Merchant Services: Everything Freelancers Need to Know

How do you get paid as a freelancer? It's an important question, and one that merchant services companies come in to provide an answer.

"Did I ever get paid for that?"

"Did I send over that invoice?"

"Oh sorry, I don't have any cash."

Are any of these sounding familiar?

If you're one the thousands of workers making a living through freelancing, you've probably had one of these moments. Maybe it was you asking yourself or you heard it from a potential client.

Merchant services can help you manage your freelance related financials, with everything from collecting payments to technology setup. 

Keep reading to understand exactly what are merchant services and how you can use the package to make the most of your freelancing career. 


What Are Merchant Services?


When people think of freelancers, they often think of writers and photographers, but you can consider yourself a freelancer if you run a small online shop or even if you nanny in the community.

Think of merchant services as a package. Essentially, different platforms and financial institutions offer a variety of different payment solutions to keep your finances organized.

Everything from software to help you accept payments to specific products to integrate online shops is available. 


Why Do You Need Merchant Services?


Merchant services are not only a way to stay organized, but they also provide a safety aspect. 

When a client gives their credit card information, the payment from their bank is almost instantaneously transferred to your bank, and a lot of personal information has the chance to be revealed during this time.

Merchant services provide a safety net or protection during this transaction so that not only you but also your clients are protected. 

"But what if I only accept cash?" you might ask. 

Research has shown that most people prefer to pay with their credit cards. Even if you've got a stall at a local farmer's market, odds are that most people, especially younger generations, are more likely to buy if you offer cashless payments.

Long story short, you should be accepting most types of payment! You'll increase your revenue and your customer base. 


What Do Merchant Services Do Exactly?


  1. Credit and Debit Card Processing: Merchant services provide the technology and software to accept credit and debit card payments from clients. They also protect the data of both your business accounts and your clients' accounts.
  2. Online Payments in All Currencies: If you want to sell anything online, not only do you need extra payment security and technology, but you also need to be able to accept all types of payment. Merchant services provide a payment gateway that encrypts data to your merchant account. 
  3. Virtual Terminal: A virtual terminal allows you to accept credit card payments with a computer instead of a credit card machine. This is vital for businesses that accept telephone or mail-order sales.
  4. Check Payments: No more waiting around for days to see if the check is actually cashed. With the proper merchant services, you'll be able to move money from a client's account to yours in a matter of minutes. 
  5. Sale System Data: One of the most valuable parts of joining a merchant services platform is that you'll have access to your sales data in one, easy to use place. You'll learn where most of your customers are from and be able to see if there are any purchasing patterns. Make sure that whatever system you use allows you a free trial or a money-back test run so that you get the most out of the platform. Additionally, find a merchant services provider that has great customer services. It's worth its weight in gold!
  6. Customer Retention: Some providers offer support for customer retention, such as loyalty programs or gift card services. These are helpful to keep your customers returning, but they do require special technology to use, so make sure your merchant services provider has this.
  7. Cash-Advance Loans: Many merchant services providers also have cash advance or loan options. As your business grows, you may need to bring on staff, purchase new equipment, or invest in a new workspace. Working with a merchant service provider that offers loans can be valuable for your business.


Best Merchant Service Platforms


If you are now wondering which are the best merchant service platforms to use, there are many you can check out:

  1. Your Funding Tree: One of the best online business services is Your Funding Tree. They have multi-layered protection for your business and will set you up to work with the platform Clover, an industry leader. The team at Your Funding Tree will help you choose a processing partner so that you can spend more time working on building a business.
  2. Host Merchant Services: This provider is ideal for freelancers who have a high monthly income and are looking for things like offshore merchant accounts. The Better Business Bureau gives them an A+.
  3. PaymentCloud: PaymentCloud specializes in working with high-risk businesses. One perk of PaymentCloud is that they offer a virtual terminal in which invoices can be generated and paid. Prices are based on each merchant's history and business type.
  4. Fattmerchant: Fattmerchant is ideal for those looking for online shopping and billing as well as Quickbooks integration. They offer subscription-based pricing and have a dashboard that makes it easy to keep track of who still needs to pay you.
  5. Payment Depot: Payment Depot has a reputation for great customer service. They offer support for a wide variety of industries and are a subscription-based model.
  6. National Processing: National Processing is another merchant service with a great reputation for customer service and transparency. Regarding credit card processing, they offer in-person card, Keyed-in card info, and eCommerce options.
  7. Dharma Merchant Services: If you want to know how much you'll pay going into the service, Dharma is for you. They clearly list all of their prices online and they also have a reputation for high-quality and personalized customer service.


Ready to Get Started?


Now that you know the answer to the question, "what are merchant services?" you'll be able to better grasp how to take your business to the next level. 

Now is the time to invest in yourself as a freelancer and business owner! 

Be sure to keep researching to make the right choice in merchant services for yourself and your business.

Alexis Davis is a staff writer for She covers social media and other news affecting digital writers and entrepreneurs.