Information on Merchant Accounts,
Ecommerce and Credit Card Processing

August 18th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

Avoiding a Bad Merchant Service Provider

Filed in: Ecommerce, Merchant Accounts | 14 comments

There are literally thousands of organizations that can set you up with credit card processing. Of these thousands of businesses, there is a large percentage that is out there just to take your money. Finding a good merchant service provider is nearly as important as accepting credit cards itself.

Start looking for a merchant account several months before you actually need it. Trying to desperately get setup in a hurry is the most common way businesses get locked into expensive contracts with poor providers.


August 17th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

What Does All This Mean? – Merchant Account Fees

Filed in: Merchant Accounts, My Favorite Posts | 7 comments

Every merchant account application consists of 4 main sections; the business and past history, anticipated processing volume and anticipated transaction information, merchant account fees, and the signature section. The Merchant Account Fee section is undoubtedly the most complicated section and is the most important to you, the merchant.


August 16th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

Seasonal Merchant Accounts

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

A seasonal merchant account is exactly as it sounds, a merchant account that is only active for a portion of a year.

Businesses like firework stands, fruit stands, and seasonal tourist businesses can benefit greatly from setting up a seasonal merchant account. Seasonal merchant accounts are not available through all processors. Currently, Nova is the only processor that can setup a ‘true’ seasonal account, but FDMS and others can be setup similar to a seasonal account.


August 15th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

Why am I downgrading? – Part 3/3 – Case Studies

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

To finalize my 3 part post on downgrading, I will conclude with three case studies using different business models to show possible savings by using some of the methods described in part 2.

These business models should show a good monetary representation of the possible savings by using the previously described methods to help prevent downgrades. There will be some technical terminology and calculations, but following should not be extraordinarily difficult.


August 12th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

Why am I downgrading? – Part 2/3 – Preventing

Filed in: Merchant Accounts |

Many businesses may be able to prevent or eliminate their downgrade charges. This post will focus on ways to help eliminate or prevent downgrade charges. There are several simple methods that can be used to help prevent downgrades, and there are more involved methods that involve multiple merchant accounts or the restructuring of the merchant account type.

By analyzing the differences in customers from business to business, and the method that businesses use to accept credit cards, I find that for some, downgrading is inevitable. Some businesses will always downgrade. Their customers are always international, they are unable to use AVS, or some other reason beyond their control will prevent them from qualifying their transactions. For these businesses, my best advice is to negotiate. Downgrade charges can often be negotiated by talking with your current processor.

As for other businesses, these methods are primarily intended for Retail merchants who swipe their credit cards. Keyed entry merchants have much less of a problem with downgrading, and most downgrading can be prevented by using AVS.


August 11th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

Why am I downgrading? – Part 1/3 – Reasons

Filed in: Merchant Accounts, My Favorite Posts |

This topic will consist of three posts; the first covering common reasons for a merchant account to downgrade, the second will cover ways to help prevent transactions from downgrading, and the third will cover case studies putting these methods into action.

I will also reference a great article written in the Green Sheet, called Interchange Untangled. It is lengthy, but is the best source for transaction downgrade information that I have found, anywhere.

Credit card downgrading is common in every business merchant account. A transaction downgrade is where the transaction fails to meet certain pre-defined criteria, and an additional charge is added to the fee for processing the transaction. Some businesses see many downgrades while others may only see a small percentage of downgrades. There are generally 2 levels of downgrading, MID-qualified and NON-qualified. MID being the first downgrade level and NON being the highest downgrade level with the greatest additional fee associated with it.


August 10th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

Why would you ever lease processing equipment?

Filed in: Credit Card Equipment, Merchant Accounts, My Favorite Posts | 2 comments

Gone are the days of businesses needing to lease credit card processing equipment. It was once a common practice for a business that was looking to start accepting credit cards, to lease their first credit card terminal. The leases usually ran anywhere from $30 – $75 / month for three or four years, for the use of the processing equipment. In the past, leasing was a major cash flow source for merchant service providers. Eventually businesses began to shop and found that they were paying way too much for their processing equipment, often more than ten times what the equipment was worth.

Equipment Leasing


August 9th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

Nurit 2085 – The Best Processing Terminal To Date

Filed in: Credit Card Equipment |

I often am asked what is the credit card processing terminal that I most recommend for businesses. Nearly every time, I have to recommend the Nurit 2085.

Nurit 2085The Nurit 2085 is not a new terminal. It isn’t particularly small. The display isn’t fancy. The technology inside it isn’t anything close to new. What the Nurit 2085 is, is a very reliable, time-tested machine that is very easy to use, and extremely reliable. It comes with a fast thermal printer that accepts common sized paper that is readily available. As many as nine merchant accounts can be run through a single Nurit 2085. The Nurit 2085 is also cheap. Because it has been around for so long, the price is very reasonable, a new terminal costing under $200.


August 8th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

Save Money by Processing Debit Cards

Filed in: Ecommerce, Merchant Accounts |

If you’re not setup with a reduced rate signature debit, and / or a pin debit system, you should be.

Already 50% of plastic transactions are debit card transactions rather than credit card transactions. Getting a reduced processing rate on debit cards is one of the best ways for any businesses to save money on processing fees.

There are two different types of debit card transactions, Signature and Pin debit. Signature debit is where the debit card is processed exactly the same as a credit card. Pin debit is where a pin number accompanies the debit card transaction, similar to an ATM machine.


August 4th, 2005 by Jamie Estep

GPRS Wireless Credit Card Processing

Filed in: Credit Card Equipment, Merchant Accounts |

Wireless credit card processing is not a new technology. It has been around for several years, and has been slowly growing in popularity and in the technology that it uses.

Several months ago, the GPRS wireless network, which is a network that many cellular phones currently use, opened up to wireless credit card processing. Before, wireless processing was limited to the Mobitex and Motient wireless networks. Both of these networks are severely limited in their area coverage with several states having no coverage at all. To further make matters worse, the expansion of the Motient and Mobitex networks, which are considered business networks, is completely stagnant. There is very little coverage expansion on these networks. With GPRS, all fifty states have at least some wireless coverage, and cellular carriers are continuously increasing the coverage range for the GPRS network.