Many merchant account providers (MAPs) refuse accounts to start-up firms or firms and individuals with bad credit histories. Some MAPs will not accept high-risk accounts, a term that usually encompasses adult sites, online casinos, and sites operated by firms outside the MAP's own nation. Others refuse to process any transactions that originate on the Internet -- even from their own existing brick-and-mortar clients -- or may require that you create a separate merchant account to process orders that are not taken face-to-face but are received by mail, phone, or via the Internet.

If you've had trouble finding a MAP that will accept Internet business, have no fear; there are hundreds of MAPs out there willing to establish merchant accounts for Internet businesses, and more are joining the market all the time. Please refer to our profiles of merchant account providers for information about MAPs that may be able to meet your needs.

Identify the Different MAPs: Banks vs. ISOs
MAPs are generally either banks or independent service organizations (ISOs). Banks offer greater security and stability but are picky about their clients and generally charge higher fees. ISOs are more tolerant of high-risk accounts but are not monitored and regulated to the same extent as banks, so they may be less dependable. Be especially cautious about ISOs that do not require you to open a merchant account. Many of these services offer to process your orders through a merchant account in their name, not yours. It may be difficult to gain access to your money if there are any disputes between you and the ISO.

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