Every single merchant in the world is given their own unique merchant identification number or merchant account number, which specifically identifies them when any credit card transactions are made. The vast majority of merchant accounts are operated out of physical locations; that is, brick-and-mortar buildings where a terminal is in place to process the credit card transactions. There are also a variety of Internet access points for merchants to sell services and products in the online market, but if you happen to be one of those individuals who conducts the majority of your business on the road, the best choice for you might be a mobile merchant account.
Mobile merchant accounts are most useful for individuals who spend a lot of time on the road. This can range from individuals in the service industries such as plumbers, electricians, or landscapers, to seasonal merchants such as those who sell Christmas trees during the Christmas season or fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday. They are also useful for individuals running events across the nation, such as trade shows, expositions or craft shows. Thankfully there are several options available depending entirely upon your needs and available capital, and with this variety comes more opportunities to make money.
There are several different ways to accept credit cards using your mobile merchant account, with the first and most expensive being a wireless swipe terminal. While they do cost less to process transactions since the cards are physically swiped through the machine, the trade-off is that you can expect a fairly high monthly lease payment, and if you buy the mobile terminal straight-out you can expect to pay over $1,000. If you work off of a handheld or notebook and have access to the Internet you can set up a secure web-based virtual terminal, which simply requires you to log in using your unique password and username and manually process every order that as they come or back at your hotel. This is a fairly inexpensive option, although the processing fees are slightly higher since the credit cards are not physically swiped. In addition, mini swipe devices are sold nowadays which can be attached directly to your PDA, and they generally range between $300 and $500.
The absolute cheapest option is cell phone credit card processing, with a variety of third-party companies performing the service for you. Simply use your cell phone to dial a toll-free number associated with whichever company is processing the credit cards for you, and the company does the rest. These credit card processing companies range in price between $10 and $30 a month, with transaction fees depending on the company in question.
If your ability to remain flexible in a mobile environment is paramount to the success of your business or if you are one of those individuals who are constantly on the move; mobile merchant accounts are the best way to maintain a payment processing structure for your business, while traveling wherever your business needs require.