Credit Card Processing

Acquiring Bank — Where the Money Comes From


December 06, 2022

An acquiring bank is a registered member of a card association such as Visa, MasterCard or American Express that provides businesses with the ability to accept credit, debit and prepaid cards as payment for goods or services.

An acquiring bank is named for the role it plays in credit card processing. Acquiring banks accept or ‘acquire’ credit card transactions from banks that issue credit cards to consumers, called issuing banks.

An acquiring bank maintains a merchant account for each business it services. A merchant account is an open line of credit that allows the acquiring bank to accept transactions on behalf of a business and deposit funds from sales into the business’ deposit account (typically a checking account).

Acquiring banks assume the risk associated with the transactions they process. If a business becomes insolvent and unable to fund a reversal, refund, or chargeback, the business’ acquiring bank must provide the funds to make every cardholder whole.

Examples of large acquiring banks include Wells Fargo, HSBC, Chase, and Bank of America. We have also included a Visa’s posted list of acquiring banks in the resource section below.

What’s the difference between an acquiring bank and a credit card processor?

The term credit card processor literally refers to a company that submits bankcard transaction information to a card association computer network (Visa, MasterCard, etc.) where it is then routed among acquiring and issuing banks.

An acquiring bank supplies the financial backing to support the risk of merchant processing and to fund merchants for sales.

For example, a company that is licensed by a registered member of a card association may process its own transactions, and in effect be a credit card processor, but it is not an acquiring bank.

Ben Dwyer

BY Ben Dwyer

Ben Dwyer began his career in the processing industry in 2003 on the sales floor for a Connecticut‐based processor. As he learned more about the inner‐workings of the industry, rampant unethical practices, and lack of assistance available to businesses, he cut ties with his employer and started a blog where he could post accurate information about credit card processing. As the blog gained in popularity, Ben began directly assisting merchants in their search for a processor. Ben believes in empowering businesses by providing access to fair, competitive pricing, accurate information, and continued support. His dedication to transparency and education has made CardFellow a staunch small business advocate in the credit card processing industry.

Please join the conversation

Your email address will not be published.


Credit Card Processing exposed

Use the secrets that credit card processors don't want
you to know to drastically lower your credit card
processing fees.

Read Now!

You might also like…

Credit card processing companies

View all articles