While internet ads describing “instant merchant accounts” may gain your attention, they should also raise a red flag. There is no such thing as an “instant” merchant account. For starters, no reputable merchant account provider would provide an account without checking up on the business and the business owner.
There is a lot of paperwork to complete before obtaining a merchant account. Businesses and business owners must be vetted, meaning that their stance and assets much be looked into. This helps determine the legality of your business as well as if you pre-approve with a banking partner. The next step is to send your application package to the acquiring bank. It may take your merchant account provider up to five business days before hearing a response from the bank. The last step is actually activating your merchant account, which can take upwards of 48 hours.
While an instant merchant account is not possible (a legal one, anyway), there are things that you can do to speed up the acceptance process. First off, make sure that you are prepared. Having all of your paperwork ready helps speed up the process for both you and your merchant service provider. Many merchant account services have these lists on their website, so be sure to check. If you cannot find it, ask. Some of this documentation is quick and easy to come by, and others are not, so being patient is key.
However, if you are still set on obtaining a truly instant merchant account, think of this: They are likely processing for fraudulent merchants, which is illegal and puts your legitimate business at risk of losing your account when your payment processor is shut down. That is a huge price to pay for not wanting to wait a few days, or even a week, for verification from a legitimate processor.
Many internet ads are not what they seem, and “instant merchant account” ads are surely not what they seem. Not only is it legally impossible, but it can lead unknowing business owners on a sad path toward failure. Before settling with a merchant account provider, make sure to check them out, and make sure that you actually need to fill out documentation – and not just a short form online.