Helpful Articles - Vacation Rental Management Resource Center

The Guide to Accepting Credit Cards for Vacation Rental Owners - Part 3

Copyright 2017

Part 3: What is a Merchant Account?

This is the third part of a five part series providing helpful information to vacation rental owners about accepting credit cards. In this part we'll explain common credit card terminology and outline the requirements for accepting credit cards.

By now you've seen why it's important to accept credit cards for your vacation home. But before diving into the process of getting ready to accept them, it's important to take a moment to look at the requirements and costs involved in providing card services, and point out a few caveats that the vacation owner should be aware of. Some helpful information can go a long way to curtail surprises down the road and make sure your experience is smooth and productive!

Before we continue, let's define a few terms specific to the credit card industry to help us along the way.

Card Holder

The card holder is the traveler or guest that owns a credit card.


The merchant is the person or business that accepts credit cards; in our case this is the vacation property owner. Retail stores, restaurants, vendors - anyone who accepts credit cards from the public is called a merchant.

Merchant Account

A merchant account is a commercial bank account established specifically for the purpose of accepting credit card payments. Once the merchant charges a guest's credit card, the payment is deposited into the merchant's account. The money is then transferred via direct deposit from the merchant account to a bank account specified by the vacation property owner, such as their personal checking account.

Now that we have the basic terminology defined, let's address the requirements to accept credit cards. As you know, consumers have confidence and security in owners that accept credit cards, which results in more bookings for you. It's important that credit card companies such as Visa make sure consumers have a high level of confidence using their cards, and Merchant Account Providers (companies that issue merchant accounts which enable you to accept credit cards) require a credit check and a some personal information to make sure the merchant (the person accepting credit cards from the public) is legitimate.

Once you're approved for a merchant account, you're established as a credible and legitimate business with the credit card companies, and you can pass those assurances onto your guests and prospective guests. You'll see increased bookings from the increased confidence and securities perceived by guests, as well as enjoy the other benefits talked about in Part 2, like last-minute booking.

Continue to Part 4

Part 4: The Costs of Accepting Credit Cards

How to Contribute
Do you have ideas and experience you'd like to share with the vacation rental by owner community? If you'd like to contribute by writing a helpful and informative article to be added to the do it yourself vacation rental resources section, please Contact Us.

©Copyright 2017 This article may not be altered, copied, duplicated, or distributed in any way without express written consent by