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The Best Merchant Accounts For Canadian Small Businesses

Canadian business owners should check out these great merchant account options and learn which merchant account companies they should avoid at all costs.

    Chris Motola
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  • Updated on:
Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.
best canadian merchant account

Being able to accept credit and debit cards is every bit as important in Canada as it is in the United States, but Canadian merchants have a shorter list of high-quality merchant services providers to choose from. While some reputable American providers also do business in Canada, there simply aren’t all that many home-grown providers. The good news is that providers that operate in both countries tend to offer better terms and rates to Canadian merchants, thanks in part to Canada’s Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry.

With all of that in mind, let us guide you towards the best payment processing companies operating in Canada.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanySummaryNext StepsSummary

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  • No monthly fees
  • Excellent rates for high-volume processors
  • No monthly fees
  • Excellent rates for high-volume processors

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  • Excellent 1:1 support
  • Good account stability
  • Excellent 1:1 support
  • Good account stability

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  • Good rates for low-volume businesses
  • Comes with tons of helpful software
  • Good rates for low-volume businesses
  • Comes with tons of helpful software

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  • Excellent eCommerce solution
  • Flexible sales platformt
  • Excellent eCommerce solution
  • Flexible sales platformt

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  • Terminals available to buy or rent
  • Month-to-month contracts
  • Terminals available to buy or rent
  • Month-to-month contracts

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Other Featured Options:

  • PayPal:
    • Massive ecosystem
    • Strong international support
  • Clearly Payments:
    • Interchange-plus and membership pricing
    • Transparent fees

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

3 Considerations For Choosing Payment Processing In Canada

While the Canadian credit card processing industry does have a few unique quirks, for the most part the same general considerations apply to the Canadian market as elsewhere. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Merchant Account Or Payment Aggregator

To process credit cards, you need a merchant account. You can think of a merchant account as a pitstop between the customer’s payment and your bank account. Money doesn’t stay in a merchant account long, ideally just long enough for processing fees to be deducted from your sales. With a traditional merchant account provider, each business customer gets their own merchant account. Because of this, there can be a vetting process that can take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks. In exchange, you’ll get a more stable account that’s easier to troubleshoot should something go wrong.

The alternative is to use a payment aggregator. These are services that combine (aggregate) their business clients into large, communal merchant accounts. This comes with some trade-offs. On the one hand, you can start accepting payments more quickly, usually almost immediately after you create your account. You also won’t endure as thorough a screening process. Should anything go wrong, however, you’ll have a harder time resolving the issue. Unexplained account freezes and holds are considerably more common with aggregators.

Supported Payment Channels

A payment processor isn’t much good if it doesn’t do what you need it to. While most payment processing companies in Canada will process Visa and Mastercard, less common payment types may not be supported. This is doubly important if you’re doing business across international borders, where local payment types may differ.

You may also just want some lower-cost alternatives to credit and debit card payments.

Available Hardware

Consider how you plan to take payments. If you’re mainly selling online, this will be handled by software. If you’re selling in person, you’ll need hardware that can handle the payment methods you’re supporting, whether they’re NFC contactless payments, EMV-dips, or QR code scans.

A unique issue faced by Canadian merchants is that EMV-compliant terminals are not designed to be re-sold or re-programmed. We usually recommend American merchants buy their terminals outright as the best and most cost-effective way to outfit their businesses with processing equipment. However, the inability to resell an EMV terminal in Canada means you’ll want to look for an alternative.

Many Canadian payment services providers offer month-to-month terminal rentals. These rentals differ from leases in that you won’t be locked into a noncancelable long-term contract, and you won’t be responsible for every single lease payment as soon as you sign up. Check out our article, Don’t Fall Into The Trap Of Leasing Credit Card Machines & Terminals: 4 Smart Alternatives For Getting Payment Processing Hardware, for more details on why leasing is never a good idea.

The 7 Best Merchant Services In Canada

Here are some of the best payment processing companies in Canada.

1. Helcim

Helcim



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

Calgary-based Helcim is arguably the overall best merchant account provider available in Canada today. It’s also one of the best providers in the United States. Here are some of the highlights of its services:

Helcim offers detailed pricing disclosures, so you won’t need to negotiate very much to secure the best possible deal for your business. It also includes some in-depth articles explaining how credit card processing works, including exposing many of the deceptive advertising tricks used by other providers.  Everything is completely laid out on the table with crystal-clear fee disclosures, so you’re never again hit with a bill like a punch in the stomach. This type of fairness and transparency is what’s lacking in a lot of processors. Hopefully, the industry takes a cue from these folks.

Helcim’s transaction pricing starts at interchange fees + 0.30% + $0.08 per transaction (retail), and interchange + 0.50% + $0.25 per transaction (eCommerce), with volume discounts available. Interac transfers draw an additional fee of $0.09. There’s no monthly account fee, no monthly minimum, and no PCI compliance fee. Also, billing is month-to-month, with no long-term commitment or early termination fee.

Pros

  • Exclusive interchange-plus pricing for all merchants
  • Month-to-month billing with no early termination fees
  • All-in-one payments platform
  • Free Helcim Commerce Mobile app (iOS and Android) with $30 mobile card reader

Cons

  • Not suitable for high-risk businesses

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2. KIS Payments

KIS Payments



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A relative newcomer to credit card processing in Canada, KIS Payments has only been around since 2017. Headquartered in Nanaimo, British Columbia, KIS Payments is a small company that focuses on offering Canadian merchants a better deal than what they’ve had to accept from traditional processors.

Like many of our favorite providers, KIS Payments offers all merchants a month-to-month billing arrangement with no long-term contracts and no early termination fee (ETF). KIS Payments also provides interchange-plus pricing exclusively — regardless of your business’s size. These features make the company an excellent choice for small businesses that have grown beyond the point where using a payment service provider (PSP) makes financial sense and need the additional security and stability of a full-service merchant account.

KIS Payments also has an excellent reputation for providing top-notch, personalized customer support and service after you’ve set up your account. Merchants are assigned a dedicated account manager, meaning that you’ll always be able to reach someone at the company who truly understands your business’s needs. While the company’s website currently doesn’t offer many specific pricing disclosures, it does feature numerous verifiable testimonials from businesses that use its services.

Pros

  • Exclusive interchange-plus pricing
  • Month-to-month agreements
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Limited pricing disclosure online
  • There may be enrollment fees

Get Started with KIS Payments

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3. Square

Square



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Square has made waves in the U.S. market, but it serves smaller Canadian merchants quite well. Unlike a traditional merchant account provider, Square is a payment aggregator. When you sign up, you get an aggregated merchant account that is shared with other merchants using the company’s service. You won’t have a unique merchant identification number for your business, but you also won’t have any monthly fees or a long-term contract.

Square uses a fairly simple flat-rate pricing system that varies somewhat depending on the service.

  • Standard Point Of Sale & Appointments (For Individuals): 2.65% per transaction for credit cards, $0.10 flat fee for Interac Flash (debit) cards
  • Keyed-In & Card-On-File: 3.4% + $0.15 per transaction
  • Square Online & Square Invoice: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction

Here’s something you can taunt your American Square-using friends with: Canadian merchants still get a flat percentage fee rate without a fixed fee on POS transactions. (2.65% in Canada, 2.6% + $0.10 in the US). I mention this because the “+ $0.10” part of this fee makes small transactions a lot more expensive.

Note that customized processing rates are available for businesses processing over $250,000 per year.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Ideal for low-volume merchants
  • No monthly fees
  • Massive feature-set

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

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4. Shopify

Shopify



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Although Square also supports online payments, eCommerce merchants will probably prefer a solution that’s geared more toward their unique needs. Shopify provides just about every feature you might need to run an online business, including being able to accept credit card payments in Canada.

The company offers a wide range of pricing plans, ranging from $9 per month for its bare-bones Shopify Lite plan to $299 per month for the Advanced Shopify plan. Merchants can choose between using either a third-party payment gateway in Canada or Shopify’s own Shopify Payments feature for credit and debit card processing. With Shopify Payments, you’ll have a very basic flat-rate pricing plan. Rates start at 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for online transactions and 2.7% for in-person transactions. Discounts on these rates are available if you sign up for one of the company’s more expensive monthly plans. If you choose to use a third-party gateway to process your credit card payments, you’ll have to pay a Shopify transaction fee for each transaction in addition to whatever your gateway provider charges you. Shopify transaction fees start at 2.0% per transaction for the least-expensive monthly plans and can be as low as 0.5% per transaction for the most expensive plans.

In selecting which plan is best for your business, you’ll want to carefully evaluate the processing costs associated with each plan and how important the additional features are to your business. The Shopify Lite plan, for example, doesn’t include an online store or telephone customer support. You’ll be able to sell in person, via Facebook, or using “buy” buttons on existing websites, but that’s it. You’ll also have to rely on email and chat for any customer service issues that come up.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Advanced design tools
  • Predictable flat-rate pricing

Cons

  • Add-0ns often necessary
  • Additional fees
  • Variable customer support

Get Started with Shopify

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5. Chase Merchant Services

Chase Merchant Services



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For Canadian merchants running larger, more established businesses, Chase Merchant Services is a surprisingly good choice for such a large company. You’ll get a far more robust line of products and services than you will with a smaller provider, plus it’s a direct processor. Chase offers competitive rates and low account fees — something we don’t often see in a large processor.

As long as you buy a credit card/debit machine for your business in Canada, Chase will offer you month-to-month billing with no early termination fee (ETF). However, if you’d like to include a “free” credit card machine for your small business, you’ll have to accept a long-term contract that comes with an ETF. While we always recommend buying your own terminals, this is a reasonable trade-off as long as you’re comfortable committing your business to a multi-year contract.

Pros

  • Interchange-plus pricing offered to most merchants
  • Month-to-month contracts with no early termination fees (except in some circumstances)
  • Terminals available for sale or rent — no leases
  • Next-business-day funding for Chase business checking customers
  • Few complaints relative to its size

Cons

  • “Free” credit card terminal requires a long-term contract
  • Reports of mediocre customer service

Get Started with Chase Merchant Services

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6. PayPal

PayPal



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PayPal is a household name in both the US and Canada. Hundreds of millions of people have a PayPal account today, although you don’t need one to make a purchase from a merchant using the company as their payment processor. For merchants, PayPal offers very predictable pricing, pay-as-you-go billing, and a month-to-month account with no long-term commitment. What it doesn’t offer, however, is a true merchant account where you’ll have your own unique merchant identification number. While it’s a great choice for a small eCommerce business that’s just getting started, larger businesses processing over $10,000 per month in transactions will probably want to switch to a provider that offers a true merchant account with interchange-plus pricing.

Though PayPal recently hiked some of its transaction prices in America, those hikes don’t appear to have yet hit Canada. Online transactions cost 2.9% + $0.30 each, which is in-line with what similar services charge. While the billing is generally pay-as-you-go, PayPal also charges the usual assortment of incidental fees that you might occasionally have to pay. These fees are all disclosed on its website, so none of them should come as a surprise.

Pros

  • Pay-as-you-go billing with no long-term contracts or early termination fees
  • No monthly fees (in most cases)
  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • An extensive line-up of products and features for eCommerce businesses

Cons

  • Inconsistent telephone support
  • Flat-rate pricing not suitable for medium-sized or larger businesses

Read our in-depth review

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7. Clearly Payments

Clearly Payments



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There’s a lot to like about Vancouver-based Clearly Payments. The company claims its mission is to drive down the cost of credit card processing. While we don’t know how successful they’ll be, they are making some good choices with regard to how they’ve set up their plans.

Clearly Payments offers both interchange-plus (cost-plus) pricing and membership pricing, which we here at Merchant Maverick consider the two best options for businesses with medium-to-high processing volume. These prices are clearly disclosed on the company’s website.

The cost-plus plan costs $20/month with transaction fees starting at cost + 0.28% + $0.08 for in-person payments, cost + 0.28% + $0.22 for online or keyed transactions. Transaction rates decrease with volume. Membership pricing begins at $99/month for businesses processing up to $50,000/mo, with transaction rates of cost + $0.08. Higher volume plans cost more per month but have lower transaction fees. In both cases, contracts are month-to-month with no early termination fees.

Pros

  • Pay-as-you-go billing with no long-term contracts or early termination fees
  • Interchange-plus and membership-pricing offered exclusively
  • Good terminal selection
  • Good customer service

Cons

  • Monthly fees
  • Plans may not be suitable for low-volume businesses

Jump back to comparison chart

Looking For One Of These Merchant Services In Canada?

There are a lot of other available merchant services in Canada that are high-quality but missed being in our top contenders either because they’re better suited to large companies that can negotiate their rates more easily, or they have some limitations/specializations that make them more niche.

Payfirma

Vancouver-based Payfirma offers a robust payment processing platform that includes the ability to take Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Interac, and Apple Pay transactions. While the system seems comprehensive, Payfirma does not disclose much information about its fee structure up close. The company’s language of “qualified” and “non-qualified” rates tends to imply a tiered pricing system, however, which we’re generally not a fan of. There’s also an early termination fee if you lease your equipment.

If you go with Payfirma, we’d recommend trying to negotiate interchange-plus pricing.

How To Find A Good Merchant Services Provider

Canadian businesses need most of the same things out of their payment processors as businesses everywhere else. When choosing a payment processor, you’ll want to consider the following:

  • Cost: You don’t want to pay any more for your payment processing service than you have to. More importantly, you’ll want a processor with a transparent payment scheme so that you know what you’re paying in the first place. On that note, we recommend processors that offer interchange-plus pricing.
  • Contracts: As important as price is, your contract’s terms are also extremely important. Unless your business is considered “high-risk,” you should avoid companies that lock you into a contract with termination fees. Month-to-month is the way to go.
  • Customer Service: There’s nothing more frustrating than not getting the payments you’re expecting deposited into your account…except having that happen and then having to navigate substandard customer service when you’re trying to resolve the issue. Don’t take good customer service for granted.
  • Means Of Payment: Some credit card processing companies in Canada specialize in in-person POS transactions, while others specialize in online transactions. While there’s a lot of overlap, you’ll get the most value out of a payment processor that has a specialty that aligns closely with how you conduct your sales.

Which Canadian Credit Card Processing Company Is Right For Your Small Business?

There aren’t nearly as many merchant account providers in Canada for merchants to choose from as there are in the United States. Nonetheless, there are still a few excellent providers available as well as a lot of merely average ones and even some genuinely terrible providers that you should avoid.

Small businesses that are ready to step up to a true merchant account can get the best prices through Helcim. For smaller companies that don’t need a full-service merchant account, we recommend Square as the best and most cost-effective choice. Larger enterprises might get lower processing rates from either Chase Merchant Services or Clearly Payments. Shopify’s all-in-one solution makes it the best credit card processing company in Canada for eCommerce businesses.

If you’ve had experience with any of the providers profiled in this article, or you know of a great processor that we haven’t covered, please be sure to tell us about it in the Comments section below. Thanks!

Canadian Payment Services FAQ

What are the best payment processors in Canada?

When it comes to payment processors in Canada, we’re partial to Helcim, KIS Payments, Shopify, Square, Clearly Payments, PayPal, and Chase Merchant Services.

What payment processor in Canada is the cheapest?

It’s tricky to determine which company provides the cheapest credit card processing in Canada because different providers can be cheaper under different circumstances. For low-volume, small-ticket transactions, a flat-rate service such as Square may be cost-effective but less so at a higher volume. Meanwhile, at higher volumes, an interchange-plus service such as Helcim will be more cost-effective.

How do I get a merchant account?

You need a merchant services provider to get a merchant account. You can apply to most of them online.

Is it legal to charge customers for credit card processing fees in Canada?

Canada allows merchants to offer discounts for different payment methods, which isn’t exactly the same thing. So you can pass along your costs in theory, but it can’t be in the form of a direct fee for transaction in most instances.

Is PayPal.me available in Canada?

PayPal.me is available in Canada.

Is PayPal Here available in Canada?

PayPal Here has been phased out and replaced by PayPal Zettle. PayPal Zettle is not currently available in Canada.

What is the fastest payment method in Canada?

While it may vary depending on your payment processor, Interac transfers typically clear much faster than credit card payments or EFTs.

In Summary: The 7 Best Merchant Services In Canada

  1. Helcim:
    • No monthly fees
    • Excellent rates for high-volume processors
  2. KIS Payments:
    • Excellent 1:1 support
    • Good account stability
  3. Square:
    • Good rates for low-volume businesses
    • Comes with tons of helpful software
  4. Shopify:
    • Excellent eCommerce solution
    • Flexible sales platformt
  5. Chase Merchant Services:
    • Terminals available to buy or rent
    • Month-to-month contracts
  6. PayPal:
    • Massive ecosystem
    • Strong international support
  7. Clearly Payments:
    • Interchange-plus and membership pricing
    • Transparent fees
Chris Motola

Chris Motola

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
An expert in personal and business loans and financial health, Chris Motola has been writing about small business finance and payments for over 5 years. He has been cited in various industry publications, including Forbes Advisor, GoBankingRates, and Medium. Chris is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.
Chris Motola
View Chris Motola's professional experience on LinkedIn.
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106 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.

    R. Allen

    Quick question Frank,

    Curious to know if Square or any other entity pays you for these articles? The reason I ask is, I just completed over a week of training with a company that works with Nuvei. Our statements to my knowledge are transparent and easy to understand, there are no hidden fees and even though we are paid a commission, our training is quite detailed with an emphasis on transparency and integrity.

    Perhaps your next article should compare monthly statements so your readers will have more to go on than just one opinion….

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

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi R,

      We are NEVER paid to write reviews. If you’re curious about how we DO get paid, you can check out our post titled How This Site Makes Money. In there you can also find a link to our Rating & Scoring System. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to take a look at our 3-Star Nuvei Review, along with their customer comments at the bottom. We never base a review on just one opinion–there is a LOT of research and volumes of verified customer experiences considered. With that said, our hope is that you are correct, and perhaps improvements are being made. As always, if a vendor improves their offerings (and we hope they do!), we will absolutely update the review. We wish you the best of luck and hope to hear of more positive experiences like yours. Thank you for sharing!

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

        Rehan Latif

        Hello

        I own 5 Vensing machines all are placed in Greater Toronto are.
        Now I wonder what credit card company and credit card reader is best for processing and how much all this will cost me?

        Thanks

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

          Jessica Dinsmore

          Hi Rehan!

          Without more info it’s hard for us to give solid recommendations, but based on the info you’ve provided, you’ll likely be fine with Square. Helcim may also be a good choice for you, and they recently dropped their monthly account fee. As for costs, our Cost Analysis Workbook may be a very helpful tool for you in determining your costs. Best wishes to you and your business!

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

            Scarlett

            Hello.
            I signed up with Helcim after reading your reviews. I like that they seem to have an all-in-one solution for my needs: subscription based sales.
            However, I am finding that their api documentation isn’t very user friendly and is a bit lacking, especially when trying to integrate with other applications.
            I have recently read about Clearly Payments. What are your thoughts on them? They seem similar to KISS payments, in terms of being a payment facilitator rather than the payment processor. Which is fine, but I wanted to know if you have any feedback on their service, pricing, fees, ect.

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

              Jessica Dinsmore

              Hi Scartlett,

              Unfortunately, we haven’t reviewed Clearly payments so we can’t give an opinion one way or the other. It looks like they are receiving positive feedback from their customer base though, at least at first glance. They have 5-stars with the BBB as well as Google.

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

                Victor

                Thank you very much about which company has the best Business reliability but I was searching for companies where you can make money as an agent like they do in the USA but I gather we are not able to earn money on the public’s transactions here in Canada.On You Tube they have been advertising Residual income for people to get into the service and make money.

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

                  Hisham Najjar

                  Hi there, I buy Jewelry from online and on site auctions in Canada and the Us. Then I sell them in exhibitions around the Middle East and North Africa. What is the best Wireless POS for Credit Cards payments for me. My transactions could reach one million dollars US a month.
                  Thanks.

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

                    Jessica Dinsmore

                    Hello Hisham,
                    If you’re dealing in fine jewelry (precious diamonds/luxury and designer brands), there might be some concerns about authenticity and provenance, and you could end up in the high-risk category. You may want to look for an offshore high-risk specialist. Paymentcloud is a good bet, and we also have an International Merchant Services article with helpful information.

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

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