Accepting credit cards online is very important to any business that wants to successfully sell products and services on the web. When businesses started selling online it was thought that relying on credit cards was a bad idea, because it was trying to apply a real world technology to the Internet. Various companies launched e-currencies for example "beenz", but the web-based currencies didn't flourish. The truth is, approximately 10 years on from the people starting to sell on the web, still typing in credit card numbers to buy online and accepting credit cards when trying to sell things online is still hugely important.
There are basically two ways to accept credit cards online. Let's compare merchant accounts. A business can either apply for their own merchant account, which allows them to process credit cards in their own business name, or they can go with a third party payment service, who processed the credit card charges for the merchant. Obtaining a full merchant account costs more initially, but has smaller per item fees. Using the services of a third-party processor costs less initially, but has more expensive per sale fees.
Deciding whether or not to go for a full credit card processing account or use a third party processor is simply a question of running the numbers. Consider these different business types and compare merchant account benefits...
Usually, established businesses who are actively trading offline and want to start selling on the Internet will be suited to getting a merchant card processing account. Most likely, It's most likely that they will already have a real world merchant account and will expand the remit of that account to also do "MOTO", which is "Mail Order Telephone Order" processing and only means that the credit card holder is not present at the point of sale.
For small businesses starting to sell products online, it's important that they consider testing their sales using a third-party solution. The advantage is that there's hardly any initial cost which means they can test their business model easily and cheaply. If the market is profitable, they can eventually look to reducing the per-sale fees by applying for their own merchant account. If sales are poor, they can quickly exit the marketplace without having expended much capital to get their own merchant card processing account.