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8 Best Merchant Account Providers For Small Business In 2024

Your small business needs a merchant account to process credit card payments. Read on to discover our top picks for merchant account service providers.

    Shannon Vissers
  • Last updated onUpdated

  • Matt Sherman

    Matt Sherman

    Lead Staff Writer

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

Merchant account providers offer merchant services like credit card processing for in-person and online payments. We researched several merchant account providers based on pricing, service features, contract terms, and user reviews to help you compare the best merchant services for small business owners.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyBest ForNext StepsBest For

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  • Best for eCommerce businesses
  • $99-$199/month
  • Interchange + $0.08-$0.15 per transaction
  • Best for eCommerce businesses
  • $99-$199/month
  • Interchange + $0.08-$0.15 per transaction

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National Processing

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  • Best for free POS terminal
  • $9.95+/month
  • 2.41%-3.5% per transaction
  • Best for free POS terminal
  • $9.95+/month
  • 2.41%-3.5% per transaction

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  • Best all-in-one merchant account provider
  • $0/month
  • Interchange + 0.40% + $0.08 per transaction
  • Best all-in-one merchant account provider
  • $0/month
  • Interchange + 0.40% + $0.08 per transaction

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  • Best for low-volume businesses
  • $0-$89/month/location
  • 2.5%-3.5% per transaction
  • Best for low-volume businesses
  • $0-$89/month/location
  • 2.5%-3.5% per transaction

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Host Merchant Services

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  • Best for small ticket and EBT sales
  • $14.99/month
  • Interchange + 0.20% + $0.09 per transaction
  • Best for small ticket and EBT sales
  • $14.99/month
  • Interchange + 0.20% + $0.09 per transaction

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  • Best for high-risk businesses
  • $15+/month
  • 2%-4.3% per transaction (on average)
  • Best for high-risk businesses
  • $15+/month
  • 2%-4.3% per transaction (on average)

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Dharma Merchant Services

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  • Best for large businesses and nonprofits
  • $12-$15/month
  • Interchange + 0.1% + $0.08 per transaction
  • Best for large businesses and nonprofits
  • $12-$15/month
  • Interchange + 0.1% + $0.08 per transaction

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Chase Payment Solutions℠

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  • Best for fast funding
  • $0-$10/month
  • 2.6%-3.5% per transaction
  • Best for fast funding
  • $0-$10/month
  • 2.6%-3.5% per transaction

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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

8 Best Merchant Services For Small Business

The best merchant services providers for small businesses offer reasonable payment processing rates, point of sale system integrations, eCommerce software integrations, good customer service, and credit card terminals for taking payments on the go. Here are our top picks:

Compare Merchant Accounts For Small Business

Ideal Business TypeMonthly FeePayment Processing RatesPOS Included
StaxeCommerce, high-volume$99-$199Interchange + $0.08-$0.15
National ProcessingRetail$9.95-$19.95+2.41%-3.5%Clover POS terminal
HelcimB2B/B2G, service businesses$0Starts at interchange + 0.40% + $0.08
SquareRetail, restaurant, service businesses$0-$89/location2.5%-3.5%
Host Merchant ServicesSmall ticket sales, grocery and convenience stores$14.99Starts at interchange + 0.20% + $0.09
PaymentCloudHigh-risk businesses$10-$452-4.3%
Dharma Merchant ServicesHigh-volume businesses and nonprofits$12-$15Starts at interchange + 0.1% + $0.08
Chase Payment Solutions℠ Chase bank account owners$0-$102.6%-2.9%

Stax: Best For eCommerce Businesses

Total Rating 4.0
Fees & Rates3.6

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency3.5

Customer Service4.0

User Reviews3.6

Exclusive Promo: Get your first month free with Stax. Learn More


  • Affordable for high-volume businesses
  • Numerous features, particularly for eCommerce businesses
  • Flat monthly pricing simplifies merchant account fees


  • Not affordable for low-volume businesses
  • Doesn’t accept high-risk businesses

Why We Chose Stax for eCommerce

Stax is great for high-volume businesses but is especially geared toward eCommerce. Stax integrates with most gateways and shopping carts, and also includes its own eCommerce website builder. In addition to eCommerce retail, Stax also has features for software-as-a-service (Saas) businesses and businesses that sell subscriptions or memberships online.

If you also sell in person, Stax still has you covered, with multichannel POS functionality that syncs with all your online sales.

Stax Pricing

Stax has a membership pricing model, whereby merchants pay one flat monthly fee rather than a laundry list of myriad merchant fees.

Otherwise, Stax just charges a few cents markup over interchange, so in total you’ll be charged $99-$199/month (monthly fee depends on your sales volume), with a per-transaction fee of $0.08-$0.15 + interchange (in-person sales are charged $0.08 and online or keyed-in sales are $0.15).

Stax Features

Some of Stax’s many features include:

  • Integrated payment processing platform
  • Built-in shopping cart
  • Developer/API tools
  • Virtual terminal
  • Recurring invoices
  • QR code and text payments
  • Mobile processing capabilities
  • Variety of POS hardware options
  • ACH processing
  • Quickbooks integration

Ideal For ...

  • High-volume online sales (>$15K/month)

Get Started With Stax

Read our in-depth review

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National Processing: Best For Free POS Terminal

National Processing

Total Rating 4.6
Fees & Rates4.8

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency4.4

Customer Service4.1

User Reviews4.4

Get a free Clover Go card reader from National Processing when you sign up. Claim your card reader.


  • Clover POS system comes with plans
  • Lower in-person payment processing than Square
  • Lots of software integrations
  • Excellent online reputation


  • “Free” equipment may require a long-term contract with an early termination fee
  • Monthly fees charged

Why We Chose National Processing For A Free POS Terminal

We like that National Processing offers simple payment processing and a free Clover POS terminal with every plan. National Processing works with a variety of business types and integrates with several popular third-party software such as eCommerce store builders.

National Processing Pricing

National Processing pricing is as follows:

  • Basic In-Person Plan: $9.95/month and 2.5% + $0.10 per card-present transaction
  • Basic eCommerce Plan: $9.95/month and 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction
  • Advanced Plan: $19+/month and 2.41% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Premium Plan: $9.95+/month and custom payment processing fees (plans for businesses processing $30K+/month)

All plans have a 3.5% + $0.10 payment processing fee on manually entered payments.

National Processing Features

Some of National Processing’s best features include:

  • ACH and eCheck processing
  • Mobile payment processing with a free SwipeSimple card reader
  • Free Clover Flex or Clover Mini POS system (if you sign a three-year contract)
  • Free reprogramming of your existing POS equipment (if possible)
  • Integrations with several eCommerce, POS, accounting, and customer relationship management software

Related: Read our Clover Flex review and our Clover Mini review to compare the two options.

Ideal For ...

  • In-person or multichannel sales with Clover

Get Started With National Processing

Read our in-depth review

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Helcim: Best All-In-One Merchant Account Provider

Total Rating 4.9
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.4


Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.8

User Reviews4.5


  • Interchange-plus pricing with automated discounts
  • Automated lower payment processing fees for B2B/B2G transactions
  • Free POS software and invoicing software
  • Excellent customer support


  • Does not accept high-risk businesses
  • Per-transaction rates may be high for low-volume businesses
  • Only available in US and Canada

Why We Chose Helcim For All-In-One Merchant Accounts

We like that Helcim offers full-service merchant accounts with no monthly software fees and interchange-plus payment processing for all businesses, regardless of business size or history. Helcim automatically lowers payment processing rates as you process more payments, which is very cost-effective for growing businesses.

We also appreciate Helcim's AI-powered tool that helps identify qualifying Level 2/3 business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-government (B2G) transactions. These transactions are more secure and result in lower payment processing fees, making Helcim an attractive option for B2B/B2G businesses.

Related: Read our guide to B2B payment processing.

Helcim Pricing

Helcim charges $0/month for Helcim accounts and software. The company offers card readers for $99 and all-in-one handheld POS systems for $329.

Payment processing fees start at:

  • Card-Present Payments: Interchange + 0.4% + $0.08
  • Keyed-In & Online Payments: Interchange + 0.5% + $0.25
  • ACH Payments: 0.25% + $0.25 (fee capped at $6/transaction)

You can also activate a cash discount program to pass all payment processing fees to customers, making Helcim a completely free merchant account.

Related: Read our Helcim Smart Terminal review for more on the company’s well-developed handheld POS system.

Helcim Features

Some of our favorite Helcim features include:

  • In-person payments with Bluetooth-enabled card readers
  • POS app works on all device types
  • Online store builder
  • Virtual terminal for mail order and over-the-phone payments
  • Custom invoice builder
  • Secure card vault for card-on-file payments
  • Automated lower B2B/B2G payment processing fees with Helcim Fee Saver Tool
  • B2B customer account portals for purchasing and returns
  • Strong customer support

Ideal For ...

  • Any high-volume, low-risk business that wants core processing services and minimal fees

Get Started With Helcim

Read our in-depth review

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Square: Best For Low-Volume Businesses

Total Rating 4.8
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.7


Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.9

User Reviews4.9

Get a free card swiper from Square at no cost when you create a free account. Claim your card reader.


  • Free POS plan and online store builder
  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Niche features for retail, restaurant, and service businesses
  • Easy for staff and customers to use


  • Account stability issues
  • Does not accept most high-risk businesses
  • Payment processing structure not ideal for high-volume businesses

Why We Chose Square For Low-Volume Businesses

With an easy signup process, free and low-cost monthly plans, industry-specific POS software plans, free online store builder, and affordable POS hardware, Square is a great package for low-volume businesses with smaller budgets. Also, Square's transparent flat-rate payment processing structure is a good option for businesses processing less than $10K per month.

Related: Read our Square POS review to learn more about the POS software that comes with every Square account.

Square Pricing

Square offers POS software plans ranging from $0-$89/location/month and POS hardware ranging from $40-$799. Payment processing fees decrease on paid POS plans.

Square’s per-transaction payment processing fees include:

  • Card-Present Payments: 2.5%-2.6% + $0.10
  • Online Payments: 2.6%-2.9% + $0.30
  • Keyed-In Card Payments: 3.5% + $0.15
  • Invoice Payments: 3.3% +$0.30
  • ACH Payments: 1%  (minimum fee of $1/transaction)

Related: Read our guide to Square POS hardware for more on what types of card readers and cash registers Square offers.

Square Features

Top Square features include:

  • In-person payments with Bluetooth-enabled card reader
  • Software plans for retail, restaurant, and service-based businesses
  • Mobile and tablet POS apps
  • Free online store builder
  • Invoice and virtual terminal payments
  • ACH payment processing
  • Range of Square POS hardware options to choose from

Ideal For ...

  • Newer, lower-volume retail or restaurant businesses

Get Started With Square

Read our in-depth review

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Host Merchant Services: Best For Small Ticket & EBT Sales

Host Merchant Services

Total Rating 4.9
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency4.7

Customer Service4.6

User Reviews4.8


  • Transparent interchange-plus pricing
  • EBT program available
  • More affordable payment processing for small ticket sales
  • Good customer support


  • Can be expensive for some low-volume merchants
  • $14.99 monthly fee

Why We Chose Host Merchant Services For Small Ticket & EBT Sales

We like that Host Merchant Services offers a unique small ticket program so that businesses with small average ticket sizes (laundromats, car washes, small theatres, etc.) can get a better deal on payment processing. We also like that small convenience and grocery stores can sign up for EBT payment acceptance onboarding and all businesses can sign up for a cash discount program and have customers cover the payment processing fees.

Host Merchant Services Pricing

HMS payment processing rates (varies by industry):

  • Retail: Interchange + 0.25% + $0.10
  • Restaurant: Interchange + 0.20% + $0.09
  • eCommerce: Interchange + 0.35% + $0.10
  • Small Ticket Program: 1.6% + $0.05 (Visa payments); 1.55% + $0.04 (MasterCard payments)
  • EBT Payments: $0.10

Note: As with most merchant account providers, high-risk businesses will pay higher payment processing rates due to the risk involved.

Other fees include:

  • $14.99/month account fee
  • $24/year 1099 reporting fee
  • $5/month payment gateway fee (optional)
  • $0.20/batch processing fee
  • $20/month cash discount program fee (optional)

Host Merchant Services Features

Features include:

  • Low-risk and high-risk merchant accounts
  • Full line of countertop and mobile credit card terminals
  • Small ticket program ($15 or less per transaction)
  • EBT payment capabilities
  • Mobile payment processing solutions
  • Proprietary Bonsai POS system available
  • Clover and Vital POS systems available
  • Authorize.Net and HMSExpress payment gateway to take online payments
  • Virtual terminal
  • Free web hosting
  • Cash discounting program

Related: Read our Clover POS review to decide whether a Clover device is right for your business.

Ideal For ...

  • Small grocery markets & businesses with small average ticket size

Get Started With Host Merchant Services

Read our in-depth review

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PaymentCloud: Best For High-Risk Businesses

Total Rating 4.1
Fees & Rates4.3

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency3.9

Customer Service4.2

User Reviews4.0

Exclusive Promo: PaymentCloud will give you $200 if they can't beat your current rate. Get Your Quote


  • High-risk specialists
  • Great public reputation
  • No account setup fee
  • No monthly minimums


  • No publicly disclosed pricing for high-risk merchants
  • Low-risk merchants may find a better deal elsewhere

Why We Chose PaymentCloud For High-Risk Businesses

PaymentCloud is one of our best high-risk merchant account providers because the company assists high-risk business owners with their merchant account applications and partners with several acquiring banks and back-end processors to maximize the odds that one of them will accept your business. As a high-risk merchant, you'll have a better chance of getting accepted by PaymentCloud than you will with other merchant service providers, even those that nominally accept high-risk businesses.

The company also strives to give you a fair deal on your high-risk merchant account.

PaymentCloud Pricing

PaymentCloud charges the following fees (on average, pricing varies by business):

  • Low-Risk Payments: 2%-3.1%
  • Mid-Risk Payments: 2.3%-3.4%
  • High-Risk Payments: 2.7%-4.3%
  • Monthly Fee: $10-$45/month
  • Virtual Terminal Fee: $15-$45/month
  • Payment Gateway Fee: $15/month (required to take online payments)
  • Rolling Reserve Requirement: 0%-10%

Read our guide to rolling reserves to learn how rolling reserves work and if you’ll need a rolling reserve fund.

Note: PaymentCloud may waive an early termination fee if you negotiate with them about your merchant agreement.

PaymentCloud Features

Features include:

  • Account application assistance
  • High-risk industry expertise
  • Excellent customer service
  • Mobile payment processing
  • Chargeback and fraud prevention tools
  • Virtual terminal included
  • Authorize.Net, NMI, or USAePay payment gateways are available
  • ACH and eCheck processing
  • Cryptocurrency acceptance
  • QR-code payments

Ideal For ...

  • High-risk businesses (online or brick-and-mortar)

Get Started With PaymentCloud

Read our in-depth review

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Dharma Merchant Services: Best For Large Businesses & Nonprofits

Dharma Merchant Services

Total Rating 5.0
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services5.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.8

User Reviews4.5


  • Low payment processing rates
  • Niche features for several business types
  • Discount pricing for nonprofits and high-volume businesses
  • Month-to-month contracts with no early termination fee


  • Not available to high-risk businesses
  • $49 account closure fee
  • Not for businesses charging less than $10K/month

Why We Chose Dharma Merchant Services For Large Businesses & Nonprofits

We appreciate that Dharma Merchant Services offers some of the lowest and most transparent payment processing rates available, especially for nonprofits and high-volume businesses (processing $100K/month at least). Dharma works with almost all business types, with special solutions for nonprofits, healthcare and veterinarian offices, B2B businesses, and lodging/hospitality businesses.

Note: The company's payment processing rates and tools are not suited for businesses processing less than $10K/month in sales.

Dharma Merchant Services Pricing

Dharma pricing payment processing fees include:

  • Card-Present Payments: Interchange + 0.15% + $0.08
  • Online & Virtual Terminal Payments: Interchange + 0.20% + $0.11
  • Nonprofit Rates: Interchange + 0.10% + $0.08-$0.11
  • High-Volume Rates: Interchange + 0.10% + $0.08 (in-person payments); interchange + 0.20% + $0.11 (online payments)

Flat fees include:

  • Account Fee: $15/month ($12/month for nonprofits and high-volume businesses)
  • Recurring Billing & Invoicing: $10/month (optional)
  • B2B Payment Processing: $20/month for automated lower payment processing on B2B transactions (optional)
  • Online Ordering: $49/month (optional)
  • Account Closure Fee: $49


Dharma Merchant Services Features

Dharma’s best features include:

  • Full-service merchant accounts
  • Line of Clover, First Data, and Verifone credit card terminals
  • Online payment platform and payment links
  • Virtual terminal payments
  • Invoicing
  • Lower B2B payment processing rates
  • HIPAA-compliant billing system
  • HSA card acceptance
  • Lodging application to manage guest check-in/check-out
  • B2B customer database management
  • Donation buttons for nonprofits
  • Cash discount program

Related: Check out our full list of HIPAA-compliant credit card processors if you run a healthcare business.

Ideal For ...

  • High-volume businesses or nonprofits in any sector

Get Started With Dharma Merchant Services

Read our in-depth review

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Chase Payment Solutions℠ : Best For Fast Funding

Chase Payment Solutions℠

Total Rating 4.4
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency3.7

Customer Service3.9

User Reviews3.7


  • Large direct processor
  • No monthly fee with a standard account
  • Month-to-month contracts available
  • Interchange-plus pricing available upon request


  • Limited pricing information disclosed online
  • “Free” credit card terminal requires a long-term contract

Why We Chose Chase For Fast Funding

We like that Chase Payment Solutions is both a free merchant account provider and a direct payment processor, so you don't have to work with any third-party payment processor and wait several days for your funds to get processed and paid out. Chase business bank account holders can even receive funding within the same day for no fees. For an additional monthly fee, you can also get fast ACH payments and lowered B2B transaction payment processing fees.

Chase Payment Solutions Pricing

Chase Payments Solutions payment processing rates are:

  • 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction for card-present transactions
  • 2.9% + $0.25 for eCommerce and over-the-phone transactions (through Authorize.Net partnership)
  • 3.5% + $0.10 per transaction for keyed-in-card and virtual terminal transactions

Note: Interchange-plus pricing is available, but you have to pay at least $10/month.

The company also offers card readers ranging from $49.95-$399.

Chase Payment Solutions Features

Chase’s best features include:

  • Single company for merchant bank account and payment processing
  • Same-day funding for Chase business bank account customers
  • Free POS hardware available (with a long-term contract)
  • Chase mobile POS app with payment requests and mobile-powered payment acceptance
  • eCommerce website integration
  • Virtual terminal

Ideal For ...

  • Small businesses that are also Chase bank account holders

Get Started With Chase Payment Solutions℠

Read our in-depth review

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Payment Processing Rating Methodology

Merchant Maverick has been researching the payment processing industry since 2009. Our writers have reviewed hundreds of credit card processors, merchant account services, and mobile payment apps, evaluating each provider carefully on several different metrics.

Weighted Rating Breakdown

Fees & Rates 35%
Contract 20%
Products & Services 15%
Sales & Advertising Transparency 15%
Customer Service 10%
User Reviews 5%

When comparing different payment processing companies and applications to one another, we consider numerous data points. Our experts start by comparing credit card processing rates, the presence of additional fees, contract length, sales practices, and the presence or absence of additional features and services, like point of sale software. Each provider is judged on its own merits and how well it stacks up to industry standards; then it is weighed against the other providers on the list.

We spend an average of 10-15 hours researching and updating each one of our lists, making sure every company or application included meets our internal standards for quality and reputation. Any list of recommended payment processors on our site might contain a mix of standard merchant accounts, third-party payment processors, mobile payment devices, and high-risk payment processors, depending on what our expert feels is the best fit for certain scenarios or business types.

For additional details about Merchant Maverick’s review and rating processes, please refer to any or all of the following methodology pages:


Years reviewing payment processors


Providers evaluated


Attributes and features assessed per vendor


Years combined experience

What Is A Merchant Account?

A merchant account is a special bank account that temporarily holds money from credit and debit card transactions. Once transaction payment processing is complete and your merchant services provider has taken out its fees, the remaining funds are transferred to your business bank account.

Merchant services providers manage merchant accounts and sometimes provide other goods or services such as credit card terminals and virtual terminals for online payments.

Types Of Merchant Accounts

There are two main types of merchant accounts.

Traditional Merchant Accounts

A traditional merchant account is a dedicated bank account that is all yours. It’s an ideal fit for:

  • High-risk businesses that need a stable account and can’t get approved for payment services from providers like Square
  • Large businesses that won’t benefit from the standard flat-rate payment processing that many payment providers offer
  • Negotiating a custom payment processing rate and contract terms

Traditional merchant account providers require you to provide business and personal information, go through a rigorous signup process, and may include more small monthly fees.

Payment Services Provider

A payment services provider like Square is an account that does not come with a unique merchant ID and the perks of a stable dedicated merchant account, but these accounts are easy to sign up for and start taking payments. Essentially, a traditional merchant account is more like your regular bank account, while payment services providers are like payment apps (PayPal, Venmo, etc.)

Payment services providers are ideal for:

  • Smaller businesses processing less than $5K/month in sales
  • New businesses looking for a fast and easy signup process

Which Merchant Account Provider Is Right For Your Business?

The best merchant account provider for your business offers the right pricing structure for your business size, built-in features or feature integrations you need to operate in your industry, and good contract terms.

If you want straightforward payment processing for a low-volume business and low monthly account fees, Square or National Processing is right for you.

If you’re looking for the best interchange-plus pricing structure for your low-risk business, compare your rates and available features from Helcim, Host Merchant Services, and Dharma.

If you have a high-risk business, PaymentCloud is most likely the way to go, although National Processing does work with some high-risk businesses.

Whichever merchant account you choose, make sure it integrates with one of the best POS systems if you’re going to take payments in person.

FAQs: 8 Best Merchant Account Providers For Small Business In 2024

Do I need a merchant service provider?

You will need a merchant services provider to accept digital payments.

Do you need good credit for a merchant account?

If your personal credit is fair, you may have to agree to stipulations like a rolling reserve to be approved. If your credit is very poor, you may be rejected for a merchant account or have to find a co-signer.

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Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

Lead Staff Writer at Merchant Maverick
Shannon has been writing for Merchant Maverick about small business software and financing since 2015. She started writing professionally about business topics in 2005. Shannon has been featured in the Washington Post, Reader's Digest, US News, MSN, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, and other publications. She has a bachelor's degree in English from San Diego State University and currently resides in San Diego, California.
Shannon Vissers
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