Information on Merchant Accounts,
Ecommerce and Credit Card Processing

May 23rd, 2006 by Jamie Estep

3 Tips For New Merchant Account Owners

Filed in: Ecommerce, Merchant Accounts | 1 comment

For a new business, checking into the company merchant account is often near the bottom of the to-do list. It is very important to ensure that the merchant account is running smoothly and in a manner that is cost effective right from the start, to help to prevent problems that can arise in the future.

  1. Watch your statements carefully in the beginning.
  2. Don’t exceed your processing limits early on (or without notice).
  3. Check your bank account daily.

Watch your statements carefully in the beginning.
The first few months of a new merchant account are watched closely by the processing banks. Traditionally most fraud that occurs with merchant accounts, occurs in the first few months of processing. It is equally important for businesses to watch their own statements closely in the first few months of processing. The start of opening a merchant account is the best time to find errors and problems, because they can normally be corrected more easily than after the business has been processing for a long time.

What business owners should be watching for is that their business is setup with the correct merchant account type, that they aren’t downgrading excessively, and that there aren’t any major fees that they were unaware of.

Don’t exceed your processing limits early on (or without notice).
When you applied for your merchant account, there was a section on the application that asked you what your anticipated monthly volume was expected to be. This volume acts as a base line for comparing your monthly processing to. Processors use this amount to flag fraud and other risk factors. Another number that you entered was your average ticket size.

While growth to you is a great thing, quick unexpected growth is hated by most credit card processors as it opens avenues for fraud. Because of this, many businesses have been held back or even had their merchant accounts canceled due to growth.

Exceeding your monthly volume: It is my opinion that businesses should always check their merchant accounts using an online account access system, which is available with almost every merchant account. If your merchant account approaches your specified monthly volume, you should call your merchant account provider immediately. There is some leniency for the occasional high volume month, but if you consistently reach or exceeding your volume, you need to request a volume increase. If your processor cant increase it, you should start looking for a new processor. Believe me when I say that the negative reaction from some processors handling growth is far worse than shopping for another merchant account. Your current provider may also have another processing bank that will grant you a higher volume. Either way, this is something that should not be ignored.

The reason that this is also applicable to new businesses, is that they often have no idea what their volume is going to be. Hopefully if a guess was made, it was higher than needed, and if a lower guess was made, a volume increase or new merchant account should be a priority.

Exceeding your average ticket size: Almost every business has to run a few transactions over their average ticket size. After all it is an average, and not a limit. 10 – 15% is acceptable with most processors, and some like Nova often allow a 100% over transaction. But, running a $5,000 transaction when your average ticket size is set at $20 is not a good thing. The processor will force you to refund the money and collect payment with another form. They probably wont refund your processing fees as well. Now your mad at your processor, you just lost some money, your customer is inconvenienced and nobody is happy. If you expect that you are going to need to run a much larger transaction than your average ticket, call your processor. They may allow you to run a one time transaction because it just happens sometimes. If you expect that you are going to be seeing a lot of these larger transactions you either need a average ticket increase, or you need to find a processor that will let you have the high ticket size. Be prepared to prove that you do sell something costing that much (it would be hard to believe that a dollar store sold had a transaction for $5000, etc).

Check your bank account daily.
Just like anything, a merchant account sometimes has errors. At some point a human has to add your bank information to an electronic system. Although rare, this account number sometimes gets mixed up, and money goes to the wrong account. If this mix-up ever occurs, it is also soon after a merchant account is opened.

Since money is normally deposited into a business’ bank account about 48 hours after they process a transaction, there isn’t a good excuse for notifying your processor that you haven’t been receiving your money for two months. Check you bank account closely for the first few weeks and make sure that your money is going to the correct place.

These three small tips can help prevent about 90% of all the potential problems you can possible have your merchant account. Catching them early on will help to ensure that your credit card processing is transparent, allowing you to focus on the rest of your business.

One Response to “3 Tips For New Merchant Account Owners”

  1. Jelissa May 25, 2006 at 6:23 am

    I appreciate that you keep your blog going and allow comments. To me feedback is an interesting part of a website.