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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.

    Frank Kehl
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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 services for Canada

Businesses operating in Canada will need a credit card processor that’s available in their country and can handle both the big international credit card networks and local payment methods (such as Interac). Whether you select a homegrown Canadian payment processor or an international company that offers Canadian merchant accounts, you’ll want to choose a service that provides the most overall value for the lowest total cost.

Below, we’ll break down the best Canadian merchant services providers for small businesses and cover some of the particulars of the Canadian payment processing market.

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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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  • 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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  • Excellent eCommerce solution
  • Flexible sales platform
  • Excellent eCommerce solution
  • Flexible sales platform

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  • Terminals available to buy or rent
  • Usually offers month-to-month contracts
  • Terminals available to buy or rent
  • Usually offers month-to-month contracts

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  • Massive ecosystem
  • Strong international support
  • Massive ecosystem
  • Strong international support

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  • Interchange-plus and membership pricing
  • Transparent fees
  • Interchange-plus and membership pricing
  • Transparent fees

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  • High-risk merchant accounts
  • Most merchants can avoid a long-term contract
  • High-risk merchant accounts
  • Most merchants can avoid a long-term contract

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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The Basics Of Payment Processing For Canadian Small Business

To process credit cards, you’ll need a merchant account or a third-party payment processor, which aggregates businesses into large merchant accounts. From this account, various network, bank, and processor fees are drawn from a sale before the remaining money is routed to your bank account.

Accepted Payment Methods

Credit and debit cards now make up more than half of all payments made in Canada. Unless you occupy a specific niche that can get by on cash or peer-to-peer wallet transfers, you’ll want to be able to accept major credit cards, such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, and Diners Club. You’ll also want a processor that can handle Interac debit cards.

Those are the basics, but some businesses may want to look for support for additional payment methods, including support for Electronic Funds Transfers (EFTs), digital wallets (such as PayPal), or cryptocurrency.

Credit Card Readers & Debit Machines

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

Canadian merchants face a unique issue: EMV-compliant terminals are not designed to be resold or reprogrammed. We usually recommend that 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 service 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 won’t be responsible for every single lease payment as soon as you sign up. Check out our article on credit card machines leases for more details on why leasing is never a good idea.

Credit Card Processing Fees

With convenience comes expense. Credit card processors charge a fee every time you swipe, dip, or tap a credit card. The tricky part is not all payment processors use the same pricing model, nor do they all charge the same fees. This can make comparisons between merchant account providers challenging. The good news is that Canada’s Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry generally leads to relatively low payment processing fees for Canadian merchants, even if the processor charges more in other markets.

There’s too much to cover here, but you can read about the subject in-depth in our guide on merchant accounts and credit card processing fees.

The 8 Best Merchant Services & Payment Processors In Canada

The best processors for Canadian businesses accept both Canadian and international payment methods and have month-to-month plans with no early termination fees, comprehensive feature sets, and either flat-rate or interchange-plus pricing. Here are some of the best payment processing companies in Canada, including Helcim, KIS Payments, Square, and more.

1. Square

Square



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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

Square has made waves in the US market as a convenient payment solution for small businesses and serves small Canadian merchants similarly well. Square is a third-party processor that offers simple pricing schemes and a wealth of business productivity software, often at no additional cost.

Pricing

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

Canadian merchants still get a flat percentage 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 in the US a lot more expensive.

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

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Square has no early termination fees or long-term contracts.

Where Square Really Shines

Square provides enormous value for what is, essentially, no cost of entry. That makes it a great first payment processor for small businesses that may have infrequent transactions and want access to top-rated business tools as part of the package. Square also has great, affordable hardware.

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2. Helcim

Helcim



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Pros

  • Exclusive interchange-plus pricing for all merchants
  • Month-to-month billing & no early termination fees
  • All-in-one payments platform
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • Doesn’t accept high-risk businesses

Helcim is arguably the overall best merchant account provider available in Canada today. Helcim offers detailed pricing disclosures, so you won’t need to negotiate very much to secure the best possible deal for your business.

The company’s website also includes some in-depth articles explaining how credit card processing works and exposing many deceptive advertising tricks other providers use.

Pricing

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.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Helcim offers true month-to-month billings with no early termination fees. You do have to provide 30-days’ notice, however.

Where Helcim Really Shines

Everything is completely laid out on the table with crystal-clear fee disclosures, and you’ll get transparent interchange-plus pricing right out of the box with no additional hassle.

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3. KIS Payments

KIS Payments



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Pros

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

Cons

  • Limited pricing disclosure online
  • There may be enrollment fees

A relative newcomer to credit card processing in Canada, KIS Payments has only been around since 2017. 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.

Pricing

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.

Unfortunately, KIS doesn’t provide transaction rates upfront. KIS does charge an onboarding fee ranging from $99-$299

KIS does offer a cash discounting program through NoPay.ca, which may be of interest to merchants looking to reduce their payment processing costs.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

KIS Payments has no early termination fees or long-term contracts.

Where KIS Payments Really Shines

KIS Payments 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.

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4. Shopify

Shopify



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Pros

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

Cons

  • Add-ons are often necessary
  • Additional fees
  • Variable customer support

Businesses, particularly newer businesses, that primarily focus on eCommerce may need a solution that’s centered on their specific needs. Shopify provides just about every feature you might need to run an online business, including accepting credit card payments in Canada.

Pricing

Shopify 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.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Shopify is a month-to-month service that can be canceled at any time. One specific quirk to look out for, however, is that if you cancel Shopify Payments but keep your Shopify account, you’ll have to pay Shopify’s 0.5%-2% markup.

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.

Where Shopify Really Shines

It’s unusual to see a convenience-focused platform that simultaneously has so much depth while still being flexible. Shopify can scale effectively with your business as it grows.

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5. Chase Payment Solutions

Chase Payment Solutions Canada



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Pros

  • Usually offers month-to-month contracts with no early termination fees
  • Credit card terminals available for sale or rent
  • Next-business-day funding for business checking customers

Cons

  • Long-term contract may be required for some merchants
  • Reports of mediocre customer service

For Canadian merchants running larger, more established businesses, Chase Payment Solutions 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.

Pricing

Chase doesn’t disclose specific pricing information on its Canadian website, but appears to offer a combination of either tiered or interchange-plus pricing plans. Pricing for other features, including access to the company’s proprietary Orbital Gateway and a variety of modern credit card terminals, is also not disclosed.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Like most providers, Chase doesn’t discuss contract terms in its advertising materials. However, the company doesn’t appear to offer “free” terminals in exchange for a long-term contract to its Canadian customers. As always, be sure to discuss contract terms with your sales agent and read your contract documents thoroughly to confirm them before you sign up.

Where Chase Payment Solutions Really Shines

If your scaling plans include the payment processing services of a large processor such as Chase, Chase Payment Solutions provides a convenient on-ramp for small businesses with its QuickAccept program.

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6. PayPal

PayPal



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Pros

  • Pay-as-you-go billing
  • No monthly fees (in most cases)
  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Extensive eCommerce products & features

Cons

  • Inconsistent telephone support
  • Flat-rate pricing not suitable for mid-sized/larger businesses

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.

As a third-party processor, PayPal offers very predictable pricing, pay-as-you-go billing, and a month-to-month account with no long-term commitment.

Pricing

Though PayPal recently hiked many of its transaction prices in America, those hikes don’t appear to have hit Canada yet. 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.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

PayPal is a month-to-month service, so there’s no long-term commitment or termination fee.

Where PayPal Really Shines

PayPal is one of the biggest names in online payment processing and offers a vast assortment of additional services beyond simple payment processing. Additionally, PayPal’s digital wallet is one of the more popular payment methods outside of credit and debit cards.

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7. Clearly Payments

Clearly Payments



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Pros

  • Pay-as-you-go billing
  • Interchange-plus & membership pricing
  • Good terminal selection
  • Good customer service

Cons

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

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

Pricing

Clearly Payments offers both interchange-plus (cost-plus) pricing and membership pricing. Merchant Maverick considers these the two best options for businesses with medium-to-high processing volume. The company’s website discloses these prices.

The cost-plus plan costs $20/month with transaction fees starting at cost + 0.28% + $0.08 for in-person payments and 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/month, 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.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Clearly Payments is a month-to-month service, so there’s no long-term commitment or termination fee.

Where Clearly Payments Really Shines

The ability to choose between membership and interchange-plus pricing makes Clearly Payments an excellent choice for high-volume businesses that want to minimize their processing costs.

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8. Durango Merchant Services

Durango Merchant Services



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Pros

  • High-risk merchant accounts
  • Offshore merchant accounts are available
  • No early termination fee in most cases
  • Good customer service

Cons

  • No public pricing disclosures

High-risk merchants have fewer options for payment processing, but that doesn’t mean they should settle for poor service. Durango Merchant Services is one of our favorite high-risk payment processors, offering reasonable rates and contract terms to industry segments that can easily be exploited. Durango offers a meaty selection of perks, including shopping cart integration, credit card terminals, and cryptocurrency support.

Pricing

High-risk merchant account services for businesses in Canada don’t usually disclose rates upfront, and that’s usually because they don’t know what they’ll be. High-risk merchant accounts generally have to be customized to the business. What Durango does do, however, is break down what factors will play into the rate you’re offered.

Durango Merchant Services does not charge a setup fee.

Contract Requirements/Warnings

Durango Merchant Services offers most clients a month-to-month contract, but some merchants in particularly high-risk industries may be stuck having to enter a contract. This contract will usually be for three years initially and one year after that. Your early termination fee will probably land somewhere around $500.

Where Durango Merchant Services Really Shines

A high-risk merchant account provider rarely offers month-to-month service, much less to most of its customers.

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What About These Canadian Credit Card Processors?

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

Payfirma

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. However, the company’s language of “qualified” and “non-qualified” rates tends to imply a tiered pricing system, which we’re 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.

Moneris

Moneris is a subsidiary of FIS WorldPay that operates exclusively within Canada. Overall, Moneris offers a solid selection of services at rates that are close to the industry standard. Unfortunately, using Moneris means committing to a three-year contract, meaning you’ll need to pay an early termination fee if you want to back out early. Additionally, Moneris’s early termination fee is by location, so you’ll owe $300 for every location you want to close early.

If you can get as good or better rates without the contract, why wouldn’t you?

PayKings

As a high-risk merchant account provider, there’s nothing wrong with PayKings so much as it just doesn’t stand out against the competition. Unlike Durango Merchant Services, you will have to enter into a long-term contract if you’re a high-risk merchant.

PayKings does have a ready-made integration with Shopify, however, making it a convenient high-risk processor option for businesses that use that platform.

Why We Don't Recommend These Major Canadian Merchant Services

You may notice the absence of some merchant account behemoths on our list and wonder why we omitted them. Many of the giant, old-school payment processors are great for large corporations that can use their heft to negotiate favorable terms and lower processing rates. We’re talking about companies such as:

  • First Data/Fiserv
  • Global Payments
  • Elavon

This model tends not to scale well for small businesses, which generally benefit from not being unnecessarily locked into terms that may be unfavorable over the long run.

How To Find A Good Merchant Services Provider In Canada

Canadian businesses need most of the same things from 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 early 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.
  • Bundled Services: Many credit card processors offer their customers additional software, integrations (such as QuickBooks Online Canada), and conveniences. These services can greatly increase the value proposition of a merchant account provider.
  • Hardware Options: If you’re going to be taking payments in person, you’ll want to choose a merchant account provider that either supports your existing point of sale terminals or has attractive POS hardware options.

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

Canadian merchants don’t have nearly as many choices for payment processing as US-based businesses. However, as we’ve shown above, they still have a variety of excellent providers that will be a good fit for just about any type of business.

Small businesses ready to step up to a true merchant account can get the best prices through Helcim. We recommend Square as the best and most cost-effective choice for smaller companies that don’t need a full-service merchant account.

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.

Common Questions About Payment Processing In Canada

What are the best payment processors in Canada?

When it comes to the best payment processors in Canada, we’re partial to Helcim, KIS Payments, Shopify, Square, Clearly Payments, PayPal, and Chase Payment Solutions.

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, an interchange-plus service such as Helcim will be more cost-effective at higher volumes.

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 transactions in most instances.

Is PayPal.me available in Canada?

Yes, 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 8 Best Merchant Services & Payment Processors In Canada

  1. Square:
    • Good rates for low-volume businesses
    • Comes with tons of helpful software
  2. Helcim:
    • No monthly fees
    • Excellent rates for high-volume processors
  3. KIS Payments:
    • Excellent 1:1 support
    • Good account stability
  4. Shopify:
    • Excellent eCommerce solution
    • Flexible sales platform
  5. Chase Payment Solutions Canada:
    • Terminals available to buy or rent
    • Usually offers month-to-month contracts
  6. PayPal:
    • Massive ecosystem
    • Strong international support
  7. Clearly Payments:
    • Interchange-plus and membership pricing
    • Transparent fees
  8. Durango Merchant Services:
    • High-risk merchant accounts
    • Most merchants can avoid a long-term contract
Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
Frank Kehl has been researching and analyzing merchant services, payment gateways, and international money transfer services since 2015. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State and a Juris Doctorate from the Ventura College of Law.
Frank Kehl
View Frank Kehl's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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The vendors that appear on this list were chosen by subject matter experts on the basis of product quality, wide usage and availability, and positive reputation.

Merchant Maverick’s ratings are editorial in nature, and are not aggregated from user reviews. Each staff reviewer at Merchant Maverick is a subject matter expert with experience researching, testing, and evaluating small business software and services. The rating of this company or service is based on the author’s expert opinion and analysis of the product, and assessed and seconded by another subject matter expert on staff before publication. Merchant Maverick’s ratings are not influenced by affiliate partnerships.

Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.

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