What is the fastest way to start accepting credit cards?

In this 5-minute read:

  • Merchant accounts vs online payment services providers
  • Why a traditional processor typically costs less
  • Popular third-party payment solutions and their setup time

Credit card processing is a necessary facet of most businesses. Customers expect to have the ability to pay with their credit card, and if you don’t offer that, they may just take their business elsewhere. 

If you’re looking to get a credit card processing solution set up quickly, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll be discussing popular credit card processing solutions and how much time their setup process takes, including variables that may affect that process. We’ll also discuss some pros and cons of going this route rather than get set up with a traditional processor.

Accept credit card payments on any hardware and get the best software and processing experience with Womply Payments. Tell us about your business and we’ll match you with the perfect payment processor for your needs. 100% transparent pricing, no hidden fees, and industry-leading rates from top processors. Click for more information or sign up for Womply Free!

Merchant accounts vs third party payment services providers

All funds from credit card transactions generally need to go through a merchant bank account before being placed in your business account. You can apply to get your own merchant account set up via a traditional processor or a bank through which to process your credit card payments, or you can choose a third-party online payment provider that has its own large merchant account that your funds would be routed through. 

One difference between having your own merchant account and using a traditional payments processor versus using a third-party payment services provider or “aggregator” is the amount of time it takes to get set up. Traditional merchant accounts can take up to several weeks before you can start processing payments because of their application and underwriting process, whereas most third-party payment services can be set up in around 24-48 hours. However, you will likely pay significantly more for processing if you choose a third-party provider.

Learn more: 3 most common ways to accept credit card payments for your small business

Some disadvantages of using a third-party payments solution

Third-party payments services providers like those listed below are generally quick to get set up, and use simple fee structures that can seem attractive to new small business owners or those who value convenience and simplicity above all else.

However, as we discuss in our article is flat rate processing the cheapest, you will probably pay significantly more for the solutions below than you will with a traditional processor using competitive interchange plus pricing. Up to 20% or more.

In addition, a good processor will offer personalized service, individual pricing (which you may be able to negotiate to get even lower rates), and technological add-ons or value-added hardware and software options that the third-party solutions simply can’t match.

So be sure to do your research and go over the pros and cons with an informed merchant-level services specialist before you decide.

Popular third-party payment solution options and their setup time

Let’s go over a few of the common third-party payment solutions that allow you to accept credit card payments and how long it takes to get set up with each of them. We encourage you not to just base your decision on the time it takes to get set up, though. There are multiple factors to consider when it comes to choosing the best payments solution for your business. 

We present the content below for informational purposes only.

Go deeper: What should I look for in a credit card processor?


Dharma is a third-party merchant account solution. They’ll set up a merchant account for you and allow you to start processing credit cards from your business and online. 

Their solution generally takes 2-3 days to set up, but they also have a “rush” option that you can request to get your credit card processing set up in just one day. 

However, keep in mind that you need to be prepared if you want to get your solution set up quickly. Various factors can cause bumps in the process. 

Items needed to ensure a quick setup:

  • Proof of bank account (voided check pre-printed with your company’s name and address or a signed letter from your financial institution)
  • Proof of entity like a state-issued document with your business information
  • Previous processing statements if you are currently accepting credit cards through another solution

Additional documentation may be requested depending on your business, so try to have as much information ready as possible. 


Paypal can help your business start quickly processing online payments. It is free to get set up and takes just a few minutes to create your Paypal business account. And then to get the payment processing in place may take up to 2 business days. 

If you want to process credit card payments in person, Paypal can now provide you with POS systems like card terminals and mobile card readers. It may take additional time to receive these solutions. 

Items to have ready before you get set up with Paypal:

  • Business bank account and information to deposit funds
  • Type of business structure
  • Depending on your business type, you may need to provide product or service keywords, monthly sales, website, and EIN
  • Customer service contact information for your business


Square is a third-party payment solution that allows you to process credit card payments in-person and online. You can set up your Square account in just a few minutes and start processing online payments that same day. 

One thing to keep in mind: If you plan to order hardware to process in-person payments, try to give yourself at least 10 days for the time it takes to ship the items to you. 

Information to have ready before creating your account:

  • Business email address (Square encourages you to keep personal and business information separate)
  • Business information to verify your account
  • Bank account information
  • Your logo to personalize receipts


Stripe is another third-party payment services provider that has a quick account setup. And in most cases, your account will be approved instantaneously so you can start accepting payments right away. 

If you do require hardware for in-person payments, give yourself a little time to receive the items by mail. 

Information to have on-hand for a quick setup:

  • Product description
  • Business type
  • EIN, tax ID, or SSN
  • Personal information like name and birthday
  • Business information, including official name that appears on your bank statements
  • Bank routing and checking account number
  • Email and a password


Clover is a payment processing solution that allows online and in-person payments. They have an online application that takes about 15 minutes to complete. 

The application is generally approved within minutes of completion so that you can start accepting payments right away. 

Again, you’ll need to give a few days to receive any hardware that you need for processing in-person payments. 

Information needed in the application:

  • Email and password (for new account)
  • Bank account information
  • Business tax information

Womply can help you find the best payment processor for your business

Navigating the world of payment processing can quickly become overwhelming, especially with how many options are out there. 

Womply has direct relationships with several of the nation’s top credit card payment processors and can help your business find the best solution for your needs. We’ll also provide additional tools and resources to turn your transaction data into actionable insights for retaining and growing your customer base. 

Click here to check out our small business loans resources. Learn more, plus get free reputation monitoring and customer insights when you sign up for Womply Free!


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