merchant accounts

A merchant account is just a bank account for a merchant.  Confusion sometimes arises regarding merchant accounts because although it's just a bank account, most banks don't offer them for on-line merchants.  Some banks do, but most just aren't set up for it.  It's typically necessary to first establish an account with a more internet friendly institution.  Funds can then  be transferred into your usual on going business account.

While e-commerce is growing leaps and bounds, merchant accounts are still a mystery to some. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous, usually fly-by-night companies that take advantage of that. It's still possible that a new-comer to e-commerce will pay thousands of dollars for a merchant account, even though they really don't cost anything except sometimes an application fee.

The fees associated with a merchant account are usually processor or gateway fees.  You'll pay a discount rate and per transaction fees just like any other merchant processing credit cards would, along with a set up fee for the gateway software.  The cost is very reasonable if your dealing with a credible company.