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The 10 Best Online Credit Card Payment Processing Services For Small Businesses

Processors on this list serve high-risk, high-volume, low-volume, international, or new businesses, among other criteria.

    Jason Vissers
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Know more about 6 best online credit card processing companies

Are you an entrepreneur looking to build your first eCommerce business? Or maybe you have a brick-and-mortar store and want to start selling your products online as well (perhaps due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Either way, if you’re an eCommerce newbie and you’re seeking information on how to get started with online credit card processing, you’ve come to the right place.

This comprehensive list of the best eCommerce credit card processors is a great place to start your research. Now, if you already run a physical store and take payment cards, you might be thinking about using your current processor, as it likely offers eCommerce in some form. However, eCommerce businesses usually have unique needs that not all processors are optimized for. Rates, quality of service, reliability, and other features should all be considered when choosing an eCommerce credit card processor. You may also have to make some tradeoffs specific to your business type for some of these categories.

Fortunately, there are more options than ever when choosing online payment processing providers. Your choices range from traditional merchant accounts to third-party, pay-as-you-go processors.

Keep reading for our list of the best online payment processors. We’ll also discuss other general considerations when starting an eCommerce venture.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyHighlightsNext StepsHighlights
PaymentCloud

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  • Best for high-risk businesses
  • Low-risk accounts are available
  • Best for high-risk businesses
  • Low-risk accounts are available

Visit Site

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Stax by Fattmerchant

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  • Best for high-volume businesses
  • Subscription-based pricing exclusively
  • Best for high-volume businesses
  • Subscription-based pricing exclusively

Visit Site

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Helcim

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  • Best for an all-in-one platform
  • Available in Canada
  • Exclusively uses interchange-plus pricing
  • Best for an all-in-one platform
  • Available in Canada
  • Exclusively uses interchange-plus pricing

Visit Site

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Dharma Merchant Services

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  • Best for nonprofits
  • Exclusively uses interchange-plus pricing
  • Outstanding transparency
  • Best for nonprofits
  • Exclusively uses interchange-plus pricing
  • Outstanding transparency

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CDGcommerce

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  • Best for low rates
  • Scales well to different transaction volumes
  • Adequate toolset for most small businesses
  • Best for low rates
  • Scales well to different transaction volumes
  • Adequate toolset for most small businesses

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Other Featured Options:

  • Square:
    • Best for businesses with low-volume brick-and-mortar sales
    • Free online store
    • Powerful all-in-one service
  • Durango Merchant Services:
    • Best for offshore merchant accounts
    • Dedicated account manager for clients
  • PayPal:
    • Best for new sellers & micromerchants
    • Wide variety of integrations
    • Very easy to use
  • Stripe Payments:
    • Best for multiple payment method support
    • Great for international sales
    • Many sophisticated custom integrations offered
  • Shopify Payments:
    • Best for multiple sales channels
    • Wide variety of integrations

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Finding The Right Internet Credit Card Processing Matters More Than Ever

Clearly, the pandemic has driven an enormous surge in online shopping. However, that’s not the only factor driving the eCommerce explosion. The rise of SaaS and the increasing popularity of subscription boxes and other unconventional business models mean that this eCommerce boom will likely hold or even increase.

That means you’ll have lots of competition to contend with. That’s why a good checkout experience, reliable processing, and good fraud protection are of the utmost importance. A recent analysis by Growcode of 12 conversion rate studies found that the average eCommerce conversion rate in the US is 1.96%. However, by carefully attending to the needs of your customers, you can beat this average.

The 10 Best Online Credit Card Processing Companies

While the best online credit card processors for any given business will vary by your needs, these companies collectively offer the most value for your money. Our current picks for the best online payment processing services include PaymentCloud, Square, and Shopify Payments, among others.

1. PaymentCloud: Best For High-Risk Businesses

PaymentCloud



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Pros

  • Reasonable rates and fees
  • Free credit card terminal
  • Excellent customer support
  • Shopping cart integration

Cons

  • No publicly disclosed pricing
  • High-risk businesses will likely have a monthly minimum

Just because your business is high-risk doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to top-quality processing. PaymentCloud is a great option for businesses in high-risk industries. This payment service comes highly recommended by esteemed low-risk providers such as Dharma Merchant Services, which refers high-risk applicants to PaymentCloud.

As is usually the case for high-risk payment services, PaymentCloud doesn’t provide pricing information in advance. Companies such as PaymentCloud shop your profile around to various back-end processors to get you the best possible deal. Typically, this means tiered pricing, monthly minimums, and contracts (at least initially), but you can expect to be treated fairly by PaymentCloud. The company also offers low-risk services at a monthly fee of $15, with interchange-plus pricing.

For eCommerce specifically, PaymentCloud offers a gateway via Authorize.Net or USAePay. You can, however, use any compatible gateway you want. You’ll also get shopping cart integration along with echeck and ACH processing.

Get Started with PaymentCloud

Read our in-depth review

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2. Stax By Fattmerchant: Best For High-Volume Businesses

Stax by Fattmerchant



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Pros

  • Transparent wholesale pricing
  • No long-term contract
  • Next-day funding option available
  • QuickBooks integration

Cons

  • US merchants only
  • Not suitable for low-volume businesses

Interchange-plus pricing is the best pricing model for most businesses due to being both transparent and (usually) cost-effective. But there’s another pricing model that deserves appreciation, and it’s the one offered by Stax by Fattmerchant. Stax deals exclusively in subscription-based (a.k.a. wholesale) pricing.

Interchange-plus pricing separates the interchange fees charged by the credit card companies and those charged by your processor; your processor fees are usually still based on a percentage of your transaction (e.g., 0.3% + $0.15).

Subscription pricing still charges you the interchange fee, but your processor fee is just a flat fee. So unlike the earlier example of 0.3% + $0.15 per transaction, it’s just $0.15. You pay a monthly fee based on your processing volume. A set monthly fee makes subscription pricing very cost-effective for high-volume businesses and less so for low-volume.

While Stax isn’t eCommerce-focused per se, it does offer a free customizable shopping cart, integrations with several of the most popular shopping carts and gateways, and a respectable API for those who want to tinker around with some code.

  • Stax eCommerce fees are $99/month and $0.15 per transaction for businesses doing less than $5 million in sales annually (pricing for merchants processing more than that is quote-based)
  • The Stax Pay integrated payments platform costs anywhere from $49-$129/month, depending on the subscription tier you choose

Get Started with Stax by Fattmerchant

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3. Helcim: Best For All-In-One Payment Processing

Helcim



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Helcim is now available with NO MONTHLY FEE. Start Here!

Pros

  • Exclusive interchange-plus processing rates
  • No long-term contracts or early termination fees
  • No monthly account fees
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • Not cost-effective for merchants processing less than $1,500 per month
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

Helcim is our pick for the best all-in-one platform provider because of its Helcim Commerce integrated payments platform. The platform combines the functions of a payment gateway with other ancillary services that you’ll need to run your online business. Helcim Commerce supports recurring billing and includes a customer information database. Tokenization, inventory management, and other features critical to running an online business are also built-in.

Helcim offers payment processing services to US and Canadian merchants. It gives you month-to-month billing with no long-term commitment and no additional cost to close your account. Helcim charges no monthly account fee, no monthly minimum, and no PCI compliance fee. Incidental fees are reasonable and published on Helcim’s website.

Helcim uses interchange-plus pricing exclusively.

  • Processing rates start at interchange + 0.50% + $0.25 per transaction, with significantly lower rates available to high-volume merchants and nonprofits
  • If you need it, echeck/ACH processing is also available for an additional $25 per month plus $0.25 per transaction

Get Started with Helcim

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4. Dharma Merchant Services: Best For Nonprofits

Dharma Merchant Services



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Pros

  • Interchange-plus pricing offered exclusively
  • No annual fee or monthly minimum
  • Month-to-month billing with no early termination fees
  • Outstanding sales transparency and highly ethical business practices

Cons

  • Not recommended for businesses processing less than $10,000 per month
  • No support for high-risk or international merchants

Dharma Merchant Services — a long-time Merchant Maverick favorite — is our choice for the best nonprofit processor. Dharma offers discounted pricing for nonprofit organizations and partners with 4aGoodCause to provide nonprofits with donation pages and event registration services. Dharma also gives a special discount to high-volume B2B merchants (those processing over $100,000 per month), making it a great choice for those in the B2B sector.

As a part of its eCommerce offerings, Dharma uses MX Merchant as its integrated payments platform. This all-in-one service combines the features of a payment gateway and a virtual terminal into a single product. You’ll have access to online reporting, a customer information database, and even a mobile processing app. You can add optional services for an additional fee, such as recurring billing and echeck/ACH payment processing.

  • For eCommerce payment processing, Dharma ordinarily charges interchange + 0.20% + $0.11 per transaction (interchange + 0.30% + $0.11 per transaction for American Express).
  • However, for an extra $20 per month, online merchants processing a monthly volume of $100,000 or more get access to discounted interchange-plus rates of interchange + 0.10 % + $0.11 per transaction (interchange + 0.20% + $0.11 per transaction for American Express). This high-volume plan supports the use of Level II and III processing data for B2B transactions, so it can potentially lower your interchange rates and save you even more money.
  • Dharma charges a flat $25 monthly fee for eCommerce accounts.

Get Started with Dharma Merchant Services

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5. CDGcommerce: Best For Low Rates

CDGcommerce



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Pros

  • Free payment gateway and virtual terminal
  • Month-to-month billing with no early termination fees
  • Excellent customer service and support
  • Scales well

Cons

  • Only available to US-based merchants

CDGcommerce gives you all the standard features you’d expect in an online credit card processing company. While these features might not always be the most advanced available, they’re all very good.

With CDGcommerce, you get your choice of free payment gateways, including Authorize.Net and the company’s proprietary Quantum Gateway. In other words, you should be covered for nearly endless integrations. There are no setup fees, monthly fees, or per-transaction fees for the use of the gateways. You get a virtual terminal at no extra charge as well as detailed online reporting. If you have a physical store, CDGcommerce can support your credit card terminal, countertop POS, or mobile POS as well. It also offers 24/7 phone support.

CDGcommerce uses different pricing schemes depending on your sales volume. This isn’t a bad thing, as each pricing scheme is well-matched to the volume. For online processing, the Simple plan (monthly volume between $1,000 and $10,000) charges:

  • 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction, with an American Express surcharge of 0.25%
  • There are no other fees — this flat-fee plan is meant to compete with third-party processors but eventually gives you a merchant account

For the Interchange Plus plan (monthly volume between $10,000 and $200,000), merchants get:

  • Interchange fees + 0.30% + $0.15 per transaction
  • Nonprofits get interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction
  • There’s still no monthly fee

The Subscription plan (monthly volume over $200,000) has several tiers:

  • Membership prices range from $49/month to $199/month, each tier capped by processing volume, and the “monthly” membership fees must be paid in one lump sum on a per-year basis
  • Rates from interchange + $0.10 per transaction to interchange + $0.05 per transaction, depending on the monthly membership price

Get Started with CDGcommerce

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6. Square: Best For Low-Volume Businesses

Square



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Pros

  • Impressive feature set
  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • No (mandatory) monthly fees
  • Available to Canadian businesses
  • Strong POS support

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Advanced features require a monthly fee

Square may be known best for its convenient POS hardware and expansive support software for small businesses, and indeed, that’s where its strengths lie. That said, Square does offer respectable eCommerce support and infrastructure that includes a free online store and shopping cart support. These can be ideal for businesses that are primarily brick-and-mortar but also do a portion of their business online.

Square is a great all-in-one solution for businesses that do a relatively low volume of transactions. And while eCommerce may not be Square’s primary focus, what it offers should be more than enough for businesses that dabble in online sales.

Square uses a flat-rate pricing model for all of its transactions.

  • For eCommerce transactions and invoices, Square charges 2.9% + $0.30, which is more or less the standard industry flat-rate fee for online payments. Square gives you a lot for “free,” including its classic magstripe card reader for mobile devices, a payment gateway, and a virtual terminal, but monthly fees are required for some of the meatier software.

Get Started with Square

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7. Durango Merchant Services: Best For International & Global Businesses

Durango Merchant Services



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Pros

  • Specialists in placing high-risk and other hard-to-place merchants
  • Offers offshore merchant accounts for some international merchants
  • Fair pricing and excellent contract terms
  • Dedicated account manager for customer service

Cons

  • No pricing disclosures on the website

Durango Merchant Services is our top pick for high-risk businesses needing online merchant credit card processing. Durango also offers offshore merchant accounts for international merchants.

Unlike the other online credit card processing companies featured here, Durango doesn’t advertise any pricing information or contract terms on its website. Because Durango works with so many back-end processors to get you set up with an account, all of these factors will be highly variable and subject to negotiation.

Unfortunately, you should fully expect to pay higher processing rates than a similar low-risk business. You should also anticipate being placed on a tiered pricing plan, although interchange-plus is sometimes available. Don’t expect month-to-month billing, either. These certainly aren’t great terms. However, in an industry riddled with less-than-ethical service providers, Durango is one of the few high-risk providers that enjoys an excellent reputation for fair prices and contract terms.

Get Started with Durango Merchant Services

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8. PayPal: Best For New Sellers & Micromerchants

PayPal



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As of August 2, 2021, PayPal has changed its pricing for online payment processing, affecting new and existing merchants. The new rates are complicated and not easy to summarize, so we recommend reading our article on PayPal's pricing to understand how the new prices will affect your business.

Pros

  • Flat-rate pricing
  • Ideal for low-volume merchants
  • Extensive integrations
  • All-in-one payments system

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Inconsistent customer support
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

There’s an easy way to set up an online business, and there’s a hard way. The hard way involves working with APIs that require computer programming skills. The easy way is to add some readily-prepared code to your website yourself. PayPal excels at the latter, offering simple integration of a whole host of payment processing services.

It’s exceedingly easy for merchants to set up a PayPal account. There are no monthly minimums and no setup fees.

  • For PayPal Digital Payments, you’ll pay 3.49% + $0.49 per transaction.
  • Online credit/debit sales will cost you anywhere from 2.59% + $0.49 per transaction to 2.99% + $0.49 per transaction depending on whether you are using PayPal Checkout or PayPal Payments Advanced/Pro (and whether or not you have Chargeback Protection).
  • Using PayPal Checkout for online sales comes with no monthly charge. This option allows you to either integrate PayPal as a supplemental option or make it your primary processor.
  • Using PayPal Payments Advanced for online sales costs $5/month.
  • Using PayPal Payments Pro for online sales costs $30/month.
  • Nonprofits pay 1.99% + $0.49 per transaction.
  • Recurring billing costs an additional $10 per month.
  • A dedicated hosted payments page costs $30 per month.
  • Merchants with an average transaction size of under $10 can get on a microtransactions plan to reduce their processing costs. Under this plan, you pay 4.99% + $0.09 per transaction.

PayPal’s recent service and pricing changes (implemented August 2nd, 2021) have admittedly made pricing harder to quantify. However, the bottom line is that for new, smaller merchants and micro-merchants, using PayPal Checkout should give you the tools you need for online selling while not requiring you to pay a monthly fee.

PayPal offers an entire suite of services directed at online merchants. Along with accepting online payments and sending invoices, PayPal uses its own gateway, which you can use on a per-transaction basis or by paying a monthly fee. Nonprofits are eligible for a discount and can easily set up a donation button on their site.

Read our in-depth review

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9. Stripe Payments: Best For Multiple Payment Methods

Stripe Payments



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Pros

  • Excellent developer tools
  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Advanced reporting, marketplace, and subscription tools
  • Can take international transactions

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Needs technical skill to implement

Stripe Payments, like PayPal, is synonymous with internet commerce. PayPal is easier to use when you’re just starting your eCommerce business. But if you’re planning to use a web developer to design a top-of-the-line, slick-looking web store (and/or adding in-app payment functions), Stripe gives you more tools to integrate into your platform.

Stripe is open to merchants worldwide with numerous currency options and support for numerous alternative payment methods and local payment options across North America, the EU, and Asia. You’ll also find a great selection of marketplace tools and recurring billing options. Stripe gives you a gateway (which isn’t usable if you don’t use Stripe for payment processing), a hosted payment page, PCI compliance, invoicing, and the ability to migrate your customer data if you ever decide to leave. Sadly, Stripe doesn’t support a virtual terminal.

  • Stripe charges just 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. There’s no monthly fee, no monthly minimum, and no PCI compliance fee.
  • Stripe also offers ACH payments at 0.8% that cap at $5 per month for ACH debit and $1 per ACH credit payment. However, you will pay small fees to access Stripe Billing, which includes subscription management, recurring billing tools, and Sigma, Stripe’s SQL-based custom reporting system. The cost for these services is reasonable, but the pricing scheme is a departure from Stripe’s earlier flat-rate pricing, where everything was bundled together.

Get Started with Stripe Payments

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10. Shopify Payments: Best For Multiple Sales Channels

Shopify Payments



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Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Multicurrency acceptance
  • Sync data from multiple sales channels
  • Can take international transactions

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • A monthly fee is charged

If you’re building an online store with Shopify, using Shopify Payments as your processor is a no-brainer for the simple fact that it’s the only way you can avoid paying a Shopify per-transaction fee of .5%-2% (on top of the processing fee) with each sale. However, if you’re building an online store and not with Shopify, you can still subscribe to Shopify Lite to add buy buttons to your site.

Using Shopify Lite with your existing online store can be beneficial, particularly for merchants who sell items on Amazon, eBay, and/or other sales channels. You’ll be able to sync and manage your listings in a single location, and you can generate all your sales data and shipping through Shopify. And with the numerous integrations Shopify offers for dropshippers and suppliers, eCommerce merchants have a lot of reasons to like Shopify. As for costs:

  • Shopify Lite costs $9/month to use
  • You’ll pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction in online processing fees

Get Started with Shopify Payments

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What You Should Look For In Online Merchant Services

Let’s discuss some eCommerce-specific issues related to internet credit card processing:

  • Pricing: Online credit card sales are all card-not-present (CNP) sales, so they usually cost more per transaction than card-present sales. That said, you’ll still want to pay as little as you can per transaction. Flat-rate pricing is fine for low-volume merchants. Higher-volume merchants should try to get interchange-plus or wholesale pricing. Avoid tiered pricing if you can.
  • Fraud Detection Tools: Given that CNP transactions have higher incidences of fraud, fraud detection naturally becomes more important for online businesses. While most credit card associations have fraud detection tools, it’s not a bad idea to consider additional fraud protection, whether offered as a part of the standard package or available for an extra fee.
  • Ease Of Use/Technical Knowledge: You should also consider how easy/hard it might be to integrate a particular processor into your web store. If you’re technologically inclined, you might not be worried about buying a domain, building a website, or loading your products or services onto the site. If you’re not, choose a provider with good shopping cart integrations.
  • Merchant Account VS PSP: One of the first things you must decide is whether you should use a traditional merchant account provider or a payment services provider/third-party processor. It takes longer to apply with a merchant account provider, but you tend to have better account stability once you’re approved. In contrast, you could be approved for processing with a PSP in just a few minutes, but you might have to deal with more frequent occurrences of account holds, freezes, or even terminations in the future.
  • Alternative Payment Methods: Credit and debit cards are far from the only payment method for online businesses. Ask yourself whether your customers would prefer to use any alternative methods and consider implementing the ones you think they’d use. ACH processing is relatively common (and popular among B2B companies), but it’s not always offered as part of a standard credit card processing contract.
  • Reliability & Customer Support: You should expect both reliability and excellent customer support from your payment processor as well as a shopping cart/recurring billing provider. Check that the available support channels match your preferences. The more reports there are that tell a consistent story, the more likely that is the truth of the experience.

How To Get Started With Online Payment Processing

At a minimum, you’ll need the following three things to sell online.

1) A Payment Processor

eCommerce credit card processors fall into two categories: direct (also called merchant accounts) or third-party (also called payment service providers or aggregators).

Setting up an account with a direct processor can take longer because they investigate your financial stability before approving you. Typically, you’ll need a monthly minimum of $5,000-$10,000 in card transactions to justify a direct processor’s monthly and annual fees. In return, you’ll be at lower risk of mysterious account freezes and holds.

Third-party processors — also known as payment service providers (PSPs) or aggregators — only perform cursory financial vetting before approving the account. A third-party processor lumps all of its merchants into one large merchant account (hence the term “aggregating”). However, because so little underwriting is done beforehand, the processor analyzes your activities with greater scrutiny afterward. You are more likely to encounter an account hold or termination, usually with little to no notice.

Recommended Reading: The Secret To Accepting Credit Cards Without A Merchant Account? Finding A Great Third-Party Payment Processor

2) A Payment Gateway

If you plan to sell online, you need a payment gateway. A gateway allows you to accept online credit card payments; you can’t sell online without one. However, the concept of a gateway can become somewhat fuzzy because third-party processors, such as PayPal and Stripe Payments, combine their services with a built-in gateway. Merchant account providers may have their own gateways available for an additional fee, or they may choose to set you up with a third-party gateway (not to be confused with a third-party payment processor).

Recommended Reading: How To Use A Payment Gateway To Process Credit Card Payments

3) A Shopping Cart/Website

eCommerce software (a.k.a. a “shopping cart”) is used to create a web store. Typically, eCommerce software comes in two forms: Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or self-hosted. For a monthly fee, SaaS shopping carts offer web hosting and storage, SSL certificates, and other tools to build and maintain a website. Self-hosted solutions are typically free to download because they are open-source, and they offer a lot of features and customizability — if you have the technical know-how to pull it off.

Recommended Reading: Shopping Carts 101: How To Choose A Shopping Cart For Your Business; Questions To Ask Before You Commit To A Shopping Cart

Note: In addition to the resources above, our Complete Guide To Processing Payments Online: Website Credit Card Processing, Invoices, & More has some great advice relating to these three essential eCommerce components.

How To Choose The Best eCommerce Credit Card Processor For Your Small Business

Online credit card processing

If you want to start an eCommerce business, there is no shortage of competent online payment processors to help you take card payments. You might be just getting started and need a flexible, pay-as-you-go provider with no minimums. Or you could already have a high volume of transactions and want a better processing rate or a more reliable processor. Either way, this list is a good starting point in searching for the best credit card processor for eCommerce.

Don’t compare on price alone, though! Be sure to consider all the features you need as well as compatibility with shopping carts and other services you may use in your business. Keep an eye on what features you absolutely must have right now as well as what you would like to have further down the road as your business starts to grow.

What are your favorite online payment solutions? What have your experiences with the processors on this list been like? We’d love to hear your feedback, so leave us a comment below if you have a question or want to let us know what you think.

You may also want to check out our features on the following topics:

Online Credit Card Processing FAQ

Choosing a good online merchant services provider involves more than just finding one that offers you lower processing rates and account fees than the competition. Here are some other considerations you should take into account when selecting a provider:

What is the most secure online payment method?

Credit cards tend to be the safest online payment method due to the fraud monitoring and encryption used by card issuers. These measures, while not foolproof, go a long way towards securing your customer payment information.

How can I process credit cards online?

You process credit cards online by using a payment gateway to transmit information from an online shopping cart transaction to a payment processor, which handles the fees and transactions between the merchant’s and customer’s banks and the credit card companies.

Most eCommerce-enabled online payment service providers offer either a combined gateway and processing service or let you choose a compatible gateway.

What is the best online payment processor for a small business?

Choosing the best online payment processor for your small business means taking into account your sales volume, the nature of your business, and the features you require. The best eCommerce credit card processing provider for one company will not be the best for another. They all fill slightly different niches.

How long does it take an online payment to process?

An online payment usually takes between three to five days to process fully. Some services with their own payment infrastructure (such as PayPal) may clear more quickly so long as they aren’t drawing on slower sources (for example, an attached bank account).

What is the cheapest online payment system?

Finding the cheapest online payment processor for your business means taking into account your sales volume and whether or not your business is high-risk. Low-volume businesses should consider Square or PayPal. High-volume businesses should consider wholesale pricing, like with Stax or CDGcommerce. If you don’t need to process cards, ACH payments are generally cheaper.

Can I add recurring billing to my online payment solution?

You can add recurring billing to your online payment solution so long as your payment gateway or integrated payments platform supports recurring billing. Some providers, such as Stripe Payments and PayPal, include recurring billing support as a standard feature. Other online payment providers offer recurring billing as an optional feature, and they often charge extra for it.

How do I keep my online payment processing secure?

Security features such as support for tokenization and encryption are pretty much the industry standard for keeping your customers’ payment information secure, but some providers offer more robust security options than others.

Data breach insurance is a worthwhile investment for online businesses, as the cost of a breach could easily put you out of business without it. Also, pay attention to PCI compliance requirements to protect your customers’ data and lower the risk of a breach occurring at all.

Can I migrate my customer's data?

Migrating your customer data is complicated by the fact that some providers make it exceedingly difficult and expensive — probably to discourage you from dropping their service.

While most providers don’t talk about data migration in their marketing materials, Stripe Payments openly advertises that you can take your data with you without cost if you switch providers.

Can my nonprofit organization get discounted online processing rates?

Many online processors will offer discounted online processing rates to your nonprofit, and some providers are more generous in this area than others. Dharma Merchant Services and Helcim both offer significant discounts to nonprofit organizations and should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for a new provider.

What is the best way to accept payments online?

  1. Accept online credit and debit payments.
  2. Accept mobile payments like Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  3. Accept eChecks with ACH processing.
  4. Use an online payment gateway.
  5. Use click-to-pay email invoicing.
  6. Use a recurring billing system.
What is a gateway for credit card processing?

A gateway is a key part of online credit card processing because it transfers your customers’ payment information from your checkout page to your payment processor. Many online payment providers include a gateway in their services, though most of them also let you use a third-party gateway like Authorize.Net if you wish.

In Summary: The 10 Best Online Credit Card Processing Companies

  1. PaymentCloud:
    • Best for high-risk businesses
    • Low-risk accounts are available
  2. Stax by Fattmerchant:
    • Best for high-volume businesses
    • Subscription-based pricing exclusively
  3. Helcim:
    • Best for an all-in-one platform
    • Available in Canada
    • Exclusively uses interchange-plus pricing
  4. Dharma Merchant Services:
    • Best for nonprofits
    • Exclusively uses interchange-plus pricing
    • Outstanding transparency
  5. CDGcommerce:
    • Best for low rates
    • Scales well to different transaction volumes
    • Adequate toolset for most small businesses
  6. Square:
    • Best for businesses with low-volume brick-and-mortar sales
    • Free online store
    • Powerful all-in-one service
  7. Durango Merchant Services:
    • Best for offshore merchant accounts
    • Dedicated account manager for clients
  8. PayPal:
    • Best for new sellers & micromerchants
    • Wide variety of integrations
    • Very easy to use
  9. Stripe Payments:
    • Best for multiple payment method support
    • Great for international sales
    • Many sophisticated custom integrations offered
  10. Shopify Payments:
    • Best for multiple sales channels
    • Wide variety of integrations
Jason Vissers

Jason Vissers

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
Jason Vissers has been researching, analyzing, and writing about small business software and finance since 2015. His financial expertise has been cited in numerous publications, including The Ladders. Jason graduated with a Political Science degree from San Diego State University in 2001.
Jason Vissers
View Jason Vissers's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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19 Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the vendor or bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the vendor or bank advertiser. It is not the vendor or bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

    Harith Motoshiromizu

    This website and blog are exceptionally amazing and great to see and we Know there are more card handling organizations we can look over out there however you’ve gathered together the absolute best among them..

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

      Dennis M. Oates

      I need virtual terminal gateway whereby i can keyed in the transaction manually on my pc.

        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

        Jessica Dinsmore

        Hi Dennis,

        Square would be the best option. Payline has one as part of its mobile plan too.

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Stella Gaunson

          Your site and blog are very impressive and good to see. And also thanks for sharing this informative blog.

            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

            Robert

            We currently use Open Edge , a division of globalpayments, what are thoughts concerning this company, charges, customer service , features and capability to work with other software features ?

            Thanks
            Robert

              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

              Jessica Dinsmore

              Hi Robert,

              Unfortunately, we haven’t yet reviewed OpenEdge, but we do make several references to it, in our Global Payments Review that you might find helpful.

                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                Joe

                What are your thoughts on PayJunction?

                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                  Jessica Dinsmore

                  Hi Joe,

                  You can check out our in-depth review of PayJunction here.

                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                    Ron Zanetti

                    How does Magento fit in with these providers?

                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                      Liz Hull

                      Hi Ron,

                      Sellers who use Magento mostly add payment processors via pre-built integrations. These integrations let you connect your Magento account with a payment solution without doing any development. You can find these integrations for purchase in the Magento Marketplace.

                      If your favorite payment processor does not have a pre-built integration or gateway available in the Magento Marketplace, you can hire a developer to build a connection on your behalf. Keep in mind that this can be very expensive.

                      I hope that answers your question!

                      Best,

                      Liz

                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                        Thomas

                        Do you know anything about Cardinity.com? Planning to try their payment solution.

                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                          Jessica Dinsmore

                          Hi Thomas,

                          Unfortunately, we have not reviewed Cardinity, so we can’t confidently give an assessment one way or the other. That said, here is a great merchant account comparison chart of vendors we have reviewed. Best of luck to you!

                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                            Dennis Hoyt

                            Melissa / Jessica – Do you have a review of Vantage Payments? I have not seen one for them on your website.
                            Thank-you.

                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                              Jessica Dinsmore

                              Hi Dennis,

                              Thank you for writing! Unfortunately, we have not reviewed Vantage Payments, so we can’t confidently give an assessment one way or the other.

                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                Ed lich

                                Why no mention of Ayden? The one replacing paypal on ebay. Seems if good enough for paypal they would be among the top ten.

                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                  Hi Ed,

                                  We actually DO have a review of Adyen! They are worth looking into, for sure. Thanks for the suggestion!

                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                    Ryan Stewart

                                    This a good guide for starters. Doing it right from the start will save you fees. I’m sure there are more card processing companies we can choose from out there but you’ve rounded up some of the best among them. Definitely worth reading.

                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                      Mike

                                      What about integrating into an existing merchant processor like TSYS or Chase or Global. Would their ecommerce MID rates be competitive?

                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

                                        Chloe Bahal

                                        Hi Mike,

                                        You can get comparison quotes at CardFellow. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let us know.

                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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