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Helping Merchant Accounts and Checking Accounts PlayHelping

By: Karen LaVoy, Tue May 16th, 2006

To Do List: 1. Name my company 2. Name my web site (and register domain name) 3. Open checking account 4. Open merchant account

Youíve made the arrangements for adding e-commerce capability to your web site. Who wouldnít? Your goal is to make it easy for your customers to buy from you.

Now youíre dealing with the merchant application and paperwork. One thing every bank will need is a voided check from your checking account. Your merchant bank will be depositing your revenues into this account. Any fees assessed will be deducted from this same account.

Many people are tempted to use their personal checking accounts in conjunction with their merchant account. This account is already open and functioning, meaning one less to-do item on the list, which just grows longer every day. There would be no extra fees to pay, or new checks to order. Sounds like a solid plan.

Itís fairly easy to put this into operation as well. Your merchant bank will require you to add a statement to your order page or shopping cart that reads like this: Your credit card will be charged Jane Q. Public. Simple enough.

What you may not realize is that the name on your personal checking account is the name that your customers will see on their credit card statements. So instead of seeing a charge from My Great Company for $125.00, theyíll see a charge from Jane Q. Public. Sure, you told your customer at the time of the order that the charge would be from Jane Q, but who remembers thirty days and no telling how many web sites ago?

It doesnít have to be too expensive to open this account. Of course fees will vary from county to county and bank to bank, but hereís a great hint to save some money: Donít order checks. Whoa! you say. Didnít I just read a few paragraphs ago that my merchant bank will need a voided check from this account? I definitely want to make sure the deposits go to the right place! Once again, your friendly neighborhood merchant account expert is on your side: just use a counter check. Thatís right- your free book of counter checks can satisfy your merchant bank. The routing number and account number are what the merchant bank cares about, and thatís printed at the bottom of every check- including counter checks!

Letís presume that youíve accepted my astute advice and opened a business account for My Great Company. Next on your to-do list is registering your domain name. Now you find that your company name is not available as a domain name- someone else has already snapped it up. No t to worry! You can register a name related in some way to your company - maybe something like www.mycoolproduct.com. Remember how the name on your checking account will be the name on your merchant account? Banks like to see the web site name match the merchant account name. If your domain name, www.mycoolproduct.com doesnít match your account name of My Great Company, all you need to do is add that statement to your order form or shopping cart: Your credit card will be charged by My Great Company.

If your domain name is different from your company name, you can create awareness by splashing your company name all over your site. Of course it will be on the home page, but including your company name on every page of your web site encourages your customers to remember you.

So make life easy for yourself and simplify the tasks on your to-do list. When youíre deciding on your company name, see if itís available as a domain name. You can check to see if itís available here: http://www.aiswebhosting.com/regdomain.htm?co1866xhome . Once you find a domain name you want to keep, register it before someone else finds it! You can then open your checking account and merchant account when youíre ready.

About the author: Karen LaVoy, eBusiness Consultant for AIS Media, writes on topics important to small business owners. Email her at karen@aismedia.com with your concerns about establishing your online business. AIS Media, www.aismedia.com, provides web design, web hosting, and e-commerce.

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