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Roxbury Highland Bank
of Jamaica Plain

515 Centre Street
Jamaica Plain MA 02130

TEL (617) 524-6500
FAX (617) 524-8138

Merchant Credit Card Processing
If you plan to do business online, then your website will need to accept credit cards. For many, the idea of applying for a Massachusetts merchant account sounds like a daunting task, but the truth is that building an online store is incredibly easy these days. The major credit card processing companies have improved and streamlined the process of setting up accounts, and software companies have had several years to improve their software to the point that it is easy for non-technical business owners to create and operate an online store effectively.

Traditional Merchant Accounts in MA. If your processing volume will be higher than $1000 per month, then you will probably want to go with a traditional merchant account. Credit card processing companies generally charge a minimum monthly fee that is approximately equal to the amount of money you would pay to process $1000 per month. Generally speaking you can expect to pay around $50 per month in minimum charges for a merchant account. As you process more, your costs will go up, but the percentage of your gross sales that you pay for processing should go down.

Steps You Need To Take To Set Up A Traditional Merchant Account It is not difficult to set up a traditional merchant account, but you will need to follow several steps in order to pull it off.

  1. Get a business license
  2. Get a business bank account at your bank
  3. Make sure your web host supports your shopping cart system (you might even be able to get your shopping cart system bundled in with your credit card processing services for free).
  4. Try to determine the amount of business you will generate. Your credit card processing company will want to know how large each transaction will be, and how many transactions you expect to have per month.
  5. Negotiate with merchant account providers and establish your merchant credit card account (see list of merchant account providers).
Following are several merchant account providers you may be interested in contacting:
www.merchantaccount.comUSA Payments allows you to accept payments instantly without the need to set up special accounts or sign long-term contracts. You will want to strongly consider using this one if you are processing more than $1000 per month.
www.merchantaccounts.coAMS Merchant Services is one of the largest resellers of merchant accounts both on and offline, and are trusted by literally tens of thousands of businesses of all sizes. They use Global Data as their back-end processor.
www.merchantprocessors.comThis is a well-respected processor that services both on and offline businesses. CardService International provides a very helpful eBook that you can download for free!

Some Issues You Want To Consider

  1. Generally speaking you will be more concerned with up-front and recurring fees rather than the discount rate that processing companies will quote most prominently. The hidden fees generally eclipse the discount rates – especially for low volume start-up businesses.
  2. Try to accurately estimate your business volume when you fill out your applications. The risk department at your processing company can put a freeze on your account if your volumes move significantly outside the estimates you have provided them.
  3. If you do experience a sudden spike in orders, you should contact the risk department of your processing company to make them aware of the spike BEFORE it hits their system. They may want to have you send them details about the orders and provide proof that the orders are legitimate. As inconvenient as this is, it is far better than getting your account frozen. For more information about the Risk Department at a credit card processing company, please read our free article, Credit Card Processing Issues You Should Be Aware Of on
  4. Make sure you understand what fees you will be responsible for if you need to cancel your account before the end of your contract. You may find that you need to shut down your account for a variety of reasons, and you don’t want to find out about exit fees after you get the bill!