A merchant account number for credit cards is part of a package that enables your business to take payments by processing credit card transactions. The merchant number ensures that your merchant services company will apply the payments you process through your credit card terminal to the right account. The number appears on each credit card receipt that you provide for your customers, enabling them to trace and identify the transaction if any difficulty occurs.

Choosing Merchant Services Company

Many financial institutions compete for the opportunity to be your merchant services company. You can start choosing among them on the basis of price. Fees vary considerably, and they include charges per item, charges per month and percentage fees on your total sales volume. Evaluate whether your business makes a larger number of small sales or a smaller number of large sales, and pick a merchant service company that offers a good value for your business' particular sales patterns. Before settling on a company, consider other variables that may affect your decision, such as whether a company requires an extended contract, and whether you might just find it simplest to work with your own bank even if it is more expensive than some other options.

Setting Up Your Account

After you contact the company you have decided to use, they will set up an appointment for you to see a representative. They will bring you an application. Fill out the paperwork they provide and submit any additional support materials they require, such as a blank voided check or permission for a credit check or criminal background check.

Receiving Your Account Information

Once the financial institution has approved your application, they will either send a representative to help you set up your system, or send the materials to you. Your merchant account number will appear on the introductory materials you receive. You will also find it on the receipts you print and on your monthly statements. Contact the company's help line if you have any questions or concerns.