Ratings Methodology for Payment Processing Providers

NerdWallet's ratings for payment processing providers consider the following factors:
  • Overall cost.
  • Hardware and software options.
  • System capabilities.
  • Pricing transparency.
  • Integrations.
  • Customer service.
  • Contract and trial period.
The best payment processing providers are priced competitively and make it easy for small-business owners to know how much they’ll pay for services. A variety of hardware and software options are available to the small-business owner, with system capabilities that can handle a range of transaction types and allow for the deposit of funds in a timely manner. The best payment processing providers also offer extended customer service hours and a system that integrates with accounting and other software.

Data collection and review process

We collect data points for each provider from its public-facing website and from company representatives. These data points are then compared against one another and against NerdWallet's standards for good payment processing providers to determine a star rating. Information is gathered on a regular basis and reviewed by our editorial team for consistency and accuracy. Final star ratings are presented on a scale of one to five stars, where a one-star score represents "poor" and a five-star score represents "excellent."

The reviews team

The writers and editors behind our payment processing reviews are small-business specialists who have had their work featured by The Associated Press, The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch and many other publications. Each writer and editor follows NerdWallet’s strict guidelines for editorial integrity. Our small-business editorial team also covers business loans, business credit cards, business bank accounts, payroll and accounting software, and business insurance.

Rating specifics

Our star ratings are weighted based on our editorial and professional opinions. We use the following weightings when rating payment processing providers:
  • Overall cost (29.5%).
  • Hardware and software options (20.5%).
  • System capabilities (18%).
  • Pricing transparency (11.5%).
  • Integrations (9%).
  • Customer service (7%).
  • Contract and trial period (4.5%).

Overall cost: These ratings consider a provider’s costs in a variety of areas including rates per transaction type, set monthly fees, variable fees and available discounts.

Hardware and software options: These ratings are based on the types of devices offered by the provider, the cost of the devices, and their capabilities in accepting magstripe, chip and contactless payments. Consideration is also given to point-of-sale (POS) features, and software options such as mobile apps and online payment features.

System capabilities: These ratings are based on the range of transaction types the provider’s system can process, including in-person, online, manually-entered, invoiced and mobile. Consideration is given to deposit timing and deposit account options.

Pricing transparency: This takes into account not only published prices and fee schedules but also the degree to which the provider makes the pricing obvious and available to consumers on its website.

Integrations: We rate payment processing providers on whether their systems integrate directly with popular accounting software or offer a data export option as an alternative, and whether they offer other types of software integrations.

Customer service: We rate payment processors according to their customer service availability. Our methodology awards higher scores to providers who offer consumer-friendly features, such as extended hours and weekend support, help libraries or knowledge bases, and free setup help from a human.

Contract and trial period: Ideally, small-business owners should be able to avoid a contract or, at a minimum, be able to get out of their payment processing contract without incurring cancellation or closure fees. A free trial period or the ability to try the service for a minimal cost are also considerations. These ratings measure the availability of those options.