Credit card companies have a vested interest in helping merchants accept credit cards as a form of payment – and MasterCard is no exception.
In addition to Visa and American Express, MasterCard is among the three most widely used credit cards. As a small business retailer or service provider, you can't even think about doing business without MasterCard processing and the good news is that setup is simple and straightforward.
But before you incorporate MasterCard into your POS solution, it's important to understand everything that is involved in a partnership with MasterCard. Although MasterCard's network and procedures are similar to other major credit card companies, a little due diligence is required to understand how MasterCard deals with its merchants. Whether you're a seasoned MasterCard veteran or new to the process, here are a few things to consider about accepting MasterCard as a form of payment at your business.
Like other credit card companies, MasterCard throws around a couple of terms that are unfamiliar to most business owners: Acquirers and issuers. An "acquirer" (or merchant bank) is a financial institution that has been licensed by MasterCard to help merchants accept MasterCard payments. For a fee, acquirers process merchant payments across the MasterCard network, and assist merchants in setting up the hardware and online channels that are necessary to receive payments for consumers. "Issuers", on the other hand, are the financial institutions or businesses that issue MasterCards to consumers.
The first step in the setup process is to register with MasterCard's Referral Program. This enables acquirers to contact you about getting started as a MasterCard merchant. You can also log in to a system that lets you identify acquirers who meet your specifications and requirements. Once you have identified an acquirer, they will help you apply for a Merchant Account and get you set up with the hardware you need to begin accepting MasterCard payments.
The term that describes the fees you'll pay for accepting MasterCard payments is called the "merchant discount rate". The average MasterCard discount rate is 1.9% of all transactions. If you don't currently accept any credit cards, you will need to either purchase or lease hardware for scanning credit cards and recording MasterCard purchases. Acquirers often sell or lease this equipment directly in case you don't already have the necessary equipment.