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Cheapest Credit Card Processors

Updated Jan 30, 2024
Best for POS Hardware
  • Multiple pricing plan options
  • Physical or virtual terminals
  • Worker and business analytics tools
  • Multiple pricing plan options
  • Physical or virtual terminals
  • Worker and business analytics tools
Best Credit Card Processor for Easy Approval
  • Easy and powerful interface
  • Multiple POS hardware options
  • Simple approval process
  • Easy and powerful interface
  • Multiple POS hardware options
  • Simple approval process
Best Credit Card Processor for Startups
  • No monthly fees
  • Support for nontraditional business
  • 24/7 phone and email support
  • No monthly fees
  • Support for nontraditional business
  • 24/7 phone and email support
Best Credit Card Processor for Low Fees
  • Low cost for high-volume businesses
  • Choice of two POS systems
  • Easy application and setup
  • Low cost for high-volume businesses
  • Choice of two POS systems
  • Easy application and setup
Best Credit Card Processor for Customization
Square
Square company logo
  • Simple, flat-rate pricing
  • Free business software
  • Instantaneous sign-up process
  • Simple, flat-rate pricing
  • Free business software
  • Instantaneous sign-up process

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Steven Melendez
Staff Writer at businessnewsdaily.com
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Customers expect your business to accept debit and credit cards, so you’ll need to partner with a credit card processor. Of course, credit card processing services aren’t free, so you’ll need to account for all those credit card processing fees. While those fees may just be the cost of doing business these days, you can still minimize the expense by choosing one of the most cost-effective credit card processors for your business. These five providers, selected from our list of the best credit card processors, are among the most competitively priced you can find without sacrificing quality service.

Compare Our Best Picks

BND Ribbon
Our Top Picks for 2024
Clover Credit Card Processing
Merchant One
ProMerchant
Payment Depot
Square
Rating8.3/108.0/108.9/107.0/108.6/10
Best for

POS Hardware

Easy Approval

Startups

Low Fees

Customization

Monthly Fee

Starts at $9.95 per month

Starts at $6.95 per month

Contact for quote

Starts at $59 per month

No monthly fee

Contract Terms

Early termination fee may apply

Three-year contract; early termination fee may apply

Contact for quote

No termination fees

No termination fees; pay only when you make sales

Customer Service

24/7 phone and email

24/7 agent support

24/7 phone and email

24/7 phone support

Phone support Monday to Friday, 6am to 6pm, PST

Deposit Time

Mostly next-day; 1.5% fee for access within minutes

Next-day deposits

1-2 business days

24-48 hours

1-2 business days; instant transfer for 1.75% fee

Review Link
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Clover Credit Card Processing: Best for POS Hardware

  • Clover offers hardware and software for specific business types, including restaurants and online stores.
  • Clover delivers some of the fastest credit card processing times available.
  • Clover’s credit card processing doesn’t work with third-party hardware, so you’re limited to Clover POS systems.
Editor's Rating: 8.3/10

866-342-4017

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During our Clover review, we were particularly impressed with its wide range of point-of-sale (POS) hardware, available both through the company and a network of resellers. We appreciated seeing options including: small, portable readers that can be used with Android and iOS devices; devices specifically designed for handling orders and payments tableside at restaurants; and the Clover Mini POS system with support for inventory and payroll management. The company’s Clover Station POS systems work especially well for restaurants, with support for features like splitting checks, managing online orders, and easy-to-use interfaces. [Read Related: Best POS Systems for Restaurants]

The most advanced system, the Clover Station Pro, even adds support for managing customer loyalty programs and pre-authorizing bar tabs. Thanks to the Clover App Market, it’s also possible to install third-party-compatible software for additional functionality on your Clover POS systems. If you buy directly from Clover, you can pay for Clover POS equipment upfront or over time with a monthly

Merchant One: Best Credit Card Processor for Easy Approval

  • Merchant One’s base plan charges only $6.95 per month, lower than many competitors.
  • Customers are provided with free, basic terminals and the option to upgrade to more advanced equipment.
  • Merchant One plans usually have three-year contracts with early termination fees.
Editor's Rating: 8/10

855-794-1134

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In our Merchant One review, we noted that it approves 98% of businesses that apply to use its services. Merchant One is also accustomed to working with customers who might still be looking to build up their business credit scores, so companies with less-than-perfect scores should still feel encouraged to apply. Additionally, Merchant One usually can get businesses quickly up and running on its platform, often in less than 24 hours, which is great for organizations that need to start handling payments fast.

We were also happy to see that if customers do need help at any time, Merchant One offers 24/7 customer support from dedicated agents. Merchant One customers can also purchase POS hardware from Clover (which we selected as one of the best POS systems). Merchant One even offers free training for customers interested in learning more about how to best use credit card machines with their businesses.

ProMerchant: Best Credit Card Processor for Startups

  • ProMerchant typically processes applications within 72 hours.
  • Free hardware is available for customers at sign-up.
  • Pricing information isn’t available online, and you need to work with a salesperson to sign up.
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10

855-383-3680

Visit Site

In our ProMerchant review, we pointed out that the company has built a reputation for a fast and relatively painless approval process, including for startups and companies with less-than-perfect credit scores. We were impressed that ProMerchant’s approval of startups and other new customers typically takes less than 72 hours. The company is also willing to work with businesses that credit card processors often classify as high risk, with a sales staff able to work with applicants to find an appropriate credit card processing plan.

ProMerchant generally works with a wide variety of types of businesses, including traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, restaurants, and pure e-commerce operations. As soon as customers sign up, they also receive access to 24/7 customer support by phone and email, which can be great for startups learning the ropes of a new system. Point-of-sale (POS) equipment is also sent by overnight mail, making it easy to start taking payments in person soon after signing up — with ProMerchant support for accepting online credit card payments often available even sooner.

Payment Depot: Best Credit Card Processor for Low Fees

  • A variety of plans are suited for different processing volumes.
  • Customers have access to 24/7 customer support via phone and email.
  • Monthly memberships are often too expensive for businesses doing a small volume of credit card transactions, even after the low per-transaction charges.
Editor's Rating: 7/10

(877) 755-3812

Visit Site

Payment Depot offers a membership plan that can save you money, particularly if your business processes a high volume of credit card transactions. That’s because Payment Depot charges you a flat monthly fee, plus the interchange rate and a per-transaction fee. The credit card interchange fee is essentially the wholesale rate that Payment Depot must pay to process credit card transactions for its business customers.

A variety of plans offer different fees and other features. These range from a Starter plan that’s $59 per month plus 15 cents per transaction on top of the interchange fee, to a Growth plan that charges $99 plus 7 cents per transaction. This is in addition to interchange fees. If you need to make changes to your plan or even switch providers, that’s usually not a problem since Payment Depot doesn’t charge early termination fees. Payment Depot offers virtual terminals for taking payments over the phone, physical credit card machines, and a mobile app for taking payments on an iPhone or Android device. There’s no additional fee for the payment gateway customers use to take online payments.

Square: Best Credit Card Processor for Customization

Square
Square company logo
  • Square offers extensive application programming interfaces (APIs) for sophisticated integration and customization.
  • Free website-building and e-commerce tools are readily available.
  • Square customer service isn’t available 24/7, unlike many competitors.
Editor's Rating: 8.6/10

In our Square review, we were impressed that it offers application programming interfaces (APIs) that give merchants many choices for how they integrate their own software with what Square has to offer. Square also offers a number of built-in business tools, including free real-time analytics software that you can access through the Square Dashboard app, available for any iOS device. We were also impressed by the fact that customers can take payments in a variety of ways, including using specialized Square hardware, through the Square Charge desktop app for Mac computers or any modern Android or iOS device.

Square also makes it possible for customers interested in e-commerce to quickly set up and customize websites and online stores — allowing them to quickly start selling online on their own terms. Square’s support team can help set up and customize any of the company’s offerings, and an active online Square Seller Community can put users in touch with other Square customers to learn what they’ve found works best.

Costs of Credit Card Processors

Credit card processors enable businesses to accept credit cards — and similar payment mechanisms like debit cards and app-based payments. Credit card processor costs and fees typically include per-transaction charges and, depending on the plan, monthly subscription fees paid to the credit card processing company.

Some credit card processors charge higher monthly fees but lower per-transaction costs, while others charge low or no monthly fees but take a higher percentage of each transaction. Different plans make sense for different businesses, depending on their transaction numbers.

Other costs associated with credit card processing include fees related to the use of point-of-sale (POS) systems, the terminals used to process credit card payments. Some credit card processors include POS systems with their service, some sell POS systems, and some support a variety of third-party POS systems, which have their own hardware and software costs. Different POS systems have different features, so make sure you understand which type of POS system your business will want to use when shopping for a credit card processing system.

Also keep in mind that you may have to pay fees for chargebacks if customers dispute charges made with your business. Some credit card processors refund these fees if you successfully contest the chargeback. Some processors also charge early termination fees if you cancel your account before your contract is up.

Features of Credit Card Processors

While all credit card processors serve the same basic purpose of letting your business accept card payments, different processors include different additional features. Some emphasize integrations with other hardware and software, some focus on the needs of particular types of businesses, some include e-commerce tools, and some pride themselves on excellent customer support. Not all businesses have the same needs, so shop around for a plan with the features you need at the right price.

Hardware and Software Integrations

A useful feature of credit card processors is integration with other hardware and software. This can include point-of-sale (POS) terminals set up to process payments, accounting and analytics software that helps track how your business is doing, and e-commerce software that you can use to do business online. Many also offer mobile apps that let you manage your account and track revenue from your phone, or even use your mobile device as a POS system. Some also offer application programming interfaces (APIs) that let you build custom integrations with other software. Different credit card processors offer different types of integrations at different price points, so try to anticipate your business’s needs as you shop around.

TipTip
Many credit card processors support the use of a mobile device for processing payments. You may be able to save money and get started quickly by using an existing iPhone, Android device or iPad as a POS system.

Business-Specific Tools

Some credit card processors offer hardware and software geared toward particular types of businesses. For instance, some include inventory and payroll management tools that are useful for retail stores, and some provide features like check-splitting and table-seating trackers that are especially useful for restaurants. Some also offer mobile and portable checkout terminals that can be useful for mobile businesses. It can be worth checking to see if credit card processors you’re considering offer special tools that are particularly useful in your line of business.

E-Commerce Integrations

Credit card processors often offer special features for e-commerce. Some enable you to use your credit card processing accounts through online stores you build with third-party e-commerce platforms like Shopify. Others give you the ability to build a website and store through their own software. Some even provide support for email marketing, online invoicing, and other features useful for e-commerce businesses.

TipTip
Credit card processors often charge different rates for in-person transactions where a card is tapped or swiped, online transactions, and transactions where a card is manually entered. Consider the types of transactions you’re likely to see when choosing a processor.

Customer Support

If your business is reliant on credit card payments, it can be worth thinking about the customer support options available from credit card processors you’re considering. Some provide 24/7 phone or email support, while some only provide support during limited hours. Some providers also offer online discussion forums where you can get guidance from employees and other customers. Consider factors like your familiarity with payment hardware and software, and the hours your business typically operates, when deciding what level of customer service makes sense for you.

Choosing a Credit Card Processor

1. Research Your Options

Make a list of credit card processing companies you’d consider doing business with and begin visiting their websites to see which features you need. Take a look at their pricing, online reviews, customer support policies and features of their plans. If your business has particular needs, like support for particular software integrations or restaurant-friendly features, that may help narrow down your options.

2. Reach Out to Vendors

Once you’ve narrowed down the list, you can reach out to credit card processors for more information. Think about questions, such as: how long it would take to set up your business; whether you’d be locked into a long-term contract; what pricing plans are available; what hardware you may need to buy; and whether there might be any unexpected fees. Consider asking for a demo of the hardware and software you’d be using.

3. Evaluate the Possibilities

Take a look at what you’ve heard from different vendors and decide which company best suits your needs. Follow up with any questions or special requests you may have, evaluate the costs and features of each option, and then choose the credit card processor that makes the most sense for your business.

4. Implement your Selection

Once you’ve chosen a credit card processor to work with, there will be an implementation period. You will need to connect the processor to your business’s merchant account in order to support credit card transactions. Building this integration may take time, and some credit card processing service providers may even charge an additional fee.

Advantages of Credit Card Processors

Credit card processors by definition enable your business to take credit card payments. This, in turn, makes your business accessible to more customers, and reduces the need to handle cash, checks, and other forms of payment. Credit card processors can also help you keep track of your sales numbers and move into the world of online sales.

Easy Payments

Not all customers carry cash, and dealing with bills and coins can be a pain for businesses as well. Credit card processors enable anyone to use a credit card, debit card, or often, a mobile payment app to buy from your business. That makes it easy for customers to purchase from you and allows you to process their payments quickly and efficiently.

FYIDid you know
Some credit card processors allow you to process a transaction offline if they’re unable to connect to the internet. This may be a useful feature depending on your internet connection or if you operate a mobile business.

E-Commerce Possibilities

If you plan on selling goods or services online, you’ll generally need to accept credit cards. Many credit card processors let you use the same system to accept online and offline payments, and many provide tools for building out an online store or e-commerce website if you’re looking to start one.

Simplified Bookkeeping

Credit card processors generally keep a log of each of your transactions and often let you import this directly into your accounting software. Many provide sophisticated software tools that let you track exactly what was sold and when. Plus, many can automatically help manage sales taxes, tips, and other complications, making your bookkeeping operations that much simpler.

Payments on the Go

Credit card processors can make it easy for your business to take payments from anywhere, since many provide portable point-of-sale (POS) systems and mobile apps that can accept cards. This can be especially useful if you operate from multiple sites or need to take payments at customer locations.

Credit Card Processor FAQs

Some credit card processors charge a monthly fee, while others simply charge a fee based on each transaction. You may pay more for special features or hardware, such as payment terminals.

Credit card processors verify that a credit card is valid and able to spend the amount of money needed for a transaction. Then, they collect the money from the card-issuing bank and deliver it to your account.

Credit card processors generally make money through a mix of subscription fees and per-transaction fees. Some also sell other services to businesses.

Small businesses can work with a credit card processor that provides software and often hardware for handling credit card payments. Different processors offer different features for taking card payments online, over the phone, and in person.

Credit card processors are in business to make money, so all charge either subscription fees, per-transaction fees, or both — on top of the fees they pay to credit card networks. Some provide card reader equipment as part of their plans, and some only charge you when you make a sale.

Steven Melendez
Staff Writer at businessnewsdaily.com
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