Sure, We Take Plastic

Getting credit cards these days is easy, but landing a merchant account, so that you can accept them in payment, can be tough if your company's track record is too short for a bank. That's a common problem for many e-businesses. Cardservice International (, a merchant-account middleman in Agoura Hills, Calif., believes it can capture this growing market by offering to act as guarantor and processor.

Scott Dueweke, vice-president for business development at Cardservice, says almost all applicants win approval unless there's a history of fraud. "We have about 180,000 businesses, about 40,000 on the Web," Dueweke says.

Cardservice processes online transactions and guarantees payment to both the bank and merchant. Small accounts make it easier for the company to detect unusual activity, he says, so exposure to losses is lower. Just don't mistake it for one of those free services: Cardservice takes a 2.35% cut, plus 30 cents per transaction.