How to Cancel a Merchant Account: Here are the Steps and Tips to Follow
By: Alexandra Sheehan
Your merchant account is the account where customer payments are deposited before they’re transferred to your small business bank account. It’s essentially the middleman between the customer’s bank and your business’s bank.
However, there are times when you need to end these contracts and cancel your merchant account. Though it should be easy, that’s certainly not always the case.
Merchant account providers can be a tricky bunch, so we’ll show you how to successfully cancel your merchant account and move forward in your business.
Why cancel a merchant account
There are a few reasons why you might want to cancel a merchant account, aside from going out of business entirely. Other motivations might include:
- You’ve sold your business and the new owner doesn’t want to or can’t use the same merchant account.
- You’ve recently acquired your business and want to change up some of the service providers and technology partners you work with.
- There’s a better merchant account with more favorable rates and service.
- You had a bad experience with your merchant account provider.
- Equipment leasing is too expensive. (We don’t lease equipment at Payment Depot.)
- Your business has outgrown your merchant account and you need something more scalable.
- They’re no longer compatible with your payment processor or other tools and providers.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of when it’s okay to walk away and look for an alternative. If your merchant account provider doesn’t suit your business needs anymore, it’s time to cancel.
How to cancel a merchant account
Seems like you should be able to simply log in and click “close my account” — but merchant account providers make businesses jump through a lot more hoops than that. Thus, there are specific steps you should take:
1. Check your merchant account provider agreement and website
Refer to your user agreement and make sure you understand the cancelation policy as outlined there. This is the most official documentation you have.
Next, head to your merchant account provider’s website. Search for their published cancelation policy and compare it to your user agreement. Note any discrepancies.
Can’t find information about cancelation? Try this Google trick: Type “cancelation policy site:” and then type the URL of your merchant account provider’s website. Google will conduct a search for your query on that site only.
2. Give your merchant account provider a call
Armed with your information, it’s time to call your merchant account provider directly and inquire about the cancellation policy so you can validate what you know. Remember to write down all pertinent information to the call, including the representative’s name and ID number (if available), reference number, date and time of call, and any information given to you.
Ask about the process for cancelling your account. They should be able to detail exactly what you need to do.
3. Send an official merchant account cancellation letter [samples below]
Even if it’s not a requirement, it’s a good idea to write an official cancellation letter and send it via certified letter. This due diligence ensures you have a paper trail of the cancellation.
Some merchant account providers have a sample merchant account cancellation letter and template on their site. Try the Google search trick to find it and ask about it when you call. Here’s a template you can use as a base:
Merchant account provider name
Merchant account provider address
Merchant account provider phone and fax numbers
Your business name
Your business address
Your business phone and fax numbers
Your merchant ID number
This letter serves as the official notice of the cancellation for the merchant account and all associated services for [BUSINESS NAME] with merchant ID number ####. The cancellation is to be effective as of [DATE]. Thank you for your attention in this matter.
Your title, business name
4. Return any necessary equipment
If you leased a terminal or any other hardware, you’ll need to return it to the merchant account provider. Ask about the equipment return process when you call them, and write down any addresses needed for mailing or drop-off.
It’s a good idea to take pictures of the equipment and document any damages so you’re not held responsible for anything you shouldn’t be.
5. Get confirmations for everything
If the merchant account provider hasn’t done so proactively, request confirmations of receipt for your cancellation request, letter, and equipment. Date and record everything along the way.
Tips for canceling your merchant account
Sure, the process outlined above sounds relatively easy. But don’t be fooled. Merchant account providers are trained to try and keep your business, not necessarily to make the cancellation process easy.
Be firm with your cancellation request and why you’re cancelling, and don’t let them talk you into something you don’t want or need for your business.
Watch out for fees
You might have noted early termination fees (ETF) in your contract. Watch out for these and other cancellation fees your merchant account provider will try to charge.
And remember this: Everything is negotiable.
At Payment Depot, we don’t believe in cancellation fees. And neither should you.
If there’s an ETF written into your contract, ask them to remove or lower it when you call to cancel. A bit of kindness can go a long way, so be patient with the representatives you’re dealing with.
No luck? Examine your recent merchant account statements. Have any new fees slipped in? Any existing ones been increased? This could be your loophole. Some governments require merchant account providers waive the ETF in these scenarios, and it’s also written into some contracts. Again: document everything.
Check in post-cancellation
Just because you’ve cancelled your account doesn’t mean the merchant account provider won’t try and sneak in more hidden fees. Some might even have an “accounting error” and accidentally charge you as though you hadn’t cancelled your account. It’s important to keep an eye on your business bank accounts and look out for unauthorized or unexpected charges from your former provider.
If you can, close the bank account associated with your merchant account entirely. Then you won’t run the risk of them having access to your funds.
Moving forward with your merchant account
One door closes, another opens. Choosing the right merchant account provider is essential to safeguarding your business and your profit.
If you’re looking for a new provider and need help deciding which is best, get in touch with the Payment Depot team. We’ll run a free analysis of your statement or proposal to help you figure out the best fit for your biz.
Read these next:
- How Credit Card Processors are Scamming Your Business
- 3 Merchant Processor Scams and Tricks to Stay Away From
- How to Get a Merchant Account
- Merchant Account Requirements
- 4 Reasons Your Merchant Account May Be Denied