The Best Online Credit Card Processing Companies

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So you’re a merchant and you want to start an eCommerce business. That’s great! You’re going to need three things: Products (of course), a website (obviously), and an online credit card processing company.

Not just any old merchant account or credit card processor will do. You need one that’s tailored for online businesses, with decent rates and compatibility with your website.

Who you choose to process cards with shouldn’t be a decision that you make lightly. You need to compare rates, quality of service, reliability, and the variety of features available. Fortunately, there are more options than ever!

Our list of the best online credit card processing companies includes a mix of options: traditional merchant account providers, subscription plans, and pay-as-you-go options. If you’re in the market for a reliable way to process credit cards online, we have you covered! In no particular order, our top 10 online credit card processors include the following:

1. PayPal

PayPal reviewFounded: 1998

Type of Processor: Third-Party Processor

Typical Rates: 2.9% + $0.30; hosted payment page $30/month; recurring payments $10/month

PayPal (see our review) is pretty much synonymous with online commerce at this point (it helps to be the default payment option for eBay), and its suite of services for merchants is pretty extensive. In addition to being able to accept online payments and send invoices, PayPal has a mobile payments app (PayPal Here) and integrates with many POS systems. PayPal uses its own gateway, which you can use independently of its processing services for a per-transaction or monthly fee.

PayPal is mostly a pay-as-you-go service. However, if you want a hosted payment page or a virtual terminal, you’ll need to shell out an additional $30/month; if you plan to offer any sort of subscription plan, recurring payments capabilities will cost you $10/month.

That said, the list of integrations for PayPal is unreal — you can check it out here. Beyond shopping cart software, there’s a huge selection of integrations for shipping, inventory, and more.

PayPal is by default PCI-compliant, with no costs associated with it. If you’re using the hosted payment page or the virtual terminal, you aren’t automatically compliant, but PayPal does offer tools to make it easier.

2. Braintree

Braintree Payment Solutions logoFounded: 2007

Type of Processor: Merchant Account

Typical Rates: 2.9% + $0.30 for cards and mobile wallets; 1% for Bitcoin

Braintree (see our review) is, technically, a PayPal company. However, it offers a very, very different user experience, probably largely because Braintree is a direct processor that opens up individual merchant accounts rather than aggregating them. The entire Braintree experience is refined, advanced, and very customizable.

In addition to the payment gateway (which is available independently), you also get access to the v.zero SDK for integrating Braintree with a whole world of apps and systems. There’s also marketplace tools and an option for recurring payments.

Like PayPal, Braintree handles PCI compliance for you, and if you leave, Braintree will let you take your consumer data with you.

The kicker? You get all of this for a standard 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. There’s no monthly fee, no monthly minimum volume, no PCI compliance fee, nothing.  Braintree has a solid list of integration options as well.

3. Square

Square reviewFounded: 2009

Type of Processor: Third-Party Processor

Typical Rates: 2.9% + $0.30; 3.5% + $0.15 for recurring billing

Square (see our review) is primarily known for its mobile payments, but for quite a long time it’s had a (very basic) free online store. Lately, Square has really stepped up its eCommerce offerings. You can still use the plug-and-play online store or choose one of the eCommerce integrations — but you can also use the Square eCommerce API to create your own custom setup.

Square doesn’t let you use any gateway but its own, and you can only use the gateway if you’re also using Square Payments. There is a recurring payments option, but it’s not as advanced as some other options we’ve seen (and it’ll cost you more — 3.5% + $0.15). There’s also no marketplace functionality.

Square’s assortment of third-party integrations is robust and covers most of what you want — and there are plenty of Square-powered solutions as well.

Apart from any of the optional add-on services, which Square will bill you monthly for, you only pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. Square is PCI compliant, with no PCI compliance fees assessed.

4. Stripe

Stripe payment processing reviewFounded: 2011

Type of Processor: Third-Party Processor

Typical Rates: 2.9% for cards and mobile wallets; 0.8% for Bitcoin and ACH

Stripe (see our review) specializes in eCommerce payments, with a huge array of features designed for maximum customization. The Stripe toolkits (and their documentation) can power eCommerce as well as in-app payments (and even mobile payments).

Stripe Checkout may just be the most powerful and customizable checkout form available. However, you’ll also find a great selection of marketplace tools and recurring billing options. Stripe gives you a gateway, hosted payment page, PCI compliance, and the ability to keep your data with you if you ever decide to leave.

Stripe charges just 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. There’s no monthly fee, no PCI compliance fees, no charge for using any of Stripe’s feature beyond its marketplace tools.

I should note here that Stripe is often the back-end processor for any branded payments services (for example, Shopify Payments). You’ll typically find some sort of disclosure on the site before you sign up, so be sure to check.

5. Payline Data

payline-data-logoFounded: 2009

Type of Processor: Merchant Account

Typical Rates: Interchange + 0.35% + $0.10; $15/month

Payline Data (see our review) integrates with more than 125 different shopping cart options — not counting its own integrated solution, which is ideal for merchants with just a handful of products. There’s an API that you can use to create a custom integration for online or mobile app payments, as well. With Payline, you also get support for invoicing and recurring billing.

Merchants who sign up with Payline get a specific “online” plan. But the company also offers mPOS and retail processing. There’s no contract or application fees, just a $15/monthly online fee (consider it a gateway fee if you must, because the gateway is included). Payline Data uses an interchange-plus pricing structure, with online merchants paying 0.35% + $0.10 per transaction above the interchange rate. It also supports ACH payments at a lower (unspecified) rate.

6. CDGCommerce

cdgcommerce-logoFounded: 1998

Type of Processor: Merchant Account

Typical Rates: Interchange + 0.30% + $0.15; $10/monthly support fee

CDGCommerce (see our review) gives you the standard features you’d expect from a merchant account, but not much more. It offers interchange-plus pricing at 0.30% + $0.15 over interchange, plus a $10/monthly fee. You also get your choice of free gateways: Quantum or Authorize.Net. Between the two you’ll be covered for a LOT of integrations and also get recurring billing. It’s also worth mentioning that use of the gateways is completely free — there are no setup fees, no monthly fees, or per-transaction fees, which are pretty common.

There are no other additional fees or costs beyond the transaction and monthly support fees (including no PCI compliance fees). You can opt to add a $15/monthly security service that will give you $100,000 worth of data breach insurance as well, but it’s entirely optional.

Again, if you need them you can get retail and mPOS processing. If you want invoicing, you’ll have to add on a secondary service, though. But CDG claims to have a 1-step process for PCI compliance that removes you from the scope by making sure payment data never once passes through your own system. That’s pretty much exactly how mobile processors like Square work, too.

 7. Helcim

Founded: 2006helcim-logo

Type of Processor: Merchant Account

Typical Rates: Interchange + 0.36% + $0.25 per transaction); $25/monthly fee

Helcim (see our review) (which processes through Elavon) has a wide range of features for merchants, including a free gateway that supports recurring billing and email invoicing, and a hosted payment page. In addition to a large selection of compatible shopping carts, there’s also an API for the payment gateway, giving you even more customization options.

With its Internet Pro pricing plan, merchants pay 0.36% + $0.25 over interchange, plus a $25/monthly fee.

Helcim doesn’t completely exempt you from having to worry about PCI compliance, but helcim.js, a bit of JavaScript, can reduce your scope. Most merchants won’t have to do anything beyond filling out an online self-assessment. Helcim doesn’t charge any PCI compliance fees, but it will charge to $45/month for noncompliance. So fill out the self-assessment on time.

In addition, through a partnership with Sysnet, Helcim does offer $20,000 in data breach protection to compliant merchants ($10,000 to noncompliant merchants).

8. Dharma Merchant Services

Dharma Merchant Services reviewFounded: 2007

Type of Processor: Merchant Account

Typical Rates: Interchange + 0.35% + $0.15; $10 monthly fee; gateway fees

With a name like Dharma (see our review), you can kind of guess this is the sort of company that is intensely ethical. The company absolutely lives up to its name, and even donates to charity on a large scale.

A merchant account with Dharma will get you an interchange-plus pricing plan, where you’ll pay 0.35% + $0.15 above interchange and a $10/monthly service fee. However, you’ll also pay for the use of either Authorize.net or NMI’s gateway ($20/monthly plus $0.05).

In reality, your fees are $30/monthly, at 0.35% + $0.20 above interchange. There are also a handful of other fees you’ll encounter — a $0.10 batch fee, a $25 account closure fee, and an $8/month PCI compliance fee (but only if your setup requires a monthly web scan). There are no ETFs, however.

Beyond credit card processing, you get a virtual terminal and recurring billing. However, if you want invoicing, it’ll run an additional $10/month. In addition, you can get retail and mPOS support.

9. Pay with Amazon

Pay with AmazonFounded: 2007

Type of Processor: Third-Party Processor

Typical Rates: 2.9% + $0.30

If you want to make a living in eCommerce, the fact of the matter is that you can’t ignore eBay — or its competitor, Amazon. Both of these marketplaces can be either the best friend or worst nightmare of sellers. But they also have something else in common: payment platforms. eBay has PayPal, Amazon has Amazon Payments (see our review) (also styled Pay with Amazon).

Amazon Payments is a pretty simple idea: let people use their Amazon accounts to make purchases on other websites. It’s a good idea, too, because there are tens of millions of Amazon shoppers (Prime users count for more than half of Amazon’s customer base and are estimated to number somewhere around 63 million people.) It’s also a really great way to add a secondary checkout option to your site.

It’s fairly easy to integrate (check out the list of integration options here), and includes SDKs to create a custom setup on a website or in an app.

The entire service is pay-as-you-go, with the standard third-party rate of 2.9% + $0.30. There’s no PCI compliance fees, no gateway fees, no early termination fees, etc. In addition to payment processing, you recurring billing/subscription options. There’s no invoicing option, no mPOS and no retail support, but you do get Amazon’s one-click ordering.

10. Etsy

Etsy logoFounded: 2005

Type of Processor: Third-Party Processor

Typical Rates: 3% + $0.25 per transaction; 3.5% per-item selling fee

As far as credit card processing options go, Etsy is definitely the oddball on this list. Like Amazon and eBay, Etsy is a marketplace. However, its payments platform isn’t available anywhere else but Etsy (and Pattern…but we’ll get to that). But if you are selling vintage goods, crafting and costuming supplies, or handmade/craft items, Etsy is where you want to be — period.

When you open a shop through Etsy (in the U.S., at least), Etsy sets up your payment methods for you (it’s called Direct Checkout). You can automatically accept PayPal, Etsy Gift Cards, credit cards, ACH bank transfers, and Apple Pay.

You’ll also get an mPOS option with Etsy through the Sell on Etsy app, which lets you seamlessly manage your Etsy store and make in-person sales. And you don’t just have to sell on Etsy exclusively — you can also create your own website using Pattern, which will auto-populate items based on your Etsy inventory and handle all payments through Direct Checkout.

The biggest issue that sellers are going to have with Etsy is the rates. Direct Checkout rates are 3% + $0.25. But then Etsy also charges an additional 3.5% selling fee. You’ll pay that for using both Etsy and Pattern. There’s also a $0.20 listing fee. You pay this every item an item sells — so if you have 10 of the same item, you’re going to pay $2 in listing fees for them. (This fee is waived for items on Pattern, since they’re directly imported from Etsy.)

Etsy most certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you are in one of these niches, it’s worth checking out.

Final Thoughts

If you want to start an eCommerce business, there is no shortage of excellent payment processors. Whether you are just starting out and need a flexible, pay-as-you-go provider with no minimums or have a high volume of transactions and just want a better processing rate or more reliable processor, this list is the best starting point for your search. 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.

Thanks for reading, and good luck!

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson

Melissa Johnson is an independent writer and editor who loves e-commerce, digital marketing, technology, and social media. Once upon a time, she earned a journalism degree, but she went on to discover that she could work from home, researching, editing, and writing about the things she found most interesting. When she's not tied to her laptop, Melissa can usually be found in the kitchen, reading a book, or doing something of the nerdy persuasion.
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3 Comments

    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.

      Mike

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

        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.

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