Getting a merchant account is one of the first steps that most new business owners take when they open up shop. Without one, it is impossible to accept customer credit cards. While some businesses can open their doors while they wait for their merchant account application to go through, most business owners want to open with the ability to take their new customer’s credit cards.
This means that it is a good idea to know how long it will take for a processing service to approve a merchant account application. Unfortunately, it can be hard to pinpoint an exact time frame, since every business is different. To make matters more complicated, there are a lot of factors that can go into determining how fast applications are processed.
To start, every application has to be reviewed for credit-worthiness and legitimacy. There are a number of scam artists that will try to set up a merchant account so that they can run credit card transactions for fraudulent purposes, or simply try to take as much money as possible from stolen credit cards. In order to prevent this, a merchant services company has to screen each application and check each business owner and/or company for credit-worthiness.
In cases where a person has an easily traceable background, no criminal record, and good credit, this step can take a few minutes. If a business owner has lived in multiple places, including a foreign country, has a criminal past, and/or bad credit, this process might take several weeks to several months.
Next, the type of business and its method of making money is looked at. While a merchant services company isn’t interested in a business plan, they do have to screen out businesses that are potentially fraudulent or that could run into a lot of fraudulent cards. While it’s hard to know every service’s exact criteria, domestic businesses that buy from and sell to domestic, checked-out customers are usually a lot faster to approve than businesses that operate overseas and/or have a lot of foreign clients. Brick and mortar stores also tend to have an easier time getting approved than businesses that only accept online payments.