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The 6 Best Credit Card Processing Companies For New Businesses & Startups

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Congratulations!

You either have started or are seriously thinking about starting a new business. Either way, it’s a big step toward a new life, so congratulations on your decision.

By now, you’ve probably decided on a lot of things — such as what goods or services you’ll offer and whether you’ll have a physical store or an online store or both. You may have signed a lease or bought a domain name or maybe even bought your inventory.

Setting up credit card payments is almost an afterthought. We know it. We’re not offended. In fact, that’s why we have this article — to help you narrow your options to just a few top choices, so you can quickly pick a great processor without time-consuming research. If you wish to stay with the processor once your business is running smoothly and you have time to breathe, great, but if you don’t, you can also easily change processors.

So let’s get started.

Learn More About Our Top Picks

CompanyBest ForNext Steps
Square
Best for businesses with a physical location.

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Read More

Stripe Payments
Best for online/eCommerce businesses.

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Read More

CDGcommerce
Best for US-based merchants with a physical and/or online store.

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Read More

Helcim
Best for businesses at any stage, from startup to mature.

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Read More

Payment Depot
Best for year-round businesses.

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Read More

Other Featured Options:

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

The Best Credit Card Processing For Startups

Below are six payment card processors that we think fit the unique needs of a new business. They’re perfect for a startup but might not be the best fit as your business matures. Fortunately, they’re easy to sign up and easy to leave, so you can’t go wrong with any of them.

To compile our list, we picked a mix of third-party processors, traditional merchant account providers, and a new type of hybrid provider (quick signup like a third-party processor, but eventually, you’ll have your own merchant account). Some are better for online businesses, and others are better for physical stores. We also know that because your business is new, your sales projections might be off, so the processors below are well-designed to fit the unpredictable needs of a new business.

Before we move on, and because you’re new to credit card processing, let’s quickly go over some business/pricing models used by payment processors. A basic understanding of each will help you pick the best processor for your business.

  • Traditional Merchant Account Provider: This model requires you to give a lot of your company’s and your personal financial records just to apply for an account. It might be a little difficult for a new company to get approved, but once you are, your credit card processing tends to go fairly smoothly. This model also has the most variation in pricing, so you can either get a great deal or a really bad one (the bad ones typically also mean you can’t get out of the contract for several years). If your bank tries to sell you their payment card processing services, this tends to be the type of account they’re selling.
  • Third-Party Processor/Payment Services Provider (PSP): This is a relatively new business model for the processing industry. With this model, you can sign up and start processing right away, but because they haven’t (and might never) do a credit check on you or your business, they’re extremely cautious about the money moved through them. That means if you do something out of the ordinary in your processing (e.g., get a large order), they might freeze your account, so you can’t withdraw money from it. In extreme cases, they might even suddenly terminate your account. As to pricing, they’re probably near the higher end, but this one price covers a lot of miscellaneous items that a merchant account provider tends to nickel-and-dime you for. Also, with this model, you aren’t required to process a minimum amount every month through them (unlike with most merchant account providers). They also tend to give you a fairly robust suite of free software/services. Contracts with third-party processors are usually month-to-month agreements, so if you find that you don’t like doing business with them, you can leave any time.
  • Hybrid Model: Some processors have recently begun to use a hybrid model that combines the quick approval of a third-party processor with the stability of a merchant account. After signing up, a merchant can start processing but likely will have a per-transaction/per-day dollar limit. At some point, you’ll have to provide your financial records, but the processor will also help your business build a financial history related to card processing so that eventually, you’ll have enough of a record to get a merchant account. Typically, the processor will charge one rate for the quick-signup type of processing and a different rate after you move to a merchant account. While this new model sounds ideal in many ways, we’re still gathering data on how well it works. However, the processors we recommend below that are using this model are highly rated for their merchant account business. So if you decide to try this business model, you’ll be working with reputable companies with a great customer service team that we know will do their best to help you set everything up.

Another thing to note is that none of our recommended processors here will take on high-risk businesses. Examples of these include businesses in the pharmaceuticals/supplements industry, the firearms industry, and those that provide online gambling services. There’s an extensive list of what constitutes a high-risk business, and, sometimes, what one processor considers high risk, another processor does not. If you have a high-risk business, we recommend you check out this article for a Best Of recommendation and this article for a general discussion about high-risk businesses.

As we like to say here, your business is unique, so your processing needs are unique as well. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so be sure to look through each of the recommended processors carefully and make the best decision you can to take care of your business’s needs. The six recommendations below are in no particular order of preference.

1. Square

Square



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You’ve probably heard of Square. That’s the company with the little white square card readers that you plug into your smartphone or tablet and take credit cards that way. You might also have heard of its reputation as a company that’s easy to sign up with and can get you started accepting credit card payments quickly. It’s all true.

Square is a third-party processor, which means it comes with all the good (quick signup) and the bad (account holds and freezes) of that business model. It does have a suite of robust software that helps you analyze your sales, manage your employees, keep up with your inventory, and more. Some of the features come with the basic service, others you’ll have to pay extra for. We recommend that, for now, think twice before you pay for the additional services because, if in a year or two you decide you’ve outgrown Square, it might be difficult/time-consuming to move your data off Square’s system and onto a new one.

Square offers a variety of hardware options for mobile or store use. You can purchase the terminals and point of sale stations outright instead of having to deal with equipment leases. Be aware, though, that because Square hardware is proprietary, you won’t be able to reuse it if you change processors.

Square is fairly famous for its simplicity in pricing. It currently charges 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction for most transactions. There’s no monthly minimum amount you must charge through Square. The simple way Square charges for its services makes it more predictable for a business — especially a new business — to figure out profit margins for every sale. Just be aware that because this simple pricing must cover Square’s costs for each transaction, if your business can get a significantly lower rate with merchant account providers, then you could be paying Square more than you need to.

We have extensive reviews and blog posts about Square (such as Is Square Right For Your Business and Everything You Need To Know About Using Square Online Payment Processing For Your Business, to name a few). If you’re interested in Square, we encourage you to read our Square POS and Square Online Store reviews before you make your final decision. We find Square better suited for stores with physical locations than purely eCommerce businesses.

Pros

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

Cons

  • Account stability issues

Get Started with Square

Read our in-depth review

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2. Stripe

Stripe Payments



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Stripe is another third-party processor. Like Square, it is easy to sign up with but also suffers from processing stability issues.

Compared to Square, Stripe is better for an online/eCommerce business because it has a robust number of integrations for use at your web store’s checkout or in-app purchases. However, this also means that, unless you’re a programmer yourself, you’d need to hire someone to help you integrate anything from Stripe.

One advantage of an online store is that you can sell to customers located all over the globe. Stripe has an international reach, able to take or convert international currencies to US dollars. If you plan to start an online-only business and know that you want a sophisticated-looking web store that you’re willing to hire someone to build, take a look at Stripe and see what it can do for you.

As to pricing, Stripe charges 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction. This is flat-rate pricing with month-to-month billing and no long-term contracts. This makes Stripe easy to leave if you ever decide that it’s not for you.

While Stripe is best suited for online businesses, it does offer a variety of third-party terminals for in-store or mobile sales as well as the software to manage and analyze sales data gathered with these machines. You can purchase the hardware outright instead of having to deal with leases that ultimately cost more. Best of all, because the hardware is not proprietary, you might be able to reuse it if you change processors, instead of having to buy new equipment.

Pros

  • Excellent developer tools
  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Advanced reporting tools
  • Excellent marketplace and subscription tools
  • Multicurrency support

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Needs technical skill to implement

Read our in-depth review

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3. CDGcommerce

CDGcommerce



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CDGcommerce is a merchant account provider that uses the hybrid business model discussed earlier. You can sign up with CDGcommerce and start processing quickly, just like a third-party processor, but you can eventually get a merchant account through them as well. CDGcommerce offers three types of pricing plans, each optimized for the size/growth stage of your business.

Smaller businesses processing less than $10,000 per month will be on a flat-rate plan that’s similar to what Square offers but has the added advantage of giving you a true full-service merchant account that’s far less likely to suffer a hold, freeze, or termination. For merchants processing between $10,000 and $200,000 per month, CDGcommerce offers an interchange-plus pricing plan that represents one of the best values we’ve seen from any provider. Large businesses processing over $200,000 per month can get a membership-based pricing plan that eliminates the per-transaction percentage fee in exchange for a single monthly subscription fee.

With a variety of plans suited for businesses of many sizes, CDGcommerce has the potential to be the one processor you’ll ever need, no matter the size or the growth stage of your business. CDGcommerce has also eliminated many of the excessive fees that other providers charge, including account setup fees, PCI compliance fees, and monthly minimums. The company charges no fees beyond the transaction fee and a fixed monthly or yearly fee. Other services, such as invoicing, subscription billing, and similar options, are also available for an added fee.

Whether your business is a physical store, an online store, or both, CDGcommerce has the hardware and software to cover your needs. The company’s processing services can work with a variety of third-party hardware and software. For the hardware, you can buy the devices outright. If you operate an online store, you get your choice of free payment gateways that include Authorize.Net or the company’s proprietary Quantum Gateway. There are no setup fees, monthly fees, or per-transaction fees for the use of the gateways. You get a virtual terminal at no extra charge as well as detailed online reporting.

The only warning we have with CDGcommerce is that this is a new model, so maybe the kinks haven’t been worked out yet. CDGcommerce does offer excellent customer support, however, so if you’re inclined to try something new, it’s not a bad place to start. The company will likely go above and beyond the service provided by its competitors to help you work through issues.

Pros

  • A flexible and reasonably-priced business model that can take a business from startup to maturity
  • Free payment gateway and virtual terminal
  • Month-to-month billing with no early termination, account setup, or application fees
  • Excellent customer service and support

Cons

  • Only available to US-based merchants

Get Started with CDGcommerce

Read our in-depth review

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4. Helcim

Helcim



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Helcim just revamped its business/pricing model so that now it shares some similarities with CDGcommerce’s model.

Helcim has recently tweaked its interchange-plus subscription model closer to a third-party processing model. A merchant can now sign up with Helcim and start processing within minutes. However, Helcim continues to bill its merchants based on a membership-based interchange-plus model, and everything we’ve seen so far suggests you’ll eventually get moved to a merchant account instead of staying in some sort of pooled account.

As to pricing, you’ll pay a monthly membership of $20 per month and then pay a small charge for each payment card transaction. The membership fee gives you all the online and in-person payment tools and additional software you need to start processing. The only thing Helcim charges outside of this monthly membership fee is a $15 per-instance chargeback fee, which, if you win, you’ll be refunded.

As to the per-transaction processing fee, Helcim first divides these under two types: in-person transactions or online transactions. Under each type, you have seven tiers of successively lower processing fees. These tiers are based on a merchant’s processing volume, starting with $0-$25,000 per month to $5,000,001 or above per month. With the new pricing structure, Helcim could potentially be the only processor any business will need, from startup to mature business stage.

On hardware and software, if you have a physical store and need a card reader, Helcim offers a low-cost, all-in-one (EMV + NFC enabled) mobile card reader that can take payments in-store or on the go. The reader syncs to your smartphone, tablet, or workstation, and all the data is automatically transmitted to Helcim so that you can later view your business’s analytics. For online stores, Helcim has a proprietary platform called Helcim Commerce, which comes free with your account. The platform is a web-based, all-in-one product that combines your merchant account, payment gateway, payment processing hardware, and online shopping cart into a single product. You won’t have to worry about compatibility problems, as Helcim provides all these services in a single, integrated product.

We repeat the same caveat we gave in our CDGcommerce section, though. This is a new business model for Helcim, so the company might need a little time before it can get everything running smoothly. However, also like CDGcommerce, Helcim provides excellent customer service, so even when issues arise, we fully expect them to help you resolve problems quickly and to your satisfaction.

Pros

  • Monthly membership fee with interchange-plus processing rates
  • No long-term contracts or early termination fees
  • Excellent customer support

Cons

  • It’s a newer business model, so there might be unexpected issues

Get Started with Helcim

Read our in-depth review

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5. Payment Depot

Payment Depot



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Payment Depot is a merchant account provider that offers subscription/membership-based pricing. It’s not the only processor offering this pricing structure, but Payment Depot’s reputation for open, honest sales practices and excellent customer support puts it ahead of most of its competitors. If you run a seasonal business or a business with only a limited amount of credit card transactions, or you don’t expect your credit card sales to ramp up quickly because you’re a new business, then this subscription/membership model might not be right for you because it creates a fixed monthly cost that you’d have to pay even if you don’t process any cards.

Payment Depot’s monthly subscription ranges from $49 to $199 per month, depending on which plan you choose. There might be some exceptions (such as chargeback fees), but basically, this is all the fees you pay, other than a per-transaction fee every time you take a card payment. For the per-transaction fee, you’re charged the interchange rate plus Payment Depot’s markup, which varies between $0.15 and $0.05 per transaction, depending on your pricing plan.

Payment Depot memberships are billed month-to-month, but you can also save money by paying annually instead of monthly. Annual subscriptions are protected with a 90-day satisfaction guarantee, so merchants who are not satisfied with their service within the first 90 days will be refunded their membership fees (but not interchange fees or transaction fees). This is a fair, reasonable offer, and should give you some peace of mind.

Payment Depot uses Fiserv and TSYS Merchant Solutions as back-end processors, which means you’ll have access to the powerful equipment and software of one of these larger companies. You can buy the equipment outright so that you won’t have to deal with leases. You’ll also get much lower processing rates than you’re likely to get by signing up with Fiserv (formerly First Data) or TSYS directly because you’re a small and/or new business that won’t have a lot of negotiating power when dealing with these large processors. Customer service for your account would also be handled directly by Payment Depot, which, in most cases, means you’ll have a much more pleasant and personal experience if you need to call for help.

Pros

  • Transparent membership pricing
  • True month-to-month billing
  • No application or setup fees
  • Free gateway and virtual terminal
  • Good customer support

Cons

  • US-based merchants only

Get Started with Payment Depot

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6. Dharma Merchant Services

Dharma Merchant Services



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Dharma is one of our favorite merchant account providers because of its long-standing reputation for fair and reasonable prices and commitment to educating merchants about the world of payment processing.

Dharma uses interchange-plus pricing, which is the most transparent type of pricing structure in the processing industry. The company doesn’t charge annual merchant service fees, account update fees, early termination fees, or PCI compliance fees. It also doesn’t have a monthly minimum, which is good for seasonal businesses. The fees that Dharma does charge are fully disclosed on its website. 

As with all the recommended processors in this article, Dharma has no long-term contracts/early termination penalties. You can buy equipment outright if you run a physical store and it provides a free virtual terminal. The company has excellent customer service as well, to help you through rough spots as you get everything up and running.

If you and/or your customers wish to bring a commitment to social conscience to your business, Dharma would be an excellent partner to work with. Dharma donates a significant percentage of its profits to charity. Dharma provides discounted rates for nonprofit businesses as well. If you wish to do additional research on processors that give discounts to nonprofits, be sure to take a look at our nonprofit guide.

Lastly, if you process $10,000 or less a month and do not expect to go beyond this number even after your business ramps up and grows at a steadier pace, Dharma might not be the best deal for you. You might be better off going with a third-party processor as your payment card processor.

Pros

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

Cons

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

Get Started with Dharma Merchant Services

Read our in-depth review

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Are You Ready To Shop For A Credit Card Processing Company? Nine Dangers To Be Aware Of

The credit card processing industry is complex, both in how the industry is organized and also in the way the services are packaged and sold to merchants. Because of its complicated pricing structure, it’s easy — both for the merchant and sometimes the sales staff — to become confused about how a merchant is charged. Many dangers spring naturally from the complexity of the situation itself.

However, because a large number of sales personnel in the industry are independent sales agents who don’t get paid until they sign a merchant and even might receive bonuses based on their number of signups — some folks are unscrupulous enough to try to trick you. We’ve seen a lot of complaints about that, both on our website and on sites such as the Better Business Bureau. Some sales agents will push you to sign up by lying to you that a formal contract with a high early termination penalty is “just an application” that doesn’t go into effect unless you give a final authorization. Others might entice you with a low processing rate when they know, with your specific business, you’ll never be able to process at that rate. Some will even tell you that you get “free” equipment that turns out not to be free at all. Once you sign, they get their commission, and if anything goes wrong, it’s the credit card processor that has to deal with you.

So with these things in mind, here are some dangers to be careful about when you pick your processor:

  • Long Term Contracts: We at Merchant Maverick typically don’t like long-term contracts because we think it’s good for businesses to be nimble. Being tied to a contract of, say, three years with penalties for early termination is generally just a bad idea. We dislike long-term contracts even more for new businesses. As you operate, you’ll come across unexpected things, requiring you to adjust to keep your business going, and a long-term contract can complicate these adjustments. Fortunately, these days, the processing industry is shifting away from long-term contracts, so you’ll have plenty of processors to choose from. So stay away from long-term contracts if you can.
  • Early Termination & Cancellation Fees: The early termination fee typically goes hand-in-hand with a long-term contract. Be aware that the cancellation fee is often in addition to the early termination fee. While the cancellation fee is often a fairly reasonable flat amount, the early termination fee can be significant if you have to cancel early in the term. As a new business owner, you are especially vulnerable to having to terminate early, so be careful about these fees and ask about them if they’re not mentioned by the salesperson.
  • Leasing Arrangements: This is one of the worst scams in the processing industry. Other than the fact that you might be paying several times the sale price for the equipment over the term of the lease, you might have to pay a lot more to buy the equipment outright at the end of the lease. Another trick we’ve seen is that the leases are not cancellable but are for a lengthier term than the processing agreement. Thus, even if you pay your early termination fee to get out of the processing agreement, you’d still have to pay a lump sum for the equipment to get out of that lease too. Stay away from leases. If you don’t have enough cash on hand, borrow money if you have to so that you can buy the equipment. You’d be better off in the end.
  • Proprietary Hardware/Software: Some of these processors such as Square make their own hardware and software. This means that if you buy the equipment or keep your data in their system (e.g., inventory, employee payroll information), you won’t be able to re-use the equipment or data if you switch processors later on. Another such processor is Fiserv and its Clover equipment — you typically will have some choices in the processor you use, but they all have to be able to connect to Fiserv in the back end in order for your equipment and software to work. So be sure to consider your flexibility in changing processors before you spend the money to buy hardware or the time to enter the data into the software database.
  • Pushy Sales Agents: As already mentioned, some sales agents get confused about the pricing structure, and other agents don’t care as long as they get the commission. If they’re being honest with you, then they shouldn’t be afraid to let you read the contract, answer your questions, and give you enough time to decide if you’d like to sign up with them. The better sales agents are typically salaried, so at least you know that if they make a mistake, it’s more likely they were just confused about the pricing structure. The best approach, though, is to always verify for yourself what the sales staff said and, if necessary, make them put everything down in writing and attach it to the contract. That part is important because boilerplate contract language usually says anything agreed to, either verbally or in writing, before the signing of the contract that doesn’t get included in the contract is nullified (meaning it no longer counts). If you detect pressure sales tactics, think about finding another processor to work with.
  • Misleading Pricing Structure: We’ve seen some seemingly sweet deals turn out to be not so sweet at all. Sales agents tend to give you the best-case scenario but won’t tell you that, say, 90% of the time, your case falls outside of that. This trick is especially prevalent under the “tiered pricing structure” plans that depend on what type of card your customers use and how they charge (e.g., in-store, online, manually keyed, etc.). Other times, the price quoted to you won’t include all sorts of miscellaneous charges that will come with your first billing summary. (You don’t get an invoice with credit card processing. The processor has already taken all their charges before you’re allowed to take the money out.) If you offer a low-margin product or service, it’s crucial that you understand the pricing structure before you sign with a processor.
  • Bad Customer Service: By the time you have to call customer service, you’re probably already in the middle of some sort of disaster. A pleasant and knowledgeable customer service person who can quickly help you resolve your problem would be worth his or her weight in gold. The opposite is true too — a rude and/or ignorant customer service person would make an already bad situation worse. This is why we always pay attention to customer service when we rate processors on this website, so be sure to take this into account when considering your processor.
  • Hidden Fees: This one goes hand-in-hand with the Misleading Pricing Structure bullet point above. The credit card associations (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, etc.) like to pass their costs downstream, which means that these costs tend to be passed to you. Some of these costs — called assessment fees are charged every time, but other fees are per-incident charges that you don’t see unless some triggering event happens. The great processors we recommend either absorb some of these fees or are very transparent on how they charge these fees. The bad ones just charge you and surprise you with them. No business likes to be surprised by extra charges, so be sure to understand if/how you’re charged these fees before you sign with a processor.
  • “Free” Anything: We all know that “free” often is not free. It’s merely a sales tactic to bring you in the door so that they can upsell you a product or service. In the credit card industry, watch out for “free” card terminals or readers because often they’re used to get you to sign a longer contract or purchase more services. This is not to say all free offers are bad — some of our favorite processors offer free software, and, as of this writing, one of our recommended vendors above is offering a free six-month membership just for signing up with them. We just mean that when you see “free,” make sure you read and understand the fine print, so you won’t accidentally sign up to a bad deal.

7 Must-Have Qualities In A Startup-Friendly Processing Company

A startup business has unique needs because of the growth stage it’s in. Focusing on the needs of a new business, below are some qualities in a processor that we think are particularly important to have. Note some of these are the opposite of the dangerous qualities already discussed in the section above, but it makes sense that the opposite of qualities to stay away from would be desirable traits to look for.

  • Ease Of Termination/Month-T0-Month Billing: This is probably the most important quality to a startup business — or businesses at any stage, really. When you’re starting a new business, you’re basing your projections of monthly or annual sales on, basically, guesses. As your business matures, you’ll have actual data to use to make better projections. A startup might have to change or tweak its business model a few times before finding the right niche, so not being tied to a long-term contract and having the flexibility to change processors quickly and without penalty is highly important.
  • Option To Purchase Equipment: Getting payment processing hardware (if you’re running a physical store) can be tricky. If you have too many units to buy, your costs can go up pretty fast, which makes equipment leasing a tempting choice. However, equipment leasing is almost always a bad idea. Whichever processor you go with, make sure you have the option to buy the equipment instead of just lease. There are some good leasing deals out there (and we point those out in our reviews), but they’re so few and far between that probably the best rule of thumb is to have the ability to buy the equipment outright, even if you have to take out a bank loan.
  • Excellent Customer Service: A business owner new to credit card processing tends to need plenty of help understanding the business of and setting up the equipment/software just to take credit cards. A great customer service representative (whether dedicated or on a per-call basis) can make for a better experience. A processor with an excellent reputation in customer service is something to keep in mind when selecting your processor.
  • Easy Signup: Getting a merchant account can be complicated, especially for a startup. Typically, you’ll have to submit a lot of business and personal financial records, and most startups lack at least the business records because the business is new. Even when you do have all the records, it might take weeks before you’re approved for a merchant account. Fortunately, some processors allow you to sign up and start processing in minutes and won’t look at your or your business’s financial records. So if you have to set up card processing quickly and/or do not wish to show the processor your personal financial records, keep these criteria in mind as you decide your processor.
  • Transparent Pricing (Both Rates & Fees): Every business owner needs to know their profit margin, and with so many ways the credit card industry charges for transactions, this can get tricky, especially for a new business owner who doesn’t have the years of sales data to help figure out an average rate. The best a new business owner can do is make a guess based on the various charges listed by the processor, so the easier it is to understand and figure out the cost of processing payment cards, the better it is for a new business.
  • Transferable/Portable Software Services: Many of the free software offered by a processor can analyze sales data and keep track of your inventory. Some can even keep track of your employees’ hours. You’d also have the option to pay a little more to get even more functionality. While the technology can save you a great deal of time, be aware that they might also tie you to a particular processor (or acquirer). So while you might want to test out the technology, don’t get too attached until you decide whether your current processor is right for you in the long term.
  • Honest Marketing/Advertising: Honesty in marketing or advertising goes deeper than just disclosing the actual processing price. It’s a reflection of the company’s culture — i.e., how the business is run both internally and externally. After all, if a company favors dishonest marketing or cleverly-phrased advertising that turns on a technicality instead of the actual truth, how else will they be treating you in areas not involving advertising? This is why we think processors that deal with you in an honest way is important.

Which Payment Processor Is The Best Fit For My New Business?

When you’re starting a new business, there are just two paths you can follow when setting things up:

  1. Do the minimum to get the business up and running, so money can start coming in, then go back to make more permanent adjustments when you have the time, or
  2. Do everything right the first time

Any successful business will do both at various times for various things. The question is, which path should you follow for credit card processing?

The answer comes down to personal preference. With the way we picked our recommended processors for this article, you can take either approach without getting yourself into permanent trouble. These processors all have month-to-month contracts, so you can change processors at any time. They’re also all highly rated, so there’s very little chance that you’ll go wrong with any of them. And if you’re the do-it-right-the-first-time kind of person, we recommend you start with this article for all the details of credit card processing fees.

If you have any adventures/misadventures setting up your credit card processors, please share them below. We’d be interested in finding out whether our recommended processors worked out for you.

In Summary: The Best Credit Card Processing For Startups

  1. Square: Best for businesses with a physical location.
  2. Stripe Payments: Best for online/eCommerce businesses.
  3. CDGcommerce: Best for US-based merchants with a physical and/or online store.
  4. Helcim: Best for businesses at any stage, from startup to mature.
  5. Payment Depot: Best for year-round businesses.
  6. Dharma Merchant Services: Best for businesses that process more than $10,000/month.
Hsin-Wei Luang

Hsin-Wei Luang

Hsin-Wei is a freelance writer focused on small business and technology writing. Before becoming a writer, she worked as a techie lawyer for many years until she came to her senses. Now, in her spare time, she plays frisbee with her Mini Australian Shepherd dog.

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We Recommend Fattmerchant 🏆

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We Recommend PaymentCloud 🏆

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We Recommend PaymentCloud 🏆

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We Recommend OnDeck 🏆

OnDeck is one of our top picks for Business Loans!

 

 

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We Recommend Fundera 🏆

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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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