Applying for a Merchant Account for Small Businesses
If you are a merchant, then you will undoubtedly need a merchant account. Merchant accounts are accounts that your business holds with a payment processor or merchant services provider that give you access to the critical tools that your business needs to succeed and accept payments. Without a merchant account, your business will be unable to complete the most important part of any transaction--the receipt of the funds for the goods or services that were rendered. If you want to get a merchant account for your business, then the first thing you need to know is how to apply for a merchant account and what is involved in the process of the application. This insight will give you the knowledge and information that you need to be successful in the merchant account application process and provide you with a competitive edge when applying for your merchant account.
Information needed for applying for a merchant account
If you’re hoping to have success in the merchant account application process, then one of the first things that you will need to know is about the requirements for applying and gaining approval for a merchant account. There are several pieces of information and documentation that you will need if you’re going to have success in your application. Providing these pieces of documentation and information will greatly increase your chances of being successful, but that’s not all that matters. You will also need to display several traits and factors that prove yourself to be a reliable and trustworthy merchant.
Here are the pieces of information that you will need when applying for a merchant account:
- At least 3 months of bank statements
- At least 3 months of processing statements, if applicable
- Valid identification
- EIN or SSN for the account
- A functioning website that has information about your business
Before you apply for a merchant account, you should be sure to have each of these pieces of information available and ready to send with your application. The absence of any of these pieces of information could prevent you from getting a merchant account or getting good rates if you are granted a merchant account. This could delay the process and make getting a merchant account take that much longer.
Getting approval for a merchant account: factors explained
When you are applying for a merchant account, one of the most important concepts that you should understand beforehand is that there are a variety of factors that go into your approval or rejection as a merchant for a merchant account. Being familiar with these factors can increase your chances of success when applying for a merchant account because it will enable you to optimize your application and make it much more attractive to the merchant services that you hope to work with. Here are some of the most important factors in getting approved for a merchant services account and why they are considered to be important.
The bank history is one of the required pieces of information for your business if you hope to get a merchant services account. The merchant services provider that you apply with will ask for at least documentation of 3 months of bank history. The reason that merchant services providers ask for this information is pretty obvious--they want to ensure that your business is reputable and is in good standing with your bank. Without this verification, they might not be able to establish confidence that you are a trustworthy financial partner to work with. Merchant services companies want to verify that you are a legitimate business with a verifiably good relationship with your banking provider. By verifying this, they can guess that you will be a good partner to them, as well. Always provide the most comprehensive statement information that you can and be sure to not just provide the bare minimum, if possible. Applications will ask for at least 3 months, but if you are comfortable you should supply up to 6 months of statements.
Another thing that will factor heavily into the decision that is made regarding your merchant services account status is the processing history documentation that you are able to provide. When you apply for a merchant processing account, the company that you apply with will very likely want to see at least 3 months of processing history. Again, the more information that you can provide, the better. Those that are able to provide up to 6 months of documentation will likely have more success. The reason that merchant services companies request this information is also clear--because they want to know that you will be a good partner to them in your merchant services and credit card processing relationship. Being involved with a company to provide credit card transactions is no small matter, and the companies that you work with want to protect themselves just as much as you do. When you provide this information, they will look into your past success, chargeback ratios, and any concerns that have arisen in your past relationships with processing companies.
It is possible that you are not able to provide this information, in the event that you are a new business. Still, you should answer as many questions as they have and provide them with answers to the questions that you are able to such as what your expected volume will be. Going the extra mile to provide this information could certainly be the difference between denial and acceptance for your merchant services account.
When evaluating your application for a merchant services account, your merchant services partner will very likely want to see your credit score. This is a piece of information that you will likely not have to provide yourself, as many merchant services companies have a way to check this. Your business credit score will tell the underwriter, the person who approves and denies processing accounts, about your financial history and whether there are any red flags. If there are blips on your credit score, that doesn’t mean that you will not be eligible to get a merchant services account. However, it might mean that there are more hoops to jump through or that you don’t get as good of a processing rate that you were hoping for. The best way to handle a poor credit score as a business is to apply to a merchant services program that approves businesses that are in a similar situation and works with businesses to overcome challenges that they might have struggled with in the past.
Even though you might not have given much thought to it in the past, one of the most relevant factors in your approval or rejection for a merchant services account is the industry that your business is in. It is very important to consider the industry that your business is in because some businesses are at higher risk than others for chargebacks and fraud. If you are in a very normal and ordinary industry, then you probably don’t need to worry that much about the specifics. However, if you are in a high-risk industry that is known for chargebacks and fraud, then you likely want to start looking at ways to bolster your application and show that you can stand out above the rest as a merchant that will not cost the services provider money in the long run.
How long does it take to get approval for a merchant account?
One of the most common questions that is asked when applying for a merchant services account is how long the process takes. The answer is not so straightforward, as there are dozens of factors that go into the decision-making process of either approving or rejecting a merchant for a merchant account. If nothing goes wrong in the process and the underwriters don’t need any more information, then it’s possible that you receive an answer within 24-48 hours, when working with the right merchant account provider. However, this is not always the case. Oftentimes, your merchant account provider will require additional information including clarification on the business plan, more documentation, or just general questions about your business. You can help to reduce the amount of time that it takes to get approved by being upfront with all of the information that you will need for the application and having it on-hand for clarification if needed.
Be selective in who you choose for a provider
One thing that you should know if you want to get the most out of your merchant account is that merchant processing is a serious business. There is a lot of money at stake, and that is why merchant account providers are so selective in who they approve for a merchant services account. You should be equally as selective when choosing a provider. Make sure that you know what you are looking for in a merchant services provider because they are going to have a large impact on your business and what you are able to achieve with your merchant solutions.