It's a fact: Small businesses that accept credit cards sell more. Often much more. To do that, you must set up a merchant account to accept credit card payments. You may need an internet merchant account as well. Here's a three-pronged strategy to help you find the best merchant account provider: Decide what payment forms to accept with your merchant account. You can take only credit cards, or other non-cash payments such as debit cards, electronic checks, gift cards, stored value cards and smart cards. Apply for a merchant account service that will be used to process payments and deposit the funds you collect in your regular bank account. A merchant account is often approved in 48 hours or less. Home business merchant account options are also available. Choose the merchant services account technology you need. You can select anything from hardwired terminals, to PCs, to online merchant account services and wireless handheld devices to help accept credit card payments. Get System Savvy Fuzzy about how merchant account credit card processing works? Want to know how to apply for merchant account services and a merchant bank account? Let the big three show you. Visa, MasterCard and American Express all have super helpful small biz sites to walk you through the basics of accepting credit cards and can help with setting up a merchant account for your retail business, restaurant, website or just about any type of business you may operate. Compare Rates and Options Find the best deals by comparison shopping and acquiring price quotes on credit card processing services, including merchant account providers that can offer you an international merchant account, high risk merchant account, mastercard or visa merchant account. Small Volume? Get This Quick Solution from QuickBooks QuickBooks has a brand new off-the-shelf credit card processing solution that simplifies the merchant account set up process at a low cost. Go Mobile Accept credit card and debit card payments anywhere, anytime with handheld wireless technology for your merchant account. Tap Association Member Discount Deals Many industry, professional or other small business associations offer credit card payment solutions and merchant account processing as a member benefit. Look for low rates, no fees and free equipment Credit card payment processing is a highly competitive field for both retailers and online merchants. Remember that savings don't only come as a lower rate, but in cost reductions from having your system set up properly, your charge-backs reduced, dependable equipment, and your funding on time. Apply for a Merchant Account at Your Bank Major banks serving small business offer credit card processing services of all kinds, including online business merchant accounts. Add Electronic Gift & Loyalty Features Scrap those paper gift certificates and customer loyalty punch cards and let your credit card processor boost business with electronic gift cards and customer loyalty rewards. Card fraud is growing. Ask merchant account vendors what fraud protection services they offer. Merchant account providers consider web-only and telemarketing businesses "high risk." You may need to put up a deposit or pay higher fees to begin. Fees and charges vary greatly. Possibles include discount rate (% of each sale), flat per-transaction fee, equipment rental, monthly minimum and chargebacks. For online sales, decide if you need real-time processing or can use lower-cost "batching" where you collect card info and process by hand offline.