Almost all businesses, whether that is bricks and mortar retailers or online store sellers, will want to take credit card payments. It is hard to be competitive and appealing to consumers if you make it hard for them to pay for things.

More and more businesses are opting to accept payments online, so that they can allow people to make purchases – and credit cards are a must because of the protection that they offer to buyers. Savvy shoppers are reluctant to pay for bigger items in particular using a standard debit card, for example. Know about Online Merchant Account Providers

As a business owner, you’ve probably heard about merchant accounts and payment gateways, but what is the difference between those things, and why does it matter?

Merchant Accounts

Merchant accounts allow your business to accept online payments – including ACH payments, debit cards and credit cards. Merchant accounts serve as a contract between the retailer and the company that processes the card. They are fast and flexible, and are convenient for your customers.

Payment Gateways

Payment gateways are a bit like an online card machine. They allow your customer to enter their payment information, and accept card payments online. Payment gateways allow transactions to occur through a secure form that is hosted on your site, or via a shopping cart that has been integrated into the site. The payment data is encrypted and sent to the payment processor, and then goes through the credit card network to be sent to the card issuer, who will then authorize the payment.

Merchant accounts have been around ever since credit cards were invented. They offer a good service for people who run businesses that primarily sell via bricks and mortar stores, and they can be good for the cash flow of such companies. Payment gateways are good for online retailers, because they offer a secure and simple way of authorizing payments. For the end-user, payment gateways perform just the same way that merchant accounts do, so there is next to no friction with the process of buying online.

As a small business owner, if you primarily sell online, then getting a payment gateway set up is a good idea. If you primarily deal in goods sold in a store, then you will want a merchant account. If you want to run both kinds of service, then you will probably want to have both options set up. It’s a good idea to offer lots of options to your customers – and the more streamlined the process of buying is, the better.

There are other payment options, such as direct debit, or accepting Paypal, but these come with risks for the seller that are greater than what you might face with a payment gateway or a merchant account, so think carefully about what you allow your customers to do payment wise, and make sure that you set appropriate terms and conditions for them so that you are not left out of pocket because of chargebacks, refund requests, or customer fraud. Find details at .