Credit Card Processing Guide

Answer your credit card processing questions using our ultimate guide to payment processing,
merchant services and more for small business owners.


Credit card processing is a basic need for almost every business today and no matter what you read there is no way to avoid the costs associated with payment processing. The more informed you are about picking your payments partner, the better off you and your business will be.

As a business owner, how do you select a merchant service provider that won’t make accepting credit cards cost prohibitive, but will also be available to help when you need it most? We are going to cover everything you need to know about credit card processing — we’ll help you get the most bang for your buck.

Table of Contents

Five Frequently Asked Questions About Accepting Payments

We understand that accepting payments as a small business owner can be tricky, especially credit card and debit card payments. Here are five questions we get asked regularly about credit card processing from small business owners.

1. How do I accept credit card payments?

To accept credit card payments, also known as credit card processing, you need to get set up with a merchant ID from a merchant service provider like TransNational Payments. Next you will need to determine what method of accepting payments works best for your business, such as a point-of-sale system (POS), credit card terminal(s) or mobile payments.

2. How fast are sales deposited?

Typically, the deposit schedule is fast — usually within 24-36 hours of the transaction or in one to two business days, however you want to look at it.

3. What are chargebacks?

Chargebacks happen when customers dispute a charge from your business with their card-issuing bank. When a chargeback occurs, the funds in dispute are held from the merchant while the issues is being resolved.

4. How can I accept EMV chip cards?

EMV chip cards are processed differently than the typical magstripe cards. That said, you need an EMV-enabled reader to accept EMV chip card payments. While this might seem like a hassle, EMV chip cards are much more secure than magstripe cards, often saving your business time and money in the long run.

5. How can I accept mobile payments?

To accept mobile payments like Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay, you need a payments reader equipped with NFC (near field communication). To use a mobile payments app for your credit card processing, we recommend working with a merchant services provider, such as TransNational Payments, who can help set up your business with mobile payment processing.

Make the move today to better credit card payment processing.

Start saving today with our affordable and transparent payment processing rates.

Why Small Business Owners Should Accept Credit Cards

If your business does not accept credit cards today, it is quite possible you are missing out on sales. Customers are carrying cash less and less and tend to value the quick and simple payment process of using credit cards. Below we have listed some of the more common reasons why it makes sense for business to accept credit cards:

Cash Flow Improvement

Credit card transactions are usually deposited within a few business days, while checks can take much longer to clear.

Customer Attraction

Your customers want convenience and a simple experience. If you accept credit cards, your customers will have the best experience possible, which could lead to repeat business and referrals.

Increased Sales

Yes, it is true, customers tend to spend 12-18% more when they pay with a credit card.

Streamlined Operations

Payments technology can help you operate more efficiently. Take for example our mobile payments app, payment gateway or our merchant portal — all have robust reporting and integration features.

Accepting EMV Chip Cards

What is EMV?

EMV is a new payments technology that upgrades traditional magnetic strip cards and processing, vastly improving security to eliminate risks of counterfeit and lost/stolen fraud.EMV stands for “Europay, MasterCard, & Visa” – the technology’s developers.

Small businesses get big benefits when they accept credit cards.

Let's connect you with the credit card solution that's right for your business.

How Does Credit Card Processing Work?

Before we jump into how credit card processing works, let’s take a look at who is involved in a credit card transaction.

Cardholder (aka customer)

The consumer who is using a credit card to make a purchase.


The business accepting credit card payments from the cardholder in return for their goods or services.

Credit Card Networks

A network of issuing banks and acquiring banks that process the payment cards of a specific brand. These brands include: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and others. In addition to providing the backbone for processing the transactions, the card brands serve as the governing body of financial institutions that issue credit cards.

Acquiring Bank

The bank that processes and settles a merchant’s credit and debit card transactions, also known as the merchant bank.

Payment Processor

The entity that manages the transaction process for merchants (think TransNational Payments). Some processors also provide the necessary card reader equipment, as well as customer support and other value-added services.

Issuing Bank

The cardholder’s bank, which is responsible for remitting funds from the cardholder’s account to the acquiring bank for the approved transactions.

The Process:


When a cardholder, your customer, makes a purchase, the merchant’s payment solution sends the credit card transaction data for approval to the acquiring bank/payment processor who then sends that data to the credit card network.

The credit card network requests payment approval from the issuing bank, who reviews the credit card transaction data to make sure the card has not been reported stolen or lost, and that the cardholder has sufficient credit. The issuing bank then lets the credit card network know if the transaction is approved or declined.

The credit card network then communicates that information to the acquiring bank/payment processor who in turn lets the merchant know if the transaction has been approved. This entire process happens in just seconds!


The issuing bank sends funds in the amount of the sale, less their fee, back through the acquiring bank/payment processor, who forwards the funds, less their fee, to the merchant’s bank account.

You don't have to be a tech wizard to accept credit cards.

Our credit card terminals, payment gateways and mobile apps and devices are user-friendly.

Credit Card Processing: A Look Into the Costs

As a merchant you typically only have to directly pay one entity, your processor, who collects the fees and pays both the card networks and brands on your behalf. Payment processing fees are really a combination of three charges.


Interchange fees go directly to the card processing network. Interchange is set by the card networks and isn’t negotiated between the processor and merchant, small and medium-sized businesses don’t need to worry about getting a fair deal when it comes to interchange.


Assessment fees go directly to the card brands.

Processor Value-Add Fees

Processor fees go directly to your merchant services processor, such as TransNational Payments. Credit card processors collect and pay the interchange fees to the card network but they have their own value enhancements and operating costs to cover, so they charge additional fees on top of interchange. TransNational Payments’ value, in addition to the basic payment authorization function, includes: allowing you to accept a broad variety of payment types, providing best-in-class payment security technologies, helping you expand to additional locations and being available 24/7 for in-depth customer support. We also offer additional services in the form of reporting, gift and loyalty programs and ACH services that go well beyond basic transaction services.

Free Rate Review

If you already have a credit card processing account, great, we can use your current credit card processing statement to get a good comparison. If not, no worries, we can help you establish a credit card processing account.

Choose a provider with a transparent pricing structure.

Hidden costs add up quickly. TransNational Payments provides clear credit card processing rates.

Tips to Help You Get Set up for Credit Card Processing

Need to accept credit cards? Here are some tips to help make the process go as smooth as possible, and even end in a good partnership:

1. Check out reviews on a reputable site, such as Google Reviews.

2. If you have a current credit card processing account, have your statement and other business information ready.

3. Have a general idea of what type of value-added services might be useful to you and your business.

4. Return your application quickly, fully completed and signed.

You don't have to be a tech wizard to accept credit cards.

Our credit card terminals, payment gateways and mobile apps and devices are user-friendly.


Merchant Services

Merchant services goes beyond credit card processing and debit card processing. Merchant services includes credit and debit card processing, gift and loyalty programspoint-of-sale systemsfraud prevention, mobile payments, reporting tools and security tools.

Ultimately, merchant service providers support you, the merchant, by providing you the tools and support you need to operate your business.

What Documents Are Needed in Order to Get a Merchant Account?

If you want to accept credit and debit cards at your business or nonprofit, you need a merchant account. Once you’ve decided on a few merchant services providers that you may want to process with, contact them for a free quote.

Our underwriting team at TransNational Payments thoroughly vets your business to reduce the likelihood of paperwork and processing hiccups down the road. This is opposed to some popular third-party credit card processors whose signup processes often seem extremely fast, simple and open to all kinds of businesses … because of the lack of an underwriting process and human oversight of merchant account applications. This could cause merchants account issues later on, like frozen funds and canceled accounts.

As with other credit card processing services and products, the documents that are needed in order to get a merchant account depend on your industry and type of establishment.

If you’ve had a merchant account OR if you’ve accepted credit cards before, the minimum requirements are typically:

  • One copy of a previous credit card processing statement so we can verify business information and create a savings analysis for you
  • A voided check to verify your business banking information
  • A copy of your business’ articles of incorporation (or articles of organization)

If you haven’t had a merchant account before OR if you have never accepted credit cards, then we may request simple information other than a credit card processing statement to calculate your opportunity for credit card processing savings with TransNational Payments.  

Ready to start accepting credit cards?

Our skilled payment experts, installations and customer service teams are ready to help.

How Do Merchant Services Work?

Once you’ve picked the best merchant services provider for your business and you’re ready to get started with a merchant account, you have a few more decisions to make — but don’t worry, we’ll help!

Merchant services is a broad category of payment processing services built for merchants. While credit card processing and debit card processing may jump to mind first, merchant services include affordable online payroll, gift cards, ACH and eChecks, loyalty programs, check services, online credit card processing and more. See all the merchant services TransNational Payments offers!

Your dedicated account manager will recommend the best pricing structure, credit card processing merchant services and products so you can start accepting credits cards online, in-store or on the go.

If you’re located locally, we’ll install and test your credit card processing hardware and software for you. Even if you aren’t local, one of our experts will guide you through any installation or setup with live technical support and expert product guidance over the phone.

Once you’re setup for credit card processing and other merchant services, you can begin experiencing the benefits of accepting credit cards and other electronic payments at your business.

When you combine traditional credit card processing with services like payroll, online timecards or HR software, you’ll save yourself and your staff precious time on tedious tasks so that your team can focus on supporting the new customers and cardholders your business will attract.

Do you have questions about merchant services?

Our friendly payment experts can give you an answer!

What Are the Best Online Payment Processors?

The best online payment processors are established in the credit card processing industry, provide transparent pricing and recommend only the online products and services that meet your businesses’ needs. TransNational Payments easily surpasses that! As an online payment processor, TransNational Payments offers online payment solutions for e-commerce stores, online shopping and keyed in payments on your desktop computer.

How do you find the best online payment processors? Decide what online payment services you need! Not sure where to start? In order to accept online payments or start an e-commerce retail store, most businesses will need a payment gateway, whether you want to take credit card payments or ACH payments (also known as direct deposit or electronic check).

A full-featured payment gateway connects you to a variety of payment gateway services that will help you increase sales, create payment convenience (for both you and your customers) and allow you to better analyze your business performance, down to the location! You can also seamlessly integrate an EMV card reader for quick and easy card-present payments.

After you determine the features and services you’re looking for, find recommendations on online payment processors using a reputable business review site like Capterra, Google Reviews and Better Business Bureau. You can easily search for real merchant feedback on online merchant services providers and confirm that they have the products you need and the quality you expect.

Remember, the best online payment processors will offer payment gateways that at least include: a virtual terminal; recurring billing; online shopping cart; payment link generator; mobile card reader integration; report generation; sales performance tracking; card swipe software; searchable transactions; customizable settings; a customer vault and integration with payment plugins.

Why We're One of The Best Online Payment Processors:

Let us show you the difference.

TransNational Payments has 20 years of experience connecting thousands of businesses to merchant services they need.

What Is E-Commerce Credit Card Processing?

You might recognize e-commerce credit card processing under a different name: online shopping. With our e-commerce credit card processing solutions, you can easily accept credit cards, debit cards, ACH payments and much more online via a secure Internet transaction.

To start offering e-commerce card processing, pick your payment gateway. A payment gateway is the affordable online payment software that allows brick-and-mortar business to take their business online or on the go. A payment gateway securely connects your business’ website or other point-of-sale (point A) to your payment processor or bank (point B), and quickly transfers payments from your customers, vendors or partners from point A to point B.

Luckily, you don’t need to understand the complex technical details of how payment gateways work to offer online shopping, accept MOTO payments, key-in payments and process electronic transactions at your small business! 

Why Use a Payment Gateway?

Accept online payments, EMV cards & NFC payments via mobile device or your favorite browser.

Virtual Terminal

Accept payments electronically

Recurring Billing

Dependable auto-billing features

Online Shopping Chart

Add items & keep browsing

Reporting & Analysis

Generate reports & gain insight

Payment Link Generator

Send invoices & take payment

Customer Vault

Store & access payment details

Open your online store effortlessly.

You don't need to be a tech expert to benefit from a payment gateway.

What Is a Merchant Account?


A merchant account is your unique access to a collection of credit card processing products and services you can use to better your business. Many businesses spanning a wide range of industries are eligible to sign up for a merchant account. To request a merchant account with TransNational Payments or any reputable merchant account provider, you’ll first need to speak with a payment specialist.

From there, an underwriting team will check your business history, credit history, any past merchant account history and other standard identity verification factors, protecting you and your business from any fraudulent signup attempts and ensuring your onboarding process is smooth sailing.

Jump to: What Documents Are Needed in Order to Get a Merchant Account? 

The main thing a merchant account does is allow small business owners to accept credit card payments, whether that’s card-present transactions or card-not-present transactions (like online transactions and MOTO payments). You’ll also gain the ability to accept electronic payments not directly tied to a credit card, like ACH payments (also know as direct deposit, e-checks, electronic fund transfers, etc). TransNational Payments’ mission is to offer you more with your merchant account.

What else can you do with a merchant account?

Run Payroll

We file your taxes; you get unlimited payrolls! Easy online payroll starts at just $30/mo.
First 30 days free.

Use Mobile Payments

Quickly and securely accept chip cards and NFC payments from any smartphone or tablet.
Order your card reader.

Credit Card Processing

Take payments anyway, anywhere including: online, in-store, mobile, MOTO, EMV or NFC.
Get a free quote now.

Cost of a merchant account

A merchant account can also net you significant discounts in other crucial areas of your small business — like payroll management, employee scheduling, HR services, inventory tracking and more — but only when you partner with an inexpensive merchant services provider with fair pricing.

Interchange Plus Pricing is widely considered to be the industry gold standard for merchant accounts because it’s an easy to understand pricing model that is cost-neutral, or demonstrably favorable, to the merchant. Not only does that leave more money in your pocket and increase your cash flow (as credit card sales boost your bottom line), but it also allows you the flexibility to add services as your business needs change with time.

Sign up for a merchant account today!

Our transparent Interchange Plus Pricing cost structure is the industry gold standard.

How to Accept Credit Card Payments Online

Accept credit card payments online with a payment gateway! A payment gateway connects your merchant account to online payment processing software, hardware and other tools for your desktop or browser. Here’s how to accept credit card payments online:

Ask About Online Payment Processing

Whether you need to swipe, key-in cards, accept EMV payments or process checks, it can all be done via your browser from any computer.

  • Recurring Billing
  • Virtual Terminal
  • Swipe Software
  • Customized Settings
  • Reporting

Are you thinking of accepting payments online?

When you contact us, we'll assess your business' needs and goals and connect you with the best solution.

How to Accept Credit Card Payments


If you want to accept credit card payments, you should get started with a merchant account! When you get a free quote on a merchant account with TransNational Payments, one of our payments experts will walk you through our products and services. We’ll match you with the devices or software that will let you accept credit card payments the way that works best for your business. To accept credit card payments, you can use a terminal, mobile payments or an online payment solution. You can also accept (and create) gift cards, rewards points, checks and more. 

You don't have to be a tech wizard to accept credit cards.

Our credit card terminals, payment gateways and mobile apps and devices are user-friendly.

Why Does TransNational Payments Have the Best Rates on Credit Card Processing?

TransNational Payments has the best rates on credit card processing mainly because we offer our merchants Interchange Plus pricing, the gold standard for transparent pricing plans because the rate structure most benefits the merchant. Let us calculate your savings.

Let us show you the difference.

TransNational Payments has two decades of experiencing connecting thousands of businesses with the merchant services they need.

What Is the Best Payment Processor for Honest Pricing?

The best payment processor for honest pricing is a merchant account provider that uses Interchange Plus pricing. As an payments industry leader, TransNational Payments offers Interchange Plus rates.

Are There Any Good Merchant Account Service Providers?


Yes, TransNational Payments is an example of one of the top merchant account service providers. Why? Because we offer a comprehensive collection of merchant account services like:

Credit Card Processing & Debit Card Processing

Our transparent pricing and impeccable customer service make our secure credit card processing that much better than the rest. Browse our credit card processing solutions.

Online Payment Processing for E-Commerce Businesses

We make online payments simple for businesses that need to accept credit cards online. Whether you need to swipe, key-in cards or process checks, it can all be done via your browser from any computer. Browse our online payment processing options.

Mobile Credit Card Processing

Our mobile payment app and devices empower merchants to quickly and securely accept mobile NFC payments and EMV chip cards. Mobile credit card processing iPhone — simple. Mobile credit card processing Android — easy. Browse our mobile payment solutions and take payments mobile.

POS Systems for All Industries

Today there are thousands of POS systems in the market, making it somewhat difficult to know where to start. We make it simple to find a point-of-sale system created for your business and industry type! Get the features you need — browse our POS solutions for small businesses.

Full Service Payroll

Run unlimited payrolls online for just $30/mo (includes 1 employee) + $4 per additional employee. We’ll file your federal, state and local taxes too. Try Small Business Payroll with a 1-month free trial.

Gift Cards & Loyalty Programs

Expand your brand, increase revenue and build up a returning customer base with always-popular gift cards that are easy to reload. Customers can also get better value on every transaction and earn discounts, products and more with loyalty programs. Learn about gift card and loyalty programs.

Don't leave money on the table.

Every day you aren't accepting credit card payments, you're missing out on valuable revenue.

What Happens During a Credit Card Transaction?

The credit card or debit card owner (the cardholder) kicks off the lifecycle of credit card processing.

A cardholder initiates a credit card transaction by presenting their card to a merchant as payment for products or services in the store, or submits their payment information over the phone, online or by mail.

The merchant uses their credit card terminal, mobile payments app and card reader, POS software or payment gateway to accept the cardholder’s form of payment and transmit the details of the transaction to the acquiring bank.

The acquiring bank, also known as the merchant bank, captures the credit card transaction information and directs it to the appropriate credit or debit card network. It’s then onto the cardholder’s issuing bank for the transaction to be approved or declined. The merchant’s acquiring bank is often separate from the merchant services account provider.

Whether it’s a MasterCard transaction or a Visa transaction (or the companies that govern members of the overarching Card Association), the cardholder’s transaction information is then routed between the issuing and acquiring banks through their respective card networks.

The credit card issuer receives the transaction information from the acquiring bank through the MasterCard network (Banknet) or Visa network (VisaNet). The issuer then responds by approving or declining the sale. They’ll check whether the cardholder has a sufficient balance to cover the transaction, that the account is in good standing and validate all transaction information.

The credit card issuer then sends a response code through the appropriate network and over to the acquiring bank.

Once the response code arrives back at the merchant’s terminal, payment gateway, mobile payments or POS software, the transaction information is stored in a batch file until it’s later settled out.

Make the move to a better credit card processing company!


Get the free guide to mobile payments.

Credit card processing doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. Chat with a friendly payments specialist about the best way to accept credit card payments at your business today!