Using payment cards for your business

Setting up a merchant account for your business


If you want to accept payments directly from customers' credit, debit or charge cards you may choose to set up a merchant account. These are accounts that allow card payments and chargebacks to be made to a merchant-nominated bank account.

You can also accept customer payments through a third party payment processing service or online shopping mall. You can find out more about these in accepting online payments.

Before setting up a merchant account, your acquiring bank will request a wide range of information. This is used to assess your business and to determine the level of charges you'll have to pay for each transaction. You may be asked to provide information relating to:

  • your business history and performance
  • business accounts
  • your projected turnover
  • expected average transaction values and volumes on credit and debit cards
  • transaction frequencies
  • the type of goods you sell
  • the proportion of transactions you expect to receive face to face, by phone, mail order, or online
  • your suppliers' details
  • how you deliver your goods or services

You may need to open a number of merchant accounts if you want to accept card payments for different sales channels. For instance, if you sell goods from a retail shop and through an e-commerce website you'll need separate accounts for your online and face-to-face sales. 

It takes between one and four weeks to open a merchant account. The process may take slightly longer for start-up businesses and banks may want to see additional information - such as a business plan and cashflow forecasts.