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Merchant Account Fees

Merchant accounts are set up in different ways. Some merchant accounts monthly fees. Some don't. Some have a set-up fee. Some don't. This article looks at merchant account fees, typical services, and what you may expect to pay in merchant account fees.


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What Is a Merchant Account?

Merchants who want to engage in eCommerce generally rely on cashless commerce because it eliminates the wait for snail mail to arrive with checks. Customers may also prefer the security and ease of cashless commerce.

An Internet merchant account is what allows an eMerchant to credit card charges and debits, as well as cash and checks. Since this is an important element of online business, many, if not most, merchants with an online storefront have one.  With an Internet merchant account, the merchant can transact cashless commerce with a dedicated payment gateway set up over the Internet to handle credit card transactions that are initiated through the merchant's eCommerce website.

Some features of a Merchant Account may prove crucial to you, while others may be of little or no importance. The companies that offer merchant accounts often advertise certain features that they offer at no charge. But, obviously, they have to earn their money through some of the fees. But because some things incur a charge, while others are often free,  you may be able to skillfully choose your source in order to minimize your payments by examining the payment structure for the merchant accounts that are of interest to you.

Keep in mind that once you have a merchant account, you will become very reliant on it. It is therefore essential to have a reliable service and 24/7/365 support, preferably both by phone and email.

Merchant Account Fees

Here is a summary of some of the fees. means that no figure was provided.

Feature

Merchant

Express

Merchant Express's assessment of Industry Average

Charge.com

Charge.com's assessment of Industry Average

Annual Fee

$0

up to $195

--

--

Application Fee

$0

$75$125

$0

$95-$150

Setup Fee

$0

$50-$150

$0

$49-150

Checks by Web/Phone Fax

$0

$149

$0

$300

Web Shopping Cart

$0

$299

$0

$300

Programming Charge

$0

$50-$95

$0

$50-$95

Transaction fee

$0

10

as low as 15

30-45

Discover Setup Fee

--

--

$0

$25-$50

Amex Setup Fee

--

--

$0

$25-$50

Retail Discount (in person sales)

--

--

as low as 1.26%

1.95%

Internet/Mail/Phone Discount

--

--

as low as 1.79%

2.95%

Internet Discount

2.27%

2.65%

--

--

Internet Transaction Batch Fee

24.4

35

--

--

Monthly Service/Support/Statement Fee

$5

$10-15

--

--

Monthly Maintenance Fee

$0

$0-$10

--

--

The general impression gained from four sites - including Google Checkout and PayPal Website Payments Standard and Pro - is that none of the sites are fully disclosing their payment and fee structure prior to trying to get you to sign up. You can see from the chart, that while there's an emphasis on advertising areas in which the Merchant Account beats the competition, there is no information given for other areas that may be of great importance to the merchant.

Other fees, not listed here, that you may wish to find out about before applying (especially if one of those charges is the application fee) include the following:

  • gateway setup fee
  • voice address verification fee
  • voice authorization fee
  • surcharges
  • chargeback/retrieval fee
  • ACH rejection fee (Automated Clearing House fee for overdraft)
  • PCI Compliance fee (Payment Card Industry Compliance)
  • overlimit fee
  • phone, fax, and mail order acceptance
  • annual statement
  • non-pin debit card sales fee
  • attempted authorization
  • annual compliance support fee

Some companies offer different levels of merchant account, allowing you to customize your choice for your level of transactions.

Related Article: What is a Merchant Account >>

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