Can You Have Multiple Merchant Accounts?

Multiple Merchant Accounts

A merchant account is a type of bank account that enables you to accept and process payments from your customers via credit or debit cards. You can have multiple merchant accounts with different processors and banks.

But like everything, there are pros and cons to consider before jumping in. This guide will discuss these factors so you can decide whether having multiple merchant accounts is right for you.

The Pros of Having Multiple Merchant Accounts

What can you stand to gain from owning multiple merchant accounts? Here's a quick rundown.

Better Management of Volume Caps

Most merchant account providers enforce volume caps. This means they have maximum transaction limits per month. If your business is growing rapidly, these caps could restrict your ability to take payments.

With multiple merchant accounts, you can distribute your transactions across various accounts, effectively increasing your total volume cap. Even during peak sales periods, your business will operate smoothly.

Risk Distribution

Having multiple merchant accounts with different providers minimises your reliance on one provider. Suppose one of your accounts faces unexpected issues, such as a technical glitch or service suspension.

With multiple merchant accounts, you can swiftly reroute your transactions through another active account. This ensures a continuous sales operation, preventing potential loss and maintaining a consistent customer experience.

Catering to Diverse Customer Preferences

Not all merchant accounts support the same payment methods. However, customers often have favourite payment methods based on rewards, loyalty points, or personal convenience.

Holding multiple merchant accounts allows you to accommodate a broader range of card types, satisfying more customers. It can enhance your service quality and increase your customer base.

Different Accounts for Different Business Locations

For franchises with multiple locations, each outlet can have its own dedicated merchant account. You can keep separate transaction records for each location, making it easier to track sales. The ability to see the financial status of individual outlets aids in performance evaluations and strategic planning.

Note

Looking to open a merchant account? Whether it's your first or your fifth, it can't hurt to read our guide on how to open a merchant account in seven steps.

The Cons of Having Multiple Merchant Accounts

It's not a bulletproof approach, however. Having multiple merchant accounts can cause some unique hurdles.

Increased Complexity

Holding multiple merchant accounts introduces an additional layer of complexity to your business operations. Each account requires separate record-keeping, reconciliation of statements, and monitoring for fraudulent activities. Managing multiple accounts can mean extra resources and training for your team, increasing the administrative burden.

Cost Implications

Each account could come with separate account fees, terminal rental fees, and other transaction-related costs. These expenses can add up and eat into your profit margins. Managing multiple accounts also requires additional resources, such as staff time and software solutions, which can impact operational costs.

Greater Chance of Fraud

As the number of your merchant accounts increases, so does the potential risk of fraudulent activity. Multiple accounts mean multiple points of access for potential fraudsters. Therefore, having several accounts necessitates more robust and vigilant fraud management systems, which could increase your operational costs and demand additional resources.

Extra Time for Account Setup and Maintenance

Each merchant account requires time and effort for setup, not to mention ongoing maintenance. The more accounts you have, the more time your team will need to dedicate to these tasks. This time might be better spent focusing on core business activities, like improving customer service, merchandising, or strategising for business growth.

Note

If these cons are sounding a bit too con-like, you could always consider a business account instead of a merchant account. There are some differences!

Verdict

Merchant accounts are a type of bank account you can use to accept credit payments online, over the phone, or on location with a credit card machine.

While having multiple merchant accounts can offer advantages such as risk diversification and better management of volume caps, it also presents drawbacks. These include increased administrative complexity and the potential for higher costs.

Careful evaluation of costs and benefits is essential to determine if the advantages outweigh the expenses of maintaining multiple merchant accounts for your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a merchant account?
A merchant account is a specialised bank account that allows funds from card-based transactions to be deposited into your business’s account. It acts as an intermediary between your business, the payment gateway, and the customer’s bank.
Can I use different merchant accounts for online and in-store transactions?
Yes, using different merchant accounts for online and in-store transactions is a common practice. Separating transactions this way can make tracking and managing sales easier.
How many merchant accounts can I have?
There’s no strict limit on the number of merchant accounts you can have. Many businesses find it beneficial to have multiple accounts to cater to different currencies, payment methods, or business segments.
Written by:
Richard has more than 20 years of experience in business operations, computer science and full-stack development roles. A graduate in Computer Science and former IT support manager at Samsung, Richard has taught coding courses and developed software for both private businesses and state organisations. A prolific author in B2B and B2C tech, Richard’s work has been published on sites such as TechRadar Pro, ITProPortal and Tom’s Guide.