Alayna Okerlund

Last Updated: May 6th, 2021

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If you own a business, setting up a merchant account may sound a bit intimidating. Understandably, smaller businesses often worry about taking the next step, and opening a merchant account can be a challenge because it involves taking a risk. Although changing a business model can be stressful, setting up a merchant account doesn’t have to be.

Where to Begin

Before you implement a merchant account system, you should conduct some quality research.

  • Understand what a merchant account isIf you’re looking to expand your business, you need to understand the basic concepts of a merchant account. A merchant account is a type of bank account that allows a company, such as iPayment, to accept various forms of payment such as credit or debit cards. Although merchant accounts are fairly easy to comprehend, there is more to them than what is on the surface. For example, some payment options require multiple merchant accounts which may present more complex situations.
  • Research what technology a merchant account requiresCertain technological advancements accompany the setup of a merchant account: wireless credit card terminals, pin pad EMV-ready machines, virtual terminals, mobile machines, check reader/imager, and more. Some companies, like Leaders Merchant, provide this technology when a merchant account is opened.
  • See what payment types competitors are acceptingTypically, you can figure out what payment types competitors are accepting through simple research. Usually a company with a merchant account will display payment options (credit/debit, mobile payments) clearly on its website.
  • Compare and contrast a variety of merchant account companiesNot all multiple merchant account providers are created equal. Companies can vary based on their fees, applications, services, included equipment, and what types of debit/credit payments they accept. Thorough research of what your business needs and what these companies provide (not to mention reviews from actual clients) will help narrow down the field so that you can choose the best merchant company for your business.

Taking the Next Step

Once you choose a merchant account company, you must provide some verification and other information to begin the setup process. According to, most merchant accounts require the following:

  • An active, current business license: This is to ensure that your company is legitimate. A merchant account underwriter will verify and copy the license.

  • A business bank account: This is required because it is the destination for the funds that are transacted through the merchant account. This account is typically used for paying monthly fees/processing fees, if necessary.

The Application Process

Many merchant account companies allow businesses to complete the application process online. The application will most likely require the following:

  • Accounting and routing numbers for the business bank account

  • Information from the authorized signer for the account

  • Estimates of processing volume

  • Business contact information

  • Company starting date

Business owners should keep in mind that they might have to get multiple merchant accounts depending on what payment transaction types they wish to accept.

The top three ranked merchant account companies on are Leaders Merchant, goEmerchant, and Flagship Merchant Services. We recommend comparing and contrasting their application processes.

  • Leaders Merchant—Promises same day account approvals as well as customized account setup.
  • goEmerchant—Requests businesses to fill out a form and promises to get in contact shortly, but does not provide a time frame for contact. Required US-based businesses only for application.
  • Flagship Merchant Services—Allows businesses to accept credit card payments in 1-2 business days due to its Free No Obligation Merchant Account Application.

Watch Your Business Grow

Merchant accounts are designed to help businesses develop by allowing them to accept payments in multiple forms. The more payments a business can accept, the bigger the opportunity for more revenue. The top three ranked companies each promise to provide growth to businesses that use their services by presenting various money and time-saving solutions.

  • Leaders Merchant presents a POS system called Clover which replaces regular POS terminals with an “integrated suite of products.” Businesses can grow by getting to know their customers and business model better with reports and applications that can be run from work or home.

  • According to, goEmerchant provides the Quickbooks solution which allows companies to receive “competitive discount rates, low transaction fees, and no hidden costs.”

  • Flagship Merchant Services provides the Digital Loyalty Program, which allows business owners to track their consumers’ buying trends. The Business Management Portal gives business owners tools and resources to help them better manage their accounts.

Although there are many aspects to consider when setting up a merchant account, if you do your research and choose the best company for your needs, the benefits seem to be worth it.

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