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Helcim is a merchant services provider that offers transparent, competitive pricing and an all-inclusive platform. While it's not the most affordable option for businesses with low sales volumes, it's an excellent choice for most other small-business owners. Here's what you need to know.
Free; no monthly plans.
Card reader: $109.
Optional thermal printer: $79.
Payment processing rates
Interchange plus pricing. Tiered rates based on monthly processing volume. For lowest volume tier: 0.3% plus 8 cents in-person and 0.5% plus 25 cents for keyed and online payments.
Within two business days.
Accepted payment methods
Debit/credit cards, ACH, international.
Point-of-sale, virtual terminal, mobile app, hosted payment pages, payment gateway API.
Phone and email.
How does Helcim work?
As a full-service merchant services provider, Helcim offers several features and capabilities, including:
Merchant accounts, which allow you to accept credit and debit card payments from customers.
Hardware, such as the platform's NFC-enabled mobile card reader.
A mobile app for iOS or Android, which allows you to accept payments on the go.
Virtual terminals, which allow you log in from any device that has internet access and accept credit card transactions.
Point-of-sale software, through the platform's web-based software and mobile app.
Hosted payment pages, which allow you to accept payments, register customers, add QR codes, save credit cards and subscribe users to recurring payment plans on your business's website.
A payment gateway API, which can integrate with a shopping cart, billing system or other compatible third-party software.
How much does Helcim cost?
Payment processing rates
Helcim operates on an interchange-plus pricing structure, meaning you pay a specific rate plus cents per transaction above interchange (0.25% plus 8 cents per transaction over interchange, for example). The interchange rate itself varies depending on the card issuer, and can change over time. For businesses processing up to $25,000 in credit card sales per month, Helcim charges:
0.3% plus 8 cents per in-person transaction (in addition to interchange).
0.5% plus 25 cents for each keyed and online transaction (in addition to interchange).
Your exact costs depend both the type of transactions you process and your sales volume. E-commerce transactions are generally pricier than those taken in person, due to the riskier nature of accepting payments online. Additionally, Helcim offers volume-based processing discounts, so as your sales volume increases, your cost margin decreases.
Helcim offers a mobile card reader, which costs $109 and includes a free countertop stand. You can also add an optional thermal printer for $79.
If you'd like to use additional POS hardware (like a cash drawer or barcode scanner), you can purchase these from third-party sellers, and you may be even able to use hardware you already own.
Helcim does not charge many of the typical fees associated with merchant service providers, and it's transparent about the few fees it does charge:
For each transaction with non-sufficient funds, the fee is $25.
Any returned or rejected ACH or EFT/PAD transactions are charged a $5 fee.
If you have a chargeback, you’ll have to pay a $15 fee — but Helcim will reimburse this if you win the dispute.
Helcim lists all its pricing information and fees on its website, and breaks down individual processing costs. Although the interchange-plus rates may not be the most affordable for all businesses, this transparent model is one of the best options you’ll receive from a merchant service provider.
Additionally, PCI compliance (which is another common monthly cost required by other providers) is included with a Helcim merchant account.
Helcim merchant services truly is all-inclusive, giving you one-key access to the resources you need to run your business. Unlike many other payment processing companies, Helcim provides you with a merchant account, credit card processing, a point-of-sale system, hosted payment pages, invoicing and business management tools.
Potentially expensive for low-volume businesses
Helcim’s pricing is probably not the most cost-effective for smaller businesses that process lower volumes each month. Smaller businesses might not need all of Helcim's features and might save money by using a provider with flat-rate pricing, like Square.
Square: Free software option and free hardware
Square offers a number of tailored software options — Square Point-of-Sale, Square for Retail, Square for Restaurants and Square Appointments. You can also order one free magstripe card reader for processing in-person payments. You also have the option to purchase additional hardware directly from its website. The most basic option, Square Point-of-Sale, is free and includes inventory and employee management capabilities.
All of Square’s credit card processing fees are flat-rate, making them more predictable and potentially more cost-effective for low-volume businesses.
Payment Depot: Unique pricing structure
Payment Depot is a merchant account provider that offers a variety of payment processing options including a merchant account, payment gateway, virtual terminal, POS system and more. With each of its three plans you pay a monthly subscription fee, and then your processing rates are calculated with a no-percentage markup model. This means you pay only the interchange rate plus a few cents per transaction, rather than the more common model of interchange, plus an additional percentage charge and a few cents.
The exact rate over interchange you’ll pay will depend on your subscription plan (each of which has a maximum monthly processing volume), but it ranges from 15 cents per transaction to seven cents per transaction.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.