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These top payment processing companies were chosen 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.
Best overall payment processor
In-person payments: Interchange plus 0.3% and 8 cents per transaction for businesses with $25,000 or less in monthly card transactions.
Keyed and online payments: Interchange plus 0.5% and 25 cents per transaction for businesses with $25,000 or less in monthly card transactions.
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 can cancel the service whenever they want with no penalties. The merchant account provider doesn’t come with a monthly subscription charge, and there are no setup fees or PCI compliance fees.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Helcim.
Best all-in-one payment processors
Tapped, dipped and swiped in-person payments: 2.5-2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction.
Card-not-present transactions: 3.5% plus 15 cents.
E-commerce transactions: 2.9% plus 30 cents.
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 that value convenience and want an all-in-one system.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Square.
In-person: transactions: 2.3% to 2.6% plus 10 cents; monthly fee depending on the plan.
Keyed-in transactions: 3.5% plus 10 cents; monthly fee depending on the plan.
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. Its flat-rate pricing varies depending on the software plan but in-person transaction rates start at 2.3% plus 10 cents. While it’s a convenient option, its software plans do come with a monthly fee that varies based on the POS terminal being used.
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
For online payments: 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
For in-person payments: 2.7% plus 5 cents per transaction.
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.
For in-person transactions: 2.29% plus 9 cents per transaction.
For online transactions: 2.59% plus 49 cents per transaction.
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. Customers can also choose to buy now and pay later if they want. It also has a simple flat-rate pricing structure.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s overview of PayPal fees.
Why we like it: Bolt Payments is one component of a comprehensive checkout platform that also offers advanced fraud protection, collects real-time data on customer behavior and streamlines the customer experience. Shoppers have the option to purchase items directly from the product page, rather than just putting them in a shopping cart. The product is a terrific option for businesses that are focused on boosting their conversion rates and encouraging repeat customers.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Bolt Payments.
Pay over four installments: Up to 4.99% plus 30 cents per transaction. Prices vary depending on where customers are shopping from.
Pay via financing: Up to 3.99% plus 30 cents per transaction. Prices vary depending on where customers are shopping from.
Pay in 30 days: Up to 5.99% plus 30 cents per transaction. Prices vary depending on where customers are shopping from.
Pay-in-full online checkout: Up to 3.29% plus 30 cents per transaction. Prices vary depending on where customers are shopping from.
Pay in-store: Up to 3.29% plus 30 cents per transaction.
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, Timberland, The North Face and Foot Locker. For $30 per month, 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.
Basic Shopify: 2.9% plus 30 cents per online credit card transaction; 2.7% per in-person credit card transaction; included in $29-per-month e-commerce software plan.
Shopify: 2.6% plus 30 cents per online credit card transaction; 2.5% per in-person credit card transaction; included in $79-per-month e-commerce software plan.
Advanced Shopify: 2.4% plus 30 cents per online credit card transaction; 2.4% per in-person credit card transaction; included in $299-per-month e-commerce software plan.
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 133 currencies.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Shopify.
Cards and digital wallets: 2.59% plus 49 cents per transaction; processing American Express cards costs 3.5% per transaction with no fixed fee.
Venmo: 3.49% plus 49 cents per transaction.
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 fantastic 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. While it has in-store payment processing capabilities, it seems to market its service primarily to e-commerce businesses.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s comparison of Braintree versus Stripe.
Best for high-volume sales
Stax (formerly Fattmerchant)
Flat monthly subscription: Starts at $99 per month.
In-person transactions: Interchange fees plus 8 cents.
Keyed-in transactions: Interchange fees plus 15 cents.
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. While 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 and PCI compliance.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Stax.
Starter membership: Interchange plus 15 cents per transaction; $79 per month.
Most Popular membership: Interchange plus 10 cents per transaction; $99 per month.
Enterprise membership: Interchange plus 7 cents per transaction; $199 per month.
Why we like it: One of Payment Depot’s best perks is its 90-day risk-free trial. If you change your mind about the service in the first 90 days, the company will refund the annual membership fee. Plans come with a free virtual terminal for keying in credit card numbers, too. And like Stax, 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
Swiping in person plan: Interchange plus 0.2% and 10 cents per transaction; $10 per month. Rates for high-risk merchants vary.
Credit cards not present plan: Interchange plus 0.4% and 20 cents per transaction; $20 per month. Rates for high-risk merchants vary.
Why we like it: Above all, Payline Data is a great solution for businesses involved in industries, like online gaming or tobacco, that have been deemed high-risk and can’t get merchant accounts from more traditional payment processing companies. These businesses can apply for a high-risk merchant account through Payline, and rates start at interchange plus 1.5% per transaction. Businesses that aren’t considered high-risk will have to pay for two plans if they want to accept payments both in-person and not.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Payline Data.
Why we like it: PaymentCloud calls high-risk merchant accounts its specialty and encourages businesses to apply online for a free rate review. The company boasts quick approval times and 24/7 merchant support. It has a wide range of solutions for processing credit card, online, mobile, in-person and cryptocurrency payments.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of PaymentCloud.
Restaurant: $9.95 per month; interchange plus 0.14% and 7 cents per transaction, though rates may vary.
Retail: $9.95 per month; interchange plus 0.18% and 10 cents per transaction, though rates may vary.
E-commerce: $9.95 per month; interchange plus 0.29% and 15 cents per transaction, though rates may vary.
Subscription: $59 per month; interchange plus 9 cents per transaction, though rates may vary.
Subscription Plus: $199 per month; interchange plus 5 cents per transaction, though rates may vary.
Why we like it: National Processing has a larger variety of plans than most of the competition, giving businesses lots of options depending on their industry. Businesses that are considered high-risk can also apply for a merchant account through the company, and there are no long-term contracts or early termination fees. All plans come with a free mobile reader; the Subscription plan ($59 per month) and Subscription Plus plan ($199 per month) come with free terminals.
Best for nonprofits
Dharma Merchant Services
Regular: Interchange plus 0.15% and 8 cents per in-person transaction; $25 monthly fee.
For nonprofits: Interchange plus 0.1% and 8 cents per in-person transaction; $20 monthly fee.
Why we like it: With 24/7 customer support, no long-term contracts, no PCI compliance fees and no early termination fees, Dharma Merchant Services is a solid choice for small businesses and an even better choice for nonprofits. The company emphasizes its commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, offers lower rates for nonprofits and donates money to various charitable organizations.
For more information, read NerdWallet’s review of Dharma Merchant Services.
Vanco Payment Solutions
Start plan (for nonprofits): 2.75% plus 45 cents per Visa, Mastercard and Discover transaction; 3.5% plus 45 cents per American Express transaction; $10 per month.
Sustain plan (for nonprofits): 2.35% plus 35 cents per Visa, Mastercard and Discover transaction; 3.5% plus 35 cents per American Express transaction; $49 per month.
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: Processing fee plus a payment method fee per transaction.
Why we like it: Adyen processes payments for companies like Uber, Spotify, Etsy and eBay and has offices around the world. Its ubiquity aside, the company holds its own on the list with no setup fees, no monthly fees, 24/7 customer support and the ability to accept a wide range of payment methods. 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 3.5 million customers including big names like Starbucks, Taco Bell and H&M, 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, marketing and subscriptions. International businesses that want to accept a wide variety of payments will get the most for their money, as opposed to very small businesses that sell products domestically. The company accepts 110 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)
2Sell: 3.5% plus 35 cents per successful transaction.
2Subscribe: 4.5% plus 45 cents per successful transaction.
2Monetize: 6% plus 60 cents per successful transaction.
Why we like it: Verifone, which acquired 2Checkout in 2020, offers an e-commerce platform that specializes in digital global sales and has over 20,000 clients in more than 180 countries. The company supports 29 languages and 100 currencies, and lets businesses sell their products in over 200 countries and territories. Though it has its own customizable shopping cart options, businesses can also integrate more than 120 third-party shopping cart solutions.
Best direct processor
Chase Merchant Services
Online transactions: 2.9% plus 25 cents.
Tapped, swiped or dipped transactions: 2.6% plus 10 cents.
Manually entered transactions via mobile card reader: 3.5% plus 10 cents.
Why we like it: Chase Merchant Services 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, has no monthly fees and integrates with more than 140 software solutions like Shopify and WooCommerce. 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 Merchant Services.