you to connect to multiple issuers at once and compare them. You’ll then be able to go through the normal application process and see if you can get accepted.

Check out the Rates and Fees

This is often the first thing people look at when they’re searching for a payment processor. Fees and rates will play an important role as to which provider you’re going to go with. The interchange fees have recently been lowered for EEA based companies, which makes processing payments a lot cheaper. The acquirer/provider margin and card scheme fee will then be added on top. The typical rate will be around 2%-3% with all fees accounted for. However, you may end up paying more depending on your credit situation and the nature of your business, so be aware of that.

Payout Times

This is another very important point that needs to be clarified before you go with a specific payment processor. Knowing exactly when your funds will be released is essential for any business.

Card processing providers and banks will all have their own timeframes for payments to be released. This will usually be dependent on things like your merchant account setup and your risk category. A direct MID, for instance, will allow you to get your money faster since there isn’t a middle processor the payment has to go through first.

Funds are usually released on a daily or weekly basis, with delays being from 1 to 7 days. In some cases, you might get daily payouts with shorter delays if you’re involved in a low-risk business and you’ve been processing a certain number of payments. They will also be looking at things like transaction volumes and how long you’ve been using their services as well.


If you want to be able to accept payments online, you have to know how easy it is to integrate the gateway with your shopping cart. Some providers will already have a proprietary plugin you can use; ask the provider if they have one. This will make integration much easier.

If they don’t, they may give you an API guide for integration. You’ll then need to work with a programmer who can integrate their API on your website. Some will also prohibit you from processing payments from your page directly and will ask clients to be redirected to their page first, before being routed back to your ‘thank you’ page, so make sure you pick one with direct API integration first if you don’t want your clients to be redirected to a third-party site when making payments.


Looking for a merchant account can be a challenge, but one that can be surmounted if you know exactly what to look for. Make sure that you follow the points in this article if you want to find a great merchant account provider for your business.