Merchant services allow businesses to accept credit and debit card transactions in-person or online. Many merchant service providers also offer payment processing tools such as payment gateways, point-of-sale (POS) systems, and card-reading hardware. We evaluated dozens of popular providers to identify the best merchant services for small business.
Top 10 Merchant Services for 2019
|Merchant Services||Best For|
|(Best overall) Small businesses with low average transactions that want flat-rate processing|
|Businesses with low average transactions that want to accept PayPal payments|
|Businesses with average transactions over $20 and monthly sales between $10,000 - $30,000|
|Businesses processing over $30,000 per month|
|Growing businesses processing over $10,000 per month|
|Businesses that use QuickBooks|
|Businesses of all sizes that want to work with a traditional bank|
High-risk businesses, including topical CBD retailers
|Businesses processing over $20,000 per month that want traditional merchant services with ecommerce integration|
|Enterprise businesses that want an established processor|
Which Payments Provider Is Right For You?
How We Evaluated the Best Merchant Service Providers
Merchant services is a broad category of financial service providers that encompasses a mix of traditional merchant accounts and aggregate payment processors. There are several different kinds of payment and fee structures. Each provider also offers different hardware options, features, and different POS and ecommerce integration options.
The best credit card processing company for each business will vary depending on your business’ exact payment processing needs. With that said, merchant services should always be affordable, transparent, and easy to use.
We evaluated merchant service providers based on the following criteria:
- Pricing and fees: We considered a mixture of flat-rate, interchange plus, membership, and tiered pricing structures for small businesses with a variety of monthly sales volumes and average transaction rates.
- Ease of use: We looked at how transparent and user-friendly each provider is, including the application and setup process, and how the service works with popular POS and ecommerce platforms.
- Features: We considered any extra features like POS systems, reporting tools, or payment gateways.
- User reviews: We read and took into consideration user experiences and feedback on each system.
- Customer service: The best merchant services should have free customer support with phone and email or chat options.
Square: Best Merchant Service Provider for Small Businesses
Square is an all-in-one merchant services provider. That means Square can process in-store, mobile payments, online, virtual terminal, and even invoice payments. Square is the simplest merchant account provider with which to get started, and one of the most affordable for small businesses with average transaction below $20.
Square operates using flat-rate credit card processing fees that are transparent and simple to understand. Plus, there are no monthly, setup, or cancellation fees. Square is a free merchant account. The only fees you pay to Square are for credit card processing, and that amount depends on how the sale was made: in-person, online, or using the virtual terminal.
Below are Square’s three payment processing rates, plus hardware costs if you need more than the free magstripe reader that’s included. For any additional information, visit our complete Square Fees & Pricing page.
Square Credit Card Processing Costs
Square credit card processing costs include:
- In-store & mobile card payments: 2.75%
- Keyed in payments: 3.5% + 15 cents
- Online payments: 2.9% + 30 cents
- Invoice payments: 2.9% + 30 cents
Square Hardware Costs
- Swipe card reader: free for new Square accounts ($10 for additional)
- Chip card reader: $35
- Chip and tap card reader: $49
- Square Terminal: $399 or $37 per month for 12 months
- Square iPad stand for contactless and chip: $199 or $18 per month for 12 months
- Square Register: $999 or $49 per month for 24 months
Other Square Fees
Other Square fees include:
- Monthly fee: $0
- Annual or Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance fees: $0
- Square POS: $0
- Employee management: $5/employee per month
- Square Retail: $60 per month
- Payroll: From $5 per month
- Marketing: From $15 per month
- Loyalty: $45 per month
- Square Restaurant: $60 per month
Note: Square has recently changed its flat-rate fee of 2.75% to 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction. We will update the pricing and our ranking of providers in the next update of this article.
As soon as you create your free Square account, you can accept credit card payments, plus record cash and check sales. Square accepts all major credit and debit cards as well as direct cash transfers with the Square Cash App.
The real benefit of choosing Square as your merchant service provider is Square’s full suite of business management tools included in your free Square POS software. With it, you can make sales, process payments, manage your inventory, customers, staff, and much more. Best of all, you can do all of this wherever you do business using your smartphone, computer, or with an inexpensive retail iPad checkout stand.
Square merchant services and card processing features include:
- Competitive flat-rate fees
- Free mobile app
- Accept all major credit and debit cards
- Receive funds within one to two business days, or instantly for 1% fee
- Offline payments
- Digital receipts with email and text options
- Tipping features that can be turned on or off
- Automated customer directory
- Integrate with most major ecommerce platforms and web building platforms
- Build a custom website through Square Online Store (powered by Weebly)
- Create a custom checkout with Square APIs [application programming interfaces]
- Create and send individual or recurring invoices
Square Payment Types
Square offers flat-rate payment processing for in-person, online, and invoice credit and debit card payments. Square has a free mobile and tablet app for iOS and Android that can be used to accept card payments in-store or via a mobile device. Square also has tools to create an online store or website
Square also has tools to record cash and check payments. Although Square does not process check, e-check, or automated clearing house (ACH) payments. On the plus side, Square’s offline payment feature means that businesses can accept card payments even without an internet connection. This feature is ideal for mobile vendors.
Square has proprietary features and add-ons for POS, ecommerce, marketing, loyalty, virtual terminal, and more. Square payment processing also integrates with many popular POS systems, including Vend, TouchBistro, Lavu, and others. Square integrates with popular ecommerce platforms, including WooCommerce, Wix, BigCommerce, and WordPress.
Square also integrates with Xero and QuickBooks for accounting, Homebase, and ZipRecruiter for employee management, and ActiveCampaign for marketing. Altogether, Square has dozens of direct integration partners. It is by far the most integrated payment processor on our list, as it offers a whole suite of business management features and connects with most popular third-party software.
Square Customer Service
Square’s customer service is one area where it pales in comparison to some of the other options on our list, such as Fattmerchant and Payment Depot. Square has customer service available via email and Twitter. It also has tons of articles, a community forum, and support documentation on its website.
However, to receive phone support, users need to enter their customer code number, which is found in the Square app or by logging into the Square website. Square’s phone support hours are also limited to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time.
What Square Is Missing
Square does not accept automated clearing house (ACH) or e-check payments, which typically have low transaction fees. Square’s customer support is also limited. If you cannot locate your customer code number, or if for some reason your account is not active, you could have problems receiving real-time help.
Reviews for Square are generally positive. Users like that Square is all-inclusive, easy to set up, and doesn’t have any contracts or approval process. Some of the negative reviews report issues with their accounts being shut down from lack of use, or trouble getting ahold of someone in Square’s customer service department. Visit our Square Review Page to read more feedback.
PayPal: Best Merchant Services for PayPal Payments
PayPal is our recommended merchant account provider for businesses that primarily sell online and want to accept PayPal payments. Adding PayPal as a payment option can increase online store conversions and reduce cart abandonment because shoppers don’t need to type in payment or shipping information. PayPal also has competitive, flat-rate transaction fees.
PayPal offers flat-rate fees for mobile & in-person payments. PayPal has the lowest flat-rate fee of any solutions on our list for card payments at 2.7%. Businesses can get this rate for debit and credit card payments by using any of PayPal’s swipe, chip, or tap card readers. However, PayPal charges a monthly fee to access certain services, such as the virtual terminal. This makes PayPal a costlier merchant account provider than Square if you want access to all payment processing features.
PayPal Credit Card Processing Costs
PayPal merchant service and transaction fees include:
- In-store & mobile card payments: 2.7%
- Online & invoice payments: 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction
- Keyed-in & virtual terminal payments: 3.5% + 15 cents per transaction (virtual terminal requires a monthly fee)
- Lower costs: Discounted transaction fees available for nonprofits
PayPal Hardware Fees
PayPal has several hardware options for processing in-person payments including:
- Mobile swipe card reader: Free with signup ($14.99 for additional)
- Chip & swipe card reader: $24.99
- Chip & tap card reader with charging stand: $79.99
Other PayPal Fees
PayPal monthly, setup, and other merchant account fees include:
- Setup & cancellation fees: $0
- Monthly account fees: $0 to $30
- PayPal POS software (PayPal Here): $0
As soon as you create a PayPal account, you can accept PayPal payments online and even via email request. Plus, you can process all types of credit card payments and record cash and check sales. For online sales, PayPal has features to create a full online checkout, or add a “buy” button to an existing website.
PayPal also has features to create and send invoices. The PayPal Here free mobile app lets users accept credit, debit, and PayPal payments from smartphones and tablets. It also has basic POS features like inventory management and customer data tracking. With the free PayPal Here POS app, businesses can customize receipts, add return policies, manage inventory, upload product photos, add up to 1,000 users with different access levels, and view custom sales reports.
PayPal Payment Types
PayPal accepts all major credit and debit cards, as well as PayPal payments. PayPal also has options to accept ACH or e-check payments, which Square does not offer. Individuals or businesses can also use PayPal to create, manage, and receive invoice payments.
Businesses can use PayPal to install a free online checkout on most websites. If you want to create a custom or branded online checkout to accept online payments, you can do so with PayPal for $30 per month. PayPal also supports alternative payment types, including Venmo and PayPal Credit.
PayPal’s prime focus is online sales, both the free version and the more advanced $30 per month plan integrate with virtually every ecommerce platform on the market. For most online sellers, this seamless integration between shopping carts and PayPal’s secure online payment system makes PayPal the natural choice for online payment processing.
PayPal can be added to just about any website as a checkout option with one of PayPal’s several button options (seen below). PayPal can also be added to just about any existing online checkout. Additionally, users can build their own online checkout pages or shopping carts using PayPal’s standard template or develop a custom solution with PayPal’s APIs.
PayPal Customer Service
PayPal has quality customer support options, including a community forum, online resolutions center, live chat, email support, and phone support. Anyone can call PayPal for free phone support. Phone hours are 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Pacific time Monday through Friday, and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time Saturday and Sunday.
What PayPal Is Missing
PayPal’s free POS software is very limited compared to Square’s free full-featured business management system. You can accept payments and track sales, but its inventory and customer management tools are very basic. Plus, to access certain features like the virtual terminal, you need the $30 per month Payments Pro plan. This makes PayPal far more costly than Square if you need to process keyed-in payments for things like phone orders.
Overall, PayPal has positive reviews. The service is widely used by many online and ecommerce businesses and is a payment method many consumers are familiar with. Reviewers like that PayPal is easy to use and is not too expensive. Some negative reviews say that customer service can be lacking. Visit our PayPal Review Page for more feedback from business owners.
Dharma: Best for Processing $10,000 to $30,000 Per Month
Dharma is a traditional merchant services provider offering interchange plus credit card processing services. It is one of the most affordable and transparent options for sellers who process $10,000 to $20,000 in credit card charges per month. However, Dharma has a $10,000 monthly minimum, so it is best for established businesses.
Dharma has some of the lowest processing rates available for established businesses. Retailers and businesses processing $10,000 to $20,000 per month can likely save money by using Dharma as their credit card processor. Dharma uses an interchange-plus pricing model, which is typically one of the most affordable pricing models for established businesses.
Dharma Credit Card Processing Fees
Dharma merchant service and transaction fees include:
- In-store sales: 0.15% + 7 cents per transaction, plus interchange
- Online sales: 0.2% + 10 cents per transaction, plus interchange
- Lower costs: Discounts available for nonprofits and businesses processing more than $100,000 per month
For example, the interchange fees for a Visa credit card transaction are 1.51% + 10 cents. Add in Dharma’s fees, and the total transaction fee for an in-store Visa credit card payment would be 1.66% + 17 cents. On a $100 Visa credit transaction this comes out to $1.83. Transactions fees would be even lower for a debit card.
Dharma Hardware Fees
Dharma has a hardware solution for in-person sales, including:
- Clover Station: $1.349
- Clover Mini: $499
- Clover Flex: $549
- Verifone Vx520 Terminal: $179
- Full-featured FD-130 Terminal: $269
- Poynt Smart Terminal: $599 to $699 + $20/device per month
Other Dharma Fees
Dharma’s setup, cancellation, and other fees include:
- Monthly fee: $20
- Virtual terminal: Free
- Mobile processing: Free
- Startup fees: $0
- Cancellation/closure fees: $25
Dharma offers low fees and a transparent pricing structure that is a great option for businesses that can meet the $10,000 monthly minimum. Dharma also integrates with many card readers, terminals, and POS systems to accept payments online, in-store, and over mobile. All Dharma accounts also include free access to MX Merchant, a business management software. MX Merchant also has an app called MX Merchant Express for accepting mobile payments.
In addition to extremely competitive interchange plus payment processing fees, Dharma also has a very competitive funding schedule. Businesses that use Dharma to process card-present transactions can get free next-day deposits. Card-not-present transactions have free two-day funding.
Dharma Payment Types
Dharma accepts all major credit and debit cards. It also integrates with many solutions to offer affordable and seamless ACH or e-check payments. Like Square and PayPal, Dharma users can also accept mobile payments with the free MX Merchant Express app.
Like most traditional merchant account providers, Dharma integrates with popular POS systems and ecommerce platforms via application programming interface (API) connections. It also supports many simple-start turnkey integrations. Online sellers can pair Dharma with Authorize.net to easily accept payments on nearly all ecommerce platforms.
Businesses can take card payments on any computer using MX Virtual Terminal. Retailers can use Clover or Poynt for POS. Dharma also supports integrations with QuickBooks and other top business accounting solutions.
Dharma Customer Service
Dharma’s customer service is excellent. It has free in-house phone and email support 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pacific time Monday through Friday. Outside of those hours, businesses that call Dharma can receive phone support from Dharma’s back-end processors or leave a message to be returned during business hours. Dharma also has an online ticketing system, articles and documentation on its website, and chat support.
What Dharma Is Missing
Small business and startup accessibility is what you don’t get with Dharma. You’ll also have to set up separate accounts for online and in-person sales, which means two account fees and added oversight if you’re a multichannel seller. Plus, Dharma is our only top pick that we don’t consider risk-free. If you decide Dharma’s not right for you, you’ll pay a $25 account closure fee.
Businesses owners that use Dharma love it. Dharma merchant service reviews are great. Its customer service is super speedy. Most of the negative online reviews are from companies that were rejected by Dharma during the application process.
Payment Depot: Best for Businesses Processing $20,000+ Monthly
Payment Depot is a merchant service provider with a membership pricing model that provides payment processing at extremely competitive rates for businesses that process more than $20,000 per month. These high-volume businesses, particularly medical, healthcare, and business-to-business (B2B) businesses can save money by using Payment Depot.
Payment Depot Pricing
Payment Depot’s membership model means businesses pay a flat monthly fee of $49, $79, $99, or $199 depending on the size of the business and the monthly plan. Businesses then pay the direct interchange fees (no percentage markup) and a flat transaction fee ranging from 5 cents to 15 cents depending on the plan. Payment Depot and Fattmerchant are the only merchant service providers on our list that does not have any kind of percentage markup on top of interchange fees.
Payment Depot Merchant Services Pricing Tiers
|Monthly Processing Limit|
|Free Reprogram of Existing Equipment|
|Free Mobile Reader|
|Free Standard Terminal|
|Free PIN Pad|
|Free Terminal Upgrade Every Two Years|
|Data Breach Protection|
In addition to the above features, every Payment Depot account includes:
- Chargeback and risk monitoring
- No contracts or cancellation fee
- Next-day funding
Payment Depot Features
Payment Depot’s membership pricing model is ideal for businesses processing more than $20,000 per month. All of the plans offer affordable payment processing, include free equipment reprogramming, and a gateway for online payments. Unlike most merchant account providers, Payment Depot makes no distinction between online and in-person payments. The pricing is the same, and both kinds of payments are included with every membership.
Payment Depot Payment Types
Payment Depot can be used to accept major credit and debit card,s including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Payment Depot can also process contactless payments, including Apple Pay and Google Pay. Payment Depot’s membership includes in-store, mobile, ecommerce, and virtual terminal payment processing.
Payment Depot Integrations
Payment Depot integrates with a lot of popular POS systems and ecommerce platforms, including Revel, PrestaShop, ShopKeep, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, and more. Payment Depot also integrates with Authorize.net online payment gateway for payments via website.
Payment Depot Customer Service
Payment Depot has some of the best customer service out of all the solutions on our list. Like Dharma, it has free in-house support. Phone support is available 24/7 for most memberships. There is also email support and an online form. However, Payment Depot does not have an online community forum or chat support.
What Payment Depot Is Missing
Payment Depot has a higher monthly fee, so it is best for established businesses whose processing volumes are high enough to offset that cost. Even though Payment Depot’s transaction fees are low, startup businesses, low-volume businesses, and occasional sellers would be better off using a flat-rate provider like Square or PayPal.
Payment Depot Reviews
Payment Depot reviews are generally positive. Businesses find that Payment Depot offers some of the most competitive prices on the market. Many users were also satisfied with Payment Depot’s transparency and the customer service they received over the phone. There are very few negative online reviews for Payment Depot, which is rare for merchant services and payment processors.
Fattmerchant: Best Merchant Services for Growing Businesses
Fattmerchant is a merchant service provider with a subscription or membership model where businesses pay a higher monthly fee and low transaction fees. Fattmerchant charges a monthly fee per sales channel―in-store, online, mobile, and so on―so it’s best for growing businesses processing around $30,000 or more per month with a single sales channel.
With Fattmerchant’s subscription model, businesses pay either $99 or $199/sales channel per month depending on whether you’re processing less or more than $500,000 annually. Similar to Payment Depot, Fattmerchant then passes on the direct interchange fees with a small transaction fee ranging from 6 cents to 15 cents. There is no percentage markup. However, the higher monthly fee means Fattmerchant is best for larger or growing businesses processing more than $30,000 per month.
Fattmerchant Credit Card Processing Pricing & Features
|Monthly Fee Per Sales Channel|
|Annual Processing Limit|
|In-store Transaction Fees|
|Shopping Cart Transaction Fees|
|Virtual Terminal Transaction Fees|
|Mobile Transaction Fees|
|No Cancellation Fees|
|Dedicated Customer Support Manager|
Fattmerchant has additional add-on features available, including:
- Same-day funding
- Two-way QuickBooks integration
- Advanced customization options
- Terminal protection plans
- ACH payment processing
Fattmerchant has lots of third-party hardware solutions available at a custom price, including:
- Dejavoo standalone or integrated terminals
- BBPOS mobile card readers
Aside from the unique pricing model, Fattmerchant functions exactly like a traditional merchant services provider with tools to help businesses process payments online and offline. It has integrations and APIs to work in just about any payment processing scenario, and an app for accepting mobile payments.
Fattmerchant Payment Types
Like all of the solutions on our list, Fattmerchant can process all major credit and debit cards. Fattmerchant can also process Apple and Samsung Pay contactless payments. ACH payment processing is available for an additional monthly fee.
Like Dharma, Fattmerchant also has an app to accept mobile payments. Like all the other credit card processing solutions on our list, Fattmerchant also integrates with popular POS systems like Vend, Shopkeep, and others via API. Like Payment Depot, Fattmerchant integrates with Authorize.net for online payments. Fattmerchant also has a custom online checkout tool so businesses can create their own solution.
Fattmerchant Customer Service
Fattmerchant offers free 24/7 customer service and complete technical support. Customers can speak with their dedicated account manager for immediate or specific support. For technical issues, Fattmerchant has an online request form. There is also an online chat and a detailed online knowledgebase with how-to information and frequently asked questions.
What Fattmerchant Is Missing
Like Dharma, Fattmerchant is missing small seller-friendly pricing. Its monthly fee makes it an expensive choice for startups and micro sellers, and for multichannel sellers that need three $99 per month accounts to handle in-store, online, and mobile sales. Fattmerchant can also be more expensive than Square and PayPal for businesses processing less than $10,000 per month or sellers with an average transaction below $20.
Fattmerchant reviews are positive. Users like the transparency of Fattmerchant’s subscription pricing model. Reviewers also report positive experiences with Fattmerchant’s customer service and technical team.
QuickBooks Payments: Best Merchant Services for QuickBooks Users
QuickBooks Payments is a convenient way to process all types of credit card payments if you use QuickBooks to manage your business sales and finances. With it, you can process in-store, and mobile payment sales, accept credit cards for invoices and even receive cash transfers via ACH.
QuickBooks Payments Pricing
QuickBooks Payments offers simple, straightforward pricing with flat rate transaction fees, similar to Square and PayPal. The rates you pay depend on the type of sale you’re processing: in-person, online, or virtual terminal. The flat rate prices are also designed for businesses processing less than $7,500 per month. If you process more than that amount, QuickBooks can customize an interchange-plus rate plan for you.
QuickBooks Payment Processing Fees
QuickBooks transaction rates include:
- Swiped card payments: 2.4% + 25 cents per transaction
- Invoice payments: 2.9% + 25 cents per transaction
- Keyed-in payments: 3.4% + 25 cents per transaction
- ACH payments/bank transfers: 1% (max $10)
- Lower costs: Discounts available for businesses processing more than $7,500 per month
QuickBooks Payments Hardware Fees
Hardware options for QuickBooks Payments include:
- Chip & magstripe card reader: Free with account; normally $19
- All-in-one card reader: $49
If you already have a QuickBooks account, there is no monthly fee to add QuickBooks Payments. If you are a new QuickBooks user, you’ll need to create a QuickBooks Online account. Monthly fees range from $10 – $40 depending on the plan you choose.
QuickBooks Online Account Pricing & Features
|30-day Free Trial|
|Track Income & Expenses|
|Capture & Organize Receipts|
|Invoice & Accept Payments|
|Run Basic Reports|
|Track Sales & Sales Tax|
*Lower monthly fee when paid upfront in full
QuickBooks Payments Features
QuickBooks Payments is similar to Square and PayPal in that there are no monthly minimums, and anyone can start using the payment processing services pretty quickly. All data from QuickBooks Payments, including sales from every channel, inventory counts, invoices, and more automatically syncs with QuickBooks accounting software. This dramatically cuts your record-keeping time since everything is recorded automatically each time a payment is completed.
QuickBooks Payment Types
QuickBooks Payments can process all major credit and debit cards, contactless payments, and ACH payments. QuickBooks has features to process payments over mobile with an app, in-store with POS, on ecommerce sites, and over virtual terminal.
QuickBooks Payments Integrations
One of the biggest benefits of using QuickBooks Payments is that it automatically syncs with QuickBooks accounting software. QuickBooks also has a full-featured POS system for retail stores. There’s also a mobile app called QuickBooks GoPayment for processing payments via a mobile device. Service businesses, freelancers, or contractors can also create and manage invoices with QuickBooks Payments.
QuickBooks has a lot of different solutions within its own ecosystem. However, QuickBooks Payments does not sync with third-party POS systems in the same way that more traditional merchant service providers do. If you want to use a different POS system to manage your business, QuickBooks Payments is probably not a good fit.
QuickBooks Payments Customer Service
QuickBooks has phone support Monday – Friday 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time and Saturday and Sunday 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific time. There’s also an online FAQ section that will answer most basic questions.
What QuickBooks Payments Is Missing
QuickBooks Payments does not have the most competitive rates for businesses processing more than $10,000 per month. It’s also not a good choice for businesses that want a payment processor that will easily integrate with another POS system. Square or Payment Depot would be a better fit.
Reviews for QuickBooks Payments are generally positive. Users like the predictable, flat-rate payments and that it integrates seamlessly with QuickBooks accounting software. However, some reviewers report long wait times to receive funds and inconsistent customer support.
Chase Merchant Services: Best Traditional Merchant Services
Chase Merchant Services (formerly Chase Paymentech) offers merchant services that are a great alternative for any business looking to work with a traditional bank, especially if your business accounts are with Chase. Having Chase as both the processor and receiving bank in transactions can provide speed and security.
Chase Merchant Services Pricing
Chase Merchant Services has entirely quote-based pricing. This makes it hard to compare it directly against other providers, but it does have flexibility in that it offers several different kinds of payment options and plans for small, medium, and large businesses. Chase offers both interchange plus pricing and flat-rate pricing. Since it is quote-based, there is wiggle room to negotiate a good deal.
Chase Merchant Services Features
Chase accepts all major credit and debit cards, as well as ACH payments and select cash transfers. Chase has options for selling in-person, over mobile, and online. Chase’s mobile payment processing app is free to use for business customers and is easy to use.
As far as hardware, businesses can choose from a variety of EMV-compliant terminals and either rent them or purchase outright. For online payments, Chase has a proprietary payment gateway, but also partners with several other gateways such as Authorize.net. So, Chase should be compatible with about any website or ecommerce platform.
Chase Merchant Services Integrations
Chase Merchant Services has direct integrations with a few providers, including BigCommerce and FreshBooks. Chase also has its own app for processing mobile payments. Chase also works with Authorize.net for accepting online payments on just about any website.
Chase Merchant Services Customer Service
Chase has a 24/7 help desk and a detailed support center on its website with educational articles and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).
What Chase Merchant Services Is Missing
Chase has flexible rates with room to negotiate. And, only having to deal with one financial institution can be a huge relief for many business owners. However, like TSYS, Dharma, and other traditional merchant account providers on our list, Chase does not offer a plug-and-play solution like Square that comes with full POS features. Using Chase will require an application and some setup time.
Chase Merchant Services Reviews
Chase Merchant Services reviews are positive, especially for a financial institution of its size. Overall, businesses like using Chase and the security that comes with using a bank as their payment processor.
PaymentCloud: Best Merchant Services for High-risk Businesses
PaymentCloud is a popular merchant service provider that specializes in high-risk businesses. If you are a high-risk business, for the type of products or services you sell, or because of poor credit, PaymentCloud could be a good fit, even if you have been turned down by other merchant account providers.
PaymentCloud does not have any publicly disclosed pricing, which is not uncommon for merchant account providers, especially ones serving high-risk businesses. It all depends on the individual business. Many businesses can negotiate competitive interchange-plus pricing.
PaymentCloud has no application fees, setup fees, or annual fees. Monthly fees and minimums will be determined when you open an account. Generally speaking, high-risk payment processing is more expensive, requires more extensive applications and on-boarding, and can come with more restrictions than traditional merchant accounts.
PaymentCloud can be used to process all major credit and debit cards and ACH payments. PaymentCloud has tools to accept online payments via gateways, virtual terminal payments, and online shopping cart integrations. Businesses can process in-person payments with credit card terminals, POS systems, and mobile payments. PaymentCloud offers next day funding for all credit and debit card payment types, which is unusual.
PaymentCloud does offer traditional merchant services in addition to high-risk accounts. However, high-risk payment processing is what PaymentCloud is best known for. Many other merchant service providers, including Dharma, refer high-risk businesses to PaymentCloud.
PaymentCloud specializes in high-risk businesses, including ecommerce and mail-order, so it integrates with a lot of different software programs, including OpenCart, PrestaShop, BigCommerce, WordPress, WooCommerce, Shopify, and many more.
There are also several full-featured POS systems available through PaymentCloud and a mobile app for processing sales. PaymentCloud also integrates with Authorize.net for online checkouts and QuickBooks for accounting.
PaymentCloud Customer Service
PaymentCloud provides each business with a dedicated account manager. This is good for high-risk businesses, which tend to have more chargebacks and other issues. PaymentCloud also has phone support hours from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time. There is also an FAQ section on PaymentCloud’s website.
What PaymentCloud Is Missing
PaymentCloud doesn’t have as many direct integrations with POS systems as we would like with a traditional merchant account provider. There is also no published pricing information, including information on contract lengths or cancellation terms. Although PaymentCloud works with high-risk businesses, they only work with retailers selling topical CBD products, not ingestible CBD items.
PaymentCloud reviews are generally really positive. Many reviewers, particularly high-risk business owners, note that PaymentCloud’s onboarding process is very thorough and that it works with you to get approved and to get a good custom rate for your business.
Helcim: Best Merchant Services for Ecommerce Integration
Helcim is an all-in-one merchant account provider that also has sophisticated online sales solutions. Competitive interchange-plus pricing, along with ecommerce tools make Helcim a great choice for established businesses that sell online.
Helcim Merchant Services Pricing
Helcim offers competitive interchange plus pricing, along with a low monthly fee. Transaction fees range from direct interchange plus 0.10% to interchange plus 0.45% depending on the types of transaction and monthly processing volume. In addition to merchant services, Helcim accounts include tools like reporting, mobile POS apps, invoicing, CRM, and more. There are two types of Helcim accounts: one for retail and one for ecommerce.
Helcim Merchant Service Account Pricing and Features
|Visa, MasterCard & American Express Merchant Account|
|In-person Credit Card Processing|
|Online & Ecommerce Card Processing|
|Payment Gateway API|
|Hosted Payment Pages|
|Recurring Payments & Subscriptions|
|Mobile POS for iOS & Android|
|Product Catalog & Inventory Management|
|Self-service Customer Portal|
|Hosted Online Store|
|Third-party Shipping Integration|
Helcim Payment Types
Helcim lets businesses accept all major credit and debit cards. Depending on whether you choose the Retail or Ecommerce plan, there are features to accept card payments in-person via a POS or through a mobile device. Online businesses can create stores with shopping carts, create a custom checkout page, or even set up subscription and recurring billing
Helcim is similar to Square or Shopify in that it has software to manage entire online businesses within the one platform. Helcim has tools to create an online store, manage products, connect to shipping providers, manage customers, and track sales. Helcim also has a full-featured POS system for managing brick-and-mortar stores. Helcim is also the only solution on our list that has features to set up subscription and custom recurring payments.
All Helcim products, such as POS or online stores, are highly customizable to match your business’ brand. Helcim also has a developer API and integrations with many third-party software and platforms, including Authorize.net, Magento, QuickBooks, WooCommerce, and more.
Helcim Customer Service
Helcim has 24/7 phone and email support. Like several other merchant account providers on our list, Helcim has in-house support during business hours and outsources its phone support during off hours. Helcim also has detailed support articles and information on its website.
What Helcim Is Missing
Unlike Square and Shopify, which are similar to Helcim and perfect for startups and small businesses, Helcim is not a good match for extremely small businesses. Also, most merchant services offer both online and in-person sales with the same account. Helcim requires a separate account for each.
Helcim user reviews are generally positive. Businesses like that the fees are transparent and extremely competitive for larger businesses. Helcim reviews also cite positive experiences with the customer support team. Most complaints arise out of the initial contract negotiations. Helcim is also not a good fit for very small businesses.
TSYS: Best Enterprise Merchant Services
TSYS is a traditional merchant account provider for businesses of all sizes. It’s a direct processor and one of the oldest and largest merchant account providers. TSYS offers various pricing options but is generally good for businesses processing more than $30,000 per month.
TSYS does not publish any pricing information. Businesses will need to contact TSYS directly for a quote. TSYS has several different types of pricing plans available, including tiered and interchange-plus pricing. If you are requesting a quote, make sure to choose interchange-plus pricing if possible. Generally speaking, interchange-plus pricing is more transparent, whereas tiered pricing typically ends up being more expensive than it seems because a different rate is charged for each type of payment card.
TSYS is a very large processor with tools for businesses to accept all major credit and debit cards, ACH payments, checks, contactless payments, prepaid cards, and bank transfers. TSYS also offers many hardware solutions and software programs for accepting payments in-person and online.
TSYS has its own POS system called Vital POS for brick-and-mortar businesses with inventory management, CRM, employee management, reporting, and more. TSYS also offers a number of credit card terminals. Businesses can use the TSYS payment gateway for online sale or Authorize.net.
TSYS also has mobile processing apps, a tablet POS, and a virtual terminal. Since TSYS is so big, there are software solutions for just about any business.
TSYS Customer Service
TSYS has 24/7 customer support through phone and email. All of TSYS phone support is in-house, which is unusual for such as large company, and any company providing around-the-clock support. However, because TSYS is so large, some users have reported long wait times and impersonal service. TSYS also has a few self-help features and guides online for users troubleshoot on their own.
What TSYS Is Missing
TSYS pricing structure is not a good fit for small businesses. Plus, if you sign up with TSYS, make sure you have interchange plus and tiered pricing, as it offers both. Tiered pricing is notoriously misleading and can lead to higher fees.
TSYS reviews are mixed. Many reviewers like the software the TSYS provides, particularly Vital POS. Some reviewers also like the level of customer service they receive from TSYS. Some reviewers complain of slow or unhelpful customer service, expensive hardware leases, and hefty cancellation fees. TSYS also has a longer contract period, which some reviewers did not like.
Merchant Service Providers Frequently Asked Questions
Choosing the right merchant service provider for your business is an important choice, and unfortunately, the payment processing industry is not known for transparency.
What is a merchant service company?
A merchant service company is a financial service provider. They are used by businesses to accept credit or debit card payments through a point-of-sale system, website, or online ordering system.
What are the different types of merchant service accounts?
There are many different types of merchant accounts and payment processing solutions. For example, there are aggregators and direct processors. Square, for example, is an aggregator, which means they are serving as a kind of middleman between the business and the bank or card associations. Direct processors, such as TSYS, are the actual financial institutions processing the payment. There are also independent sales organizations (ISOs), such as Payment Depot, that provide the services of a direct processor but under a different brand name.
Aggregators are typically user-friendly and don’t require an application or processing minimums. The percentage fees are typically higher than a direct processor, but still make the most financial sense for small or startup businesses. They also typically have software such as POS systems or invoicing tools that are used along with the payment processing service.
Direct processors and ISOs typically require applications and have a more involved setup process. However, they can typically offer better pricing for established businesses (typically processing more than $20,000 per month).
What are the different kinds of transaction fees?
These four merchant service provider structures include:
- Flat rate: With flat-fee merchant service providers, you pay a flat percentage rate based on the type of charge like in-store, online, and mobile that you’re processing. Flat-rate merchant account providers have the simplest fee structure and tend to be quick and easy to set up. A flat fee is the best merchant services option for startups, independent shops, and low-volume of less than $30,000 per month sellers
- Interchange-plus: The Interchange Rate is the actual fee that credit card issuers, such as Visa or Mastercard, charge merchant account providers each time a card is processed. Interchange-plus providers add their fee on top of the card issuers’ Interchange Rates. Interchange-plus tends to be the best merchant services options for higher-volume sellers processing more than $20,000 per month.
- Tiered rates: Some merchant service providers create a tier structure of usually three to six tiers that groups several card types into separate rate tiers. This typically isn’t the best merchant services fee structure for small business because it is unpredictable, and most payment cards typically fall under the most expensive tiers. However, for some, like a business processing strictly business-to-business (B2B) sales, a tiered structure can save on fees.
- Direct interchange: This type of merchant service provider charges a hefty monthly fee but passes the interchange rate directly to you without a percentage markup. This isn’t the best merchant services provider for low-volume sales since you pay a large monthly fee regardless of volume. However, volume sellers of $20,000 per month or more can save with this option.
How do I choose a merchant service provider?
Price and ease of use are the two most important factors. Always compare rates and do the math for yourself. Then consider how the payment processing tools will integrate with your other software systems. Read user reviews to spot any consistent complaints. Finally, make sure there’s phone tech support that works with your business hours.
Which credit card processing is cheapest for small businesses?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The cheapest credit card processing solution for your business will depend on your business type, monthly processing volume, and your average sale amount.
Any small businessperson needs to understand how credit card processing fees work before deciding on a merchant account provider. The best merchant services provider for one business isn’t necessarily the best for another. A retail store selling $20,000 per month in credit card sales and needing a POS system has very different payment processing requirements than a high-volume ecommerce seller.
If you’re launching a new venture or have sales volumes less than $20,000 per month, you can’t go wrong with Square. It’s all-in-one simplicity, low flat-rates, and free POS business management tools make it practically unbeatable for most small business needs. Visit Square to create a free account.