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The Best Credit Card Processors of 2021

By Donna Fuscaldo,
Business News Daily Staff
| Updated
Apr 08, 2021

Here are the best credit card processing solutions for small businesses, including online payment solutions and mobile credit card readers.
Best for Easy Approval
98% Approval Rate
Fast turn around
Supports mobile payments
Best for High-Risk Businesses
Services high-risk merchants
High approval rate
Month-to-month pricing
Best for POS
Robust POS features
Flat-rate pricing
No long-term contracts
Best for Small Business
Flat-rate pricing
QuickBooks integration
Robust accounting features
Best for High Volume
Wholesale rates
Membership pricing
No early termination fees
Here are the best credit card processing solutions for small businesses, including online payment solutions and mobile credit card readers.

Best Credit Card Processors

  • For small businesses that process less than $5,000 per month, the most affordable card processing option is usually to select a processor that charges a flat rate for each transaction and doesn't charge monthly or annual fees.
  • Businesses that process more than $5,000 per month should look for a processor that offers interchange-plus pricing and charges few monthly or annual fees.
  • Look for processors that are transparent with their pricing, clearly posting rates and fees on their websites.
  • This article is for startups and small business owners who are looking for a credit card processing service.

Nearly every business these days needs to accept credit cards and debit cards, but choosing a credit card processing company for your small business can be difficult – there are hundreds to choose from. We've spent hundreds of hours researching the credit card processing industry; we looked for credit card processors that offer transparent pricing, with reasonable rates and few credit card processing fees, reliable customer support, and no long-term contracts. Read our recommendations below and our credit card processing guide to find the best credit card processor for your business.

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Our Reviews

Merchant One: Best Credit Card Processor for Easy Approval

Merchant One doesn't charge a separate PCI compliance fee.
Merchant One works with businesses regardless of with low credit scorestheir credit profiles.
Prices for its credit card processing services aren’t listed online.
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Your financial standing alone shouldn't hurt your chances of buying property, getting a business loan and accepting credit card payments. Nor should a complicated and slow-moving process hamper your growth. Merchant One doesn't throw roadblocks in your way, making it our best pick for easy approval.  Merchant One provides credit card processing solutions that offer a variety of processing and POS features. Whether you're accepting payments online or in-store, Merchant One can support your business. Merchant One is one of the few credit card processors that will look at more than your credit score when reviewing your application. Merchant One claims to have a 98% approval rate and says its willing to work with all companies.

Besides its flexibility (and empathy for) small business owners with credit issues, we also chose Merchant One as one of our best picks because of its flat-rate pricing plans. The credit card processor charges $6.95 a month plus 0.29% to 1.55% for in-person transactions and 0.29% to 1.99% for keyed-in transactions. We also liked that Merchant One doesn't charge a PCI compliance fee or early termination fee. While those are two common fees that many processors in the industry charge, it's a nice bonus that Merchant One doesn't tack those fees on.

Speed is of the essence when it comes to accepting credit card payments. You don't want to wait days to be operational. Merchant One says it can approve applications within 24 hours.

Accepting multiple types of payments is becoming increasingly important for merchants as for many, e-commerce sales contribute significantly to their overall sales. Merchant One helps merchants prepare by providing everything necessary for a small business owner to accept payments online and in-store. The credit card processor sells Clover POS hardware, it offers high-speed processing, and it allows merchants to sell gift cards and create loyalty programs. We also like that you can launch text message marketing campaigns through Merchant One's platform.

Merchant One has all the mobile capabilities small business owners can expect from a credit card processor, including the ability to accept payments from your mobile device anywhere there is internet access. If you sell your products or services online, Merchant One offers customers a free shopping cart, online account management, and the ability to access sales data remotely.

Customer service is also top-notch at Merchant One. You are assigned a dedicated account manager who can help you set up your system and offer support once you begin accepting payments. There's also 24/7 customer support.

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ProMerchant: Best Credit Card Processor for High-Risk Businesses

ProMerchant will work with small businesses that fall into high-risk categories.
It offers flat-rate and interchange-plus pricing.
You will need to contact ProMerchant directly to get a price quote.
Visit Site

Small businesses in certain industries can have a difficult time finding a credit card processor that will work with them. However, one option can be ProMerchant, a full-service credit card processing company located in Boston. ProMerchant is willing to work with businesses in industries deemed high risk. It's our best pick for high-risk businesses.

ProMerchant has two pricing models: fixed rate and interchange plus, giving small business owners a choice over the rate that is most affordable to them based on their monthly sales. The card processor doesn't list its prices online, which means you must contact the company for a quote. (There's an online form you can fill out to be contacted by a representative.)

ProMerchant boasts a high approval rate. According to the company, it considers factors beyond one's credit score – such as sales, operations, and growth potential, among other things – when evaluating applicants for a merchant account. According to the company, if you apply online, ProMerchant can notify you of its decision sometimes the same day. (Otherwise, the average time it takes to hear back on your application is two business days.) It also offers overnight delivery of free terminals and next-day access to online processing tools.

Another strong advantage of ProMerchant is that billing is month to month; there are no long-term contracts you're required to sign, which means you can cancel without incurring hefty termination fees.

When you sign up with ProMerchant, you're assigned a dedicated account team. It also offers email and telephone support.

Read Review

Clover: Best Credit Card Processor for POS

Clover offers low flat-rate pricing.
Clover's point-of-sale hardware is available through several resellers.
First Data is your merchant acquirer with Clover.
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Small businesses that accept and process payments in-store and online need a credit card processor that has it all: great processing rates and robust POS solutions. Clover checks both boxes, making it our pick as the best processor for POS systems.

Clover provides small businesses with everything they need to run a retail or restaurant operation. Its POS software and hardware are robust and widely available, while its credit card processing rates are predictable due to the company's flat-rate pricing.

Clover offers two pricing plans. Register Lite is best suited for businesses that have less than $50,000 in annual credit card sales – it costs $9.95 a month. You will also pay 2.7% and 10 cents for in-person purchases and 3.5% plus 10 cents for virtual or card-not-present purchases.

The Register plan, Clover's second plan, costs $39.95 a month and is geared toward merchants that have more than $50,000 in credit card sales annually. You pay a transaction fee of 2.3% plus 10 cents for in-person purchases and 3.5% plus 10 cents for online and keyed-in purchases. You can purchase or lease Clover POS equipment, or you can buy it on your own. Clover has a lot of resellers, so it's worth shopping around to find the best deal for your POS hardware.

Clover also offers a virtual terminal, which enables you to accept payments without POS hardware. It costs 3.5% and 10 cents per transaction. Business owners will appreciate Clover's Rapid Deposit service, which means merchants get access to credit card sales in minutes instead of the standard one or two days. Clover charges a 1% per transaction fee for this service.

On the POS software side, Clover offers several features that small businesses need to support operations, including reporting and integrations with QuickBooks and Xero. We like that Clover allows you to create and sell gift cards. There are more than 70 design templates to choose from, or you can create your own custom gift card.

With Clover, e-commerce isn't an afterthought. Its tools help you build a website, as well as sync and manage orders, inventory, and customer data. Clover has partnerships with BigCommerce and Ecwid and integrates with Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and other online marketplaces.

For small businesses that want POS and credit card processing from one vendor, Clover stands out. It has a low flat-rate pricing model, robust POS software and a network of POS equipment resellers, making it our best pick for POS.

Read Review

Fattmerchant: Best Credit Card Processor for Small Business

Fattmerchant charges a monthly fee, interchange-plus pricing and a flat per-transaction fee to process payments. There are no other fees.
You can analyze sales in real time through Fattmerchant's dashboard.
The flat-rate pricing model best suits businesses that process at least $7,000 per month in transactions.
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Fattmerchant provides fair and simple pricing with its flat-rate pricing model. It uses the interchange-plus pricing model, but instead of charging a markup percentage to the interchange fee that credit card issuers charge, it adds a per-transaction fee. Add the ability to analyze sales and a comprehensive platform that offers several other features, and it's easy to see why we chose Fattmerchant as the best credit card processor for small businesses.

Fattmerchant offers two plans, depending on how much your business processes per year. With the first plan, which is for businesses the process less than $80,000 annually, you pay 2.9% per transaction and then 8 cents for swiped cards or 15 cents per transaction for cards whose number you key in.

The second plan is best suited for businesses that process more than $80,000 per year.  Its monthly subscription fee starts at $99. This fee covers the expenses associated with credit card processing, including statement fees, PCI compliance, customer support and account maintenance.

Coupled with the two merchant processing plans Fattmerchant offers its "omni" software solution. Small business owners can choose from three plans. This software is designed to give you better insight into your sales, customers and order trends.

The Starter plan is $49 per month, and with it, you can run sales reports, track refunds, and accept payments via the phone and the internet, thanks to a virtual terminal. The next tier is the Growth plan, which is $89 per month. You get everything from the Starter plan, plus the ability to create and send invoices. You also gain access to a dedicated account manager. The most comprehensive plan, Pro, costs $129 a month. It gives you everything in the Growth plan, and you can send recurring invoices, schedule payments, and add custom branding. There's also a shopping cart, management tools for your product catalog, and the ability to manage customer information.

When it comes to offering credit processing at an affordable rate, Fattmerchant delivers. You get flat-rate pricing, no hidden fees and tools to help support your business, making it worthy of consideration.


Payment Depot: Best Credit Card Processor for High Volume

Payment Depot offers membership pricing and wholesale rates.
You're not bound by a lengthy contract.
Payment Depot can be pricey, especially if you don't have a high volume of transactions.
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Small business owners who process a high volume of credit and debit card transactions must be careful when choosing a credit card processor. If you select the wrong one, it can get expensive very quickly. That's not the case with Payment Depot. Its membership-based pricing and wholesale rates help keep your processing costs in check, which is why we chose Payment Depot as our best pick for high volume.

With Payment Depot, customers pay a flat rate each month and then a low per-transaction fee. There are no setup fees, monthly fees or long-term contracts. There's no cancellation fee if you close your account and go with a different processor. Businesses that process a high volume of payments each month stand to save the most when working with this credit card processor.

Payment Depot offers four plans based on your monthly processing volume. The Basic plan, which is for businesses that process $25,000 or less each month costs $49 plus 15 cents per transaction. The Most Popular plan is for businesses that process up to $75,000 a month; it costs $79 a month, plus there is a 10 cent per-transaction fee. Payment Depot's Premier plan costs $99 per month and is for companies that process up to $150,000 a month. It costs 7 cents per transaction. The Unlimited plan has no monthly processing limit and costs $199 per month. The per-transaction fee drops to 5 cents. We like that Payment Depot offers several pricing plans and is upfront about pricing on its website.

When you sign up with Payment Depot, you receive a merchant account, which allows you to accept payments in-store, online and via mobile devices. Payments are typically deposited into your account in one or two business days. Payment Depot also provides integrations with QuickBooks, Shopify, WooCommerce and 3dcart.

Businesses that process a lot of credit card sales need a processor that is easily accessible. Payment Depot assigns a dedicated account rep to your account who serves as your main point of contact. Support is available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

Small business owners who process a lot of payments each month need a credit card processor that can do it quickly and cheaply and that's where Payment Depot comes in. In addition to wholesale rates and membership pricing, there aren't any lengthy contracts or monthly fees, which is why we chose it as our best pick for high volume businesses.

Read Review

Square: Best Credit Card Processors for Growing Businesses

There are no monthly or annual fees for Square's credit card processing service.
Its basic POS app is free and can be augmented with advanced features as your business grows.
Its customer service isn't as robust as some of its competitors.
Visit Site

Small businesses don't always remain small. Some need a credit card processor that can grow with them. Square stands out in that regard due to its low rates, a free e-commerce app, and point-of-sale (POS) software that expands to support your expanding business's needs, making it our best pick for growing businesses.

One of the reasons Square stands out for growing small businesses is its low flat-rate pricing model. Square charges 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person payments and 3.5% plus 15 cents for card-not-present transactions. The cost for purchases through your Square online store, Square online checkout, e-commerce API, or via an invoice is 2.9% and an additional 30 cents. There are no monthly, gateway, setup, PCI compliance, early termination or annual fees, nor is there a chargeback fee, which we like. Most processors have steep chargeback fees.

We were also impressed with Square's credit card processing app. Not only can you process payments from nearly anywhere, but its POS software features help you track and manage inventory, collect and analyze customer data, and run reports on sales and inventory. The app works on both Apple and Android devices. It also integrates with several business applications, enabling you to combine your sales data with other accounting and management functions.

Square's retail- and restaurant-specific features support your business as it grows. Its inventory-and order-management tools help you meet demand now and predict future orders, and its e-commerce store enables you to sell products online for free. A bonus, Square's online stores can synchronize with your inventory and social media accounts.

Square's POS software also has a lot of accounting features we like for growing businesses – the ability to track invoices, accept payments and manage sales from one dashboard will appeal to business owners that want a central location from which they can assess their business.

Square Capital is the company's lending arm, and it provides small business owners with merchant cash advances, with funding as soon as 24 hours. You need to establish a processing history with Square to be eligible for the short-term loans, though, but these loans may be useful as your business expands.

Another aspect growing small businesses may like about Square is its Mastercard business debit card. Dubbed the Square Card, it makes it easy to access the cash from your transactions. There are no signup fees, annual fees, monthly fees, minimum balance fees or overdraft fees. Another perk: You get an instant discount of 2.75% when you use this card to shop with other Square sellers.


Helcim: Best Credit Card Processor for Established Businesses

Helcim posts its rates and fees on its website, so you know exactly what you will pay.
The monthly fee includes PCI compliance, virtual terminal access, an online store and more.
Some of its competitors offer lower online processing rates.
Visit Site

Helcim is the best credit card processor for established small businesses that process more than $5,000 per month and want better rates than what flat-rate plans offer. We selected Helcim because in addition to being one of the most transparent credit card companies in the industry, it provides interchange-plus pricing to all of its merchants and posts its complete rates and fees on its website so you know exactly what you'll pay. Its rates are low, it offers volume-based discounts, and it's one of the few companies with a rate lock, guaranteeing its margin won't increase over the life of your account.

It has in-person, online, and mobile processing, plus more advanced solutions such as invoicing, recurring payments, a hosted online store and payment pages, and online food ordering. The company provides services on a month-to-month basis, charges no early termination fee and has 24/7 phone support.

Read Review

National Processing: Best Credit Card Processor for Low Transaction Rates

National Processing has some of the lowest interchange-plus rates of the companies we evaluated.
All customers are assigned a dedicated account representative.
National Processing charges a termination fee. Closing your account without paying this fee can be tricky. You'll need to provide the company with a quote for lower pricing elsewhere and allow National Processing to "meet or beat" it.

National Processing is our best pick for low transaction rates because it charges interchange-plus rates that beat many of its competitors. It also has a rate-lock guarantee that ensures you don't unexpectedly pay more to process card payments.

This credit card processor offers three pricing models for retailers, restaurants, and e-commerce companies – all three plans cost $9.95 per month and include the rate lock guarantee. Restaurants pay 0.14% plus 7 cents per transaction, retailers pay 0.18% plus 10 cents per transaction, and e-commerce businesses pay 0.3% plus 15 cents per transaction.

Like other credit card processors, National Processing charges fees. It does charge customers a a PCI compliance fee, which some processors do not charge. You aren't forced to sign a long-term contract with National Processing, which is another plus. However, National Processing does charge a termination fee. The company will waive this fee if your business is sold or closed, or if National Processing can't match or beat a rival's credit card processing rate. You'll also pay the fee if you leave without considering National Processing's counteroffer. The company will pay you $500 if it can't beat your current rate. However, you won't pay National Processing an annual fee or have to meet a monthly minimum.

National Processing, similar to other credit card processors we evaluated, provides customers with a merchant account. With this account, you can process payments in person, online or via mobile devices. You can also send one-time and recurring invoices and accept payments via its billing software. Through the software, you can gain access to tools that lower the likelihood of fraud and chargebacks. Additionally, with this credit card processor, you get ACH processing, QuickBooks integration and a virtual terminal. With a virtual terminal, you can accept credit card payments when customers enter their information on your e-store or when they pay by digital invoice on your website.

National Processing's customer service was another reason we selected it as a best pick. We like that you get a dedicated account representative who is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. MT. Tech support is available 24/7.

When it comes to processing payments, you want to pay the lowest price possible, but you don't want to sacrifice service. With National Processing, you don't have to. You get price stability due to its flat-rate pricing and rate-lock guarantee, and you get the flexibility of no long-term contracts.

Read Review

Flagship Merchant Services: Best Credit Card Processor for Flexible Contracts

There's no long-term contracts or cancellation fees to pay with Flagship.
Flagship customers can choose between interchange-plus or tiered processing rates.
Flagship charges a PCI compliance fee.

Small business owners don't want to be locked into a long-term contract with exorbitant fees to pay to get out of it. They want flexibility and freedom, which they get with Flagship Merchant Services, our pick for the best credit card processor offering flexible contracts.

Flagship Merchant Services is a full-service payment processing company that charges on a month-to-month basis and has no cancellation fees. The credit card processor offers two pricing models: There's the more popular interchange-plus rate or a tiered pricing model.

Pricing with the latter model can get confusing as there are multiple tiers. Flagship doesn't list its prices online for either pricing model. You will need to contact the company to get a customized quote.

Flagship Merchant Services also sells a variety of credit card processing hardware so you can easily accept payments in-store, on the go and online. For example, Flagship sells a simple credit card terminal with a built-in PIN pad for new businesses, or for more established businesses, Flagship offers a comprehensive POS system. It sells terminals and POS equipment from Verifone and Clover, among other vendors. It is possible to get free equipment from Flagship (a free Clover Mini credit card processing terminal); however, you must sign a three-year contract. We recommend that you purchase your card processing reader or terminal, though, so you can keep your month-to-month service terms. Your Flagship account also comes with an online reporting tool that you can use to analyze your sales data.

Flagship offers good customer service. You get a dedicated account representative, who is available during regular business hours. (Flagship is based in Birmingham, Alabama.) If you need help with your account after hours, 24/7 technical support is also available – you can visit Flagship's site, provide your contact info, and submit your request.


Paysafe: Best Credit Card Processor for Online Businesses

PaySafe supports e-cash payments.
You can make recurring payments and send invoices with PaySafe.
To compare its interchange-plus and tiered pricing plans, you will need to contact the company.

Whether your business accepts e-invoice or online payments, you need a credit card processor that understands e-commerce, can process a variety of payments, works with a variety of POS devices, and can transform your smartphone into a mobile checkout device. PaySafe is our pick as the best credit card processor for online businesses.

We like that PaySafe enables business owners to accept cash for online purchases, an attribute that not all credit card processors have. Using PaySafe's "eCash" service, customers can pay cash for their purchases by entering a 16-digit code. That opens up new opportunities for you to do business with customers who've been wary to buy online, or who previously couldn't. With Flagship's eCash service, you can reach international customers and consumers who don't have a credit card or bank account.

If you need a POS system, PaySafe offers Clover POS hardware. PaySafe includes PCI compliance without charging you a fee (many other processors charge a separate fee for PCI compliance), plus you can send invoices and set up recurring payments. PaySafe's focus on PCI compliance stood out to us. You don't want to face hefty fines because you didn't follow the proper security protocols. We like that both PaySafe's out-of-the-box and customizable checkout platforms place a lot of focus on protecting consumers from security breaches.

PaySafe is the parent company of Skrill and Neteller, two e-money transfer services. Through the two digital wallets, customers can make real-time payments at more than 25,000 online merchants in more than 40 currencies. If you sell goods internationally, support for these two digital wallets can drive sales growth. The credit card processor has a remittance tool for transferring and receiving money internationally. There are also customization features with PaySafe, including the ability to set up payouts, splits, flows, and routing preferences, that should appeal to online businesses that need a specialized credit card processing and payment solution.

PaySafe doesn't disclose pricing on its website. You must fill out an online form or contact the company to get a quote.

E-commerce is booming, and that trend won't disappear – small businesses will increasingly need to accept different forms of payments. To do that successfully, they need a credit card processor capable of accepting different payment methods. PaySafe stands out in that regard, making it our best pick for online businesses.


Chase Merchant Services: Best Credit Card Processor for All-Sized Businesses

Chase offers both flat-rate and interchange-plus pricing.
Chase Merchant Services offers POS and e-commerce capabilities.
Flat-rate pricing can be expensive if your business has a high sales volume.

Whether you're growing or an established business, Chase Merchant Services has a credit card processing plan for you. Chase offers flat rate plans and interchange-plus pricing depending on your sale volume. We like that you can continue to grow with this credit card processor and that it works with you to lower your fees, which is why we chose it as our best pick for established businesseall-sized businessess. 

Chase Merchant Services is a popular payment processor, serving businesses of all sizes both in the U.S. and abroad. It supports many industries and is ideal for established businesses that seek competitive pricing and tools to boost their growth further.

There are several pricing options Chase Merchant Services offers depending on the size of your business. The flat-rate plans are best suited for businesses that process less than $5,000 a month and have an account with Chase. Chase Merchant Services charges 2.6% plus 10 cent, for in-person transactions and 3.5% plus 10 cents for manually entered, or keyed-in, transactions.

If you process more than $5,000 a month in credit card sales, Chase offers interchange-plus pricing. Chase doesn't list its interchange-plus pricing on its website, but instead requires you to contact a sales representative. According to Chase Merchant Services, they will work with you to lower your credit card processing rates and will review your recent statements to find ways to reduce your card processing costs. After a year as a customer, you can request a pricing review to see if you can gain more savings.

We also selected Chase Merchant Services as the best credit card processor for established businesses because it is competitively priced and offers a lot of options for growing enterprises. Its mobile credit card processing solution is one example of that. Merchants can accept payments through the Chase Mobile app or the Chase Mobile Checkout app, which works on iPhones, iPads, and Android devices. You can also create product catalogs, email and text receipts, provide refunds, do a host of other functions directly from the mobile app.

You have a choice as to which payment gateway you want to use. You can use Chase's own Orbital Gateway or a partner payment gateway, such as Authorize.net. Chase Merchant Services integrates with more than 140 apps, including Shopify, Volusion and WooCommerce.

Chase Merchant Services has been in the credit card processing market for decades and continues to be a popular choice for small business owners. Its flexible and competitive pricing, robust mobile apps, and full suite of services make it our best pick for established businesses.


Costs, Fees and Equipment for Credit Card Processing

Cost is one of the most important factors to examine when deciding which credit card processing service to use. You don't want to overpay thousands of dollars for the convenience of accepting credit and debit cards from customers.

What Costs Should You Expect for Credit Card Processing?

There are usually three sets of costs involved when choosing a credit card processor. These include:

  • Rates. These are the processing fees that you pay for each transaction. Rates are typically a percentage of the total sale amount. In addition to the rate, card processors charge you a few cents on top of the per-transaction rate. 
  • Fees. Processors charge account service fees. Most processors charge these fees monthly, which are reflected on your statement; others, though, may be levied quarterly or annually. 

Credit Card Processing Rates

The rate you pay a credit card processor comprises three parts: the interchange rate, the card brand's assessment fee and the processor's markup. The interchange rate and the assessment fee are set by the card networks, and everyone pays the same amount – this portion of the rate is non-negotiable. Each processor sets their own margin, though, so that portion is negotiable.

From these three parts, processors create their rate structure or pricing model. Here are the three main rate structures to know:

  • Flat-rate pricing. For businesses that process less than $5,000 per month or have very small sales tickets, flat-rate pricing is usually the most affordable option, because all you pay is a fee for each transaction – there may be no monthly or annual account fees to pay. (However, some fees, such as a PCI compliance fee, may still apply.) 
  • Interchange-plus pricing. For businesses that generate a lot in credit card sales, interchange-plus pricing is the model industry experts recommend. The reason is that the price you're quoted is the processor's markup (remember, this is the only aspect of pricing that is negotiable) – so you know exactly what the processor's cut is for each transaction, which you can easily compare as you evaluate pricing from multiple processors. 
  • Tiered, or bundled, pricing. With a tiered pricing model, the processor bundles the interchange rates, assessment fees, their markup and separates them into three tiers: qualified, midqualified, and nonqualified. They usually only advertise the qualified rate (which applies to regular debit cards accepted in person using a card reader) and only discloses the other tiers if you specifically ask for them. It's impossible to determine the processor's markup with a tiered pricing model, and the number of tiers (and the types of transactions that go into each tier) vary by processor, so it's difficult to know if the rates you're offered are good or not.

What Is the Average Fee for Credit Card Processing?

The average credit card processing fee ranges from 2% to 4% of each sale. Here are some of the factors that determine the per-transaction cost:

  • The type of card your customer uses (debit, credit, rewards, premium rewards, corporate)
  • How you accept the card (in-person using a card reader, manually keyed in, online)
  • The pricing structure your processor uses (flat rate, interchange plus, tiered)

What Fees Come With Credit Card Processing?

In addition to the processing fees you pay per transaction, there can be several additional fees you must pay, and where it gets especially confusing is that each processor may charge a fee or fees that another processor may not charge ‒ it's hard to know which fees are standard and which ones are superfluous.

Processors that charge flat rates usually don't charge account service fees, but there are still some incidental fees to be aware of. Here are some examples:

  • Monthly fee. This fee, which is sometimes called a statement fee, covers customer service and statement preparation. It ranges from $5 to $15 per month, though it may be higher if it covers additional services like PCI compliance and gateway fees. 
  • Payment gateway fee. This is also a monthly fee. It covers the usage of the payment gateway, which allows you to accept payments online. The cost varies, depending on the payment gateway, but is often comparable to the monthly fee ($5-$15 monthly). 
  • Monthly minimum fee. Some processors require you to generate a certain dollar amount in processing fees each month. For some processors, the monthly minimum is $25, but some processors set it higher. If you meet this number, you're charged the difference. 
  • PCI compliance fee. All full-service processors require merchants to complete a PCI compliance questionnaire each year. Not all processors charge this fee, but for those that do, the average cost is $100 per year. If you don't complete your PCI questionnaire, you're charged an expensive PCI noncompliance fee until you do. 
  • Network fees. These fees are charged by the card networks and are passed on to you as either monthly or annual fees. Examples of these fees are Mastercard's Merchant Location Fee and Visa's Fixed Acquirer Network Fee.

There are some incidental fees to be aware of ‒ fees you pay that are triggered by a certain action. Here are some examples:

  • Chargeback fee. When a customer disputes a transaction, you're charged this fee. It usually costs $15 or $20 per incident, but it may be as high as $45. Some processors, but not all, refund this fee if you win the dispute. 
  • Address Verification Service (AVS) fee. AVS is an anti-fraud tool that verifies the address and ZIP code of the cardholder. It usually costs a few cents per transaction. 
  • Voice authorization. This is another anti-fraud feature that requires you to call the credit card company to provide them with additional information about the transaction. It's rarely required, but you're charged for each occurrence. 
  • Batch fee. This is a small daily fee you pay when you close out the day's sales. It usually costs the same amount as your per-transaction fee, which is typically between 10 and 30 cents. Not all processors charge this fee. 
  • Non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee. This is a fee you are charged if you don't have enough money in your business bank account to pay the fees you owe the processor.

What Equipment Does a Business Owner Need to Process Payments?

At a minimum, you'll need either a phone or tablet credit card reader or a credit card terminal. Additional hardware, also called peripherals, like cash drawers, receipt printers and barcode readers can be added to your system.

When you're shopping for a card reader or terminal, look for one that lets you accept magstripe cards, chip cards, and contactless cards and mobile wallets. The best credit card readers have these capabilities and typically cost less than $100 (usually between $20 and $50). If you prefer a terminal, a basic one with these capabilities usually costs $200 to $300.

TipTip: The best credit card reader for small business owners may be a mobile credit card reader used with a smartphone or tablet and the processor's app, of course. It's an affordable choice, and you save further because you can email or text receipts to your customers, so you don't have to buy a receipt printer (or paper)!

What Is Credit Card Processing, and How Does It Work?

Credit card processing is the method used to transfer money from a customer's credit card account (or bank account, in the case of debit card transactions) to a merchant's account to pay for a purchase. The process is simple and fast for both the merchant and the customer; it only takes a few seconds for the transaction to be complete. Behind the scenes, however, the process of moving money is complex, as the data must travel between the merchant, their processor, the credit card brand's network, the customer's bank and the merchant's bank.

Why Do Businesses Need Credit Card Processing?

Credit card processing allows you to accept payments from your customers who pay using a credit card, debit card, or a mobile wallet like Apple Pay or Google Pay. You need to be able to accept these payment methods because that's how most customers prefer to pay. Cash use continues to decline, particularly in light of the pandemic as customers and merchants opt for contactless and online payments.

What Are the Benefits of Credit Card Processing for Businesses?

There are a few additional benefits to accepting your customers' preferred payment method. First, customers can spend more when they shop with a credit card than when they pay cash. Second, you won't lose potential sales from customers who don't carry cash.

What Are the Basics Business Owners Should Know About Credit Card Processing?

You have a lot of options when it comes to credit card processing, but there are some processors that are accessible for nearly every business – even for solopreneurs and freelancers.

If you are an entrepreneur or a freelancer just starting out, consider a mobile credit card processing company like Square, which has flat rates, no contracts, a free mobile credit card processing app and affordable card readers that connect to a phone or tablet. Then, as your business grows and your processing volume increases, you can add more equipment and features, or you can switch to a more advanced payment processing service.

Here's why we like mobile credit card processors for new businesses:

  • Low startup costs. You already have a smartphone or even perhaps a tablet; the only thing you need to buy to start accepting credit cards is a card reader. Some processors give you a free swiper when you sign up, but you want a model that accepts chip cards and contactless payments. These readers cost less than $100 (usually $20 to $50). 
  • Pay-as-you-go fees. Most flat-rate processors only charge you when you run a card – you pay a flat rate for each transaction. This rate looks higher than what some processors advertise, but that's because you aren't paying monthly account service fees. If you opt for a full-service processor, look for one that has interchange-plus pricing ‒ it's more transparent and economical than tiered (or bundled) pricing structures. 
  • No monthly minimum. Some processors have a monthly minimum, which means you're required to process enough sales each month to generates a certain dollar amount in processing fees. If you rarely accept credit cards, don't yet know yet how much you'll process each month or have a seasonal business, you don't want to work with a processor that charges this fee. 
  • No contract. Standard credit card processing contracts have three-year terms and automatically renew for additional one-year terms with just a 30-day window at the end of the term to cancel. If you want to cancel your account but miss that window and then cancel, you're charged an expensive early termination fee. If you choose a full-service processor, look for one that has month-to-month terms. The best credit card processors don't make you sign a lengthy contract to keep your business.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Credit Card Processing Secure?

As a small business owner, you must remain vigilant against credit card fraud. Though most headlines focus on data breaches at major retail chains, small businesses are vulnerable, too. Small businesses can shore up their credit card processing security measures by doing two things.

The first measure is to ensure that you comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Created by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and JCB in 2006, this standard requires that businesses meet certain criteria to ensure their transactions are as secure as they can be.

The second action is to upgrade your card reader to accept EMV (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) chip cards. Most credit cards have a chip embedded into one end of the card, and having the technology to read it makes the transaction significantly more secure, because the chip is harder to counterfeit than the standard magnetic strip.

How Can You Avoid Credit Card Processing Fees?

Credit card processing companies rely on fees to make their money, so there's no way to completely eliminate credit card processing fees. If you feel that you're paying too much in fees, you can negotiate with credit card processors to reduce them. If you can accept cards in person instead of over the phone or online, you'll also save money on fees.

Another option is to set a minimum transaction amount that customers must meet before they can pay with a credit card. By doing this, you can ensure you come out on top of the transaction, since it makes more financial sense to pay the fee on a $10 purchase than a $2 one. The major credit card networks have rules about minimum transaction amounts, so verify that your policy complies with their rules.

Similarly, you can move the fee to your customers entirely by using cash discounts or surcharging. Many gas stations use this method, where a gallon of gas is discounted if you pay with cash. Though this may cause potential customers to take their business elsewhere, it could encourage people who prefer paying with cash to frequent your store more often. If you go this route, check the credit card networks' rules for surcharging to ensure you follow best practices.

How Much Are Credit Card Processing Fees for Consumers?

Consumers usually don't pay credit card processing fees. Some processors advertise surcharging programs that pass processing fees to your customers, but these programs aren't popular with consumers, and it could be risky for you.

Before implementing such a program, you need to know your customers and determine if they would accept it or if it would lead them to shop elsewhere. As mentioned above, the credit card networks have rules for surcharging that you must follow.

How Long Can a Merchant Hold an Authorization?

Authorization holds vary depending on the status of the transaction and the card issuer's self-imposed time limits. For most transactions, a merchant has up to 30 days to clear an authorization hold, though some credit card companies like Visa and Discover have significantly shorter time limits before such authorizations "fall off" the account. By failing to complete a transaction hold, you run the risk of being charged a misuse fee by the credit card processing company.

What Are the Typical Credit Card Processing Fees?

Credit card processors charge a variety of fees. Some are etched in stone; others are negotiable. On the non-negotiable front is the interchange fee. It's the fee charged by card-issuing banks on every transaction made with their credit cards. That fee is passed on to the merchant. The amount charged is based on what type of credit card the customer uses, whether the transaction is in person or online, and the amount of the purchase. The riskier the payment method is, the more you'll pay in interchange fees.

The assessment or service fee is another non-negotiable cost. Payment processors must pay it to the card networks, and they pass that fee on to the merchant.

The payment processor's markup is the fee you can negotiate, depending on your vendor. This is the fee the payment processor charges to use its services.

What Should I Look for in a Credit Card Processor?

When looking for a credit card processor that is right for you and your business, consider the fees the processor charges, the terms of the contract, and the service it provides. You don't want to be stuck with a payment processor that doesn't have live customer support or is impossible to reach when you have a problem. You also want one that will work with you to ensure you remain PCI compliant, that offers EMV-supported card readers and that accepts multiple payment methods.

What Pricing Structures Are Available for Credit Card Processing?

There are three main credit card processing models: tiered pricing, interchange-plus and flat-rate pricing. With tiered pricing, the credit card processor charges you the interchange rate, an assessment fee, and its markup in different tiers. There are usually three tiers, but some vendors have up to six. The rates might vary by transaction type and credit card. It's difficult to compare the costs of vendors with tiered pricing.

Interchange-plus pricing is a structure in which credit card processors charge you the interchange rate, the assessment fees and their markup. You know exactly how much you are paying for the transaction, since the markup stays the same regardless of the type of card or transaction.

With a flat-rate pricing model, the vendor charges you a fixed percentage of each sale – it doesn't matter if your customer is using a Visa, Mastercard or any other credit card. There could also be a per-transaction fee that's dependent on whether it was an in-person or card-not-present payment.

How Long Does It Take to Settle Credit Card Sales?

It typically takes 24 hours to three days to settle a credit card sale. It depends on the merchant account provider and the type of merchant account you have. Thanks to advances in payment technology, the turnaround to clear credit card sales is faster than it used to be.

Community Expert Insight

Part of our research involved reaching out to small business owners and asking them to tell us about their experiences with the credit card processors they use and what they like about them.

David Ciccarelli, CEO of Voices.com chose PayPal as his business's first credit card processor more than 15 years ago. His business initially used PayPal's payment buttons that redirected customers to a PayPal payment page. Now, he uses its secure webform that allows Voices.com customers to stay on the company's website. In addition to the ability to design the user experience, Ciccarelli likes that PayPal continually updates and improves its systems.

"As an online marketplace, we exclusively accept credit cards online and appreciate all the built-in fraud prevention and security controls that PayPal has in place. Despite being one of the oldest payment processors on the web, PayPal has remained relevant, updating their systems, reporting and security protocols each year," Ciccarelli told Business News Daily.  

Lisa Chu, owner of Black N Bianco, was impressed with Stripe's security protocols, and it was one of the factors that led her to choose it as the credit card processor for her business, which accepts credit cards online and in person. Chu notes that Stripe isn't the cheapest processor but feels that it's worth the price.

"The only gripe I have about Stripe are the transaction fees. They are not high, but they certainly are not the lowest," she said. "However, its ease of use, integration capabilities and secure transactions make it one of the best credit card processors. I would recommend it to every business."

Rod Holmes, managing partner and director of sales for Pilot Digital Marketing, uses Intuit for his business's payment processing services. Since his business uses QuickBooks accounting software, using its parent company to accept credit cards and facilitate ACH transactions made sense.

"There's no bookwork," said Holmes. "This was the most important factor for me when we were just getting started and I didn't have an office manager. When an invoice is paid online, all the bookwork associated with the transaction is done automatically. No integrations. No hassles. It just works."

He also likes that Intuit has an ACH option, which allows his customers to pay their invoices via bank transfer, which is less expensive than credit card processing – particularly for high-dollar invoices.

Homes said that although he now gets a great credit card processing rate, he had to negotiate for it, calling Intuit several times asking for better pricing.

"I agreed to use their system for two months and then they'd evaluate our usage and our rate. I called on day 60 and they cut the rate. I called again in 90 days and they cut the rate. I've called probably four or five times and they cut the rate each time," he said.

Key takeaway: The small business leaders we heard from value security, reliability and convenience, though cost is also a chief concern.

What to Expect in 2021

Consumer have high expectations when it comes to credit card payments (and they don't always understand the intricacies involved with credit card processing); therefore, you want to work with a credit card processor that helps you meet these expectations, which include a "fast, frictionless experience" that is also secure, according to 92% of the 7,000 North American and European consumers surveyed for an Ekata report.

Mobile technologies present several ways to fulfill this expectation, and as such, will continue to play an important role in the payments industry in 2021. In addition to mobile credit card processing that allows you to accept payments wherever your customer is, you also need to accept payments in multiple ways.

If you have an online store, it needs to be mobile-friendly, because consumers enjoy shopping on their phones. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, in addition to having a card reader that accepts chip cards, you also need it to accept contactless payments – mobile wallets like Apple Pay and contactless cards.

But for contactless cards – which use the same near-field communication technology as mobile wallets – adoption may happen faster. The COVID-19 pandemic had a major impact on how people pay merchants, according to Square, which revealed data that suggests a major spike in cashless transactions in recent months.

According to the company, just 5.4% of Square sellers were cashless in February 2020 – but that percentage jumped to 23.2% in April. As states relaxed their restrictions and more retail locations reopened, the percentage has gone back down and settled at 13.4% in August.

Square economist Felipe Chacon said he believed the findings showed "a significant and stabilizing increase in cashless adoption rates compared to pre-pandemic, with business owners increasingly reliant upon contactless and online payments and consumers utilizing those alternatives." He suggested that COVID-19 will impact how people conduct business for years to come.

As for new mobile payment technologies, the Payment Card Industry (PCI) released its standards for contactless payments, and it indicates that card readers may not be needed for mobile credit card processing; merchants may be able to accept payments using just a mobile device and a payments app.

PCI SSC Senior Vice President Troy Leach said the PCI standards and program for contactless payments "provide merchants the option to use validated solutions that require no additional hardware to accept contactless transactions."

In addition to a "fast, frictionless experience," consumers expect their data to be secure. Though EMV adoption has been extremely effective in reducing incidents of card-present fraud, card-not-present fraud is rampant. Over a five-year period – from 2018 to 2023 – retailers will lose $130 billion to card-not-present fraud, according to Juniper Research.

Payment processing companies are projected to spend close to $10 billion by 2023 to detect and prevent fraud. In a TSYS blog, Scott Talbott, senior vice president of government affairs at the Electronic Transactions Association, explained the technologies that processors are investing in to prevent fraud, writing, "These tools are powered by technological advancements like machine learning, biometrics, geolocation tools and artificial intelligence. They are critically important in the fight against increasingly sophisticated criminals."

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: In 2021, the credit card processing industry will continue to focus on mobile and contactless technology, with the goal of improving the customer experience.

Our Methodology

To help you find the right credit card processing solution, we researched and analyzed more than 100 options. Here's an explanation of how we chose our 2021 best picks.

Locating the Best Services

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

Choosing the Best Services

Next, we created a comprehensive list of more than 100 credit card processors suitable for small businesses. Our list included those mentioned by the small business owners we spoke to, the processors we were familiar with and those that contacted us asking to be considered. In addition to these providers, we looked at credit card processing companies that appeared on reputable online sources, such as merchant services review sites and business websites.

Researching Each Service

We then researched these vendors and narrowed our list down based on different use-case scenarios (i.e., the best picks categories). Our research consisted of reviewing each processor's website, watching videos, reading how-to guides, and browsing help resources.

Analyzing Each Service

From our narrowed lists, we contacted the companies' sales and customer support reps to get a better idea of the quality of service they offer and to find information that isn't readily available online. We compared pricing, contract terms and features to select our best picks, which are Fattmerchant, Square, Payment Depot, National Processing, Clover, Chase Merchant Account Services, Flagship Merchant Services, Paysafe, ProMerchant, and Merchant One.

Donna Fuscaldo
Donna Fuscaldo
Business News Daily Staff
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A lifetime New Yorker, I am a veteran finance and business journalist that has contributed to several national media outlets including Forbes, Investopedia, and Bankrate.com. I have spent my career providing consumers and business owners with advice and guidance to help them navigate the world of finance. As a senior finance writer, I report on all aspects of finance from managing cash flow to choosing the best accounting software.

Full List of Credit Card Processors

2Checkout, formerly Avangate, is a global payment platform that allows companies to accept online payments for physical goods, digital software and subscriptions from buyers worldwide. According to the company, it offers a preintegrated payments gateway, PCI compliance, international fraud prevention and integration with more than 120 shopping carts.
Amazon Pay, formerly known as Amazon Payments, is a credit card processing service for online merchants. You add its familiar checkout button to your website, and your customers use their Amazon credentials to complete their transactions. You pay a flat percentage of each sale and a per-transaction fee. There's no long-term contract or monthly, annual, gateway or PCI compliance fees.
Auric aims to provide businesses with affordable credit card processing. With this service, your business pays a monthly fee but passes the 3.99% credit card fee for each transaction to your customers as a service charge, which the platform removes, or discounts, when customers use cash.
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. Mobile credit card processing is also available. Features include advanced fraud detection, customer information management, invoicing, recurring billing and e-check processing.
BankCard USA offers all types of credit card processing solutions for small businesses, including wireless and mobile processing, e-commerce solutions and POS systems. It claims to have a guaranteed low rate, but its rates and fees aren't clearly disclosed on its website. BankCard USA promises same-day application decisions.
BASYS provides in-store, mobile and online credit card processing services with free online reporting. It sells processing equipment – including Clover POS systems and EMV-compliant terminals. It offers next-day funding, gift card and loyalty programs, a surcharging program and merchant cash advance lending.
Best Merchant Rates boasts everyday low rates and posts its interchange-plus pricing on its website. The company states that there are no long-term contract or cancellation fees, so you won't have to worry about any unpleasant surprises. It sells processing equipment or, if you already have hardware, reprograms it for free.
BlueSnap has an all-in-one payment platform for B2B and B2C businesses that supports omnichannel processing. With it, you can accept payments from online, mobile and in-store sales, as well as from invoices and subscriptions. It supports more than 100 payment types, including mobile wallets.
Want to accept more than one type of online payment? Braintree, a PayPal company, lets you accept PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo and more using a single integration into your website or app. You can also accept more than 130 currencies. Volume pricing is available for companies processing $80,000 or more per month.
The business offers a large quantity of services ranging from merchant services to HR services to consulting. Card Z3N's merchant services and credit card processing offerings are designed specifically with small businesses in mind.
CDG Commerce provides in-store, mobile and online credit card processing services for businesses of all sizes across multiple industries. It doesn't require you to sign a contract, and it integrates with more than 50 accounting software programs, e-commerce platforms and CRM systems.
Century Business Solutions provides in-store, mobile and online payment solutions for businesses of all sizes across multiple industries. It doesn't require you to sign a contract, and it integrates with more than 50 accounting software programs, e-commerce platforms and CRM systems.
Change Merchant Solutions offers a choice between flat and interchange-plus pricing, and every six months it invites its merchants to submit a statement for an audit to ensure their rates haven’t increased. It works with new businesses and can approve applications as quickly as same day. It doesn’t charge setup or cancellation fees.
Charge.com merchant accounts let you process credit cards online and offline, even if you have bad credit or are a high-risk merchant. The company says it offers low rates, but it only posts its qualified debit card rate on its website. It comes with free setup, software, online shopping cart, and terminal or credit card reader.
Cornerstone offers merchant accounts, a variety of processing equipment and its own online payment gateway, so you can accept credit card payments in-store, online and on the go. It pairs its customers with a dedicated account executive, so you'll have a consistent contact throughout the life of your account.
Accept VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and STAR credit and debit cards with a merchant account from CreditCardProcessing.com, a Paysafe (formerly iPayment) company. It offers solutions for retail, restaurant and e-commerce businesses, including POS systems, mobile credit card processing, and a virtual terminal for phone and mail orders.
Credit Card Processing Specialists advertises a free terminal, no long-term contract and a low-rate guarantee, though it only shows its qualified debit card rate on its website. It offers industry-specific merchant accounts, a variety of processing services and third-party software integration (including QuickBooks).
Currencycloud is a cross-border payments platform based in New York and London that helps B2B businesses accept payments from international customers. It provides real-time exchange rates and has a global collections program that provides your clients with virtual, local account numbers so you can receive payments faster.

We selected Dharma Merchant Services as the best credit card processor for businesses with high sales volume – more than $10,000 per month – because of its low rates, single monthly fee, high-quality customer service and lack of long-term contract. It also provides nice features, some at no additional cost, such as a virtual terminal, a mobile app, online payment links, and next-day funding for in-person sales.

Interchange-Plus Rates

Dharma uses the interchange-plus pricing model for all of its merchants, which is the pricing model that industry experts recommend as the most cost-effective option for most businesses. In addition to posting its markup on its website, it provides samples of what the actual processing cost will be for different types of transactions with all fees added in: interchange, assessments and Dharma's margin.

Here's what it costs to accept credit cards using Dharma Merchant Services:

  • In-person processing with Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards, accepted using a card reader: 15% + $0.07 above interchange
  • In-person processing with American Express cards, accepted using a card reader: 25% + $0.07 above interchange
  • Online and card-not-present processing with Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards: 2% + $0.10 above interchange
  • Online and card-not-present processing with American Express cards: 3% + $0.10 above interchange
  • Merchants that process more than $100,000 in sales or 5,000 transactions per month qualify for even lower pricing, at 1% + $0.05 above interchange for both in-person and online transactions.

Credit Card Processing Fees

Like other full-service credit card processors, Dharma Merchant Services charges a monthly fee. However, this is the only regular account fee you'll pay.

  • The $20 monthly fee includes online reporting, customer support, PCI compliance, access to a virtual terminal and mobile processing.
  • Merchants that process more than $100,000 in sales or 5,000 transactions per month qualify for a lower monthly fee of $15.

Optional and Incidental Fees

There are some incidental fees that every processor charges when they're triggered by certain actions. 

  • Chargeback fee: $25. You pay this fee if one of your customers calls their credit card company to dispute the sale.
  • Invoicing app: $10 per month. You can email or text invoices to your customers using this app. It also supports recurring payments.
  • Insights app: $10 per month. This app provides deeper analytics and insights into your customers than you can get from regular reporting. It also connects to your social media accounts to schedule and post messages across multiple platforms.
  • B2B processing: $20 per month. If you accept a lot of payments from other businesses, level two and level three processing could save you money.
  • Online ordering: $49 per month. You can offer pickup and delivery services with this feature.
  • PCI noncompliance fee: $24.95 per month. You'll only be charged this fee if you allow your PCI compliance to lapse.
  • Voice authorization fee: $1.50. You only pay this in the rare instance that you're prompted to contact a customer's bank to verify a charge while ringing up a sale (for instance, if a customer is making a large purchase at your store but has a fraud alert on their credit card).
  • Wireless fee: $20 per month. The company says most merchants won't pay this fee – it only applies to merchants that use wireless terminals.

Here's a list of the fees you won't pay with Dharma Merchant Services:

  • No annual fee
  • No monthly minimum
  • No PCI compliance fee
  • No early termination fee
  • No batch fee
  • No AVS fee
  • No IRS/regulatory fee
  • No gross funding fee
  • No bank charge fee
  • No account update fee
  • No virtual terminal fee

Processing Equipment Costs

Several brand-name payment terminals are available through Dharma, including the popular Clover POS systems. One of the things we like about Dharma is that it doesn't try to lure customers into signing lengthy contracts with "free terminal" offers or take advantage of customers with predatory leases (which are notorious in this industry). Instead, it charges fair prices and posts them clearly on its website. If you need financing, it offers interest-free payment plans over three months.

According to Dharma's website, it only sells the current models of the terminals it offers to ensure that they are "future-proofed" (i.e., won't quickly become obsolete). If you already have a terminal, you may be able to continue using it if it's a current, unlocked model and Dharma is able to reprogram it.

Here are some of the processing hardware models available and what they cost.

  • Verifone VX 520 terminal: $179. This terminal accepts magstripe and chip cards and has a PIN pad.
  • First Data FD150 terminal: $295. With this model, you can accept magstripe, chip cards, and contactless payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay. It also has a PIN pad.
  • Clover Flex: $499. This hand-held device accepts magstripe, chip cards, and contactless payments and has a built-in barcode scanner.
  • Walker 2: $99. This mobile card reader accepts magstripe, chip and contactless payments. Bluetooth and audio jack models are available, and it can be used with iPhones, iPads, and Android devices.


Dharma Merchant Services doesn't require you to sign a long-term contract; it provides service on a month-to-month basis. As such, there's no early termination fee.

These are important considerations when you're working with a full-service credit card processor. Many others hold you to a standard three-year contract and charge hundreds of dollars (or more, if they have a liquidated damages clause) if you decide to close your account before the end of the terms – which can be tricky, since these contracts automatically renew and you have a very short window (usually 30 days) at the end of the term when you can cancel without penalty.


As a full-service payment processing company, Dharma Merchant Services sets you up with your own merchant account. As such, it requires you to provide more information to set up your account than processors like Square or PayPal, and your online application must be approved. Dharma says it usually approves applications in two days, but some merchants can be approved the same day they apply.

Here are some of the features Dharma Merchant Services offers:

  • Mobile processing. Dharma offers the MX Merchant Express app for mobile processing on both Apple and Android devices. You can accept payments, prompt for tips, and email or text receipts to customers with it.
  • Level two and three processing. This service costs extra, but if your business accepts credit card payments from other businesses or government agencies, this type of processing can save you money. It provides a greater level of information for each transaction – such as the invoice number, purchase order number, tax amount, product code, product description and freight charges – which qualifies you for lower interchange rates.
  • Virtual terminal. This allows you to accept payments over the phone and manually enter the credit card details into your computer.
  • Customer database. You can store your customers' contact information and keep their cards on file, which makes it easy and fast for your regular customers to pay you. You can also use it to look up past payment records for your customers and store notes that help you cater to your customers, such as their birthdays or preferences.
  • Online reporting. From this dashboard, you can run reports that help you analyze your deposits, payments, transactions and customers.
  • Analytics and social media support. Using the Insights app, which costs extra, you can dig into your sales, customer and social media data.
  • Hosted payment links for your website. This feature lets you add secure payment links to your website. When customers click these links, they're taken to a payment page where they can securely enter their credit card information and get a receipt.
  • Invoicing and recurring payments. For an extra cost, you can email and text invoices to your customers, and they can pay you online using the "click to pay" button on their invoice. You can also set up ongoing payments from your customers, such as for subscription services.
  • Online ordering. This feature costs extra as well. With it, you can offer your customers pickup and delivery services.

Customer Support

This credit card processing company offers quality customer support, with a dedicated, U.S.-based support team and noncommissioned account managers. It offers 24/7 phone support, with after-hours calls directed to the company's back-end processor. You can also contact the company by chat and email.

One thing we appreciate about Dharma is that the company lets you know upfront if it's a good match for your business – and if it's not, it recommends other solutions.

If you prefer to figure things out yourself, the website has a searchable knowledgebase and a blog where you can find answers to your processing questions and instructions that walk you through certain features.


Dharma Merchant Services is a great choice for merchants that process more than $10,000 each month, as its low rates can save you a lot of money – especially if you're only paying the monthly fee and don't require the optional services that cost extra. If you do need those extra services, the monthly cost can escalate quickly. When you're evaluating processors, you should include those costs in your pricing comparison to make sure that you'd still be getting a good deal.

Also, like many processors, Dharma doesn't serve high-risk businesses. Before you go through the application process, verify with your sales rep that Dharma works with your business type and that your products or services don't violate its terms.

Due is an online credit card processing service that offers several payment options. You can use it with your online store and digital invoices, and it allows you to accept payments from domestic and international customers. It also offers a time-tracking tool that freelancers and small businesses can use to track their billable time.
Accept credit cards and integrate your credit card terminal or POS system with QuickBooks when you use E-Commerce Exchange. The company also lets you accept international payments, online payments, checks, and EBT. It offers other business services such as small business loans, merchant cash advances and payroll services.
eData provides in-person, mobile, and online credit card processing for U.S. businesses and international businesses, including those that are in high-risk industries. It sells processing equipment, such as the Clover POS system, and offers small business loans, merchant cash advances and marketing services.
Formerly NOVA, Elavon is one of the largest credit card processors in the world. It works with businesses of all sizes, though its focus is small and midsize businesses, and partners with Costco to offer processing services to the wholesale club's business members. Its services include retail, mobile and online credit card processing, and it can provide you with processing equipment as well.
ECS, a division of US Alliance Group, provides merchants with credit and debit card processing services. In addition to mobile credit card readers and countertop checkout terminals, ECS sells and supports ATMs. It offers additional business solutions such as ACH transfers, remote electronic deposits and merchant cash advances.
Also known as EPX, Electronic Payment Exchange has nearly 40 years of experience in the payment processing industry and is a subsidiary of North American Bancard. It uses multiple technologies to secure your processing data end-to-end and provides retail, online, mobile, and ACH processing services.
Electronic Payment Systems offers more than credit card processing. In addition to retail, mobile, and online processing, it provides processing equipment, check processing, loyalty and gift cards, merchant cash advances, and marketing and SEO services.
Electronic Transfer Inc. offers retail, e-commerce, mail, phone and mobile credit card processing solutions. It claims low rates and no hidden fees, but they aren’t posted on its website. It advertises free merchant-account setup and a virtual terminal. It provides 24/7 support.
eMerchant offers credit card processing services for all types of businesses. This includes retail stores, service providers, e-commerce businesses, professional offices and mobile merchants. The company claims to have the lowest rates for card-present transactions but doesn't post them online. It promises fast approvals and quality customer service.
EVO iPOS, a division of EVO Payments International, was formerly known as Sterling Payment Technologies. This full-service credit card processor works with retail, restaurant, B2B, e-commerce and service businesses. It offers credit card readers, POS systems, mobile payment processing and value-added programs like gift cards.

FIS, the result of a 2019 merger between Worldpay and FIS, Vantiv and FIS (Fidelity Information Services), a leading technology provider for financial institutions, is one of the largest credit card processors in the world.

Although FIS is a giant in the payments industry that works with large corporations like banks and ISO/MSP processing companies, it also works directly with small businesses. It offers every form of processing, including omnichannel solutions, and tech savvy businesses can use its developer tools to create custom integrations. It also has very competitive rates and a one-year contract that you can cancel without penalty when you provide 30 days' written notice. For these reasons, we selected FIS as the best direct processor for small businesses. 


Editor's note: Looking for information on credit card processing? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partners will contact you with the information you need: 



Visit our best picks page to see all of our recommendations for credit card processing companies. If you're looking for the processor with the lowest overall pricing, see our pick for the best credit card processing company for small businesses. 

Pricing and Terms

FIS doesn't post its pricing on its website, so you'll need to call the company and speak with a sales rep or fill out the "build a quote" questionnaire to receive a pricing quote via email. 

When we called FIS, posing as a small business owner with a retail store, the sales rep quoted us both interchange-plus and flat rates. We didn't have to specifically request interchange-plus, and the rep recommended this pricing model for us as it would be less expensive. This is impressive – especially from a large processor – as most prefer to set you up with tiered pricing. Industry experts recommend interchange-plus pricing because it is more transparent than other pricing models ‒ the markup percentage and per-transaction fee you pay the processor is the same no matter what type of credit and debit cards you accept. 

Here's what we were quoted. 

  • Interchange-plus rate: 0.20% + $0.10 above interchange
  • Flat rate: 2.75% + $0.15 

Credit Card Processing Fees

There aren't any additional fees for the flat-rate pricing model, but FIS charges a monthly fee for its interchange-plus plan, as do most full-service processors. The contract also notes a monthly chargeback service fee, which is somewhat irregular. If you have two or fewer chargebacks per year, your overall monthly fees are around $20 per month, which is an average dollar amount for total monthly fees. However, if you have more than two chargebacks each year, the monthly rate is higher than average. Most service providers don't charge this fee but instead have a chargeback fee – usually around $25 – that they charge on a per-incidence basis. 

Here are the recurring fees you'll pay if you choose the interchange-plus plan:

  • Monthly fee, which includes PCI compliance support: $5.95 (the rep said this was discounted from the regular amount of $24.95)
  • Monthly minimum: $25
  • Monthly chargeback fee: $10 to $50. The amount you pay for this fee is based on the number of chargebacks you have within a year. If you've had no chargebacks, it costs $10 per month. One or two chargebacks cost $15 per month. Three or four chargebacks cost $20 per month and so on up to $50 per month when you have 22 to 25 chargebacks within a year. If you have 26 or more chargebacks within a year, you're charged $25 each instead of the monthly fee 

Here are the fees you won't pay with FIS:

  • No application or setup fee
  • No early termination or account closure fee when you give 30 days' notice
  • No PCI compliance fee
  • No annual fee
  • No batch fee 

Like most processors, FIS charges some incidental fees on a per-occurrence basis. Here are some examples:

  • Voice authorization or voice address verification services (AVS) fee: $0.60 per occurrence. These are charged when you call the processor to authorize a charge or to verify that the address a cardholder gives you matches the billing address the card issuer has on file.
  • Retrieval fee: $2.50 per occurrence. This is charged when a customer's bank requests additional documentation for a specific charge, usually before initiating a chargeback.
  • Nonsufficient funds: $15 per occurrence. If there's not enough money in your bank account when the company withdraws your regular fees, you'll pay this fee.
  • PCI noncompliance fee: $19.95 per month. The sales rep noted that this is a fee you should never pay, as the company helps you achieve and maintain compliance with the Payment Card Industry's data security standards (PCI DSS). 


FIS deposits the processed money from your transactions into your business bank account within one to three business days. The industry average is two business days. If you need to receive your money faster, the processor has a FastAccess Funding program for qualified merchants. With this program, your money is deposited daily – including weekends and holidays – and is accessible with a debit card that it provides. 


It's important to read through your contract (application, terms of service and program guide) to verify that the rates, fees and terms you were quoted are noted on the application, amended in the contract, or that you receive a written waiver. 

The initial term we were quoted in our testing is for one year, with no cancellation fee if we provide 30 days' written notice. The standard contract has a three-year term that automatically renews with additional one-year terms and requires 90 days' notice before the term expires to cancel your account. The standard contract also has an early termination fee of $495 per location plus liquidated damages (as stated, with the one-year contract, this fee is waived with 30 days' written notice). 


FIS sets you up with a merchant account that lets you accept all major credit and debit cards wherever you do business, whether that's in a brick-and-mortar store or office, on the go at offsite locations or events, on your website, or over the phone.

Here are some of the features FIS offers. 

Processing Equipment Option

You can purchase a terminal or mobile card reader from FIS, and options include models from top brands such as Ingenico, Verifone and PAX. When we called, the sales rep offered us a free EMV-compliant Verifone terminal with no contractual obligations or additional fees. 

Payment Gateway

As one of the world's largest payment processing companies, it's no surprise that it has its own online payment gateway. FIS Gateway Services can be used for both mobile and online transactions. It supports more than 300 types of international payments so your customers can make online payments in their local currencies, which may be an important consideration for global e-commerce businesses. Hosted payment pages are available, as are integrations. 


FIS has more than 1,000 software integrations, so chances are good that it will integrate with your accounting software, e-commerce platforms, shopping carts and point-of-sale systems. This payment processing company doesn't resell POS systems but integrates with hundreds of them, including popular options like Vend, ShopKeep and Lightspeed, so in most instances, you can continue using FIS as your processor. 

Virtual Terminal

You'll need FIS's virtual terminal if you want to process payments using your computer, such as for credit cards you key in when accepting orders over the phone, accepting ACH payments and setting up recurring payments. You'll also need virtual terminal access if you want to use a mobile card reader with your phone or tablet. 

Level II and III Payment Processing Solutions

Businesses with B2B and government customers that collect additional payment details – such as the information typically included on purchase orders and invoices – may qualify for lower interchange fees, which can save you money when you're accepting large payments on corporate credit cards. 


FIS's reporting tools are available through Vantiv iQ, the processor's online self-service platform. With it, you can see your sales data in real time, displayed as colorful graphs on the dashboard. You can also generate reports, set alerts and have your sales data sent to you daily by text or email. 

Developer Tools

If you have developers on staff and want to create a custom payment integration for your website or mobile app, FIS offers multiple tools, including APIs and SDKs with documentation, sample code, developer sandboxes and simulated test environments. It also has a community forum and a developer's blog with payments technology articles, such as a how-to guide for adding Apple Pay to your mobile app and top trends for internet of thing payments. 

Additional Considerations

Here's some additional information about FIS to keep in mind as you look for the best credit card processor for your business. 

Application Process

After you call for a quote, the sales rep sends you a link to an online application. After you fill it out and submit a voided business check, it takes between 24 and 48 hours for the company to approve your application and set up your account. It then ships your terminal and can send it overnight, if needed. 


Data security is a top concern for payment solutions providers. FIS has multiple security protocols in place to help you keep your customers' sensitive payment data safe. It uses point-to-point encryption that prevents hackers from accessing card data as it travels from your system to the processor and tokenization that replaces card details with randomly generated tokens. It requires you to be PCI compliant, and sells EMV-compliant credit card terminals so you can accept chip cards properly and avoid counterfeit fraud liability. 

To help you achieve and maintain PCI compliance, FIS includes its OmniShield Assure program as part of your monthly fee. The sales rep we spoke with explained that the company proactively helps its merchants achieve and maintain PCI compliance. Your rep can help you if you need assistance filling out the annual questionnaire, and the company provides quarterly scans to ensure your system complies with PCI data security standards. It also includes breach insurance that covers up to $100,000 of your liability, should you experience a data breach. 

Customer Service

FIS provides its merchants with 24/7/365 customer support across multiple channels, including phone, live chat, email and online contact forms. When we called the credit card processing company, posing as a small business retailer, the sales rep we spoke with was eager to work with us and offered interchange-plus rates and favorable terms. After our call, she followed up with us quickly, with a link to an application that included the rates she quoted us and terms of service for us to review. 

The company's website is searchable, and you can find educational articles about credit card processing and detailed information about the services FIS provides. You can also visit the subscription center to sign up for newsletters, product updates, promotions and information about events the company is hosting or attending. On its support page, you'll find phone numbers, login links and support guides for its online payment gateway. If you stumble across the old Vantiv support page, you'll find a searchable knowledgebase and a link to a merchant support video library. FIS merchants can also find guides and user training on the iQ reporting platform. 


The company's online presence continues to be split between FIS and Vantiv websites, which is somewhat confusing – especially when you're redirected from one site to another. However, both sites appear to be maintained and up to date. Vantiv site's logo has been updated with the tagline "Now FIS," which is useful information for small business owners redirected from the FIS site. 

The chargeback service fee that the processor charges monthly instead of a per-incidence chargeback fee may be an extra expense for some companies. For example, if you average two chargebacks per year, you pay $10 per month, totaling $120 per year, which is more expensive than the $25 per incidence, totaling $50 per year, that most processors charge. 

The company doesn't post its rates, fees or equipment pricing. Although the sales rep we spoke with offered us competitive rates, favorable terms and a free terminal, we recognize that others may have a different experience, depending on the sales rep they speak with.

Editor's note: Looking for the right credit card processor for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

Fiserv, formerly known as First Data, provides merchant services and Clover equipment to businesses of all types and sizes, including banks and independent sales organizations that resell them to small and midsize businesses. In addition to credit card processing, it offers check acceptance, ACH transfers and advanced security. Rates, fees and contract terms vary, depending on the agent or reseller and the specific needs and qualifications of your business.
FrontStream Payments, formerly known as FastTransact, is a division of fundraising solutions provider FrontStream. It provides credit card processing services to businesses in education, home healthcare, home services and nonprofit industries. The company has its own payment gateway, called ArgoFire, and sells POS systems like Clover Station.
Global Payments ranks among the largest credit card processors in the U.S., though it also serves businesses in many other countries. The company offers a full range of processing services to businesses of every size, across many industries, including retail, restaurant, healthcare, education, gaming and nonprofits.
goEmerchant provides payment processing services for e-commerce businesses, but it works with companies that accept payments in person as well, offering terminals, a POS system and a mobile card reader. It also has developer tools for businesses that need custom integrations.
Gotmerchant.com provides credit card processing services and equipment to retailers, restaurants and online merchants. Its hardware options include credit card machines, wireless card readers, electronic cash registers and POS systems. It also offers touch-tone credit card processing and integration with Yahoo Merchant Solutions accounts.
Heartland, a Global Payments company, is a popular small business credit card processor that provides in-person, e-commerce and mobile payment processing to businesses in many industries. The company offers interchange-plus pricing to all its merchants, which is the pricing model industry experts recommend. It also offers robust data security and 24-hour customer service.
Host Merchant Services offers interchange-plus pricing to all its merchants and is transparent with its rates, posting them on its website. It works with all business types, including those in restaurant, retail, construction, medical and fitness industries. It also works with high-risk businesses and offers discounted rates to nonprofits. There's no long-term contract and no early termination fee. There's also no setup fee or monthly minimum.
QuickBooks Payments, a division of Intuit, has several processing solutions, allowing you to accept payments on the go, in-store and online, either through a webstore hosted on a compatible e-commerce platform or invoices you send using QuickBooks accounting software. You can view its rates online and choose between a plan with no monthly fee or one with a monthly fee and lower rates.
Leap Payments offers interchange-plus pricing to all its merchants and is one of the few companies with a rate-lock guarantee. It sells a variety of terminals and POS systems. Supported businesses include retail stores, restaurants, professional and personal service providers, contractors and home services, and e-commerce stores. It also works with businesses in high-risk industries.
This company works with various banking partners to deliver the right products and services for your business's needs. The businesses that Maverick BankCard can provide credit card processing services for run the gamut of industries: retail, restaurant, ecommerce, hospital, lodging, gas station and nonprofit. It can also work with high-risk businesses.
Merchant Anywhere offers its processing services to small businesses on a month-to-month basis and charges a single monthly fee, which includes gateway services. There are no fees for application, setup, cancellation or statements. There’s also no monthly minimum. You can use Merchant Anywhere on Android and Apple devices as well as computers.
Merchant Solutions lets you accept credit cards in person, online and by phone. The company works with business of all sizes, including those that are home-based. Services also include mobile and PC credit card processing, as well as merchant and POS cash-advance programs. It advertises a free terminal placement program, but terms for it aren't posted.
MerchantPlus provides retail and online credit card processing to businesses of all sizes. It offers interchange-plus pricing with a single monthly fee to its merchants. With its RateAssure program, your interchange markup decreases as your average monthly volume increases. It has integrations available for shopping carts, gateways, terminals and POS systems.
Moolah, not to be confused with Moolah Payments, is a rarity among mobile credit card processing companies because it provides you with a merchant account and an Authorize.Net gateway but charges very few fees. There are no monthly, annual, PCI, gateway or termination fees. It has flat, transparent pricing and pay-as-you-go terms, though there is a monthly minimum. It integrates with hundreds of third-party apps, including e-commerce platforms and POS systems.
This company provides its processing services on a month-to-month basis with no cancellation fee. You can choose either interchange-plus or tiered pricing, but you’ll have to call for a quote since only its qualified rate for swiped debit cards is posted on its website. The company sells terminals, POS systems and mobile card readers, and you can view pricing for these items online.
National Merchants Association is a merchant services provider that offers in-store and online credit card processing to small businesses, including high-risk merchants. It has flat-rate pricing, integrates with QuickBooks and many shopping carts, and supports recurring billing.
NTC lets you process credit cards, debit cards, EBT cards, online payments, electronic checks and gift cards using your own phone, tablet or computer. If you prefer to use a payment terminal, the company offers this option as well. NTC works with businesses in a variety of industries, including travel agencies and healthcare businesses that process medical claims.
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, it also offers ACH and Level 3 processing. It advertises no contract and interchange-plus pricing, though its rates aren't posted on its website.
Newtek offers a full suite of processing services for retail, mobile and ecommerce businesses, allowing you to accept all major credit and debit cards as well as payments made using mobile wallets like Apple Pay. Newtek sells a variety of processing equipment and provides its customers with 24/7 support.
NextPay is a full-featured online credit-card-processing company that works with international businesses, as well as companies in some high-risk industries. Its features include email payments, subscription billing, multicurrency processing, API integration and an advanced anti-fraud system. Mobile credit card processing is also available from this company.
North American Bancard is a large credit card processor that provides a complete range of solutions, including check acceptance and ATM service. The company claims to have the fastest approvals in the industry and some of the lowest rates, though only its qualified debit rate is displayed on its website. Month-to-month terms are available to most merchants.
Paya, known as Sage Payment Solutions before its acquisition by private equity firm GTCR, is a credit card processing company that you can use to accept debit and credit cards, mobile and online payments, and electronic checks or ACH. It has more than 300 integrations, allowing you to connect it to your shopping cart, POS system and other business software.
Payanywhere, the mobile credit card processing arm of North American Bancard, offers two plans. The pay-as-you-go plan is for businesses processing less than $10,000 per month. It has flat-rate pricing, with no monthly fees or minimum. The custom plan is for businesses processing more than $10,000 per month and requires you to call for a quote. Card readers are available, including a Bluetooth option.
PayFrog, a PayJunction reseller, provides merchant services to businesses in many different industries, including auto, e-commerce, funeral, legal, medical and performing arts. With it, you can accept credit cards and checks, bill customers automatically with recurring billing, integrate with third-party shopping carts, and email receipts to customers.
PayJunction provides its customers with interchange-plus pricing, and established merchants can submit billing statements to qualify for a rate match. It doesn’t charge any PCI compliance, gateway, annual or exit fees, and it only charges a monthly fee if you process less than $10,000 per month. It connects with third-party applications and has an API for custom integrations.
Acquired by First Data in 2017, PayLeap is a mobile and online credit-card-processing service designed specifically for small businesses and online stores. PayLeap integrates with many shopping carts and social media sites, and your developers can use its APIs and SDKs to completely customize the service and software to suit your business's exact needs.

Payline provides cost-effective credit card processing solutions with no lengthy contracts to businesses of all sizes. It has multiple plans, each featuring interchange-plus pricing with rates transparently posted on its website. Custom solutions are also available. Payline offers in-store, online, mobile and ACH payment processing, subscription billing services and more. Read Review.

Payment Depot

Payment Depot is one of the few credit card processors that offers membership-based pricing with wholesale rates. It doesn't require you to sign a lengthy contract, and there are no early termination fees, which gives your business more flexibility if you choose to go with another processor.

Pricing and Terms

Payment Depot has a membership-based pricing model. This is different from the majority of the payment processing services we reviewed – the only account fee it charges is a membership fee. Then, for each transaction, it charges a small per-transaction fee over the wholesale rate (the interchange and assessment fees set by the credit card networks that everyone pays).

It doesn't charge a setup fee or many of the fees that other processors commonly charge, such as monthly fees and PCI compliance fees, as these are included as part of the membership fee. If you're an online merchant, there's no separate payment gateway fee, as this is also included. There is a $15 chargeback fee. There is a PCI noncompliance fee, but that fee only applies if you fail to establish your PCI compliance.

The per-transaction fee is a small, flat fee that you pay for each sale you process. The cost of that fee varies depending on the plan you choose, which is based on the dollar amount of transactions your business processes each month. Unlike other processors, Payment Depot doesn't add a markup percentage to the wholesale rate.

There is no monthly minimum, but if your monthly processing volume is less than $2,500, Payment Depot may refer you to Square or PayPal, as they may be more cost-effective processing solutions for your business.

Here's an overview of what it costs to accept credit cards with Payment Depot's plans. Remember, regardless of which plan you choose, you pay the wholesale rate.

The Basic plan has a monthly processing volume limit of $25,000. Under this plan, you will pay these fees:

  • A $49 per-month membership fee
  • A per-transaction fee of 15 cents

The Most Popular plan has a monthly processing limit of $75,000. Its fees include the following:

  • A $79 per-month membership fee
  • A per-transaction fee of 10 cents

The Best Value plan has a monthly processing limit of $200,000. Its fees include the following:

  • $99 per-month membership fee
  • A per-transaction fee of 7 cent

The Premier plan has no monthly processing limit. Under this plan, the fees you'll pay include:

  • A $199 per-month membership fee
  • A per-transaction fee of 5 cents

Payment Depot's most popular plan comes with a free basic terminal. With the Best Value plan, you get a choice of a free terminal or gateway plus breach protection. With the Premier plan, Payment Depot includes a free Clover mini, premium gateway, dedicated account reps and breach protection. To help you calculate how much you can save, Payment Depot has a rate calculator on its website. You enter your monthly credit card sales and the monthly credit card fees you currently pay, and it will show how much your current credit card processing solution is costing you.

TipTip: If you’re a low volume processor, then you may want to consider a plan with Square or PayPal

Custom plans a.re also available from Payment Depot.

Payment Depot provides its credit card processing services on a month-to-month basis; there's no cancellation fee if you close your account and go with a different processor. We like that flexibility. You don't want to get locked in with a credit card processor.

If you pay the membership fee upfront at the annual rate but cancel before that period ends, you'll be refunded a prorated portion of the fee. Payment Depot offers a 90-day trial if you pay annually, so you can get your membership fee back if you decide during the first 90 days after account approval that it isn't the right processor for your business.


Payment Depot sets you up with a merchant account and supports in-store, mobile, and online payment processing. If you want to accept payments both online and in person, you'll need to open a separate merchant account, a common requirement among credit card processing service providers.

It also provides you with access to business funding through its working capital loan program. This could prove useful if you run into short-term cash flow issues. If you fill out an online application, Payment Depot matches you with the best product, and money could be in your bank account in as little as 24-hours.

Payment Depot requires a personal FICO credit score of at least 500, a six month operational history, and a minimum average of $15,000 in gross monthly revenue during the past three months. Terms range up to 18 months, and you don't need to put up collateral for the loan.

Payment Depot assesses your business's overall performance and cash flow when approving you for a working capital loan. Borrowers can pay back the loan on various timetables including daily, weekly and monthly. There's ACH payment options, lock box and credit card split payment options. Payment Depot will lend up to $500,000.

Besides its credit card processing services, Payment Depot sells POS and credit card processing hardware so you can accept payments in store and on the go. Brands it sells on its website include Clover, First Data, Ingenico and others. Payment Depot's support of various hardware brands gives you more options and the potential to save.

For businesses that want to integrate credit card sales with other aspects of their business, Payment Depot delivers. It provides integrations with a slew of popular business programs and apps including Shopify, QuickBooks, Woo Commerce, and 3dcart.

Additional Considerations

Application Process

Once you decide to work with Payment Depot, you'll need to fill out an application and wait for approval. The company estimates that the online application takes about 10 minutes to complete. After you submit it, along with accompanying documents, it takes between one and two days for the provider to approve your application.


Once you begin processing transactions, you can expect it to take one to two business days for funds to be deposited in your account after you batch out. This is a standard amount of time among processing companies for funds to clear the account.


Payment Depot can save you money if your monthly processing volume is high enough, but if you have low or irregular monthly volume, the savings may not compensate for the higher membership fee. You'll need to do some calculating to see if this pricing model is cost-effective for your business. Keep in mind as you do your calculations that each plan has different processing limitations.

This account provider doesn't work with businesses in high-risk industries. Before applying for an account, you'll want to check with Payment Depot to make sure it works with businesses in your industry.

Customer Support

Another feature that merchants with high volumes will appreciate is Payment Depot's customer service and support. The credit card processor assigns you a dedicated account representative, who will serve as your main point of contact. Those dedicated account representatives are available Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST. Payment Depot also offers 24/7 phone support.

Payment Portal, powered by Frontline Processing, works with nearly every type of business and offers a diverse portfolio of payment processing services and equipment. It has card readers for mobile credit card processing, payment gateways and shopping carts for e-commerce processing, and POS systems and countertop terminals for credit card processing at brick-and-mortar stores.

PayPal offers credit card processing to all types of businesses and has budget-friendly pricing, which is why it's our best pick for businesses with low-volume sales. Whether you run credit card transactions in person, online, on the go or all of the above, PayPal's credit card processing solution can work for you. Designed specifically for small businesses and startups, the service has pay-as-you-go terms and comes with additional perks like basic POS features, the ability to extend credit to customers, a rewards business Mastercard program, and 24/7 phone and email support.

Payroc, which acquired iTransact and Integrity Payment Systems, offers in-store credit card processing services that can be used with POS systems and stand-alone terminals. It resells merchant services from Chase Merchant Services, First Data, TSYS, and Worldpay and offers processing equipment from multiple major brands. It also has compliant surcharging and cash-discount programs.
PaySimple lets you accept payments online, in person and on the go. You can create and email invoices, and your customers can use the click-to-pay buttons to remit payments online. PaySimple supports recurring billing, can be set up to automatically email payment reminders and has a dashboard that tracks your accounts receivables.
Pineapple Payments offers a white-label processing solution to ISOs, integrators and banks. Its resellers can provide their merchants with a payment gateway, ACH processing, and merchant accounts for First Data, TSYS, and Worldpay. It also has value-added tools such as plugins for invoicing, subscription billing and QuickBooks.
Pinpoint Payments offers merchant services and credit card processing services for many business types, including those in some high-risk industries. The company has an easy-to-use platform and supports in-person and card-not-present processing, recurring billing, electronic invoicing, and next-day funding. Check processing, gift cards, loyalty programs and integrations are also available.
Planet Merchant Services provides domestic and international payment processing to merchants that accept payments in-person and online, as well as to banks and payment service providers. In addition to its multicurrency processing services, it offers a money-transfer platform, risk management, authorization and capture services and other advanced solutions.
Progressive Payment Solutions provides in-person and online payment processing to businesses in a variety of industries, including some that are considered high risk. It also offers check and EBT processing. It has next-day funding options as well as gift card, loyalty and cash discount programs.

Sam's Club Point of Sale by Clover provides small businesses with the flexibility to accept payments in store and on the go in a variety of forms, including via credit, debit, EMV chip and gift cards, as well as cash and checks. With Clover, you can accept contactless, curbside pickup, and online payments from customers. You can receive online reports of all your transactions. Clover offers equipment leasing and rental plans. Sam's Club members could receive exclusive payment processing rates with Clover. Rates could start as low as 1.29%, plus 15 cents per transaction, and apply to all major credit cards. Qualifying merchants could receive a free Sam's Club Plus membership. Clover offers 24/7 phone support. Conditions and restrictions apply. Please call for more details.

SecurionPay is an online payment platform that works with businesses incorporated in Europe, including B2B, SaaS, e-commerce and some high-risk online businesses. With it, you can accept online payments from your international customers in 160 currencies. It has flat-rate pricing and no monthly fees. It integrates with many e-commerce platforms and offers an API for custom integrations.
Sekure Merchant Solutions offers retail, online, mobile and MOTO (mail order, telephone order) credit card processing. It works with businesses in many industries, including retail, restaurant, petroleum, hospitality, service and government. It advertises low rates, but you'll have to call for a quote, as it doesn't post them on its website.
Signature Card Services provides in-store, online and mobile credit card processing to businesses of all sizes. It can also handle multicurrency processing and alternative payments, which may be useful if you have international customers, and Level 3 transactions, which can reduce the cost of accepting payments from your B2B and government clients.
SpotOn is a payment processing and merchant software company. In addition to its in-store, mobile and online processing options, it offers solutions for appointment setting, marketing, review management, payroll, website creation, and customer loyalty. It also offers a rewards app for consumers.
Stripe provides its services to online businesses in 25 countries. Its developer toolkit allows you to customize it for your website or mobile app, and it comes with more than 100 features, including APIs and automatic currency conversion. Stripe integrates with many popular business software applications and platforms. It has flat, transparent pricing and doesn't charge cancellation fees.

SumUp launched in 2012 and is now a global mobile credit card processing company that works with thousands of small businesses in 31 countries. Its notable customers include Bosch, DHL and Staples. It has transparent, flat-rate pricing, and there's no long-term contract.

Like other top mobile credit card processors, SumUp has transparent, flat-rate pricing and no monthly or annual fees, so you only pay for the processing you use, making it a great option for new, small and seasonal businesses. There's no long-term contract, so you can close your account at any time without incurring any type of account closure fee, such as an early termination fee. 

Pricing and Terms

For small businesses that either haven't accepted credit cards before, that process less than $3,000 per month or that have small average sales tickets, working with a mobile credit card processing company or account aggregator like SumUp can be a good solution. Here's what you'll pay when you use SumUp as your payment processor. 

Processing Rates

No matter what brand of card your customer presents – American Express, Discover, Mastercard or Visa – you pay the same rate. There's also no rate difference based on card type. Whether your customers pay using debit or credit, regular or rewards, personal or corporate cards, the transaction fees you pay are the same. The only variable that affects the SumUp's credit card processing rate is how you accept the cards.

  • Credit and debit cards you accept in person using a card reader: 2.75%
  • Credit and debit cards you accept using the virtual terminal (card-not-present transactions): 3.25% + $0.15 


There are no setup or hidden fees with your SumUp account. There are also no monthly fees, monthly gateway, statement or annual PCI compliance fees. There is only one incidental fee to be aware of, which is the $10 chargeback fee. The only time you'll be charged for it is if you have a customer who disputes a transaction. 


SumUp deposits money from your transactions, minus its fee, into your bank account within two business days. You set the frequency of your payouts to daily, weekly or monthly. After it deposits money into your bank account, it emails you a list of transactions included in the payout. You can also track payouts using the SumUp app and your account dashboard. 

Terms of Service

Instead of a contract, SumUp has terms of service, and like every such document from a payment processor, you should read it before signing up for an account. The company provides its services on a pay-as-you-go basis, and you can close your account at any time without penalty. 

Like other mobile credit card processing companies, there are some types of businesses that SumUp doesn't support. To avoid having your funds held or your account closed without warning, read the terms of service to ensure you use your account in accordance with SumUp terms, and that your business type and the products or services you offer aren't listed as a restricted business. It's also worth noting that while SumUp can be used by individual sellers with even very small businesses – such as those who sell items at craft fairs a few times per year – it's not a P2P service like Venmo and can't be used to transfer funds from friends or family members. 

Getting started with SumUp is easy and takes less than five minutes. You will need to provide an email address, shipping address and your payment details. Next, you 'll create a password for your account. Then, before you begin processing, you'll need to provide some basic information about your business so the payment provider can verify that your business is legitimate. It will also need bank account information so it can deposit your payouts once you begin processing. 

As you're setting up your account, SumUp asks about your business structure. When you sign up for an account as a sole proprietor, you will be asked to provide the following information: 

  • Legal structure and business category
  • Business name and address
  • Home address, date of birth, Social Security number and mobile phone number
  • Bank account 

If your business is a partnership, LLC, cooperative or corporation, you're asked to provide the above information as well as

  • Your EIN
  • Names of beneficial business owners
  • Contact and personal information (address, date of birth, Social Security numbers and phone numbers) for authorized signatories
  • Business bank account 

SumUp Features

SumUp's mobile app is available for iPhones, iPads and Android devices. Its features are more basic than those offered by some of its competitors, like Square, but here are some of the things you can do with it: 

  • Accept credit and debit card payments, including Apple Pay and Google Pay
  • Issue refunds
  • Print, email or text receipts
  • Create a product catalog
  • Add and edit sales tax rates
  • Track sales and payments in real time
  • Send customers SMS texts with a payment links 

Processing Equipment Options

SumUp offers only one card reader, but you can use it to accept magstripe, chip, and contactless credit and debit cards as well as mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. It connects to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth, and the company says that with it, you can process more than 500 transactions on a single charge. It costs $19, which is the most affordable EMV/NFC card reader we've seen. Shipping is free, which is a nice perk, and it takes between two and three business days for the unit to arrive. 


When you access your SumUp account online, you can find your account details and a dashboard that gives you a graphical overview of your transactions. You can see your sales revenue by day or week, by amount or number of transactions, and by payment type (credit card, debit card, cash). It also shows the most recent payout to your bank account. Your sales history is filterable and downloadable, making it easy to search for specific transactions. It also allows you to drill down to the sales details for each transaction. 

Virtual Terminal

If you need to run a card-not-present transaction, such as when a customer gives you their credit card number over the phone or by email, you can use SumUp's virtual terminal. This feature isn't automatically provided with your account – you'll need to call the company and fill out an application that requests some additional information about your business before you can have it set up, but there is no setup fee and no monthly fee if your request is approved. 

Employee Accounts

From your SumUp account page, you can add employees to your account. Each employee has their own login credentials, and can accept credit card payments and view their sales histories. They can't access your account, add or organize products, or add a separate bank account – all payouts are transferred to your bank account. From your account, you can review the sales histories for all the employees connected to your account. 


SumUp has an API and SDK, so your developer can integrate the service into your website or mobile app. Test accounts are also available for developers. 

Additional Considerations

Here are some additional points to keep in mind as you decide which mobile credit card processing company is the right fit for your small business. 


SumUp is PCI-DSS certified, and its card reader is certified by PCI, EMV, Mastercard and Visa. 

Customer Support

This mobile credit card processor has multiple customer support channels. On its website, it has a searchable knowledgebase, a blog, and a chatbot that answers questions about how to set up an account, the documentation that is required, pricing, and how the service works. It can also answer common questions that SumUp merchants have about their account, card reader and payouts. 

Or, if you prefer to speak with a customer service rep, phone support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST. The rep we spoke with said the company is looking at adding Saturday hours during the holiday season. When we called the company, posing as a small business owner as part of our testing, our call was answered promptly, and the rep we spoke with was helpful, friendly and answered our questions thoroughly. 


SumUp is simpler than some of its competitors and lacks nicer features like recurring payments and inventory tracking. Still, for small businesses that want a solid, basic payment processing solution to accept in-person credit card payments and don't need advanced features, it's a terrific option. 

Like other mobile credit card processing services, some industries are prohibited, so you'll want to read the terms of service and make sure your business type is supported before you sign up for an account. If your business type isn't supported and you sign up anyway, you risk having your funds frozen or your account shut down without warning.


The Transaction Group specializes in providing merchant account services to international and high-risk businesses, including legal marijuana dispensaries and vape shops. It also serves low-risk businesses. Its merchants can accept all major credit and debit cards in-store, online, over the phone or mail order, and on the go. E-check processing is also available.
Tidal Commerce, formerly known as Premier Payment Systems, provides credit card processing services to businesses of all sizes, across many industries, including retail, restaurant, healthcare, B2B, professional services and nonprofits. It offers its merchants the choice of simplified tiered or interchange-plus pricing, and you can view its rates online. It doesn’t charge setup or cancellation fees.
Total Merchant Services is a large credit card processing company that was recently acquired by North American Bancard Holdings. It offers a complete range of payment processing products and services to businesses in many industries, such as retail, food and beverage, beauty and fitness, healthcare and professional services. It advertises free product placement, fast deposits and 24/7 customer support.
TouchSuite offers multiple POS systems and business services, including credit card processing. In addition to the TouchSuite Restaurant POS system, it resells Grubbrr kiosks and POS hardware for Clover, Talech, QuickBooks POS, and NCR Silver.
TransNational Payments provides interchange-plus pricing to all its merchants. It offers in-store, mobile, MOTO and online credit card processing services. It has Level 2 and Level 3 processing for companies that accept B2B payments and also supports recurring payments. An API is available to merchants that need custom integrations.
Transparent Merchant Services claims it can slash up to 68% off your current processing fees. The company charges a flat, monthly fee plus a per-transaction fee over interchange, which may be a cost-effective pricing model for companies with large sales tickets. As with most processors, you pay an annual PCI compliance fee. There are no contract and no cancellation or setup fees.
TSYS is one of the country's leading payment processors. It recently acquired Cayan (formerly Merchant Warehouse). TSYS works directly with businesses of all sizes across many industries, including healthcare, as well as indirectly through merchant account providers. It has everything you need to process credit cards in store, online and on the go.
If your restaurant uses Upserve's Breadcrumb POS, you can accept credit cards using Upserve Payments. With this credit card processing service, you can accept payments tableside or at a checkout station. You pay flat percentage of each sale plus a per-transaction fee, and the monthly subscription fee for the POS software.
VMS provides online, mobile and in-store processing solutions and processing equipment, including card readers, POS systems and cloud-based terminal options. It also offers merchant cash advances, loyalty programs and a website builder for your online store.
VizyPay provides in-person, mobile and online payment processing with transparent, interchange-plus pricing. It offers a cash discount program that allows you to pass processing fees to customers who pay by credit and/or debit card. For merchants needing a POS system, it offers a choice of Clover and Blogic Systems.

Chase Merchant Services offers many flat rate plans for microbusinesses to interchange + pricing for businesses with more sales. Chase will work with you to find ways to lower your processing fees if switching from a rival and will review your costs yearly. Businesses that use Vend accounting software get lower rates. Chase is also partners with BigCommerce, enabling integration with the e-commerce platform. 

Take its pricing plans for starters. Its flat-rate plans are ideal for businesses that process less than $5,000 a month and are Chase customers. In-person transactions accepted with a card reader costs 2.6% + $0.10 while manually entered transactions are 3.5% + $0.10. Chase has other rates for Vend and BigCommerce users. 

If you process more than $5,000 per month one of Chase's interchange-plus pricing plans can support that. You have to call Chase Merchant Services to get the rates. We like that Chase is willing to review your recent statements if you process with another vendor to spot ways to save money. After one year processing with Chase you can request a pricing review to see if there are ways to reduce your costs. It's very helpful if your business is in growth mode. 

Beyond pricing, Chase Merchant Services has a lot of features geared towardall-sized businesses. Take its mobile credit card processing for starters. Merchants can accept payments via the Chase Mobile app or the Chase Mobile Checkout app and a card reader to accept payments on the go. It works on iPhones, iPads, and Android phones and tablets. At the Chase Mobile Checkout app, you can also create a product catalog, prompt customers for tips with suggested amounts, email and text receipts, issue refunds and void transactions, search transactions, add employees to your account, and manage user access permissions.

You also get a choice of payment gateways when you use Chase Merchant Services. You can use its own Orbital Gateway or a partner payment gateway such as Authorize.Net. In addition to its partnership with BigCommerce, Chase Merchant Services integrates with more than 140 software solutions, including other e-commerce platforms like Shopify, Volusion and WooCommerce.

Chase Merchant Services has been processing credit card payments for decades and is a popular choice among business owners. With competitive rates and a full suite of services, this credit card processor makes a lot of sense for business owners who are just starting out and are already up and running.

Image Credit: radifanil / Getty Images
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