Is it legal to get two merchant accounts and/or gateways? Seems like a good idea so if something goes wrong with one company (reading horror stories on this forum), I could just switch my app over to the other.
Is it better to have the merchant account and the authorize.net through the same company, bundled (like payquake), or am I better off getting a merchant account independant of the gateway and get them separately?
If so, suggestions for where (online) I should get a merchant account by itself, not attached to a whole package like payquake? (An online bank I guess?)
It is legal if the other company does not make you sign something to state you will not get a merchant account with another processor. I have seen them want a merchant to sign an agreement in which they will not get another processor and a three year committment. Luckily Britney Spears never had to do that.
Some people get a couple of merchant accounts because sometimes a CC processors places limits on their account - like $100,000 a month. When they reach that cap, they need another way to process it.
It is not "illegal" to have multiple merchant accounts, but it may be a breach of agreement if there is contractual verbiage in one of them requiring exclusivity. This is not always the case but I've seen this verbiage exist in various contracts over the years.
In terms of bundled/unbundled gateways... I don't think this is quite as important. Generally, if you have a gateway & merchant account combination through one provider, you can (or should) be able to get support for the entire transaction process from start-to-finish from that one provider... which is a benefit.
I've known some merchants that have, for instance, purchased their own direct license of a gateway. But they actually ended up paying a lot more for the license than if they had gone through a volume reseller.
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