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The Best Canadian Merchant Account Providers | Canada Payment Processing

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Canadian merchant services reviews

It’s as challenging to run a business in Canada as it is in the United States, and not just because of the cold weather. Being able to accept credit and debit cards is every bit as important as it is elsewhere, but Canadian merchants suffer from a particular shortage of high-quality merchant services providers. While there are a number of reputable American providers that also do business in Canada, there simply aren’t all that many home-grown providers from which to choose.

It shouldn’t be this way. Regulation of the processing industry is generally more consumer-friendly in Canada than it is in the United States, and for this reason, some providers that operate in both countries offer better service to merchants north of the border. The Canadian government has promulgated a Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry in Canada that establishes a set of best practices and ethical guidelines to ensure that merchants are treated fairly. While compliance with the Code isn’t mandatory, peer pressure within the industry has resulted in most Canadian providers publicly pledging to abide by it.

Another unique issue faced by Canadian merchants is that EMV-compliant terminals are not designed to be re-sold or re-programmed. We normally recommend buying your terminals outright as the best and most cost-effective way to outfit your business with processing equipment. However, the inability to resell an EMV terminal in Canada means you’ll want to look for an alternative. Many Canadian providers offer month-to-month terminal rentals, which 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, Need A Credit Card Machine For Your Small Business? Don’t Lease!, for more details on why leasing is never a good idea.

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the best merchant services providers available in Canada. Because different types of businesses have different needs, we’ll cover providers that are best for low-volume businesses and those that are a better all-around choice for more-established businesses. Finally, we’ll briefly cover the worst merchant services provider we’ve found operating in Canada, with an emphasis on why it’s so bad. You’ll want to know in advance what to look out for, and there are plenty of providers out there that have features you’ll want to avoid. As always, we recommend that you thoroughly research any provider you’re thinking of doing business with before you contact their sales team. Negotiate aggressively where it’s appropriate, and try to get quotes from several different providers before making a decision. Most importantly, review all contract documents thoroughly before you agree to sign up for an account.

Our Top Payment Processing Picks For Canadian Businesses in 2018

HeadingNational ProcessingSquareShopifyHelcim
 
ReviewVisit SiteReview Visit SiteReviewVisit SiteReviewVisit Site
Key FeaturesVersatile Service, ACH ProcessingAll-In-One, Mobile POS, InexpensiveAdvanced Shopping Cart IncludedAll-In-One, Advanced Billing
Pricing ModelCost-PlusFlat RateFlat RateCost-Plus
Entry-Level Monthly Fee$9.95$0$9$15
Standard Retail Rates0.20% + $0.10 markup2.75%2.70%0.25% + $0.10 markup
Standard eCommerce Rates0.30% + $0.10 markup2.90% + $0.302.90% + $0.300.40% + $0.25 markup

Best Low-Cost Canadian Merchant Account: National Processing

For Canadian merchants running a small business and looking to save on costs, but still sign up for a full-service merchant account, the best option is National Processing (see our review). They offer low account fees and the lowest standard interchange-plus rates of any Canadian payment processor we’ve reviewed. The company has a great reputation, with few complaints and quite a bit of praise from customers – something we don’t often see with merchant account providers.

National Processing offers three interchange-plus rates, depending on the nature of your business:

  • Retail: Interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Restaurants: Interchange + 0.15% + $0.07 per transaction
  • eCommerce: Interchange + 0.30% + $0.10 per transaction
  • eCheck (ACH): $0.24 per transaction

Note that transactions processed over the company’s proprietary payment gateway will incur an additional charge of $0.05 per transaction. Also, the company can offer even lower rates to high-volume businesses, so don’t be afraid to ask for them.

National Processing keeps account fees to the minimum, charging only $9.95 per month for an account. You’ll also have to pay $4.95 per month for PCI compliance, plus $5.00 per month if you need their payment gateway. There’s no annual fee and no monthly minimum. Incidental fees are passed on at cost and are fully disclosed on the company’s website.

The company generally doesn’t lock you into a long-term contract or charge an early termination fee (ETF). However, if you want to take advantage of their free credit card terminal offer, you’ll have to agree to a multi-year contract that does come with an ETF. Unlike most providers, however, National Processing will waive the ETF if you close or sell your business. They’ll even waive it if you switch processors, but only if you provide them with a rate quote and they aren’t able to match or beat it. All in all, this is a pretty reasonable offer.

National Processing is a great service for businesses that want low rates from a reliable company. If you’re hoping for a massive free software suite like Square offers, with POS, analytics and such included, you might not find what you’re looking for. Keep in mind, however, that you could easily end up saving enough money with National Processing to buy all that software and more from whichever provider you want. Low costs and overall versatility make National Processing a great option for many businesses.

Pros:

  • Low interchange-plus pricing standard
  • Low-cost ACH/eCheck payment processing
  • Month-to-month billing in most cases
  • Very affordable payment gateway

Cons:

  • “Free” credit card terminal requires a long-term contract with early termination fee
  • Less robust product lineup than most competitors

To learn more about National Processing and what they can do for your business, check out our full review.

Get Started With National Processing

Best Credit Card Payment App For Canada: Square

Square (see our review) is not an exclusively Canadian processor, but they serve smaller Canadian merchants quite well. Unlike a traditional merchant account provider, Square is a payment service provider (or “third-party processor”). 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, either.

Square uses a fairly simple flat-rate pricing system, although the number of possible rates has grown quite a bit in recent years as they’ve expanded their offerings. Here’s a quick overview of the most common processing rates:

  • Standard Point Of Sale & Appointments (For Individuals): 75% per transaction
  • Square Register, Retail & Square Appointments (For Teams): 5% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Square Restaurants: 6% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Keyed-in, Card-on-File & Virtual Terminal: 5% + $0.15 per transaction
  • eCommerce: 9% + $0.30 per transaction

For Canadian merchants, Square also supports Interac Flash debit for $0.10 per transaction and credit transactions for 2.65%.

While this pricing system is very transparent and predictable, the rates are also on the high side. However, Square’s lack of account fees can save you a significant amount of money if you’re a small business. Square is most cost-effective for businesses processing $5,000 per month or less. Above that amount, you will probably save money (and enjoy a more stable, full-service merchant account) by signing up with a traditional merchant account provider. Highlights of Square’s basic service include the following:

  • Free mobile app for smartphones and tablets (iOS and Android)
  • No monthly account fees
  • No account setup, application, or PCI compliance fees
  • Month-to-month billing with no early termination fee
  • Free Square Reader (magstripe only, requires headphone jack connection)
  • Optional $29.00 Square Chip Card Reader (includes EMV capability, requires headphone jack connection) or $49.00 Contactless + Chip Card Reader (includes EMV and NFC capability, connects via Bluetooth)

Square also has a paid Square for Retail package (currently $60.00 per month per location) that has additional point-of-sale features. However, for most small businesses, the free version of Square will be sufficient.

A couple of things about Square that aren’t quite so terrific are that you don’t get the same level of customer service or account stability as you would with your own merchant account. But if you have a smaller business and want to start taking payments without a big upfront investment, Square is an excellent alternative to a traditional merchant account.

Pros:

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Ideal for low-volume merchants
  • No monthly fees
  • Affordable EMV card readers
  • All-in-one payments system

Cons:

  • Frequent account freezes and terminations
  • Limited customer support

Be sure to check out our in-depth review of Square for more information about their numerous products and services.

Best eCommerce Platform With Payment Processing For Canada: Shopify

Although Square also supports online payments, eCommerce merchants will probably prefer a solution that’s geared more toward their unique needs. Shopify (see our review) provides just about every feature you might need to run an online business, including credit card processing.

The company offers a wide range of pricing plans, ranging from $9.00 per month for their bare-bones Shopify Lite plan to $299 per month for the Advanced Shopify plan. In Canada, you can choose between using either a third-party payment gateway 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, 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, as well as 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.

For most merchants, the Basic Shopify Plan ($29.00 per month) is probably the best way to start. You’ll still pay the highest processing rates (or the highest Shopify Transaction Fees), but you’ll get an online store with unlimited products, 24/7 telephone customer support, and a host of other useful features. When your business outgrows the constraints of that plan, it’s easy to upgrade to the next-highest level of service. Shopify doesn’t impose any long-term contracts or charge any early termination fees. However, you can get a pricing discount of 10% by paying for one year (or 20$ for two years) in advance.

Pros:

  • Free 14-day trial
  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Integrates with numerous third-party products and services

Cons:

  • Processing rates are high for most businesses
  • Inconsistent customer support

For more details on all of Shopify’s numerous features, please see our complete review.

Best All-In-One Platform Features For Canada: Helcim

Helcim logo

Calgary-based Helcim (see our review) is hands-down the best overall merchant account provider available in Canada today. They’re also one of the best providers in the United States, too. Here are some of the highlights of their services:

  • Exclusive interchange-plus pricing (Helcim calls it Cost+) for all merchants
  • Month-to-month billing with no early termination fees
  • Minimal monthly account fees
  • All-in-one Helcim Commerce payments platform
  • Free Helcim Commerce Mobile app (iOS and Android) with $30.00 mobile card reader

Helcim offers more pricing disclosures on their website than just about any other provider in the industry, so your costs are very predictable, and you won’t need to negotiate very much to secure the best possible deal for your business. They also include a number of in-depth articles explaining how credit card processing works, including exposing many of the deceptive advertising tricks used by other providers.

With Helcim, fairness is the name of the game. Helcim charges affordable prices and has one of the most transparent sales policies of any processor out there, Canadian or otherwise, as we mention in our post, The 5 Best Small Business Credit Card Processing Companies. 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, and hopefully, the industry takes a cue from these guys.

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • Not cost-effective for merchants processing less than $1,500 per month
  • No EMV-compliant mobile card reader

Check out our full review of Helcim for more details.

Other Canadian Payment Processors

Larger companies looking for credit card processing services have different needs than small businesses, and sometimes going with a large, direct processor is actually more cost-effective than signing up with a small provider. Large businesses aren’t as concerned about the kinds of nickel-and-dime account fees that can be a real burden on a smaller business. Instead, they’re looking for the lowest processing rates they can find. A larger business will also have far more leverage to negotiate a better deal than a small business. If you’re looking for a large processor to provide the best service and lowest costs to your large business, we recommend Chase Merchant Services (see our review) and Moneris Solutions (see our review).

Chase Merchant Services

Chase merchant services review logo

For Canadian merchants running larger, more established businesses, Chase Merchant Services (see our review) 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 they’re 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 your own credit card terminals, Chase will offer you month-to-month billing with no early termination fee (ETF). However, if you’d like to include a “free” terminal with your account, 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 size

Cons:

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

If you own a Canadian business and like the idea of going with a major brand like Chase, go ahead and check them out.

Moneris Solutions

Moneris Solutions review

Toronto-based Moneris Solutions (see our review) is an amalgam of the credit card processing components of Royal Bank of Canada and the Bank of Montreal. It’s probably the largest credit card processor in Canada, or at least the largest one that’s primarily headquartered there. Of course, being the biggest doesn’t mean being the best, and Moneris definitely has its shortcomings. However, overall it’s a decent processor as long as you are willing to negotiate for the best terms you can get and read your contract documents thoroughly before signing up, so you won’t encounter an unpleasant surprise later.

We’d also point out that many of the most egregious complaints about the company came from its American customers. While Moneris previously used to operate on both sides of the border, its American division was sold to Vantiv in late 2016. Today, Moneris operates in Canada only, and the quality of service there is notably higher than it was in the United States.

Pros:

  • Interchange-plus pricing available upon request
  • Full range of hardware available for rent or purchase
  • Extensive online knowledgebase

Cons:

  • Standard three-year contract with $300 early termination fee per location
  • Poor reputation for customer support
  • Use of misleading sales ploys (e.g., offering $300 gift card for signing up – with tons of strings attached)

For more details about Moneris Solutions and what they can offer your business, check out our full review.

Worst Canadian Processor: Pivotal Payments

Pivotal credit card processing review

Pivotal Payments (see our review) is a New York-based merchant account provider that also has an office in Quebec. While we normally review and recommend the best and most well-known providers, it’s important to look at what the other end of the quality spectrum has to offer. We do this as a service to our readers not just to warn them about specific providers, but to expose some of the common deceitful practices that give the credit card industry such a bad reputation.

So, while Pivotal Payments may not be the absolute worst payment processor in Canada, they do serve as a good example of shady business practices within the industry that you should be aware of when looking for a provider for your business. In fact, the company has recently taken some positive steps in an effort to turn their service (or at least their reputation) around, and we’ve given them appropriate credit for this in our most recent review. However, several major problems remain and continue to cause problems for unsuspecting merchants.

Perhaps the company’s biggest challenge is its continued reliance on independent sales agents to market its accounts. Independent agents have a terrible reputation throughout the industry for misleading and unethical sales practices. Provided with little training and often paid on a commission-only basis, independent agents are under tremendous pressure to make a sale and frequently fail to disclose important contract terms when trying to sell an account. While there certainly are some highly experienced and ethical independent agents out there, the odds that you’ll find yourself working with one are unfortunately pretty low. Your best defense is to resist the pressure to sign up before you’ve had a chance to review your contract documents thoroughly and make an informed decision.

While Pivotal is now offering month-to-month billing to some merchants, their standard contract still includes a three-year initial term, plus an automatic renewal clause that renews the contract for six-month periods thereafter. Note that the automatic renewal periods are limited to no more than six months at a time under Canadian law. Unless the company is willing to include an additional benefit (such as a free credit card terminal) with your account, insist on a contract with month-to-month billing and no early termination fee. Be sure to get it in writing, also. Do not rely on any verbal assurances your sales agent might offer!

Another major problem with Pivotal that’s also common among other providers is the use of credit card terminal leases. Pivotal provides leased terminals through a partnership with First Data Global Leasing, one of the worst credit card terminal leasing companies in the industry. These leases are completely noncancelable, meaning you’ll pay far more than what the equipment is worth over the four-year (or more!) term of the lease. Fortunately, Pivotal Payments now offers terminal rentals to its Canadian customers. While you’ll still have a monthly payment for your equipment, you can cancel your contract and return the equipment at any time without penalty. It’s a reasonable alternative if you’d prefer to avoid the up-front cost of buying your terminals outright.

Pros:

  • Interchange-plus pricing available in some circumstances
  • Multi-currency and dynamic currency conversion support

Cons:

  • Extensive use of independent sales agents
  • Failure to disclose important contract terms
  • Long-term standard contract with early termination fee
  • Expensive and noncancelable credit card terminal leases
  • Poor reputation for customer service

For more details on Pivotal Payments, take a look at our full review.

More Alternative Payments

If you process less than $5,000 per month in credit/debit card payments, in Canada or elsewhere, then it makes more sense to go with what we call a payment service provider (PSP) or “third-party payment processor.” Companies like Square (mentioned above) and PayPal allow you to accept credit cards without having to get a full-service merchant account.

PSPs offer the following advantages and disadvantages:

Pros:

  • Month-to-month billing with no early termination fee (ETF)
  • No monthly or annual account fees
  • Simple, flat-rate processing rates
  • Free or low-cost processing hardware

Cons:

  • Higher processing costs than interchange-plus pricing
  • Greater risk of account freeze, suspension, or termination
  • Inadequate customer service

Here are a few additional payment service providers that we like and recommend:

  • PayPal – Offers brick-and-mortar, mobile, and online payments
  • Stripe – Exclusively for online and mobile payments
  • 2Checkout – Exclusively for online and mobile payments

Final Thoughts

As we’ve noted above, Canadian merchants don’t have nearly as many merchant account providers to choose from as do those in the United States. Nonetheless, there are still a few genuinely excellent providers available, as well as a lot of merely average ones, and even a few truly terrible providers that you should definitely avoid.

Small businesses that are ready to step up to a true merchant account can get the best prices through National Processing. For smaller businesses that don’t need a full-service merchant account, we recommend Square as the best and most cost-effective choice. Larger businesses might get lower processing rates from either Chase Merchant Services or Moneris Solutions (see our review). For eCommerce businesses, Shopify (see our review) is the best way to integrate credit card processing into an all-in-one solution.

If you’ve had any 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!

HeadingNational ProcessingSquareShopifyHelcim
 
ReviewVisit SiteReview Visit SiteReviewVisit SiteReviewVisit Site
Key FeaturesVersatile Service, ACH ProcessingAll-In-One, Mobile POS, InexpensiveAdvanced Shopping Cart IncludedAll-In-One, Advanced Billing
Pricing ModelCost-PlusFlat RateFlat RateCost-Plus
Entry-Level Monthly Fee$9.95$0$9$15
Standard Retail Rates0.20% + $0.10 markup2.75%2.70%0.25% + $0.10 markup
Standard eCommerce Rates0.30% + $0.10 markup2.90% + $0.302.90% + $0.300.40% + $0.25 markup
Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl has been writing about 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. After a long and enjoyable career of traveling around the world as an Air Force navigator, he’s comfortably settled down in the wine country town of Paso Robles in California’s scenic Central Coast region. He enjoys reading, photography, hiking, and numerous other outdoor pursuits.
Frank Kehl
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63 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.

    Jennie West

    Great Posts

      Muhammad

      Hi,

      we are a Canadian based services company. We provide estimating services for our United States clients. we are looking for a virtual terminal service. can you please guide us the best merchant service we can use.
      Thank you

        Jessica Dinsmore

        Hi Muhammad,

        Without more specifics, we can’t make a firm recommendation. However, if you are processing less than $5k/mo, I’d suggest looking into Square to see if they can meet your needs. Good luck!

          Brigitte Rossi

          Looking for any info, opinions, customer/client experiences good/bad on Mondo Payments?

            Jessica Dinsmore

            Hi Brigitte,

            Unfortunately, we have not reviewed Mondo Payments, so we can’t confidently give an assessment one way or the other. Hopefully some of our readers will see your question here and be able to give you some firsthand feedback. Best of luck!

              Heather Davis

              Great reviews and a very enjoyable article. Based on your recommendations, we checked out Helcim earlier this year, left several messages for them to contact us. They never did return our call so from our vantage point, it didn’t seem like customer service was their forte so we went with Square (happy with our choice). We would have preferred to support a Canadian-based company but they didn’t give us the opportunity.

                Bridget Chippett

                My partner and I recently purchased a 10 unit motel. The summer time we will do maybe 1-3 transactions a week per room, at 80% occupancy. Currently off season is around 40% occupancy, which of course is our goal to increase. Room rate approx $125. We need to have the option for debit and credit onsite, as well as being able to secure a down payment upon booking over the phone. We are a located in Ontario, but understand we do get a fair amount of American tourists in the summer. Can you suggest what might be the best avenue for us? The current owners just cancelled their First Data and had $250 in fees owed to Mastercard, $250 fees owed to Visa, plus $1400 for terminating contract early. We contacted them to see about taking over their terminal and taking over the account but it wasn’t an option, and First data sent us their information. Our first time embarking on a business adventure., so any advice would be appreciated.
                thanks
                Bridget

                  Jessica Dinsmore

                  Hi Bridget,

                  First off, here is our review of First Data, if you haven’t seen it yet. And, as mentioned in that review, Dharma may be a better option for you.

                  If you’re a small business looking to take advantage of First Data’s powerful products and services – but without the long-term contract and excessive fees – then you should definitely take a look at Dharma Merchant Services

                  Good luck to you!

                    Colin Lancaster

                    This article was really helpful. We also need a payment processor that will allow offline payments as connectivity is not always available. I know Square offer this but not sure who else. Please can you advise.

                      Shannon Vissers

                      Glad you found it helpful! Offline connectivity generally depends on the point of sale software, rather than the payment processor. As you know, Square serves as both a POS and payment processor so it is kind of an exception to that rule. If you want a POS system that works with a dedicated merchant account, Revel Systems is a POS system with excellent offline functionality — you can actually process credit cards offline vs. just queue them up and wait til internet is restored to run them like with Square. In terms of Canadian payment processors, Revel is compatible with Moneris and possibly some others. If you want another mobile all-in-one app like Square, I’m not aware of a better alternative that has an offline mode. Here is an article you might find helpful: https://www.merchantmaverick.com/pos-101-offline-mode/

                        Danny Nguyen

                        I got a quote from Costco Elavon:
                        1.Retail Visa & Master Card Qualified (swiped/card present) 1.56%
                        2. Rewards/Premium/Commercial cards (swiped/card present) 1.99%
                        and :
                        No Cancellation fees. Your contract can be cancelled without penalty by providing 30-days’ notice
                        No Interchange Differential fees
                        No Annual or Quarterly Fees
                        No Batch Fees
                        No Deposit Fees

                        And from Helcim that is Cost + 0.25% + 0.08c
                        My average is about 30$ each transaction.

                        Seems the Costco is a better choice for rate. Is anything that i should concern?

                          Tom DeSimone

                          Hi Danny,

                          Unfortunately, it’s not possible to compare cost-plus quotes to tiered quotes. There are many unknown variables to consider. While the tiered quote might look good at first, we highly recommend cost-plus pricing to get the best deal and have the most negotiating power in the future.

                            Christie

                            Did you end of going with the company from Costco and if so are you happy with them.

                              Brian

                              Looking for some advice. We run a consulting business that does about $350,000 in transactions a month. Looking for a payment processor that is the best value as 99.9% of our payments are via credit card. Thanks

                                Shannon Vissers

                                I think National Processing would probably offer you the lowest processing rate. You might also be able to bargain to get them to reduce the rate even further since you’re a higher-volume business. Hope it helps!

                                  Jen

                                  Hi there. I have a small business with 3 locations in Vancouver. At the moment I am with Global Payments (Vantiv). On an average month we currently process approximately $32k a month per location and our fees for this amount are around $480 a month. Most of the transactions are credit card. Also, I do not receive my funding until 48 business hours later (that means Friday-Sunday settlement does not go in until Tuesday). Is this a reasonable fee?

                                    Jessica Dinsmore

                                    Hi Jen,

                                    This seems like a reasonable amount, but you still might want to get a quote analysis from someone like Helcim because it’s hard for us to say for sure without a full statement analysis.

                                      Brian Mustard

                                      If you are in Canada and are an independent (or small/medium), business…then I’d HIGHLY suggest looking into becoming a member of CFIB (Canadian Federation for Independent Business).

                                      As a CFIB member you get access to Chase-Paymenttech exclusive rates and are not locked into any contracts (ie. you can cancel at any time for any reason without penalty). Reference: https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/member-savings-benefits/chase

                                      As CFIB has over 30,000 members on the Chase program they have over $13B in processing leverage. This has allowed them to negotiate Tier 1 rates with Master Card (you would need to process over $3B to get this rate)…and have recently negotiated a 1.8% rate with AMEX (and you get your money the next day).

                                      Hope this helps.

                                      Kindly,
                                      Brian

                                        Leo

                                        Hi, I just contacted Helicum and they advised me that we would have have to have a principal resident in Canada to open an account with them.
                                        We own an touring acrobatic show that goes to Canada seasonal and don’t have a principal resident in Canada or a brick and.mortar location.
                                        Do you know.how to solve that issue? We are registered as a foreign corpation in BC and Federal.

                                          Shannon Vissers

                                          Hi Leo, it depends what country your business is registered in, but if you’re in the US I believe you need to open an account with Helcim USA, rather than with Helcim Inc. in Canada. If you are based outside of the US and Canada, you’ll need to use a different processor.

                                            George Nylan

                                            Hi,
                                            I have been using Dream Payments. I paid $150 for the machine, no monthly fees, rates seem to be average. I find sometimes it can’t connect with my android phone due to internet wifi issues but seems to work well.

                                            What are your thoughts as nobody seems to be commenting on the this system?

                                            Thanks in advance

                                            George

                                              Jessica Dinsmore

                                              Hi George,

                                              Unfortunately, we have not reviewed Dream Payments, so we can’t confidently give an assessment one way or the other.

                                                DGSI

                                                We just received an email that Dream Payments are cancelling their MPOS which is what we had going… “We are still committed to providing small businesses with innovative payment solutions that help them to be successful. Going forward however, Dream will serve small businesses through partnerships with banks and merchant acquirers that will provide Dream powered payment solutions directly to their end business customers. With this, Dream Payments will be discontinuing the Dream Payments MPOS service that your company currently uses for payment processing.

                                                We have truly appreciated being your payment processing service provider and, as such, we regret to inform you that all debit and credit card payment processing through the Dream MPOS application and mobile card reader will conclude at 11:59pm on July 5th, 2018. Additionally, as of June 6th, 2018, we will no longer be selling the Dream Payments card reader directly to businesses online or through retail stores.

                                                The Dream Payments MPOS program will conclude at 11:59pm on July 5, 2018 and will include the following:

                                                Merchant processing agreements with Dream Payments will conclude;
                                                Effective 12am on July 6, 2018, merchants will no longer be able to use Dream’s products and services, including the ability to process debit and credit card payments through Dream Payments MPOS devices;
                                                Note: Merchants will continue to have access to their Merchant Dashboard and sales data for export until June 30, 2019.
                                                Dream Payments will provide a full refund to customers for MPOS card readers purchased on or after April 4, 2018, provided they are returned to Dream with proof of purchase on or before July 5, 2018 . For more information regarding returns please visit our FAQs. ”

                                                Just thought I’d share

                                                  Chris

                                                  I was also using dream payments and loved it. We run 2 brick and mortar tax prep locations and it was idea since many of our customers pay with Interac. I have no clue where to turn to replace what I had with dream with something else that would do the same with a similar cost. We had global payments before dream and the cost was crazy. Most of our transactions are >$100 so square doesn’t work great for Interac since they only have flash. Any ideas would be welcome!

                                                    Tina

                                                    I too was using Dream Payments.. May I ask if you have found another provider?

                                                    I did contact TD Service Merchants as it is a TD POS system and they want $20 per month and they too will send out the identical system.. I asked and you can not use the one we paid for already!

                                                    Kind Regards,
                                                    Tina

                                                      Mary T.

                                                      I am in the process of setting up an online business with a yearly auto-recurring subscription model. All b2b. My business is based in Canada but most of the transactions will be with small businesses in the US. Average yearly subscription is about 100-150 USD. Might be charged monthly or yearly. It appears helcim or stripes would be good options? Or are there other ones I should consider,? Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated..

                                                        Shannon Vissers

                                                        You’re exactly right, Helcim or Stripe would be the best processors for this kind of business model. Since the transactions are all online and you’re just starting out, Stripe might be best for your situation if you’re not processing more than a few thousand dollars per month.

                                                          Christine Mairi

                                                          I read this article and the comments with much interest. I own + operate a very small business (approx $115K gross annually; 95+% of payments are via credit card) and have been using Moneris for about 9 years. I was referred to Moneris by my bank and have not changed due to all the confusion I find with different companies and how they charge. I sense that Moneris is costly but I’m scared to switch since I did try once, with Pivotal, and it was a DISASTER. It was hell getting rid of them and, thankfully, I had not terminated my account with Moneris. I get calls for time to time offering the “BEST” pricing but it is very hard for me to navigate through all the gobbledygook. I am now being pursued by Inkas which did not receive a mention here. What’s the scoop on them? Also, I have heard good things about Elavon over the years. How about them? I had never heard of Helcim so will check them out

                                                            Shannon Vissers

                                                            Moneris is decent, and if you’re getting interchange-plus processing rates with them, it might be worth staying; if not, you can see if they will give you interchange-plus pricing. Helcim is definitely our favorite, because they give all customers interchange-plus and they don’t have any early termination fees or other hidden fees. Elavon’s quality depends on the reseller; for instance, Helcim is an excellent Elavon reseller, while Costco is not. We haven’t reviewed Inkas so I can’t speak to their quality. Definitely check out Helcim though if you’re considering switching. Here are a few resources you should read:
                                                            Helcim review
                                                            Moneris review
                                                            Elavon review
                                                            Interchange-plus pricing explained

                                                              Francis

                                                              Stu, you are so right. I work for the banks. For us is ta-boo to even enquire on who are the merchant pos associated with. We all know the merchant pos are part of our banking organization, we cannot admit it, like you said for liability issues. For example, Chase Paymentech is Scotiabank and Chase Bank. When asking Scotiabank about their association with Chase Paymentech they answer who?! The financial world is sicker than hollywood. All i can say is… its a world of who sucks who! Good Luck all of you.

                                                                Rick Smith

                                                                Square and Payd are good alternatives for low volume businesses because there are no fixed costs. The breakeven point where the higher processing fees start to absorb the lack of fixed costs is somewhere between $4000 and $5000 depending upon your business. The other important factor to consider is that to date you can’t accept interac with Square and with Payd you need to rent a pinpad (fixed cost). This is a factor because Interac is so much cheaper to process than credit cards.

                                                                  Karen

                                                                  We are a retail point-of-sale software company based out of Toronto. Our policy is to be payment agnostic when it comes to processing integration. Based on an earlier review of Helcim, we ourselves started using them for our own processing. Your review was spot on. We are very happy with their service and will also be looking to add them as a payment gateway for our products in the near future.

                                                                    Kadie-Lynn

                                                                    We had switched to Merchant Service Canada. As they did a comparison with our current rates and could offer us lower ones.
                                                                    We were maybe satisfied with them for 3 months, but still had hiccups over those 3 months. We stuck it out and kept getting a new terminal every couple of days. As there would be days that I would be down completely and be able to accept payment!
                                                                    There was one point, where I was without a debit machine for 5 days!!! That is so much business lost!
                                                                    Yes I could still write down the patient’s credit card number, but not everyone wants to pay with credit or want to leave their number with me.
                                                                    The latest was, Merchant Service Canada (MSC) asked for our terminal back so I sent it to their office. We were still getting billed from a leasing company. Spoke with the leasing company, we are in the lease until 2018. The leasing company said we should not have sent out terminal to MSC. I then called MSC they’ve taken 1.5 months to mail it back to our office. I just opened the box from them, they kept the battery from the terminal!!! I just got off the phone with MSC and they wanted to charge me for a new battery and to ship it. That has also now been straightened out.
                                                                    We are now back with Chase payment (knock on wood), we are happy and they have taken very good care of us.
                                                                    I strongly do NOT recommend Merchant Service Canada. I am a very forgiving, understanding person but they are not a straight cut company!

                                                                      Brenda

                                                                      Thank you for your very helpful article. We are looking into Helcim, as per your recommendation.

                                                                      Just a comment – you list Stripe as a third-party payment processor, however, I do not believe that they are.
                                                                      This is what they emailed me: “Unlike PayPal or other services, Stripe doesn’t use separate webpages or provide hosted payment portals for taking payments[0]. With Stripe, your customers can securely make payments directly from your website without ever having leave or log in to any accounts.”

                                                                        Tom DeSimone

                                                                        Hi Brenda,

                                                                        I’m glad we could help. The term third-party payment processor refers to the way the transactions are processed behind the scenes. In that email, Stipe is referring to how you can integrate the payment capability into your website. Behind the scenes, however, Stripe processes payments through aggregated accounts, which can impact account stability and cost. Helcim, on the other hand, will provide you with a dedicated merchant account.

                                                                        It can be a confusing distinction, but I hope this helps!

                                                                          Tom Hanks

                                                                          Hello
                                                                          We are in Construction business in Vancouver, BC area- both residential and commercial. Some of our clients want to pay with credit card. Not sure which option should we go for. We will be collecting on an average $15,000- $25,000 a month. Looking for both option, when client call our office and give their card number for pmt and the second one to process pmt from mobile or ipad. Please guide. Thanks

                                                                            Chloe Bahal

                                                                            Hi Tom,

                                                                            Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Based on the information provided, I would recommend Helcim. They also have mobile processing so they are a great option to look into. I would encourage you to use the green “visit site” button within the review if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

                                                                              Rick Smith

                                                                              I know processors in Canada it is my business, please note I am not aligned with the industry or anyone in it. I need to correct some items in the above post. If you are dealing directly with Chase in Canada you will be renting a terminal not leasing some ISO that work through Chase do lease. They have very good customer service offering same day terminal swaps in major population centres. However they do have cancellation fees of $300 flat which again may be different through an ISO. Most of what you said about Moneris is true service overall is not bad but in my opinion second to Chase at least with my clients. Cancelling with Moneris is difficult not so much with Chase and negotiating a better rate much easier with Chase than Moneris. Helcium has a good reputation and process through Elavon with Interchange plus pricing available for all. Moneris does not usually offer Interchange plus and Chase only for clients doing over $1 million a year.

                                                                                John Procopio

                                                                                I’m doing merchant machine audits for a few clients. There are a lot of scammers out there.
                                                                                What is the best one in Canada, that provides the best overall service and decent rates. I’m seeing a lot of 4% avg. fees on accounts that churn $100k per month (diner)
                                                                                Also with the leasing of equipment, what is your view on owning leasing or renting the terminals.
                                                                                Why can’t these companies just sign up and stick to good business practices?

                                                                                  Sandra

                                                                                  I haven’t seen any comments about “SQUARE.”
                                                                                  I am a psychotherapist and need to process credit cards. So I got a “Square” from Staples and signed up. But their fees are high, 4.5% No monthly charge. It is a little square plastic thing that is inserted into my smart phone. Works wonderfully, never a problem. But I would like to find something cheaper.

                                                                                    Chloe Bahal

                                                                                    Hi Sandra,

                                                                                    4.5% is a bit on the higher side and we can probably find something better suited for you. We have a great filtering tool that you can try here. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

                                                                                      Jane

                                                                                      Also, you don’t comment on whether any of the above can process USD payments in USD. This was something square could not do and last I checked Paypal also would not credit my business in USD – they wanted to exchange to CDN $ in payout. Do you have a suggestion for a small business that takes both USD and CDN? I have to keep the USD because all of my payments to my suppliers are in USD – thank you for any help you can provide.

                                                                                        Chloe Bahal

                                                                                        Hi Jane,

                                                                                        When accepting international currency, your processor is going to convert it to your local currency. Unfortunately there isn’t a work around for it, unless you open a US merchant account, which would require a social security number.

                                                                                          Jane

                                                                                          I have been using Global Payments and its been a nightmare of high rates and constantly increasing monthly fees. Last month I charged through only $1400 and I was charged $147 for fees for my canadian and US accounts (They separate them – I have no choice). I am seasonal and small business so going to look at your options above. I was curious not to see Global Payments as I see their terminals everywhere – any comments about them?? Thanks!

                                                                                            Michael Smillie

                                                                                            Hi all,

                                                                                            Currently looking into merchant services options for the company I am with as we are looking to potentially make a change-over. After reading this article, I’ve looked into a number of options (including Helcim and First Data).

                                                                                            My question is this:

                                                                                            For someone such as myself who helps in running a small business, I don’t really have a ton of time to analyze and figure out cost comparisons. When speaking with First Data, they were able to provide me with an easy-to-read comparison of costs, along with how much we would be saving on a monthly / yearly basis. Helcim on the other hand was not able to tell me if our costs would go up or down by swapping to them.

                                                                                            Judging by reviews, Helcim is a much better fit for our company…I’m just not sure how to make sense of their offering.

                                                                                            Any ideas here would be very much appreciated!

                                                                                            Best,

                                                                                            Mike

                                                                                              Chloe Bahal

                                                                                              Hi Michael,

                                                                                              I would recommend taking a look at CardFellow. Also, please feel free to send me your quotes and I can take a look at them for you.

                                                                                                Rick Smith

                                                                                                Mike
                                                                                                First Data has become very aggressive lately and you must be careful about the rates. Helcium processes through Elavon and would offer Interchange plus pricing which I prefer. Comparing Interchange Plus to Interchange Differential is difficult if you don`t understand pricing,however it is not just the discounts rates you have to look at you must also compare assessment fees, admin fees, terminal maintenance fees (First Data) etc. I don`t understand why Helcium won`t give you a comparison but be wary of the comparison they can leave out fees that make a big difference the contract is the final word. The biggest disadvantage to First Data is their statement it is absolutely the worst in the industry impossible for anyone not an expert in the industry to read.

                                                                                                  Erika

                                                                                                  Avoid first data and digitech like the plague. We’ve been lied to for 8 months straight and our processing fees have almost doubled. Trying to escalate within the company is impossible as they won’t let you speak with anyone else and they take messages insisting someone will call you back (which doesn’t happen). Where can small businesses report processors with deceptive practices?

                                                                                                    Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                    Hi Erika,

                                                                                                    You can leave a review on the BBB site.

                                                                                                      Bob

                                                                                                      You can cancel any merchant services contract within 90 days of rate change without pentalty. Its the law in Canada. I use to sell merchant services and this is how we were able to business to switch without having to oay cancelation fees.

                                                                                                        Epona Donna

                                                                                                        We are a small to medium online retailer. As our current merchant account provider is closing its doors the end of August, we find ourselves looking for a new PP that is supported by our platform. Would you or any of the users here have any reviews, experience or comments on the following;

                                                                                                        Authorize.net
                                                                                                        WorldPay
                                                                                                        FirstData
                                                                                                        CyberBit
                                                                                                        PSI Gate
                                                                                                        MiraPay

                                                                                                        Thank you for any information!!

                                                                                                          Epona Donna

                                                                                                          We are a small to medium Canadian company that takes payments in CAD and USD. As our current payment provider is about to close its doors, we find ourselves looking for a new merchant account provider that is supported by our platform. I have found your reviews extremely helpful. Thank you! I would like to know if you or any other Canadian users have experience with the following;

                                                                                                          Authorize.net
                                                                                                          First Data
                                                                                                          PSI Gate
                                                                                                          MiraPay

                                                                                                          Thank you so much!

                                                                                                            syed mutal quadri

                                                                                                            Hi
                                                                                                            We have set up a new Incorporation in Calgary, Canada. We will provide online PC Tech Support to the consumers in Canada and USA. We need help to set up high risk payment gateway and merchant accounts.
                                                                                                            Please advise.

                                                                                                              Dan

                                                                                                              Hi Tom,
                                                                                                              With regards to Canadian POS providers, if you haven’t already, I would love to see what you have to say about Zomaron. We have recently rid ourselves of them and are still dealing with the fallout from their terrible service. But they sound similar to Pivotal, using independent door to door sales people promising you insanely lower rates and failing to disclose their 5 year lease agreements for the equipment and early termination fees. i don’t want to to get into to many specifics about our situation on this public forum but I’m very to hear what you have to say about them and their business practices.

                                                                                                              thanks in advance

                                                                                                                Rick Smith

                                                                                                                Unfortunately some ISOs (Independent Sales Organizations) employ some questionable sales tactics. For someone not familiar with the industry you are probably better off going through your bank or directly to one of the better Acquirers directly in no special order Elavon, TD Merchant Services, Chase Paymentech or Moneris. A good bet is Elavon through Costco. If service is a priority Chase is very good. I don`t know your situation but the Code of conduct allows you to cancel your agreement within 90 days of a new fee, increase in fees or if the processor does not give you the full benefit of a decrease in their costs (Interchange fees). All of these have happened in the last 6 months and depending upon the timing of your cancellation you may fall into this category. The code also affords you to cancel a lease under these circumstances providing the lease was provided by the processor. All of this can be done with no penalty.

                                                                                                                  Dale Degagne

                                                                                                                  Hey Shannon, have you reviewed Elavon in Canada? Or does it really make a difference?

                                                                                                                  On Tom’s review of Elavon, he quoted flat rate pricing, but just yesterday I received an interchange plus quote of 0.25% (virtual or swiped) + $0.05. They also quoted a $26 monthly package fee (including PCI) and a $150 set up fee.

                                                                                                                  Am I missing something with Elavon? Because that seems like a pretty good deal compared to Helcim’s pricing (0.36% virtual + $0.25)

                                                                                                                    Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                                    Hi Dale,

                                                                                                                    There are some differences between the service Elavon provides in Canada versus the US, but our Elavon review combines both.

                                                                                                                    There’s nothing wrong with Elavon as a whole. They can, and sometimes do, provide fair rate quotes and contract terms. The trouble is that they are somewhat inconsistent, with some representatives giving better deals than others. That’s why we generally recommend Helcim instead. Helcim gives everyone the same fair treatment.

                                                                                                                    That interchange-plus quote sounds fair, but the transaction fee looks suspiciously low. Be sure to ask if the AVS fee (address verification) is included in that. For card-not-present transactions, the AVS fee will be charged every time. This fee is included in the Helcim transaction fee.

                                                                                                                    I can’t say one way or another if the terms you were given by Elavon are fair overall. I’d have to look at the contract and fees page. My suggestion would be to take the quote that Elavon gave you can show it to Helcim and ask for them to match it or beat it. In all likelihood, they will.

                                                                                                                    Good luck!

                                                                                                                      Mark S

                                                                                                                      Hi Tom, I am busy wading through all the evaluations of Merchant CC processors and find little quality comparison of Canadian Merchant Service Providers. I have used Paymentech for about 6 years without a single complaint, I moved to TD Merchant services because we have our commercial accounts there and since 2009 have not had a single bad moment. We have a virtual zero charge back history and do approx. $550,000.00 per year in CC business. I have had a presentation by a reseller of Evalon who is used by Costco and there are showing savings to me of approx. 20%. I have not seen their contract yet. In investigating I find HELCIM comes up as highly rated and has a Calgary Canada office approx. 120 miles from my location. Apart from the Premium card charges, that are killing us,( it bothers me that Merchants are paying for all the winter holidays and air flights “earned” by Cardholders through the elevated fees and the public does not generally know this) we are very happy with TD. Excellent service. It would be nice to see some genuine third party reviews of strictly Canadian Merchant suppliers.

                                                                                                                        Hedi Gossweiler

                                                                                                                        Thanks for the info. I would like to know where you put TD Bank merchant services.

                                                                                                                          Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                                          Hi Hedi,

                                                                                                                          We haven’t reviewed that company in-depth, but in general going directly through a consumer bank brand does not yield the best contracts. Again, not sure about TD Bank, but that’s my overall experience.

                                                                                                                            Hedi

                                                                                                                            Hi Simone

                                                                                                                            Thanks for your response.
                                                                                                                            I was with TD and was wondering how it is compared. We got good service over the years but they are very expensive.
                                                                                                                            One year ago I switched or got tricked to First Data, through Quantum…. the worst experience ever! They promised one year free rent on the unit. I also use a Wireless unit for trade-shows, it constantly didn’t work, lost a lot of money plus there are always charges I don’t understand.
                                                                                                                            I read trough you reviews and will sign up with Helcim, they seem to be a good way to go plus they are Canadian.

                                                                                                                              Tom DeSimone

                                                                                                                              Helcim is a very reliable option. I’ve sent dozen of Canadian merchants over there and have heard only good experiences. They offer a very good standard contract and rates. Let us know how it goes!

                                                                                                                                Hedi Gossweiler

                                                                                                                                Hello again

                                                                                                                                I switched to Helcim and am very happy with the service. The statements are clear, no hidden fees. I had to call them on a charge and they took care of it right away. I am using for a side business a seasonal unit. The charge there compared to the one before is very reasonable. The only drawback with Helcim is, they only answer the phone during office hours. I can call Evalon anytime but the wait can be long. So far I didn’t have any problems.
                                                                                                                                As to First Data, to stop the bleeding I blocked my account so they can’t take out money anymore. I had a few phone calls from collection agencies, I explained to them how I was treaded, that stopped. I got few nasty letters threatening with court and a lot of charges, those I ignored. I haven’t heard anything in the last few weeks, I hope they gave up.
                                                                                                                                So all in all Helcim is a good solution and my life is back to normal.
                                                                                                                                By the way I have three units sitting here, two are wireless one hasn’t even been activated. They are all chip equipped, is there a place I can sell them?

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