Best Merchant Services of 2022

These merchant services are at the top of our list based on overall cost, terms, customer support and integrations.
Jan 6, 2022

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Merchant services allow a business to accept credit and debit card transactions by transmitting the customer information to the card network and issuing bank and giving businesses access to the payments received.

The companies that offer merchant services vary in the related products and services they offer, and in their pricing models (flat rate, interchange-plus, membership). Here’s our list of the best merchant services and what sets them apart.

Helcim: Best overall option

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate — which is set by the card issuer and generally ranges from 1% to 3% — you also pay a processing fee (hence the term “interchange plus”). For a monthly card processing volume of up to $25,000, the markup is 0.3% plus 8 cents per in-person transaction and 0.5% plus 25 cents per keyed and online transactions. Lower rates are available for higher volume levels.

Software: Free.

Hardware: Card reader is $109. Stands, printers and other equipment available through Helcim Shop.

Pros

Cons

  • Low processing fees.

  • Transparent pricing.

  • Volume discounts.

  • No contracts.

  • No monthly fees.

  • No cancellation fees.

  • Free virtual terminal.

  • Fully hosted online store options.

  • Customer support isn’t available 24/7.

  • No free card reader.

Why we like it: Helcim’s transparent pricing, lack of monthly fees and volume discounts are what pushes it to the top of the list. It's easy to sign up for an account online by providing some basic information. And without a contract or cancellation fees, there’s no penalty to close your account. Funds from your transactions are deposited within one to two business days. Customer support is available weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time and on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time. You can sync data with both QuickBooks Desktop and Online. Other integrations include WooCommerce, Magento and Zone 4.

Square: Best flat-rate option

Payment processing: Flat-rate pricing model that charges 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction, 3.5% plus 15 cents per keyed transaction and 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction.

Software: Free option.

Hardware: Free card reader. A register costs $799 or $39 a month for 24 months.

Pros

Cons

  • No monthly fee.

  • Low transaction rates.

  • No long-term contracts.

  • Quick setup.

  • Free card reader.

  • Free virtual terminal.

  • Free dispute management services for chargebacks.

  • No processing fees on customer refunds.

  • 24/7 live phone support is not available for payments.

  • Readers are not compatible with Windows devices.

Why we like it: Square is our top pick for flat-rate pricing with no monthly fees, low transaction rates and free virtual terminal. It can accommodate all types of credit card transactions. You receive your funds as fast as the next business day for free, or you can pay a fee to receive funds instantly. Square offers free dispute management for chargebacks and doesn’t charge processing fees for customer refunds. Free phone support is available during the week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. Square integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, Stitch Labs and other popular apps.

Dharma: Best for e-commerce

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate, a processing fee is charged. For Visa, Mastercard and Discover, that’s 0.15% plus 8 cents per in-person transaction. Rates for American Express in-person transactions are 0.30% plus 11 cents. And you’ll pay 0.2% plus 11 cents for keyed and online transactions.

Software: $25 monthly fee.

Hardware: Terminals start at $229 and a Clover Mini standalone device can be purchased for $749.

Pros

Cons

  • Low processing rates.

  • Pricing transparency.

  • Specializes in e-commerce.

  • Reduced rates for large monthly processing volume.

  • 24-hour help lines.

  • Virtual terminal included.

  • Monthly fee.

  • Account closure fee of $49.

Why we like it: Dharma specializes in helping e-commerce businesses and has one of the lowest rates for card-not-present transactions. Businesses with monthly card sales over $100,000 or more than 5,000 transactions may qualify for volume discounts, as well as restaurants with average ticket amounts of less than $25. Funding is guaranteed in two business days. Customer support to process your card transactions is available 24 hours a day. You can export data into an Excel file to import into QuickBooks.

Stripe: Best flat rate for online sales

Payment processing: Flat-rate pricing model that charges 2.7% plus 5 cents per in-person transaction and 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction.

Software: Free option.

Hardware: Card readers cost $59 and up. A POS register is $249.

Pros

Cons

  • No monthly fees.

  • Low transaction rates.

  • Supports over 135 currencies.

  • Your account can be terminated at any time.

  • Developer platform.

  • Support is available 24/7 by phone request, chat and email.

  • Tools to customize payment flows on your website.

  • No free reader.

  • Virtual terminal allows the customer to enter card information, but not the merchant.

Why we like it: Stripe is best for online sales because it supports processing payments in multiple currencies, allowing customers to charge in their native currency and businesses to receive funds in theirs. Payments are typically processed in two business days. Stripe integrates with a large number of apps and automatically syncs with QuickBooks and NetSuite. You can use the developer tools in Stripe Terminal and pre-certified card readers to build your own in-person checkout system.

Payment Depot: Best for large transaction amounts

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate, 15 cents per transaction is charged. This could be less depending on the plan selected.

Software: Plans starting at $79 per month.

Hardware: Free and up. Terminals and POS systems from Clover, Ingenico and other brands available for purchase.

Pros

Cons

  • Simple and transparent pricing model.

  • Custom plans are available.

  • Free virtual terminal.

  • Satisfaction guarantee with option for refund of membership fee.

  • Customer support is available 24/7.

  • Monthly membership fees.

  • A 20% restocking fee for returned terminals.

Why we like it: Payment Depot offers membership plans that give businesses access to wholesale interchange rates at a set fee per transaction. It’s an independent sales organization that handles merchant accounts for Wells Fargo Bank. You can get access to next-day deposits based on the membership plan you select. Support is available 24/7 through the bank. Payment Depot integrates with Shopify, OpenCart, QuickBooks, PrestaShop, Shift4Shop, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, Zen Cart, Revel, NCR and Authorize.net.

PaymentCloud: Best for high-risk businesses

Payment processing: Rates determined on a case-by-case basis.

Software: $10 and up monthly.

Hardware: A card reader and terminal included with the account. Mobile POS systems, terminals, POS registers, kitchen printers, kiosks and other devices can be purchased.

Pros

Cons

  • Specializes in high-risk merchant accounts.

  • Card reader and terminal included with account.

  • Cancellation fees are waived.

  • Free rate review and analysis.

  • 24/7 customer support.

  • Chargeback prevention tools.

  • Processing rates and hardware costs not available on the website.

  • Monthly volume limit may apply.

Why we like it: PaymentCloud specializes in services for high risk industries, although they also offer services to low and medium risk businesses. Payment processing is available for in-person, online, mobile, keyed and cryptocurrency transactions. It has over 10 banking relationships that can be used to secure a merchant account for your business. Next-day payment processing is offered as part of retail POS services. The platform integrates with QuickBooks and most shopping carts including BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify and Magento.

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National Processing: Best for customized rates

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate, fees based on business type are charged. For example, 0.14% plus 7 cents per transaction for restaurants, 0.18% plus 10 cents per transaction for retail businesses and 0.29% plus 15 cents per transaction for e-commerce business are applied.

Software: $9.95 per month or more based on industry.

Hardware: A mobile reader is included with most plans at no additional cost. Based on the plan you select, a terminal and PIN pad may also be included. A large number of POS devices are available including Clover hardware.

Pros

Cons

  • Customized rates based on industry.

  • No monthly minimum fees.

  • High-risk payment processor.

  • 24/7 phone support.

  • Offers a virtual terminal.

  • Monthly fees.

  • Contract with possible early termination and restocking fees.

Why we like it: National Processing customizes its fees based on industry and risk. For example, the rate a restaurant pays is less than that of a retail organization. Also, processing services are offered for some high-risk businesses. You can expect to receive your funds in two days with an opportunity for next-day deposits. Phone support is available 24/7. Integrations are offered for popular business apps including QuickBooks, WooCommerce, Ecwid, Zendesk, BigCommerce, OpenCart and Shopify.

QuickBooks Payments: Best for QuickBooks loyalists

Payment processing: Pricing varies. QuickBooks Online users pay 2.4% plus 25 cents per in-person transactions; 3.4% plus 25 cents per keyed transactions; and 2.9% plus 25 cents for invoiced transactions.

Software: Free and up.

Hardware: A PIN pad costs $389 and a hardware bundle that includes a cash drawer, receipt printer, wired barcode and PIN pad is $900. Additional devices available.

Pros

Cons

  • No contract.

  • No cancellation fees.

  • Competitive pricing.

  • Instant deposits are available for an extra 1% fee.

  • Invoice formatting lets customers pay online.

  • QuickBooks Desktop users and new customers may pay higher fees.

  • 24/7 phone support is not available.

Why we like it: For loyal QuickBooks users, QuickBooks Payments can process online, in-person and invoiced transactions. Payment for the next business day is typically available when the cutoff time of 3 p.m. Pacific time is met. Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. QuickBooks Payments integrates with Shopify, Amazon, eBay, WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, Walmart and Etsy shopping carts.