A merchant account is a type of bank account which allows businesses to accept card payments. Businesses must first apply and be approved by a bank or payment processor to open a merchant account. Once approved, businesses will be able to start accepting credit and debit card payments from customers. 

Merchant accounts differ from regular bank accounts in a few key ways. For one, merchant accounts typically have higher fees than regular bank accounts. Banks or payment processors that issue merchant accounts take on more risk by lending money to the businesses that hold them. 

Additionally, merchant account providers often offer other services such as fraud protection and Chargeback mitigation. These services help protect businesses from losses associated with fraudulent or disputed transactions. Ultimately, merchant accounts provide businesses with a convenient way to accept credit and debit card payments from customers.