Reseller vs. Merchant Account

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Some terminology in the world of credit cards and payment processing may sound interchangeable. Many people always throw around financial terms incorrectly without even realizing it. In this instance, let’s consider the terms merchant and reseller.

In a sense, these two individuals are the same. In most cases, a merchant sells products or services they’ve purchased elsewhere to sell to their customers. A reseller buys products to resell, too. However, resellers are usually so named because they outright purchase or contract for the resale rights of a certain program or service. This is typical in the software and web hosting industries. But similarities and differences between resellers and merchants are many and varied.

There are merchant accounts through credit card processing companies and reseller accounts through companies that offer partnerships with individuals and businesses to resell their products or services. And then there’s the merchant account reseller: an individual or entity that contracts with a merchant account services provider such as Bankcard to resell their merchant account services. So, let’s start with the basics.

What is a merchant?

Merchant is another term for an individual or business selling products or services. Merchants source products, typically at wholesale or discounted prices, and sell them to their customers. Merchants have a specific duty to understand their products completely and uphold due diligence regarding these products.

Many kinds of merchants exist, but there have always been a couple of main types:

  • Retailers (the type of merchant explained above)
  • Wholesalers

However, today’s online business landscape has also spawned the rise of the eCommerce merchant.

Merchants can source products or services from anywhere (if the merchandise fulfills the good faith clause). They can sell them anywhere, so long as all sales follow local, state, federal, and international laws.

What do merchants do: eCommerce merchant and retail merchant

The most prevalent merchants today are online merchants and brick-and-mortar merchants. Many merchants today are both.

eCommerce or online merchant

eCommerce merchants sell to customers via online marketplaces, such as eBay, Etsy, and Amazon, or via their website with a shopping cart integration. An eCommerce merchant is also known as an online merchant. It’s important to point out that while the surface activities of an eCommerce merchant and an online reseller look very much the same, there’s a vast difference between these two business owners. An online reseller simply looks for low-priced products and services, sources the products or services they want to sell, then marks up the sales price for consumers to turn a profit. eCommerce merchants have a lot more responsibility than buying and selling wares.

eCommerce merchants must manage store inventory, business financial transactions, product promotion, and brand building.

At the same time, though, conducting business online has never been easier. Plus, the overhead costs of operating an online store compared to a physical location are substantially lower.

In the eyes of merchant account providers, however, both businesses are considered high-risk. An eCommerce merchant has many hoops to jump through before being granted a payment gateway or merchant account. While eCommerce merchants have almost exponential potential to scale their business globally, this is counterbalanced by a much greater risk of fraudulent transactions and chargebacks.

Thankfully, Bankcard specializes in high-risk merchant accounts, including high-risk eCommerce merchant accounts. If you want to scale your eCommerce business internationally, we can help make it happen.

Retail merchants (retailers)

Retailers, or retail merchants, are the in-store counterparts of eCommerce merchants. Retailers often source products from wholesale companies in bulk, mark up the products by the percentage required to generate profit, and then sell these products to in-store customers. A retailer is a middleman between a company that creates a product and the consumers who want that product.

The thing about retail is that it requires new products and a strategy to market those products. Retailers and manufacturers scratch each other’s backs in this respect. Manufacturers need to keep costs low, so they can afford to sell products to wholesalers and retailers for enticing prices. Marketing the product and generating a buzz would eat into any profits the manufacturer might see. Retail merchants, on the other hand, are marketing geniuses who know precisely how to frame an item to find the exact market, price point, and buyer. Apart, these are difficult activities: marketing and manufacturing. But in partnership, the concerted effort between the parties promises that both remain profitable.

Get approved for a high risk merchant account fast!

What is a merchant account?

Merchant accounts allow in-store or online businesses to accept and facilitate electronic transactions. Obtaining a merchant account requires a company to sign up with a merchant account provider. The merchant services provider enables the “communication” between the merchant’s payment gateway, the acquiring bank, and the issuing bank to process payments during a debit card or credit card transaction. While physical stores don’t necessarily need a merchant account (they can accept other physical forms of payment that can’t be used online), eCommerce merchants and online businesses need a merchant services account.

In addition to facilitating merchant payments for Visa, Mastercard, and other processing services, some merchant account providers may offer other products and services in addition to the merchant account for credit card transactions, such as:


  • Hardware and software
  • Payment terminal
  • Point-of-sale (POS) machine


And much more.

What is a reseller?

Resellers can be individuals or businesses. Any business or individual who buys something at one price calculates a profit percentage, marks up the price, and resells the item at a profit is a reseller. So, that sounds a lot like a retail merchant, right? A middleman between a manufacturer and the consumer.

Well, many individuals and entities are considered resellers, including:

  • Distributors
  • Wholesalers
  • Retailers
  • Arbitrageurs

That last one, an arbitrageur (typically used to refer to individuals in the financial sector, like stock market traders), is an individual or business that finds special deals on products that typically sell for much more. They purchase the items at that low price, mark them up just slightly, sell the items either in a physical store or online with WooCommerce integration, and still make money. The price is still well below what consumers are paying elsewhere, and all parties are happy.

But this isn’t the only definition of a reseller in terms of merchant accounts.

What’s a merchant account reseller?

In addition to the definition provided above, a reseller can refer to an individual or business selling another business’s account products or services. The software industry is a popular one for resellers. Professional organizations, payment processors, and merchant services providers also partner with resellers who can:

  • Sell the other party’s product or services as a partner of that organization or business.
  • Purchase reseller rights directly from the organization or business and rebrand the product or service with the individual’s name, logo, and information.

A reseller can be any of the following:

  • An individual, also known as an independent sales agent
  • A subsidiary
  • A partner
  • A technology or hardware provider
  • An independent sales organization

A merchant services provider’s resellers can typically negotiate the contract terms of the merchant accounts they sell and how much they charge for their services. The payment processor reserves the final say over the limits of these privileges.

Benefits of joining a reseller program for a merchant account provider

Owning your own business is a worthy goal. Owning your own business with a built-in market and all the tools you need for success provided upfront—it almost seems too good to be true, right?

Well, reselling merchant services accounts is a tough career to find success in, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider this path, especially if you have the goal-oriented mindset, drive, and ambition to carve out your path in this profession.

Merchant account resellers can enjoy several benefits in addition to the freedom of being their boss, such as:

Little to no overhead costs

Nearly every small business that exists has some associated expense. But merchant services resellers:

  • Don’t need to rent out an office or warehouse space
  • Don’t have to carry any inventory
  • Don’t require any equipment

The lack of overhead expenses minimizes your risk and eliminates the typical vulnerability of business loss.

Offer service to small businesses in your area

While often considered a fulfilling career option, this aspect of reselling merchant account services may not be as readily apparent until you make your first few sales. Small businesses often find obtaining credit difficult, and most consider merchant services out of their league. When you see the joy, you bring to entrepreneurs and other small local businesses, that’s when you’ll understand just how fulfilling a reseller career can be. Who doesn’t want to boost the morale of their local communities?

Earn better than just a living wage

There aren’t many professional careers that offer an income only limited by your ambition to earn it. If you can convince other businesses and individuals why having a merchant account is vital for today’s businesses, you might find that merchant account reseller is one lucrative industry.

Is your curiosity piqued? Good!

Now, while this looks exciting and promising on paper, not all merchant services providers’ reseller or agent programs are created equal.

What are the most important qualities in a merchant account reseller program?

Reliability. That’s the highest quality you should look for in a reseller or agent program. After all, your success depends on the success of the merchant services account provider. Having a solid, reputable merchant accounts provider by your side means you can offer exceptional service to your future clients and rely on those clients to continue seeking your services while sending new business your way.

As long as the program is reputable and reliable, here are some other benefits that are just icing on the cake:

Prompt, timely payments

Some resellers might purchase outright the rights to resell merchant services under their branding. This is great if you have the means to do so. But signing up into a reseller agent program means you’ve always got the support of the merchant service provider to back you up.

So, as an agent, you must be paid for your services. Make sure the company you partner with offers timely, accurate payments. If bonuses are offered, keep track of your sales to know what to expect.

Tools of the trade

And speaking of keeping track, the best merchant account reseller agent programs won’t partner with you and leave you to fend for yourself. A good program will provide you with every necessary reseller tool you need to be successful in your position. Some of these tools include:

  • Business cards
  • Marketing ideas, tools, and resources
  • Company brochures and other literature

When you’re ready to get a signature on your first contract, you’ll be more than prepared to greet the occasion professionally.

Stellar reputation

What’s the first thing most people do before eating at a new place? Visiting a new doctor? Or shopping at a local merchant they’ve never been to?

They research and check out every online review posted about the restaurant, office, or business before reaching out. Now, while online reviews can be bought and paid for, it’s pretty easy to find the real nuggets of truth if you look hard enough. Pay close attention to how the merchant account provider responds to good and bad feedback. Does the provider respond to feedback kindly? Unprofessionally? Or maybe even not at all?

Each type of response says something about the business, its clientele, and its overall reputation in the community. Working with companies that are respected leads to respect for your own company.

Become a Reseller Partner Agent with Bankcard

Join our program now and become a Bankcard Agent or Bankcard Reseller.

Whether you have an established client list or are interested in starting a brand-new career path, Bankcard provides everything you need to become a successful agent or reseller. When you become a partner with us, we can take the wheel and show you the ropes, or we can hand you the keys, a detailed map, and offer our support whenever you call—it’s up to you. Enjoy 4x the profits as a high-risk partner with Bankcard.

Reach out today and speak to one of our payment solutions specialists and learn more.

Having Trouble Getting Approved for a Merchant Account? Get Approved for a High Risk Merchant Account with BankCard Services