Best Credit Card Processors 2015
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Accepting credit cards is a must for small businesses. If you only accept cash, you're missing out on sales big time. But for many business owners, the hardest part is choosing a credit card processor. With hundreds of credit card processors available and with the many ways businesses can accept credit cards, it's easy to feel like you're in over your head.

The best credit card processor is one designed with your small business's unique needs in mind. It not only allows you to pick and choose the types of services that are best suited for your products and services, but is also budget friendly and doesn't enforce stringent requirements or restrictions just because you're a small company.

Here is a roundup of our best picks and how we chose them.

Flagship Merchant Services is an all-in-one credit card processing solution that has everything you need to accept credit cards at your small business. The company offers a merchant account and a wide range of credit card processing options, including in-person, online and mobile credit card processing. If you need a more advanced solution, you also have the choice of using a full-featured iPad POS system. We also like Flagship because it comes with an easy application process, 24-7 customer support, and no long-term contracts or early termination fees. [Go here for a full review of Flagship Merchant Services credit card processing.]

Editor's Note: Looking for a credit card processor for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

 

Stripe is an easy-to-use online credit-card-processing solution that aims to take away the legwork of accepting credit cards online. It doesn't require a merchant account, so your online store can start processing credit card sales right away. You can choose from the simple checkout system that you can copy and paste into your online store, or program the Stripe API into your shopping cart. We also like that Stripe is packed with features and customization options, which lets you tailor the service to suit your e-commerce business's unique needs. The company also has transparent pricing, so you'll know exactly what you'll be paying and can avoid any surprises down the road. [Go here for a full review of Stripe online credit card processing.]

PayPal offers flexible credit card processing for all types of businesses with low-volume sales, at a budget-friendly price. Whether you make sales in person, online, on the go or all of the above, PayPal has a credit card processing solution for you. Designed specifically for small businesses and startups, the service also comes with additional perks like a complete POS system, the ability to extend credit to customers, a rewards business MasterCard program, and 24-7 phone and email support. [Go here for a full review of PayPal credit card processing.]

Square is a fast and easy way to accept credit cards anytime, anywhere. Just sign up for an account, download the Square app, plug Square's credit card reader into your iOS or Android smartphone or tablet, and you're ready to go. You can also use Square's standalone terminal to turn your iPad into a powerful POS system at your checkout counter. Square offers dedicated solutions for all types of businesses, from retailers and restaurants to service providers, health and fitness, entertainment companies, organizations, and more. We also like that Square comes with simple pricing, fast deposits, a free online store and other benefits. [Go here for a full review of Square mobile credit card processing.]

To find the best credit card processors for small business, we started by asking business owners which credit card processing companies they use or have worked with. We also asked what the businesses liked and disliked about these vendors, and whether they would recommend them to other small businesses and why.

Next, we created a comprehensive list of credit card processors that are suitable for small businesses. In addition to those mentioned by small business owners we spoke to and those processors we were familiar with, we also looked at credit card processors that appeared on reputable online sources, such as review sites and business websites.

We then researched these vendors and narrowed our list down based on different use-case scenarios (Best Picks categories above). Our research consisted of reviewing each processor's website, watching videos, reading how-to guides, browsing help resources, trying out demos when available and signing up for our own accounts. We also acted as business owners and asked questions of sales and customer-support reps, to get a better idea of the quality of service and find out information that isn't readily available online.

In total, we compiled a list of more than 50 credit card processors. Our top picks are Flagship Merchant Services, Swipe, PayPal and Square. Those that made it to our shortlist include Leaders Merchant Services, Fattmerchant, Flint, Charge.com, Authorize.net, FreeAuthNet, Leap Payments, Cayan (formerly Merchant Warehouse), National Bankcard, Total Merchant Services, Chase Paymentech, Gotmerchant, BluePay, Breadcrumb and CreditCardProcessing.com.

Here are the criteria we used to evaluate each credit card processor:

  • Transaction/swipe rates
  • Equipment, setup and other costs
  • Ease of setup and use
  • Contracts and service terms
  • Types of processing offered
  • Types of payments accepted
  • Funding and processing time
  • EMV capability
  • Merchant services
  • Additional features and benefits
  • Customization options
  • Third-party integrations
  • Reporting and analytics
  • Service limitations
  • Customer service

Here is a full list of credit card processors and a summary of what each company claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks.

Amazon Local Register — Amazon's mobile credit card processor offers one of the lowest swipe rates and promises no monthly fees, chargeback fees and no international fees. It works with your Amazon Payments account and is available on iOS, Android and Amazon's own Fire OS. localregister.amazon.com

Authorize.net — Authorize.net is a payment gateway provider that lets you accept credit cards through the platform itself or integrate payment with your existing merchant account. The service is packed with features, such as advanced fraud detection, recurring billing, eCheck processing and more. However, with its $49 setup fee and monthly gateway fee, the pricing is slightly higher than third-party processors. authorize.net

BankCard USA — BankCard USA offers all types of credit card processing solutions for small businesses, including wireless swipers, mobile card processing, e-commerce solutions and POS systems. It claims to have the cheapest processing rate in the industry and will pay you $1,000 if you find a lower rate. BankCard USA requires a merchant account, and the company promises same-day application decisions. bankcardusa.com

Best Merchant Rates — If you need a completely customized credit card processing solution, Best Merchant Rates can create a package that's tailored just for your business. The service comes with upfront rates that are guaranteed for five years, so you won't have to worry about any increases or unpleasant surprises. bestmerchantrates.com

BluePay Processing — BluePay Processing offers all-in-one credit card processing solutions for a wide range of merchant types. In addition to services designed for retailers and restaurants, BluePay also has services for B2B businesses (up to Level 3 card processing), nonprofits, banking organizations and more. bluepay.com

Braintree — Want to accept more than one type of online payment? Braintree, a PayPal company, lets you accept PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo, Bitcoin and more using a single integration into your website or app. Currently, Braintree is offering free processing for your first $50,000. braintreepayments.com

Breadcrumb Payments by Groupon — A Groupon company, Breadcrumb lets you accept credit cards from smartphones, tablets, laptops and checkout terminals at the same low swipe-rate across devices. The service comes with one-tap Groupon voucher redemption and a Free Statement Analysis to show you how much you can save compared to other processors. breadcrumb.groupon.com/payments

Cayan — Formerly Merchant Warehouse, Cayan offers three levels of credit card processing services to cover each stage of your business, whether you're just starting out, experiencing growth or an already-established business. Cayan comes with flexible pricing options and 24-7/365 customer support. cayan.com

Charge.com — Charge.com merchant accounts let you process credit cards on- and off-line, even if you have bad credit or are a high-risk merchant. The company offers low rates and comes with free setup, software, online shopping cart, and terminal or credit card reader. charge.com

Chase Paymentech — Chase Paymentech offers a wide range of products to help small businesses accept credit cards in person, online and on the go. The service also comes with advanced fraud protection, data encryption and other security tools to make sure your business and customers stay protected from cyberattacks. chasepaymentech.com

Cornerstone Merchant Services, Inc. — Cornerstone offers merchant accounts and its own online payment gateway. Businesses also get personalized service with their own designated account executive, so someone will be there for you, from the application process to your first transaction and beyond. cornerstonemerchant.com

Credit Card Processing Specialists — Get a custom, tailored credit-card processing solution with free terminals and no long-term contracts. Credit Card Processing Specialists has a slightly higher rate than some processors, but it also comes with perks like merchant cash advance, payment gateways, third-party integration (including QuickBooks), POS systems and more. creditcardprocessingspecialists.com

CreditCardProcessing.com — Accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and STAR credit and debit cards with CreditCardProcessing.com's merchant accounts. The company offers solutions for retailers, restaurants and e-commerce businesses, including mobile credit card processing, phone and mail orders, and POS systems. creditcardprocessing.com

Dharma Merchant Services — Dharma Merchant Services is a certified green business that offers services for retail stores, nonprofits and e-commerce businesses. The company also donates 50 percent of its net profits to charity, so you'll also be helping out a good cause. dharmamerchantservices.com

E-Commerce Exchange — Accept credit cards and integrate your credit card processor or POS system with QuickBooks when you use E-Commerce Exchange. The company also lets you accept international payments, online payments, checks, and EBT. Merchant perks include cash advances, website hosting, marketing tools, payroll systems and more. ecenow.com

eData Financial Group — In addition to in-person, mobile and online credit card processing, eData comes with additional benefits, like small business loans, e-commerce tools, marketing solutions and other services. edatacards.com

Elavon — Formerly NOVA, Elavon provides credit card processing solutions specifically for small businesses. Services include merchant accounts, mobile credit card processing and online payments, as well as customized solutions for businesses with more unique needs. elavon.com

Electronic Cash Systems (ECS) — ECS goes the extra mile when it comes to credit card processing. In addition to credit card readers, checkout terminals and online payments, ECS also provides ATMs, electronic check processing, bill payments and other related solutions. ecspayments.com

Electronic Payment Systems — Electronic Payment Systems is another provider that offers more than credit card processing. You'll also get customized merchant services, cash-advance opportunities, e-commerce payment solutions, payment plans for customers and many other add-ons. eps-na.com

Electronic Transfer, Inc. — Electronic Transfer, Inc. offers retail, e-commerce, mail, phone and mobile credit card processing solutions with low rates and no hidden fees. It comes with a bunch of free services, such as merchant-account setup, virtual terminal, shopping cart, recurring billing, fraud prevention and more. electronictransfer.com

eMerchant — eMerchant offers credit card processing services for all types of businesses. This includes retail stores, service providers, e-commerce businesses, professional offices, mobile merchants and others. The company guarantees low rates and promises fast approvals and no hidden fees. emerchant.com

Electronic Payment Exchange — Electronic Payment Exchange is one of the most trusted and secure credit card processors available. Also known as EPX, the company processes credit and debit cards, as well as e-check payments via Automatic Clearing House (ACH). epx.com

Fattmerchant — One of our runner-ups for best credit card processor, Fattmerchant offers one of the best pricing structures for small business. As a direct processor, Fattmerchant gets rid of any markups, and it charges a low monthly fee and as little as 8 cents per transaction. It also comes with free equipment, no annual fees, no batch fees, next-day funding and no contracts. fattmerchant.com

Federated Payments — Federated Payments offers check acceptance and merchant services, including gift cards and customer loyalty programs. What also makes Federated Payments stand out is its cash-advance program, which features competitive rates, high approval and no financials required. federatedpayments.com

*Flagship Merchant Services — Our pick for the best credit card processor for small business, Flagship Merchant Services gives you a merchant account and has everything you need to process credit cards on- and off-line. Flagship also lets you accept credit cards using mobile devices and turn an iPad into a complete POS system. Read our full review here. Flagship Merchant Services

Flint — Flint is one of our favorites due to its innovative and simple mobile credit-card-processing system. You don't a reader to accept credit cards on your smartphone — just download the app, and then scan the card to process a transaction. It also comes with additional features like e-commerce, invoice billing, merchant services and fast deposits to your bank account. flint.com

FreeAuthNet.com — Like its name suggests, FreeAuthNet.com offers a free Authorize.net payment gateway that lets you accept credit cards online. All you have to pay is a flat $35 per month plus 25 cents per transaction, instead of a percentage plus a fixed rate. FreeAuthNet.com also offers an interchange-pricing program that has a 0.2-percent markup per transaction. freeauthnet.com

Global Payments, Inc. — If you need individualized service, Global Payments, Inc. gives you personalized attention to make sure you have the right solution for your business. The company has partnered with financial institutions to let merchants accept credit cards in person, online and using mobile devices. globalpaymentsinc.com

Gotmerchant — Gotmerchant is an all-in-one credit-card processor for retailers and Internet merchants. Options include credit card machines, wireless readers, mobile credit card processing, online sales and integration with Yahoo Store Merchant accounts. Gotmerchant also stands out because it offers a free POS system and QuickBooks credit card processing that doesn't require you to use Intuit's system or pay Intuit's processing fees. gotmerchant.com

Heartland Payment Systems, Inc. — Heartland Payment Systems is one of the most small-business-friendly credit card processors available. Not only are its in-person, e-commerce and mobile payments systems easy to use, but the company also offers fair and upfront pricing, robust data security and 24-hour customer service. heartlandpaymentsystems.com

Intrix Technology, Inc. — Get more than just credit card processing. In addition to merchant services and payment gateways, Intrix provides payment-management services to help you design and implement solutions that are tailor-made for your business. The company will also assist you in training employees to use your system. intrix.com

iPayment — iPayment lets you accept credit cards, EMV cards and near field communication (NFC) payments like Apple Pay and Google Wallet. In addition to credit card processing retailers and e-commerce businesses, iPayment also owns the Banq POS system and offers pay-at-pump Petroleum Card Services (PCS) for gas stations. ipaymentinc.com

iTransact — If you're looking for a more affordable credit card processor than the one you already use, iTransact guarantees to save you 10 to 25 percent on fees. The company also offers a wide range of credit-card-processing services, including merchant accounts, in-person processing, mobile credit card processing and online payments. itransact.com

Leaders Merchant Services — One of our runner-ups for best small business credit card processor, Leaders Merchant Services advertises industry-low rates and claims to have a 98 percent approval rate for merchant accounts. The company also offers free equipment and software and comes with 24-7/365 support. leadersmerchantservices.com

Leap Payments — Leap Payments offers credit card readers, terminals, mobile credit card processing and full-featured POS systems. Supported businesses include retailers, restaurants, professional and personal service providers, contractors and home services, and e-commerce businesses. leappayments.com

Maverick BankCard, Inc. — Maverick BankCard's credit-card-processing services run the gamut of industries and businesses: retail, restaurants, e-commerce, hospitals, lodging, gas stations, nonprofits and even high-risk businesses. The company also works with various banking partners to deliver the right products and services for your business's needs. maverickbankcard.com

Merchant Anywhere — Merchant Anywhere is one of the most popular credit card processors available because of its low pricing and freebies: There are no fees for application, setup, cancellation or statements, and you get free gateway services. You can use Merchant Anywhere on Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices, as well as laptops and PCs. merchantanywhere.com

Merchant One — Merchant One is another card processor that's popular amongst small businesses. This vendor offers low swipe rates, free account setup, same-day approvals, 24-7 support, next-day funding and complete fraud support. We especially like that Merchant One offers startup cash for new businesses. merchantone.com

Merchant Services Inc. (MSI) — Powered by the Harbortouch POS system, MSI is a direct credit-card-processing company that provides merchant accounts and promises the lowest interchange rates. Just email or fax your most recent statement, and the company's free analysis program can tell you how much money you can save. msimerchantservice.com

Merchant Solutions — Merchant Solutions lets you accept credit cards in person, online and by phone. Services also include mobile and PC credit card processing, as well as merchant and POS cash-advance programs. If you don't know where to start, you can get in touch with a Merchant Solutions rep to discuss your business's needs and find the right plan for you. merchantsolutionsllc.com

Meritus Payment Solutions — Meritus Payment Solutions is a full-featured credit-card-processing company for all types of industries, including retail, restaurants, Internet businesses and e-commerce, professional services, B2B, gaming, health care, mail and telephone orders, direct response, and nonprofits. The company also offers check-acceptance services, recurring billing, chargeback management and other additional benefits. merituspayment.com

Moneris — Moneris is an EMV, mobile and online credit card processor that helps you boost sales by focusing on your customers' needs. It comes with the Moneris Gift Card and Loyalty Program, which lets you offer cost-effective purchasing options to customers and grow your business. monerisusa.com

National Bankcard — Get wholesale pricing on your credit card processing with National Bankcard. To find out how much you'll save, fill out a short form on the company's website, and you'll receive a quote by email. A sales representative can also provide a free cost comparison over the phone. nationalbankcard.com

National Processing — National Processing deals exclusively with credit card processing, ACH acceptance and online payments. The company claims to have the lowest rates, which start at 10 cents per ACH transaction and 0.15 percent for credit cards. nationalprocessing.com

National Transaction Corporation (NTC) — NTC is a strictly electronic payment processing company that lets you process credit cards, debit cards, EBT cards, online payments, electronic checks, gift cards and more. The company offers additional merchant solutions like loans and cash advances, accounting software, POS systems, and more. NTC is also equipped for niche industries, such as medical billing and travel agencies. nationaltransaction.com

Nationwide Merchant Solutions — Nationwide Merchant Solutions has a roster of services to help you accept credit cards and grow your business. In addition to in-person, mobile and online credit-card processing, Nationwide Merchant Solutions also offers virtual terminals, micropayments — such as prepayments, pay-as-you-go and post-pay transactions — customer rewards programs, working capital, Level 3 processing and more. Noble Exchange and Intelligent Rate services are also available for educational, utility and municipal-related businesses. nationwidemerchantsolutions.com

Newtek — For some businesses, pre-built credit card processing packages just aren't a good fit. Instead, Newtek offers customized solutions and pricing structures that best suit your business. It also guarantees low pricing, and the company offers to pay you $250 if it can't meet or beat your current rates. thesba.com/merchant-processing

NextPay — NextPay is a full-featured online credit-card-processing company that comes with additional features like email payments, subscription billing, multi-currency processing, API integration and an advanced anti-fraud system to better protect you and your customers. nextpay.com

North American Bancard — North American Bancard aims to offer easy and affordable credit card processing, including PayPal payments. The company claims to have the fastest approvals in the industry, and setup can be completed in less than six minutes. This month-to-month service comes with free equipment and no cancellation fees. northamericanbancard.com

PayLeap — PayLeap is an in-person, mobile and online credit-card-processing company that's designed specifically for small businesses and online stores. One major advantage of using PayLeap is that it is developer-friendly, meaning the company offers APIs and SDKs to completely customize the service and software to a business's exact needs. This also means it's flexible, to accommodate growth and business changes. payleap.com

Payment Max — Payment Max offers some of the most competitive service terms for small business credit card processing. It comes with no application fees, free setup, one-day funding, free check processing, free online shopping cart and 24-7 customer support. However, you'll have to call Payment Max and schedule a free evaluation to find out their lowest rates. paymentmax.com

*PayPal — Our top pick for the best low-volume credit-card processor, PayPal lets all types of startups and very small businesses accept credit cards without all the fuss and requirements of other credit card processors. It's affordable, easy to use, and available for in-person and online transactions. There are also additional perks like a rewards program, financing for customers, POS integration and more. Read our full review here.

Planet Payment — Planet Payment is a complete processing-solutions company. In addition to accepting multicurrency payments, online credit card processing and POS systems, Planet Payment also offers a money-transfer platform, risk management, authorization and capture, clearing and settlement, fraud and security services, and other advanced solutions. planetpayment.com

Regal Payment Systems — If you're looking for a credit-card-processing company with excellent customer support, Regal Payment Systems boasts of superior customer service that aims to deliver high customer satisfaction. In its 20 years of serving businesses, the company claims to have an 85 percent resolution rate by the first phone call. regalpaymentsystems.com

Sage Payment Solutions — Like many credit card processors, Sage lets you accept three types of payments: debit and credit cards, mobile payments, and electronic checks or ACH. However, because Sage is a huge name in the financial industry, it also comes with enterprise-level payment solutions like underwriting, advanced security services, loss prevention and a dedicated customer service center. na.sage.com/us/sage-payment-solutions

Spark Pay — Spark Pay by Capital One is a fast and easy way to accept credit cards using a mobile credit card reader or an iPad POS system. To get started, just register with your email and a password, then choose two service plans: one with no monthly fee and a higher swipe rate, or the other with a $9.95 monthly fee and a lower swipe rate. capitalone.com/small-business-bank/merchant-services

*Square — Square is our favorite mobile credit card processor because it's the simplest and fastest way to accept credit cards using a smartphone or tablet. It's easy to use, and there are no credit checks or complicated setup processes, so you can get started right away. You can start small with a simple credit card reader, then transition to a Square POS system as your business grows. Square also comes with clear, affordable pricing and additional perks like business loans and a free online store.  Read our full review here.

*Stripe — Stripe is our top pick for the best online credit card processor. It makes it easy to get started, doesn't require a merchant account, and is packed with feature and customization options. You can use Stripe's simple copy-and-paste buy button and checkout system, or use the Stripe API on your shopping cart. Business owners love Stripe for its transparent pricing and customization options. Read our full review here.

Swift Pay Systems — Avoid per-transaction rate markups with Swift Pay's monthly plans. Packages start at $39 per month and as low as 6 cents per transaction. The service comes with no contracts or hidden fees, so you'll know how much you're paying every month without any surprises. swiftpaysystems.com

Total Merchant Services — One of our runner-ups, Total Merchant Services has transparent pricing and cost-effective credit-card-processing products and services. The company's selling points include no monthly contracts, fast deposits, free equipment, free QuickBooks software and free online marketing tools. totalmerchantservices.com

TransFirst — TransFirst offers customized payment solutions based on your type of business and industry. Users rave about TransFirst's low rates and excellent customer service. transfirst.com

Transparent Merchant Services — If you're looking to save money on credit card processing, Transparent Merchant Services claims to slash up to 68 percent off your fees. The company offers a free comparison tool and savings calculator so you can see how much you can save by switching to this company. trytransparent.com

TSYS Merchant Solution — TSYS has everything you need to process credit cards, from credit card machines and mobile card readers to online payments and iPad POS systems. TSYS comes with simplified pricing, making it easy to understand exactly what you're paying for. tsysmerchantsolutions.com

US Merchant Systems (USMS) — USMS offers credit card processing solutions for all types of niche businesses, such as retailers, restaurants (including fast food and delivery), e-commerce, service providers, mobile businesses, automotive, gas stations, grocery, hospitality, health care, government and more. Additionally, USMS services B2B businesses and high-risk businesses. usms.com

Velocity Merchant Services (VMS) — Get an all-in-one credit-card-processing solution that won't break the bank. VMS provides robust POS systems, cloud-based terminal options, working capital (using merchant cash advances) and a website builder for your online store. getvms.com

WorldPay — If you're looking for more-advanced solutions, WorldPay (previously called SecureNet) offers a variety of products and services to make credit card processing work even better for your business. These include developer resources to integrate WorldPay with apps your company already uses and value-added services like gift cards, loyalty programs, working capital, security suites and more. worldpay.com

Want to learn more about POS systems and credit card processing? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Are you a credit-car- processing provider who would like to be added to this list and possibly considered for our next round of reviews? Please feel free to contact Sara Angeles at sangeles@purch.com.

Editor's Note: Looking for a credit card processor for your business? If you're looking for information to help you choose the one that's right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:

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