An online merchant account allows you to accept credit card payments from customers over the Web. Unlike a standard merchant account, you don't need the credit card or user present to authorize a payment. You have a number of options for setting up an online merchant account—after applying you could be ready to accept credit cards over the Web in just a few days.
Create an online merchant account with PayPal as one option for accepting payments online. If you don't want to pay an upfront fee and need a quick, simple solution, PayPal's Website Payments Standard option allows you to set up an account for free but you do have to pay transaction fees. Set up a shopping cart on your website using a straightforward process. You can also sign up for the Website Payments Pro service, which requires a monthly payment and allows you to accept payments directly from your website instead of using PayPal's services.
Use Google Checkout as another alternative for setting up an online merchant account. Google Checkout is similar to PayPal in that you don't have to pay an upfront fee and it's easy to integrate a shopping cart into your existing website. Google has a Payment Guarantee service that pays you even if the customer disputes the online payment.
Establish an online merchant account through Authorize.Net, a popular merchant services provider. Authorize.Net has an online merchant account option for businesses that want to sell using a website. You can accept everything from credit cards to gift cards. When you sign up with this service you have to pay an upfront and regular monthly fee in addition to transaction fees, but you can receive your funds more quickly compared with other services, such as PayPal and Google Checkout, and the merchant account is Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insured.