Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started FAQs

What you need to know about accepting MasterCard cards.

For new or prospective merchants.

Q: What is a merchant?

A: A merchant is an entity that contracts with an acquirer or member bank to accept card payments for goods or services provided.

Q: What is the credit/debit business and how does it work?

A: Merchants can accept a MasterCard credit card or a MasterCard debit card. A credit product allows the consumer to make purchases based on an established line of credit received by their card issuing bank. The credit limit is the spending amount established by the issuing bank based on a consumer credit profile. A debit product allows the consumer to make a purchase based on funds available in their bank account. Debit purchases are drawn directly from the consumer's bank account and show up directly on the consumer's monthly bank statement.

Learn More About How Transactions Work

Q: How do I begin accepting MasterCard cards?

A: It's easy to get started! The first step in accepting MasterCard cards is to contact an acquirer or a member services provider to apply for a merchant account with a member bank or one of its agents known as a member service provider (MSP). MSPs are third parties contracted by some MasterCard Worldwide member banks to handle merchant services on their behalf and may function as a sales agent for an acquirer.

Select Your Payment Provider

Q: What is an acquirer? And why do I need one?

A: Also referred to as a merchant bank, an acquirer is a financial institution licensed by MasterCard to help a merchant accept MasterCard cards. The acquirer is set up to connect and process transactions over the MasterCard network. Acquirers either sell their processing services directly to merchants or hire agents to sell on their behalf. These agents must be registered with MasterCard and clearly identify the MasterCard member they represent on their business cards and stationery. The merchant agreement should also have the name of the bank clearly identified. View a list of acquirers..

Q: How long does it take before I can start accepting MasterCard cards?

A: Usually, you can get set-up to accept MasterCard in less than a month

Q: Will I incur any cost?

A: The costs you will incur will be quoted to you by the acquirer/payment facilitator.

Q: What is an Interchange Rate?

A: MasterCard interchange rates are established by MasterCard, and are fees paid by acquirers to card issuers on purchase transactions conducted on MasterCard cards. Interchange fees are only one of many cost components included in a Merchant Discount Rate, and are a necessary and efficient method by which MasterCard maintains a vibrant payments network.

Learn More About MasterCard Interchange Rates

Q: What are the benefits of accepting MasterCard?

A: Whether you're a new business or an established enterprise, card acceptance will likely have a positive impact on your bottom line: See list of benefits.

Increased Sales

Consumers spend more when they're not constrained by cash on hand. You may see increased purchases of higher-margin products as well as specialty items. And customers may visit your store more often.

Customer Satisfaction

Your customers will appreciate the fact that you allow them the flexibility to pay the way they want to pay - including by credit or debit card. Happier customers are more loyal customers.

Speed of Checkout

You'll speed your customers through checkout with rapid electronic payment. No more counting change or waiting while customers write checks.

Improved Efficiency

Card transactions today are conducted electronically. These paperless payments can save you time and money by minimizing cash handling and payment reconciliation, giving you more time to do more important things - like managing and growing your business.


With lower volumes of cash, you're less vulnerable to theft and pilfering.

Currency Conversion

Electronic payments on MasterCard and Maestro-branded cards are settled in the currency in which you sell your goods and services, regardless of where the cardholder is from. If you sell in U.S. or Canadian dollars, that's how you'll be paid.

Q: Are there any programs that will help to grow my business?

A: Depending on the type of merchant business you run, MasterCard has many programs designed to grow your business.

Find Programs Tailored for Your Business

Q: Who do I call if I have a problem with my terminals?

A: Contact the acquirer that set you up to accept MasterCard.

Q: What type of card programs does MasterCard offer?

A: MasterCard provides innovative payment solutions to consumers and companies around the world.

Learn More About Our Family of Brands

Q: What is a payment facilitator? What is the difference between an acquirer and a payment facilitator

A: An acquirer is the bank or financial institution that processes credit and or debit card payments for a merchant. A payment facilitator is a merchant of record who facilitates transactions on behalf of a sub-merchant. View a list of payment facilitators in your area.

Q: Did you know the Cost of managing cash?

A: Handling cash is costly: Review the Cost of Cash.

Q: What do I need to do to start accepting payment cards?

A: Find what you will need to start accepting electronic payments.

Q: How does the transaction process work?

A: Let's review the transaction process..