Every business that accepts credit cards needs to have a processing company to facilitate these transactions. Whether you’re selling online, in-person, over the phone, or on-the-go, businesses across all industries must use a payment processing service.
There are hundreds of different payment processors on the market today. This can make it challenging to find the best one for your business.
It’s important for you to take the time and evaluate your options. The fees, contract structure, customer support, hardware, and services vary significantly from processor to processor.
Whether you’re a startup company that’s accepting credit cards for the first time or an established business seeking a new processor, this guide will help you find the best processing company for your unique situation.
The Best Credit Card Processing Options to Consider:
- Dharma Merchant Services
- Payment Depot
- QuickBooks Payments
When it Makes Sense to Invest Into a Credit Card Processing Company
Every business that wants to accept credit card payments must invest in a credit card processing company. You won’t be able to process credit card transactions without one.
So if you’re selling products or services online, it’s impossible to start your business without a processor.
Some brick and mortar retailers or small businesses in the food service industry might be able to get away with a cash-only system. But cash is slowly becoming obsolete, so that probably won’t be sustainable forever.
If you’re a freelancer or running a small single-member LLC, you might not need a credit card processing company just yet. Depending on your industry and clientele, you can probably just use P2P money transfer services, ACH transfers, wire transfers, or even physical checks to get paid.
#1 – Square Review — Best Overall Credit Card Processing Company
Square is the best payment processor on the market today. It’s trusted by more than two million businesses of all shapes and sizes. This processor has solutions for in-person selling with Square POS as well as digital payment solutions for ecommerce websites.
From hardware to software and exceptional customer service, Square has it all. It’s used by retailers, restaurants, online stores, and businesses that accept payments on-the-go.
With Square, it’s easy to get set up and start accepting credit cards right away. For your staff and customers alike, there’s not much of a learning curve with Square’s system.
Other top features and benefits of Square include:
- Store payment details on file
- Send custom invoices
- Free transfers in 1-2 business days
- Simple refunds
- Dispute management
- Fraud protection
- PCI compliance
Square won’t charge you a monthly subscription fee, termination fee, or setup fee. You’ll only pay based on usage.
Square POS starts at 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction. Online transactions cost 2.9% + $0.20. Card-not-present transactions, on-file transactions, and keyed transactions are subject to higher rates.
#2 – Stripe Review — Best For Ecommerce Credit Card Processing
Best For Ecommerce
For ecommerce websites, online marketplaces, and subscription services, Stripe is ideal for selling online. It’s a robust, flexible, and developer-friendly solution.
Stripe is an online payment processing company designed for ecommerce websites and online businesses. If you want to get paid online, Stripe will be the best option for you.
It’s a top solution for subscription-based services, on-demand marketplaces, traditional ecommerce shops, and crowdfunding platforms.
Millions of businesses across 120+ countries use Stripe to process payments online. It’s trusted by startups, as well as larger organizations like Microsoft, Salesforce, Zillow, Slack, Expedia, and Spotify.
Stripe is a developer-friendly payment processor. By eliminating the complexity surrounding the Stripe API, you can get up and running in a matter of minutes. The solution is robust, scalable, and fully flexible to meet your unique needs.
If you’re not a developer, you can simply use a partner app to get started; no coding required.
Stripe’s processing rates start at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
It’s worth noting that the processor does have solutions for in-person sales as well. However, the ability to process payments online is Stripe’s standout service.
#3 – Dharma Merchant Services Review — Best For B2B Merchants
Dharma Merchant Services
Best For B2Bs
Level 2 and Level 3 processing. High-ticket and high-volume discounts for B2B merchants. No long term contracts.
Dharma Merchant Services has credit card processing solutions for retail storefronts, restaurants, and B2B organizations. But this merchant provider is best known for its B2B services.
With Dharma, your B2B will benefit from Level 2 and Level 3 credit card processing capabilities. Merchants with B2B MCC’s (merchant category codes) will access lower interchange rates.
B2Bs that process more than $100k per month will be eligible for even more savings with high-volume discounts. Large ticket processing discounts are also available for B2Bs using Dharma.
All new Dharma merchant accounts include:
- Online reporting
- Virtual terminal
- Mobile processing
- Customer payment links
- Customer database with credit card storage
There are no long term contracts, and next-day funding is available for card-present merchants.
For B2Bs that want transparent pricing, 24-hour tech support, exceptional service, and access to the lowest processing rates, Dharma Merchant Services will be a top choice for you to consider.
#4 – Fattmerchant Review — Best Flat Rate Pricing Structure
Best Flat Rate Pricing
Affordable monthly fee provides access to flat-rate pricing for every transaction. Starts as low as $0.06 + interchange for swiped cards.
Fattmerchant offers subscription-style credit card processing to merchants across a wide range of industries. For a monthly fee based on your annual volume, you’ll pay a flat rate for each transaction.
This pricing model gives you access to the direct cost of interchange, imposed by the credit card companies. Fattmerchant members can save up to 40% on processing rates.
Here’s a closer look at those monthly fees and cost per transaction:
Fattmerchant provides merchant services to businesses in the following industries:
- Food and beverage
- Professional services
- Field services
This processor has tools and hardware for in-person processing with POS payments. They also have solutions for ecommerce websites and online processing. Fattmerchant makes it easy for merchants to get paid from anywhere with mobile payments using iOS or Android devices.
Small businesses, medium-sized businesses, and multi-location organizations are all viable candidates for Fattmerchant credit card processing.
#5 – Helcim Review — Best Processing For Small Businesses
Best For Small Business
Transactional fees based on monthly volume. Deposits in 1-2 business days. Helcim reimburses chargeback fees if you win the dispute.
Helcim has credit and debit card processing solutions designed for small businesses. Whether you’re selling online, in-person, over the phone, or sending invoices, Helcim can accommodate your needs. The processor can even help small businesses set up recurring payments.
In addition to processing payments on the back end, Helcim provides you with the hardware required to accept payments at your storefronts.
The Helcim card reader can process swipe, chip, tap, and PIN payments.
Small businesses in the following industries are all viable candidates for Helcim’s solutions:
- Food and beverage
- Online sellers
- Professional services
- Software and apps
- Beauty and wellness
Helcim offers volume discounts, deposits in 1-2 business days, and no extra fees for PCI. Chargeback fees are just $15, and Helcim will reimburse the fee if you win the dispute.
Transactional fees are based on monthly volume and payment methods. To access Helcim’s low rates, you’ll have to pay $20 per month. For a limited time, Helcim is waiving the $20 fee in the first six months for all new customers.
#6 – Payment Depot Review — Best For High Volume Merchants
Best For High Volume Merchants
Membership style pricing structure. Processing rates as low as $0.05 + interchange. Free equipment available.
Payment Depot is an industry leader in the credit card processing space. Like some of the other merchant service providers on our list, this processor operates using a subscription-style pricing structure.
By paying a monthly fee, you’ll have access to lower processing rates. High volume merchants will benefit the most from Payment Depot’s services.
Let’s take a closer look at Payment Depot’s plans and pricing.
As you can see, Payment Depot has a plan for everyone. But the savings really start at the high-volume tiers. $0.05 + interchange is the lowest rate we’ve seen.
With the exception of the entry-level plan, Payment Depot provides free equipment with your subscription.
Businesses using Payment Depot for credit card processing typically fall into the following categories:
- Hair and beauty
- Pet grooming
- Professional services
Overall, Payment Depot is one of the best credit card processors on the market today. But high-volume merchants stand to benefit the most from lower rates.
#7 – PaymentCloud Review — Best For High Risk Industries
Best For High Risk Merchants
For businesses that fall into a high risk category and can’t get approved by other processors, try PaymentCloud.
PaymentCloud isn’t the most popular or well-recognized name in the credit card processing industry. But for merchants in high-risk categories that are struggling to get approved by other processors, PaymentCloud could be your saving grace.
From small businesses to Fortune 100 enterprises, thousands of high-risk merchants across the country trust PaymentCloud.
Some examples of the high-risk industries served by PaymentCloud include:
- Digital downloads
- Guns and firearms
- Credit repair
- Debt consolidation
- Adult businesses
- Vaping and e-cigarette
- SEO and SEM services
- CBD and hemp
- Cigars and tobacco
- Sports betting
- Web design
PaymentCloud has POS systems, mobile terminals, virtual terminals, and ecommerce shopping cart solutions. If you’re a high-risk merchant, this will be the best option for you to consider.
#8 – QuickBooks Payments Review — Best For Online Invoicing
Best For Online Invoicing
Great for existing QuickBooks users. Get online invoices paid faster. Set up recurring payments.
QuickBooks is best known for its bookkeeping and accounting software. But the company also has solutions for credit card processing.
If your small business is already using QuickBooks for accounting, QuickBooks Payments should be on your radar. This payment processing service allows you to get paid faster for online invoices.
With QuickBooks Payments, it’s easier for your clients to pay directly online when they receive your invoice. This is much more convenient than writing a check.
You can also get paid by phone, on-the-go with a mobile card reader, and set up recurring payments for repeat customers.
Here’s a look at the QuickBooks Payments processing rates:
- ACH Transfers — 1% ($10 max)
- Swiped — 2.4% + $0.25 per transaction
- Invoiced — 2.9% + $0.25 per transaction
- Keyed — 3.4% + $0.25 per transaction
Merchants processing more than $7,500 per month can save up to 40% with volume discount pricing.
#9 – PayPal Review — Best For Low Volume Processing
Best For Low Volume Merchants
PayPal makes it easy to accept credit cards online. Manage invoices, estimates, and subscriptions. Flat fee of 2.9% + $0.30 for most transactions.
PayPal is a name that we’re all familiar with. I’m sure the vast majority of you have used PayPal to send or receive money at one point or another. Maybe you’ve even used it as a secure way to pay for something online.
But PayPal is also an excellent way for low volume merchants to accept credit card payments online.
PayPal does offer POS solutions for in-person payments with a PayPal card reader. But it’s definitely a better option for selling online.
PayPal supports recurring payments, subscriptions, invoices, estimates, and selling via social media. You can also give your customers the ability to pay over time with installments.
With the PayPal virtual terminal, you can accept payments over the phone as well.
Online transaction rates in the US cost 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. It’s not the cheapest rate on the market, but will be fine for low-volume processing.
#10 – Payline Review — Best For Medical Practices
Best For Medical Practices
HIPAA compliant processing. Special rates for the medical industry. Accept payments online, in-person, and over the phone.
Payline is a credit card processing company that supports a wide range of business types and industries. With that said, they are an industry leader for processing medical transactions.
Add an additional layer of security to your payment processing solution with HIPAA compliant software, devices, and virtual terminals with Payline.
The processor seamlessly integrates with your medical practice. The virtual terminal and reporting dashboard sync in real-time. You’ll benefit from a centralized billing solution with unlimited users and an administrative hierarchy.
Payline has mobile readers, apps, countertop devices, and card-not-present solutions. This processor offers special rates for businesses in the medical field.
In addition to medical practices, Payline has solutions for nonprofits and high-risk merchants. They also offer business loans, which you might want to leverage down the road.
Methodology For Choosing The Best Credit Card Processing Company
How can you find the best credit card processing company for you? This is the methodology that we used to narrow down the top picks on our list.
Take these factors into consideration as you’re evaluating prospective options.
How much money do you process in credit card transactions per month or year?
High-volume merchants usually have access to lower processing rates. You might have to pay a higher monthly subscription fee, but it’s worth it to access those lower rates.
Every merchant has to pay the interchange fees imposed by the credit card networks. But the processor markup varies depending on the company you choose.
Some processors will charge you a low flat rate, such as $0.06 or $0.08 per transaction on top of the interchange fee. But to access these “wholesale” type prices, you’ll have to pay a monthly subscription to the processor.
Other processing companies don’t charge a monthly fee. However, you’ll have to pay higher transactional fees, such as 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction.
Hardware and Software
How are you going to accept credit card payments?
If you’re selling in-person, you need card readers, terminals, and POS solutions. If you’re selling online, you need a shopping cart solution. Merchants taking orders over the phone need a virtual terminal.
Make sure that the processing company you’re considering has the right software and hardware to accommodate your business model.
Every merchant is assigned a merchant category code (MCC) when they sign up for credit card processing. This code impacts your interchange fees and other factors associated with accepting credit cards.
Some processing companies specialize in specific merchant solutions, such as B2Bs, medical practices, or high-risk industries.
Every business needs a credit card processing company to accept debit and credit cards.
What’s the best credit card processing company on the market today? Square is our top recommendation. But there are plenty of other choices to consider, based on the factors and methodology described above.
Use this guide to find the best credit card processor for your business.