BEST OF

6 Best Credit Card Processing Companies of October 2022

Helcim and Square are two of the best credit card processing companies, but there are others that could be a good fit for your small business.

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For small businesses that want to accept credit cards, finding the best credit card processing company depends on which features are most important to your business. NerdWallet looked at factors such as processing costs, setup speed, fund deposit time, ability to accept in-person and online payments and customer support. Here are our top picks.

Best Credit Card Processing Companies From Our Partners

Our pick for

Best all-in-one payment services option

Square
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Square

Square

Payment processing fees

2.6% + 10¢

Monthly fee

$0

Starts at $0/month for unlimited devices and locations.

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Why we like it

Square is a strong overall choice for credit card processing because its flat-rate pricing model is simple to understand and allows you to budget for a fixed monthly cost, although your actual cost may be higher than what you’d pay with interchange-plus pricing.

Pros

  • Quick setup.

  • Offers all-in-one system, including hardware, point-of-sale software, a payment gateway and payment processing.

  • Funds are available instantly for a fee of 1.5% of the amount.

  • Customer support is available weekdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time for free subscription; 24/7 customer support is available for paid subscriptions.

  • Integrates with QuickBooks Online and Xero accounting software through a third-party app.

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide services for businesses in certain industries.

  • Doesn't work on Windows devices.

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Our pick for

Best interchange-plus pricing option

Helcim
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Helcim

Helcim

Payment processing fees

1.92% + 8¢

In-person (average)

Monthly fee

$0
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on Helcim's secure website


Why we like it

Helcim is a standout choice for credit card processing because it checks off many boxes. Setup is quick. Helcim gives you the ability to accept credit cards in person, online, through an app or over the phone. The rates are also competitive.

Pros

  • Quick setup; approvals usually take a day.

  • In-house customer support is available seven days a week.

  • Offers volume-based discounts automatically.

  • Syncs directly with QuickBooks Online.

Cons

  • Deposits are available within two business days; same-day deposit option is not available.

  • Card reader is not included with your plan; it can be purchased for $199 per unit.

  • Doesn’t offer services to businesses in certain industries.

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Our pick for

Best for membership-style pricing

Stax by Fattmerchant
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Stax by Fattmerchant

Stax by Fattmerchant

Payment processing fees

Interchange plus 8¢ in-person

Monthly fee

$99/Month

Growth Plan. Pro & Ultimate Plans available.

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Why we like it

Stax offers plans starting at $99 per month that give businesses access to 0% markup on interchange fees, plus a low fixed fee per transaction. That makes it a strong choice for businesses with high sales volumes.

Pros

  • 0% markup charged on top of interchange fees.

  • Same-day funding available for 1% fee.

  • Lowest-tier plan includes a free terminal or mobile reader.

  • In-house customer support is available 24/7.

Cons

  • Longer setup time than a payment service provider, typically 48 hours.

  • Not all pricing plans include QuickBooks Online sync.

  • Doesn’t offer services to businesses in certain industries.

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Our pick for

Best for e-commerce businesses

Stripe
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Stripe

Stripe

Payment processing fees

2.9% + 30¢

Monthly fee

$0

No monthly fees.

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Why we like it

Stripe stands out from the competition because its suite of developer-friendly tools allows you to customize the online payment experience for your e-commerce business. With no monthly fees, pay-as-you-go pricing and volume discounts, Stripe is a solid option for businesses of any size.

Pros

  • Quick setup.

  • 24/7 phone, chat and email support is available.

  • Syncs with QuickBooks Online.

  • Instant payout option available for 1% fee (minimum fee of 50 cents).

Cons

  • Services aren’t available to businesses in certain industries.

  • Requires some technical knowledge to fully take advantage of all features.

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Our pick for

Best for high-volume sales

Payment Depot
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Payment Depot

Payment Depot

Payment processing fees

Interchange rate

Monthly fee

$59/Month

Starter Package. Starter Plus & Growth Packages available.

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Why we like it

Payment Depot doesn’t charge a markup on top of interchange fees but instead has membership pricing plans at a set monthly cost, which can be a cost savings for businesses with high sales volume. Volume-based discounts are also offered.

Pros

  • 0% markup charged on top of interchange fees.

  • Some pricing plans include free hardware.

  • Well-rated in-house customer support.

  • Integrates with QuickBooks Online.

Cons

  • Approval usually takes 24 hours, which is longer than some competitors.

  • Doesn't offer a same-day funding option.

  • In-house customer support is only available on weekdays.

  • Doesn’t offer services to businesses in certain industries.

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Our pick for

Best for high-risk businesses

PaymentCloud
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PaymentCloud

PaymentCloud

Payment processing fees

Varies.

Monthly fee

N/A

Varies. You have to call to get a quote.

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Why we like it

PaymentCloud caters to small businesses that work in industries that are classified as high risk. It’s a competitive option for merchants who are struggling to find payment processors.

Pros

  • Provides merchant accounts to high-risk businesses, such as those that have elevated rates of credit card fraud or chargebacks, or those that sell age-restricted products.

  • 24/7 customer support is available.

  • Integrates with QuickBooks Online.

Cons

  • Pricing is not transparent.

  • You can generally get approved within 48 hours, but it can take longer depending on how quickly you submit the required documents.

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Square: Best all-in-one payment services option

Type: Payment service provider. Price: For in-person payments, the standard processing fee is 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction. The fee is 2.9% plus 30 cents for online payments, and manually entered transactions have a fee of 3.5% plus 15 cents.

Square stands apart from the competition with its flat-rate pricing and end-to-end payment processing solution. This means it handles most aspects of a credit card transaction, so you don’t need to purchase a payment gateway (a payment processing portal) or point-of-sale system from separate providers. Square provides a free credit card reader that works with its free app and a smartphone or tablet.

Helcim: Best interchange-plus pricing option

Type: Merchant account provider. Price: For merchants with monthly credit card sales up to $25,000, processing fees include the interchange rate and Helcim’s markup of 0.3% plus 8 cents per in-person transaction, or 0.5% plus 25 cents for online and manually entered transactions. For example, if the interchange rate were 1.5%, a business would pay a total of 1.8% plus 8 cents for an in-person transaction or 2% plus 25 cents for an online transaction.

Helcim's pricing model is transparent, with no hidden fees. Helcim uses interchange-plus pricing with volume-based discounts, making it a particularly cost-effective option for businesses with high monthly sales. The company has well-rated customer support as well as comprehensive support resources on its website.

Stax (formerly Fattmerchant): Best for membership-style pricing

Type: Merchant account provider. Price: Monthly subscriptions start at $99, with two additional packages priced at $159 and $199, respectively. For in-person transactions, a processing fee of 8 cents per transaction plus the interchange fee is charged. Manually entered transactions have a higher fee of 15 cents per transaction plus the interchange fee.

Stax's membership pricing model can save some businesses enough money to justify the monthly fee, especially if they have high sales volumes. Stax offers same-day funding for an additional fee. In-house 24/7 customer support also makes Stax a solid choice.

Stripe: Best for e-commerce businesses

Type: Payment service provider. Price: The rate for online purchases is 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction. In-person card payments are processed at a rate of 2.7% plus 5 cents per transaction.

Stripe enables your business to accept a wide range of online payment methods, including mobile wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay and Alipay. Stripe also lets you offer financing options to customers through "buy now, pay later" companies like Klarna and Afterpay.

Payment Depot: Best for high-volume sales

Type: Merchant account provider. Price: Plans start at $59 per month (for up to $125,000 a year in processing). Additional plans are available at $79 for up to $250,000 in processing a year and $99 per month for up to $500,000 in processing a year.

Payment Depot's rates make it a cost-efficient option to consider if you are a medium- or high-volume merchant. Payment Depot's lowest-tier plan has a cheaper monthly fee than Stax, and its customer support is well-rated on most review websites.

PaymentCloud: Best for high-risk businesses

Type: Merchant account provider. Price: Quote-based pricing that depends on the level of risk involved in your business.

PaymentCloud works with businesses in high-risk industries, including those selling age-restricted products like tobacco and firearms; businesses, such as electronics resellers, that have high chargeback rates; or those that may face a higher risk of fraud, such as finance companies. PaymentCloud also provides round-the-clock customer support for businesses in these industries.

What is credit card processing?

Credit card processing is the transmission of card data from point-of-sale systems to credit card networks and banks that ultimately results in the transfer of funds to businesses. The four largest credit card networks are Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover. Credit card processing companies handle the logistics of accepting card payments and generally fall into the categories of merchant account providers and payment processing providers.

What is a merchant account provider?

Merchant account providers offer merchant accounts, which are special bank accounts that hold funds from card payments. It can take anywhere from a few days, to a week or more, to complete the approval process for a merchant account and start accepting credit card payments. However, these accounts are generally more scalable and competitively priced than accounts offered by payment service providers.

What is a payment service provider?

Payment service providers group card transactions from multiple companies into a merchant account and then transfer funds to the appropriate business. Setup is significantly faster than with a merchant account provider because the upfront vetting process is less rigorous. However, a business generally has less control when compared with a merchant account and may face more ongoing scrutiny by the payment service provider over transactions.

What's a good rate for credit card processing?

Credit card processing fees typically run 1.5% to 3.5% with each transaction. For example, on a sale of $100, a business could pay $1.50 to $3.50 in credit card processing fees. For a small business, these fees can be a significant expense. Two common pricing models used by payment processing companies to calculate the fees charged to businesses are interchange-plus pricing and flat-rate pricing.

What is interchange-plus pricing?

With the interchange-plus pricing model, transaction fees include the interchange rate, plus a markup determined by the processor. Interchange rates are set by the card networks (such as Visa or Mastercard) and vary based on the type of card used and your business type. In general, a merchant account with interchange-plus pricing is more cost-effective for businesses with high sales volumes.

What is flat-rate pricing?

With a flat-rate pricing model, transaction fees are the same flat rate for all payments accepted a certain way. For instance, the same rate would apply to all in-person card payments and a different rate could apply to all online transactions. Businesses with lower sales volumes are generally better off with a payment service provider because of the easy setup and straightforward pricing.

Last updated on August 11, 2022

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Credit Card Processing Companies of October 2022

  • Square: Best for Best all-in-one payment services option
  • Helcim: Best for Best interchange-plus pricing option
  • Stax by Fattmerchant: Best for Best for membership-style pricing
  • Stripe: Best for Best for e-commerce businesses
  • Payment Depot: Best for Best for high-volume sales
  • PaymentCloud: Best for Best for high-risk businesses