All about being a credit card processing reseller

Reselling merchant accounts can be a tricky business. However, if you’re focusing on doing eCommerce, it can be simplified. The following thread will all apply to eCommerce accounts specifically.

BECOMING A RESELLER - Becoming a reseller (also known as an ISO - Independant Sales Organization) isn’t very hard. The two main ways are to sign up directly with a processing bank or to sign up through an MSP (Member Service Provider). An MSP is a company (or it can even be just one person) who pays a processing bank a large sum of money, usually $10,000 per year, to have a special relationship with them. The perks of being an MSP is that you get better buy rates and extra support (plus more). Some processing banks make you go through an MSP as they do not directly sign up ISOs. How you find an MSP or a bank won’t be discussed here (I can provide some info if requested). Once you find a bank or MSP with a suitable program (discussed below) you’ll sign an agreement with them outlining each others’ responsibilities and rates, etc. You then should be provided with the necessary paperwork and tools to sign up new merchants.

HOW IT WORKS - As a reseller, you’ll get a “buy rate” which you can mark up to whatever rate you want to sell your services for. In other words, it’s your cost. For example, if your buy rate is 2.00% + 20¢, you can resell it to your customers at 2.25% + 25¢. So, if your merchant gets a Visa sale for $100 they’ll pay $2.25 to the processing bank. Of that $2.25, you’ll get 30¢ (.25% of the $100 plus the extra 5¢). That may not sound like a lot, but if they crank out $10,000 with 35 transactions in one month, you’ll make $26.75 for doing nothing. Get a few merchants under your belt and now you’ve got a nice recurring revenue stream. Want to make more money? You can also make set fees each month off of the monthly statement they receive and more.

YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES - To sign up a merchant is the only real work a reseller needs to do. Your primary responsibilitiesare to explain how a merchant account works and what its costs are, have them complete the necessary paperwork, assist the bank/MSP in account set up if necessary, and provide the new merchant with their necessary account information. The requirements for setting up a new merchant account vary from processor to processor but they all are pretty similiar. The hardest part here is just making sure you provide the bank/MSP with the proper information they need to set up the account. Usually they’ll require (in addition to their paperwork): a voided business check, a copy of a business license (or two), and a (semi)complete website that they can review. You will also need to know what kinds of accounts cannot be set up (porn, guns, etc…) and which are restricted (electronic sales, subscriptions). eCommerce accounts are generally on the trickier side to set up because processing banks are still a little gunshy about the Internet. You will need to have your ducks in a row to set up an account but don’t be intimidated. eCommerce accounts are set up everyday.

SUITABLE PROGRAM - Just like accepting credit cards means shopping around for good rates, so does being a reseller. How programs are set up can vary so I’ll just cover the main points.

  1. Buy Rate - Obviously the rates you are offered is key because the lower they are, the easier it is for you to be competitive and the more you can make on your merchant’s sales. A good buy rate for eCommerce is 2.00% + 20¢. That would be a killer buy rate so don’t expect to see those numbers thrown at you often. But, use that as your goal for comparing rates.

  2. Processing statements - You should make money off of your merchant’s processing statements. A buy rate of $5 a month is the highest you should acceptr. Most merchant statements run the merchant $10 per month so if you get a buy rate of $5 and charge your merchant $10 for the statement, that’s an easy $5 a month guaranteed. Even if they don;t process a dime.

  3. Monthly Minimum - Ideally you should not be required to carry a monthly minimum. This is a fee that is charged if a merchant does not process enough volume during a month. Basically if a merchant doesn’t process enough to generate $10 in fees (this is calculated from their percentage rate only) they are charged either the whole monthly minimum in addition to their processing fees. Or, they are charged the difference between their monthly minimum and their processing fees. You want to be able to charge whatever minimum you want. This way you can either not have one and be competitive, or charge one and guarantee yourself some $$$$ (you actually get to keep the whole minimum if it is charged. You don’t have to give one penny to the bank/MSP).

  4. Annual/Membership Fees - These are kinda uncool but are definitely viable forms of revenue. Basically, every year a merchant is up and running with their merchant account, they pay you a set fee. Just like the minimum fee, you get 100%of it. No sharing with the bank/MSP.

  5. Other Fees - You shouldn’t be charged setup fees. If they’re charging you to setup an account it’s pretty uncool. You’re doing them a favor by bringing them an account (mainly applies to reselling MSPs). Of course you can charge set up fees if you want to.

EQUIPMENT/GATEWAYS - Use whatever you want. But if you resell someone like, you can make money from their gateway also. See their site for more info on this

There’s a lot more to say, but take it from me, as a reseller myself, it’s not that hard and it’s easy money. I mean, you sit on your a$$ and your customers make you money. It’s not a bad deal.

If there’s something anyone would like me to elaborate on, just say so and I’ll do my best to answer. If I missed anything, feel free to point it out to me. But remember, this is a generalization of Ecommerce accounts. The world ofcredit card processing as a whole is bigger then this!

Wow :slight_smile:


I do not completely agree with the above. You have put ISO/MSP out of context, here is the definition:

ISO (independent sales organization)

A firm or organization that is registered with Visa USA to provide merchants with merchant services. An ISO needs to be sponsored by an acquiring bank, and pays annual registration fees to Visa USA. The MasterCard equivalent of Visa’s ISO is the MSP or Member Service Provider.

Now, most “resellers” are what we call agents or MLS (Merchant Level Sales) people. If you do get registered & become your own ISO/MSP, then you should get a sponsoring bank and do all the underwriting and take all risk (become the merchant provider). If you do not plan on doing that, which is becoming the full blown deal (like all those companies you list on your other thread), then I would suggest becoming an agent like most other people are, which usually doesn’t cost anything. When I say an agent, you would become an agent for a ISO/MSP. The cost to become an ISO/MSP is like $10K a year!

An ISO/MSP must have a sponsoring bank, known as member bank or acquirer. Now, some acquirers are offering agent programs, which they would be the ISO/MSP as well, like Chase, Wells, etc.

In terms of “buy rate” as you have mentioned, that is one way to do it and another is to split the profit above actual Interchange cost with your ISO/MSP. When I say Interchange, the fees Visa & MC charge EVERY company in the world. That way you are getting a piece of the pie from actual cost, no one can get it cheaper than Interchange.

You also mentioned that MSP is the real deal and ISO isn’t, well they are the same thing, just one represents Visa and the other represents MC.

The best place I can refer to for anyone that is wanting to get into this wonderful industry is go to It is the place to be for anything you want to learn!

Curtis Stevens

1 Like

That may have been how the terminology started, but in everyday use sales agents/companies that don’t pay their $10,000 are called ISO’s and the ones that do are called MSP’s. This is the standard terminology of all of the credit card processing companies and banks we deal with on any level (and we deal with a lot).

The terminology should stay and not change as you can’t do that for an industry as it will just create confusion.

If this is true, then why are "MSP"s as you call it, required to state their relationship on their site, such as XXXX is a registered ISO/MSP for HSBC Bank USA, Buffalo, NY. Member FDIC.

To me, that backs up what I said right?


I didn’t say I/we changed the terminology. I just said this is the terminology my company and all of the other companies/banks have been using. It’s been consistant across all companies. Now we all may be using it incorrectly, but since it’s how business gets done, who’s to argue?

I have no idea what you’re getting at.

Visa & MC’s own requirements contradict what you are saying. The providers must state who they are an ISO/MSP for and if you are saying that providers are only MSP’s and not ISO’s, then why does visa & mc require the providers to state that they are both ISO/MSP’s then? It just contradicts what you are saying.

I’m talking about the terminology that people are using. I’m talking about everyday parlance. How else can I say that and have you understand?

And regardless, those who register with Visa/MC are the ones who most sales agents resell through. That was the point. If you want to argue semantics, knock yourself out.

At the risk of entering what appears to be a verbal foray - which is not my purpose in this post! - I’ll just clarify that ISO/MSP is one and the same thing.

ISO is Visa’s term for a registered merchant provider and it stands for Independent Sales Organization.

MSP is MasterCard’s term for the very same thing and it stands for Member Service Provider.

An Agent - also called an MLS or Reseller or “loosely” and rather incorrectly labeled as an ISO by some ISO/MSP’s - works for a registered ISO/MSP who is turn sponsored by a Member Bank.

It doesn’t cost anything to become an Agent. There are numerous ISO/MSP’s that you can work with that have great programs that you can resell to your clients.

To become a registered ISO/MSP, the $10,000 registration cost is just the tip of the iceberg. I can tell you from first hand experience having gone through the process that this is the smallest of the costs that you will encounter.

To become an ISO/MSP, you would need to also sign agreements with Visa, MasterCard as well as a sponsoring Member Bank and more than likely one or more front-end and back-end settlement networks.

In reality, unless you are 100% focused on building a substantial merchant processing organization as a business model, being an Agent is your best bet.

With respect to the things to look for in an agent program, many of the fees mentioned - such as Annual Fees, Monthly Minimums and Cancellation Fees - ARE waivable by some ISO/MSP’s so ask around if this is an area of concern.

If you can also get an agent program using an Interchange+ pricing structure instead of a Buy Rate structure, that will also be a major benefit to your bottom line compensation on the portfolio that you build.

Hope this info is helpful!

Thanks for confirming or backing up what I said!


Dear Curtis,

I am putting together a business plan for an ISO/MSP like yourself and was hoping you could help clarify something. Using the below quote from “Stymiee” what would the ISO/MSP be making off of the transaction if the Merchant level sales person is making 30 cents? Additionally, can you clarify the “+ 20cents” A break down of how the $ is split would be awesome!

Quote from Stymiee============
if your buy rate is 2.00% + 20¢, you can resell it to your customers at 2.25% + 25¢. So, if your merchant gets a Visa sale for $100 they’ll pay $2.25 to the processing bank. Of that $2.25, you’ll get 30¢ (.25% of the $100 plus the extra 5¢). ================================


This thread is over 6 years old. Although I applaud your taking the initiative to use the search function you should probably create a new thread with your question.