For the small business owner who has either done without credit cards for his or her customers or is about to open a new business, having that option in play for consumers is important.

As more and more shoppers look to get by in today’s challenging economy, having the credit card option available is important to many of them. Even though studies indicate more Americans are trying to lessen their credit card debts, many still look for businesses that accept the plastic in order to make a purchase.

So, what happens to the small businessman or woman who wants to offer that option, yet has a history of bad credit? Do they stand the chance of losing out on potential business because of this?

If you find yourself in this position, there are options available to you in order to get a merchant account. Among them:

* Do your homework – It is important before search for a merchant account provider that you detail your credit history, be able to explain why you have a credit issue (never lie about the reasoning behind this), and be ready to detail why your small business needs the credit card option. Most importantly, make sure you can prove to a bank or other loan provider that you can meet all the requirements of handling a merchant account;

* Take time to search – Once you have your own information ready to go, search for somewhere between 4 to 6 companies that will work with business owners who have bad credit. While you can look for more than 4 to 6, do that range at minimum, allowing you to be able to compare and contrast companies. In many cases, best to bypass banks, as they tend to deny business owners an account when their credit history is less than excellent. When searching for companies, make sure you review their own history, financial stability, and any customer service matters such as complaints;

* Know the fees and services – Just like you should review any business agreement you consider going into, make sure with each merchant account provider that you assess their fees, look for any hidden charges, terms of contract, etc. Given the recent recession, banks and other monetary providers have stiffened the terms of their contracts to get merchant accounts, loans to open a small business, etc. Keep in mind that each merchant account provider can charge various processing costs and different amounts in order to set up an account, including the needed equipment;

* Don’t get frustrated – You may find the going tough in landing a merchant account when your credit is bad, but don’t give up. In the event you are rejected by one or more companies, keep looking. While companies do not want to take a lot of risks, they also make money when they set up merchant accounts, so sooner or later you will find one who will work with you;

* Tout your good financial history – While getting a merchant account with a shaky credit history is daunting, make sure you note your positive financial background. Always remember that the longer you have been running a business the better. While your personal credit certainly comes into play, those reviewing your business background can’t overlook the fact you have a decent business past. If you have solid cash reserves, this can also help you despite your bad credit past.

Not having a merchant account option for your customers puts you one step behind the competition, so consider the ramifications.

If you are thinking about adding a merchant account despite your negative credit history, more credit to you.

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