When should I get my own "Online Merchant Account" and when should I use an "Online Credit Card Processing Service"?
Let's look at the advantages and disadvantages of using an "Online Credit Card Processing Service"...
The advantages are that you simply link your products to the validation service who then accepts credit card payment on your behalf. They check the card, process the card and send you a monthly payment for the amount you are owed. Bingo! Your own e-commerce solution!
The main disadvantage is that you will pay for the service. Costs vary, but usually the credit card processor has to make a profit and so charges you a few extra percentage points on the transaction in comparison to having your own online merchant account.
Perhaps the best way to look at using a processing service is to see them as a stepping stone for your business. Initially you will pay more *per order* but with no setup fees. Then, if your business is a success, you will pay a large setup fee for your own online merchant account, but then pay less per order.