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NerdWallet selected these top payment processing companies based on a variety of key factors including fair rates, transparency, customer service, useful features, ubiquity and global reach. The best choice for your small business depends on your industry, average sales and transaction sizes, as well as whether you're prioritizing in-store or online sales. Here are our top picks.
» MORE: Best POS systems
Best overall payment processor
Interchange plus 0.3% and 8 cents per in-person transaction (if <$25,000 in monthly card transactions).
Interchange plus 0.5% and 25 cents per online transaction (if <$25,000 in monthly card transactions).
Interchange plus 0.5% and 25 cents per manually keyed transaction (if <$25,000 in monthly card transactions).
0.5% plus 25 cents for ACH payments.
Why we like it: With its volume discounts, transparent interchange-plus pricing and quick setup, Helcim is one of the best payment processors for small businesses. Businesses aren’t locked into a contract, and the merchant account provider doesn’t come with a monthly subscription charge. There are no setup fees or PCI compliance fees.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Helcim.
Best all-in-one payment processors
2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents with Retail Plus plan).
2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions or invoices without a card on file (2.6% plus 30 cents with Premium plan).
3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions or card-on-file invoices.
Why we like it: Like Helcim, Square has no cancellation fees, PCI compliance fees, setup fees or monthly subscription charges. With its own hardware options, free point-of-sale software, free mobile card reader and accounting integrations, the platform is an excellent choice for business owners who value convenience and want an all-in-one system.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Square.
2.3% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions for most plans.
2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions on Retail Starter, Personal Services Starter and Professional Services Standard plans, as well as Home & Field Services Standard and Advanced plans.
3.5% plus 10 cents for online or keyed-in transactions.
Why we like it: In addition to offering POS hardware and software, Clover also handles payment processing, making it another worthy all-in-one solution for small businesses. While it’s a convenient option, its software plans do come with a monthly fee.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Clover.
Heartland Payment Systems
Why we like it: Heartland Payment Systems, owned by Global Payments, is another good all-in-one payment solution. The company has its own POS systems and payment processing services. Businesses can use the payment services to gather customer data, automate billing, accept contactless payments, establish a virtual terminal and set up surcharges to offset the cost of accepting credit cards.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Heartland Payment Systems.
Best for e-commerce businesses
2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.
2.7% plus 5 cents for in-person transactions.
3.4% plus 30 cents for manually keyed transactions.
3.9% plus 30 cents for international cards or currency conversion.
Why we like it: Stripe's payment processing services are a good fit for businesses that conduct most of their sales online. It supports over 135 currencies and offers customizable payment forms, 24/7 support and more than 450 other platforms and extensions. Similar to Square, the service has a flat-rate pricing structure, no monthly subscription fees and no setup fees.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Stripe.
2.29% plus 9 cents for in-person and QR code transactions.
3.49% plus 9 cents for manual entry card transactions.
3.49% plus 49 cents for invoicing transactions.
Why we like it: PayPal’s payment processing services stand out because they allow businesses to accept alternative payment methods like Venmo or consumer PayPal accounts. You can also accept payments in person using PayPal Zettle. Customers can also choose to buy now and pay later if they want. It also has a simple flat-rate pricing structure.
Why we like it: Similar to PayPal, Klarna has buy now, pay later options that let customers pay for a product in scheduled installments. While it’s a popular solution for e-commerce businesses, the company also processes in-store payments for big brands like Sephora, Macy’s, H&M and Petco. Online businesses can also add an express checkout feature to their website so customers can pay more quickly.
For more information on how it works on the consumer side, read NerdWallet’s review of Klarna.
2.4%, 2.6% or 2.9% plus 30 cents for online payments for Advanced, Shopify or Basic plan, respectively.
2.4%, 2.5% or 2.7% for in-person payments for Advanced, Shopify or Basic plan, respectively.
Why we like it: Shopify is a comprehensive e-commerce solution that helps businesses build online stores, host them and process payments for them, among other functions. For business owners who already use the company for e-commerce, taking advantage of the payments platform makes sense, in part because an additional fee applies if you use an outside processor. Businesses get 24/7 customer support, POS software, fraud analysis, shipping discounts and the ability to sell products in dozens of currencies.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Shopify.
2.59% plus 49 cents per transaction credit cards, debit cards and digital wallets.
3.59% plus 49 cents for Venmo (U.S. only), transactions in non-U.S. currency or transactions outside the U.S.
0.75% for ACH (maximum fee of $5). Discounts available for enterprise businesses.
Why we like it: Braintree, which is owned by PayPal, accepts Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, Venmo payments and PayPal payments on top of credit cards, making it a great option for businesses that want to let customers pay with digital wallets. The company has a flat-rate pricing structure, but established businesses can apply for interchange-plus pricing too. Although it has in-store payment processing capabilities, the service is primarily for e-commerce businesses.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s comparison of Braintree versus Stripe.
Best direct processor
Chase Payment Solutions
Why we like it: Chase Payment Solutions is a direct processor, meaning it operates as both the payment processor and the acquiring bank that establishes the merchant’s bank account. Already a well-known brand among consumers, Chase offers 24/7 service and has no monthly fees. It has payment processing solutions for service-based businesses, health care companies, restaurants, retail stores and e-commerce shops.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Chase Payment Solutions.
Best for high-volume sales
Stax (formerly Fattmerchant)
Interchange plus 8 cents for in-person transactions.
Interchange plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions.
$99 per month and up for software.
Why we like it: Instead of charging a percentage markup per transaction, Stax charges businesses interchange plus a fixed amount of money per transaction, plus a monthly subscription fee. Although the $99 per month is steep, it could be worth it for businesses that would otherwise pay more than that in percentage markups. The merchant account provider doesn’t make its clients sign contracts, and its plans include 24/7 customer support (via an online ticketing system) and PCI compliance.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Stax.
Interchange + $0 per transaction, plus $59 month for Starter plan.
Interchange + $0 per transaction, plus $79 month for Starter Plus plan.
Interchange + $0 per transaction, plus $99 month for Growth plan.
Why we like it: Payment Depot’s plans come with a free virtual terminal for keying in credit card numbers. And like Stax, its parent company, it skips percentage markups in exchange for a monthly fee, making it a better fit for businesses with high-volume sales.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Payment Depot.
Best for high-risk merchants
Interchange plus 0.4% and 10 cents for in-person transactions, and $10 per month.
Interchange plus 0.75% and 20 cents for online transactions, and $20 per month.
Pricing varies by card type for manually keyed transactions.
Why we like it: Payline Data is a great solution for businesses in high-risk industries that can’t get merchant accounts from more traditional payment processing companies. Businesses that aren’t high risk, however, have to pay for two plans if they want to accept payments in-person and online.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Payline Data.
Why we like it: PaymentCloud specializes in high-risk merchant accounts. The company boasts quick approval times and 24/7 merchant support.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of PaymentCloud.
Restaurant: interchange plus 0.14% and 7 cents per transaction.
Retail: interchange plus 0.18% and 10 cents per transaction.
E-commerce: interchange plus 0.29% and 15 cents per transaction.
Subscription: interchange plus 9 cents per transaction.
Subscription Plus: interchange plus 5 cents per transaction.
Why we like it: National Processing is a payment processor with competitive rates, useful integrations and compatibility with several card readers. It works with high-risk merchants. Its long-term contracts can be a concern, although all plans come with a free mobile reader.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of National Processing.
Best for nonprofits
Dharma Merchant Services
Interchange plus 0.15% + 8 cents for in-person transactions.
Interchange plus 0.20% + 11 cents for online transactions.
Interchange plus 0.25% + 8 cents for in-person Amex transactions.
Interchange plus; 0.30% + 11 cents for online Amex transactions.
Why we like it: With 24/7 customer support, no long-term contracts and no PCI compliance fees, Dharma Merchant Services is a solid choice for small businesses that process at least $10,000 of card transactions each month.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Dharma Merchant Services.
Vanco Payment Solutions
2.90% plus 45 cents per transaction and $10 per month for Free plan.
2.65% plus 39 cents per transaction and $49 per month for Thrive plan.
3.5% per transaction for Amex.
0.90% to 1.00% plus 39 cents to 45 cents per ACH transaction, depending on plan.
Why we like it: Vanco Payment Solutions is a merchant account provider that caters to schools, churches, nonprofits and organizations that need a way to accept donations online. Nonprofits in particular can choose between two plans, though you have to start an application to view the pricing. The application lets businesses add on a desktop card reader, mobile swipe reader, kiosk and the ability to donate via text.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Vanco Payment Solutions.
Best for international transactions
Pricing: Per-transaction processing fee, usually 12 cents plus interchange, but varies by payment type.
Why we like it: Adyen processes payments for companies like Uber, Spotify, Etsy and eBay and has offices worldwide. It offers the ability to accept a wide range of payment methods with no setup fees, no monthly fees and with 24/7 customer support. Depending on your business, there may be a minimum invoice amount.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Adyen.
Why we like it: Global Payments, which has over 4 million customers, allows businesses to accept over 140 payment types across several channels with industry-specific solutions. Online businesses can use it to set up subscriptions and recurring automatic payments, along with three customizable options for checkout. For brick-and-mortar businesses, it offers POS solutions from Heartland, a company it acquired in 2016.
Quick Start: 2.9% plus 30 cents per Visa and MasterCard transaction.
Customized: Quoted pricing can be interchange-plus, flat-rate or tiered.
Why we like it: BlueSnap is a payment platform that also handles invoices and subscriptions. International businesses can accept a wide variety of payments. The company accepts 100 payment types in over 100 currencies, supports 29 languages, and has hundreds of integrations for shopping carts, customer relationship management, analytics and accounting.
Verifone (formerly 2Checkout)
Starts at 3.5% + 35 cents for online payments with 2Sell plan.
4.5% + 45 cents for online payments with 2Subscribe plan.
Does not offer processing for in-person payments.
Why we like it: Verifone, which acquired 2Checkout in 2020, offers an e-commerce platform that specializes in digital global sales. Its parent company, FIS, has over 20,000 clients; it operates in over 130 currencies and more than 45 countries. Although it has its own customizable shopping cart options, businesses can also integrate third-party shopping cart solutions.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Verifone 2Checkout.