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6 Best Free Merchant Accounts For Small Business In 2024

A free merchant account allows you to process credit card payments without a monthly fee. Find out which free merchant account is right for you.

    Davina Ward
  • Last updated onUpdated

  • Shannon Vissers

    Shannon Vissers

    Lead Staff Writer

Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

A free merchant account can help your business cut costs since you won’t have to pay any monthly account fees or account security costs. We researched several free merchant services providers based on pricing, contract terms, and additional business tools to help you find the best free merchant account and start processing payments with very few associated costs.

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  • Best free small business tools
  • 2.6%-2.9% payment processing rate
  • Free POS system and online store builder
  • Best free small business tools
  • 2.6%-2.9% payment processing rate
  • Free POS system and online store builder

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  • Best for fast access to funds
  • 2.6%-2.9% payment processing rate
  • All-in-one merchant account and payment processor for fast payouts
  • Best for fast access to funds
  • 2.6%-2.9% payment processing rate
  • All-in-one merchant account and payment processor for fast payouts

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  • Best for eCommerce customization
  • 2.9% payment processing rate
  • Extensive developer tools and documentation
  • Best for eCommerce customization
  • 2.9% payment processing rate
  • Extensive developer tools and documentation

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  • Best for accepting a variety of payments types
  • 2.99%-3.49% payment processing rate
  • Supports 24 local currencies & built-in Buy Now, Pay Later options
  • Best for accepting a variety of payments types
  • 2.99%-3.49% payment processing rate
  • Supports 24 local currencies & built-in Buy Now, Pay Later options

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  • Best for larger and B2B businesses
  • Custom interchange-plus pricing
  • Lower payment processing fees for larger and B2B businesses
  • Best for larger and B2B businesses
  • Custom interchange-plus pricing
  • Lower payment processing fees for larger and B2B businesses

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  • Best for freelancers
  • 2.9%+ payment processing rate
  • Free invoicing and accounting software
  • Best for freelancers
  • 2.9%+ payment processing rate
  • Free invoicing and accounting software

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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

What Is A Free Merchant Account?

A free merchant account allows you to process payments with no monthly fee. Merchant account providers may offer no or low-cost merchant accounts, but they do not offer free payment processing or related merchant services. Free merchant services don’t really exist, as all credit card transactions incur an interchange fee (at minimum).

Credit card processing fees are charged by payment processor providers and cannot be avoided without completely eliminating credit card processing from your business.

Free or low-cost credit card processing doesn’t make payment processing fees go away — these fees are typically passed on to your customers through surcharging or convenience fees. They may also utilize a cash discounting program in which customers using non-cash payment methods are charged an additional fee.

6 Best Free Merchant Accounts

The best free merchant accounts have no monthly fee, no monthly minimums, affordable processing rates, zero startup costs, and built-in payment security. They can scale with your business as it grows.

Our top choices include:

Compare The Best Free Merchant Services

Type Of Account Best For Payment Processing Rates
Square Payment Services Implementing a POS system 2.6%-2.9%
Chase Merchant Account Chase business account holders 2.6%-2.9%
Stripe Payment Services eCommerce businesses 2.90%
PayPal Payment Services Accepting PayPal, Venmo, international payments 2.99%-3.49%
Helcim Merchant Account Larger and B2B businesses Custom interchange-plus
Wave Payment Services Freelancers sending invoices 2.9%+

Square: Best Free Small Business Tools

Total Rating 4.8
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.7


Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.9

User Reviews4.9

Get a free card swiper from Square at no cost when you create a free account. Claim your card reader.


  • Free POS software
  • Free online store builder
  • Flat-rate payment processing
  • No long-term contracts


  • High-risk businesses are usually not accepted
  • Some users report account instability issues

Why We Chose Square For The Best Free Small Business Tools

Square is one of our favorites because it offers a sweet spot of low processing fees, virtually no merchant account fees, and many freebies that seem to grow yearly. For instance, with a basic account, you can now get simple employee management, inventory management, and reporting, set up a website and accept payment online, and more.

Square offers predictable processing rates, a free POS with basic reporting, and a full suite of tools to help you manage your small business, including employee management, reporting tools, a free web front, and invoicing.

You can also build on even more options if you want them, which provides greater flexibility to only pay for what you need. If your business requires a truly affordable payment processing solution, Square is the way to go.

Related: Read our Square POS app review for more information on Square's free retail, restaurant, and service-based business POS software plans.

Square Pricing

Square utilizes a flat-rate pricing credit card processing model and charges:

  • 2.6% + $0.10 for any card that is swiped, dipped, or tapped during the transaction
  • 3.5% + $0.15 for keyed-in transactions
  • 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions (including invoices and eCommerce sales)

Additionally, Square charges 1.75% of the transfer amount for same-day deposits. Square also offers plenty of add-on services and custom pricing for those vendors with annual sales that exceed $250,000 with an average ticket size of over $15.

Square Features

When it comes to free merchant accounts with a plethora of features, Square doesn’t have a lot of competition. Square’s features include:

  • Free POS software
  • Free online store builder
  • Free employee and inventory management
  • Affordable Square POS hardware
  • PCI compliance at no extra cost
  • Accept multiple payment methods for your business, including ACH, cryptocurrency, and credit card processing
  • Accept contactless payments
  • Same-day account creation and verification
  • Afterpay for in-person and online transactions

Get Started With Square

Read our in-depth review

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Chase Payment Solutions℠ : Best For Fast Access To Funds

Chase Payment Solutions℠

Total Rating 4.4
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.0


Sales & Advertising Transparency3.7

Customer Service3.9

User Reviews3.7


  • Dedicated merchant accounts
  • Same-day funding available for Chase business account holders
  • Interchange-plus pricing available for added fee
  • POS app and card reader available


  • Credit card terminals come with lengthy contract
  • Not a fully-developed POS solution

Why We Chose Chase Payment Solutions For Fast Access To Funds

We like that Chase Payment Solutions is both a merchant account provider and a direct payment processor, so you don't have to work with any third-party payment processor and wait several days for your funds to get processed and paid out. Chase business bank account holders can even receive funding within the same day for no fees. For an additional monthly fee, you can also get fast ACH payments and lowered B2B transaction payment processing fees,

The company offers flat-rate payment processing for free and interchange-plus pricing for a modest monthly fee, which will be useful when your business has more monthly sales as interchange-plus pricing is a better payment processing model for larger sales volumes.

Chase also offers free online reporting, gift card programs, a mobile POS app, and a payment gateway integration so you can take online payments.

Chase Payment Solutions Pricing

Chase is a traditional merchant account and offers exceptionally low flat-rate pricing. Chase Payments Solutions for payment processing are:

  • 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction for card-present transactions
  • 2.9% + $0.25 for eCommerce and over-the-phone transactions (through Authorize.Net partnership)
  • 3.5% + $0.10 per transaction for keyed-in-card and virtual terminal transactions

Note: Interchange-plus pricing is available, but you will have to pay at least $10/mo.

Chase Payment Solutions Features

Chase’s features allow small businesses to accept payments on the go and keep processing costs impressively low. Here’s a look at Chase Payment Solution’s features:

  • Single company for merchant bank account and payment processing
  • Same-day funding for Chase business bank account customers
  • Sign up for an account online
  • POS hardware available starting at $49
  • Chase mobile POS app with payment requests and mobile-powered payment acceptance
  • eCommerce website integration
  • Free Orbital Virtual Terminal (use your computer as a card terminal)
  • International payment acceptance

Get Started With Chase Payment Solutions℠

Read our in-depth review

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Stripe Payments: Best For eCommerce Customization

Stripe Payments

Total Rating 4.7
Fees & Rates4.7

Products & Services4.5


Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.5

User Reviews4.1


  • Extensive developer tools
  • Lots of eCommerce integration options
  • Invoicing tools
  • Support for international payments


  • Complaints of account stability issues
  • Requires coding to use best tools

Why We Chose Stripe For Small eCommerce Businesses

Stripe is an excellent choice suited best for small eCommerce businesses. While Stripe is built with the developer in mind, you'll find loads of integration options and subscription tools that allow you to fully customize your customer experience without always needing advanced technical expertise.

Stripe offers robust features, including developer tools, advanced reporting tools, marketplace and subscription tools, as well as multi-currency support.

Stripe is behind the eCommerce and processing presence of some of the biggest brands around, including Under Armor, Lyft, Wish, and more. Stripe is truly an innovator in the online space and offers immeasurable potential in customization, affordable business intelligence, fraud protection, and much more.

Stripe Pricing

Stripe’s payment processing rates are very straightforward:

  • 2.9% + $0.30 per online transaction
  • ACH payments for 0.8% (capped at $5)

Stripe also offers plenty of options for additional tools and services, including billing, invoicing, tax support, identity verification, and more. These costs can add up for businesses with complex payment needs. Fortunately, Stripe offers very transparent pricing across all its services, so estimating costs should be a breeze.

Stripe Features

Stripe’s features are pretty generous for its price range. Here’s what you can expect from Stripe’s payment processing:

  • Buy Now, Pay Later support
  • Tons of eCommerce integrations
  • 3D Secure authentication
  • Instant payouts option
  • Comprehensive developer platform, SDKs, and client libraries
  •  Automated dispute handling workflows
  • Invoicing for one-time payments
  • 24/7 customer support

Get Started With Stripe Payments

Read our in-depth review

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PayPal: Best For Accepting A Variety Of Payment Types

Total Rating 4.2
Fees & Rates3.8

Products & Services4.2


Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.1

User Reviews3.3


  • Free invoicing software
  • Multiple payment options accepted
  • Tons of integrations
  • Complete payment software and hardware suite


  • Comparatively high payment processing rates
  • Some complaints about account stability issues

Why We Chose PayPal For Accepting A Variety Of Payment Types

We like that PayPal's pricing is very transparent. Although PayPal's payment processing fees are on the higher end of the pricing spectrum, businesses will appreciate that PayPal boasts no cancellation fees, no monthly fees, and no long-term contracts. However, PayPal's biggest selling point is how ubiquitous the service is, including its impressive payment support in over 200 countries.

PayPal also boasts one of the most extensive arrays of payment options, including a built-in Buy Now, Pay Later option, QR code payment links, cryptocurrency payments, international payments, and Venmo. Although accepting these payment methods may incur additional charges, giving your customers the option is worth it.

Finally, if your customers are leery about online payment security, PayPal offers a way for your customers to pay you without feeling like they are doling out their credit card information at every turn. These things matter big time when it comes to reducing cart abandonment.

PayPal Pricing

PayPal’s processing fees are definitely on the higher end of the pricing spectrum. US-based businesses accepting credit and debit cards on PayPal’s free business account will pay 3.49% + $0.49 per sale for all online sales, card-present sales are 2.99% + $0.49 for swiped, dipped, and tapped.

PayPal charges a $20 chargeback fee, refund fees, instant transfer fees, and a fee for PayPal checkouts.

PayPal Features

As one of the most recognizable names in payment processing, PayPal has the market on payment democratization and customer trust. You’ll get simplicity and ease of use, alongside reliable payment processing and impressive seller protections.

Here’s a look at PayPal’s features:

  • Transparent pricing
  • Send invoices for free
  • No long-term contracts
  • No setup fees
  • Discounted processing rates for online donations
  • PCI compliance
  • Checkout buttons & Pay With PayPal option
  • Integration with eCommerce platforms
  • 24 local currencies accepted

Get Started With PayPal

Read our in-depth review

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Helcim: Best For Larger & B2B Businesses

Total Rating 4.9
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.4


Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.8

User Reviews4.5


  • Interchange-plus pricing for all users
  • Free POS software and online store builder
  • Strong invoicing features
  • Automated Level 2 and 3 card data capture to lower interchange rates


  • More expensive for lower volume merchants
  • Few third-party software integrations

Why We Chose Helcim For Larger & B2B Businesses

We appreciate that Helcim offers free merchant accounts to all businesses, and all accounts come with interchange-plus payment processing. Interchange-plus payment processing is the most transparent payment processing pricing structure and is more cost-effective for larger businesses than flat-rate payment processing from providers like Square and Stripe.

Helcim is great for B2B and B2G businesses because of the great invoicing software as well as the company's new AI-powered automated Level 2 and 3 data capture, which will add security to transactions and reduce payment processing rates (more on this later.)

Helcim also offers a suite of free business tools, including POS software, an online store builder, detailed invoicing software, and a customer relationship manager.

Related: Read our Helcim POS review to help you decide whether this free POS system is right for your business.

Helcim Pricing

Helcim states that its average in-person per transaction fee sits at 1.94% + $0.08, while its keyed and online transaction costs average out to 2.51% + $0.25 per transaction. However, these rates are dependent on your monthly processing volume which will determine the pricing tier your business falls under.

Note: Helcim placed a custom payment processing rate calculator tool on the company’s pricing page so you can get a payment processing fee estimate before even signing up for a Helcim account.

The company uses an interchange-plus pricing model for all accounts and rewards businesses with lower processing rates as they increase their processing volume. Helcim also offers POS hardware for retail businesses that costs $99 (Helcim card reader) and $329 (Helcim Smart Terminal).

Related: Read our Helcim Smart Terminal review for more on how you could implement this sleek handheld POS system in your store or mobile business.

Helcim Features

Helcim’s free merchant account comes packed with lots of built-in features, plus useful add-ons that won’t break the bank. Here’s a look at Helcim’s features:

  • Free POS software
  • Free online store builder
  • Free invoice builder and manager
  • No monthly fees, PCI compliance fees, setup fees, or other miscellaneous fees related to just having a merchant account
  • Accept international payments
  • Inventory management, CRM, and secure card storage services
  • Chargeback refunds if you win the dispute ($15 otherwise)
  • Cash discount program that works for invoices, payment requests, and standard transactions
  • Automated Level 2 and 3 card data capture (e.g. zip code, freight and duty information, commodity codes) using AI

Automated Level 2 and 3 card data capture reduces payment processing fees because the card-issuing banks lower interchange rates when you give them more transaction information. This is a great feature for B2B and B2G businesses that include more transaction information, such as tax IDs, and accept Level 3 interchange eligible credit cards.

Get Started With Helcim

Read our in-depth review

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Wave: Best For Freelancers

Total Rating 3.9

Ease Of Use4.2


Customer Service4.3

User Reviews3.4

Accounting Method

Accrual & Cash Basis


$0 - $16/month

Business Size

Freelancers & small businesses with unlimited users


  • Integration with Wave Accounting and Wave Invoicing (both free)
  • Set up recurring billing schedules with customers
  • Email invoices for payment


  • Comparatively high processing costs
  • Bank deposit schedule is up to seven days

Why We Chose Wave Payments For Freelancers

We love that Wave offers payment processing services without the monthly fee, but we believe that Wave shines brightest as one of the most affordable (free) accounting and invoicing software options on the market. All said and done, Wave boasts free services that can fully support a small business or freelancer's payment processing, invoicing, and accounting needs.

Wave offers some solid features for the price of $0, including unlimited invoicing and fast payouts. Wave's payment processing costs are on the higher end of the spectrum, but we believe the pricing balances out for businesses that are looking for affordable integrated invoicing and account features to go alongside their payment processing services.

Wave Payments Pricing

Wave Payments’ pricing is more expensive compared to other options on this list and starts at 2.9% + $0.60 per Visa or Mastercard transaction. and 3.4% + 0.60 per AMEX transaction.

Businesses may also process bank payments with Wave for a 1% fee for each transaction or a minimum $1 fee, whichever is greater. Wave also offers payroll services and professional bookkeeping services for an additional monthly fee.

Wave Payments Features

Wave Payments features include:

  • Set recurring billing schedules for faster payments
  • No monthly fees
  • Accept Apple Pay, all major credit cards, and bank payments
  • Send email invoices with a “Pay Now” button
  • Accept payments in-person, online, or via phone
  • Seamless integration with Wave’s accounting software
  • Strong bank-level payments security

Get Started With Wave

Read our in-depth review

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Payment Processing Rating Methodology

Merchant Maverick has been researching the payment processing industry since 2009. Our writers have reviewed hundreds of credit card processors, merchant account services, and mobile payment apps, evaluating each provider carefully on several different metrics.

When comparing different payment processing companies and applications to one another, we consider numerous data points. Our experts start by comparing credit card processing rates, the presence of additional fees, contract length, sales practices, and the presence or absence of additional features and services, like point of sale software. Each provider is judged on its own merits and how well it stacks up to industry standards; then it is weighed against the other providers on the list.

We spend an average of 10-15 hours researching and updating each one of our lists, making sure every company or application included meets our internal standards for quality and reputation. Any list of recommended payment processors on our site might contain a mix of standard merchant accounts, third-party payment processors, mobile payment devices, and high-risk payment processors, depending on what our expert feels is the best fit for certain scenarios or business types.

For additional details about Merchant Maverick’s review and rating processes, please refer to any or all of the following methodology pages:


Years reviewing payment processors


Providers evaluated


Attributes and features assessed per vendor


Years combined experience

How To Save On Credit Card Processing Costs

Although it’s not possible to process credit card payments for free, it is possible to save on your payment processing costs. To lower your business’s payment processing costs, you can attempt to directly reduce how much it costs your business to process payments or try to offset your business’s processing costs.

How To Lower Credit Card Processing Costs

There are several ways to lower your business’s payment processing costs. However, as there are many options, so you’ll need to take time to determine which solution would best suit your business’s budget and current state.

To lower credit card processing costs for your business, you can:

  • Implement credit card tokenization
  • Utilize the Address Verification Service (AVS)
  • Reduce batch fees
  • Try to negotiate lower fees
  • Avoid leasing payment processing hardware
  • Avoid or limit keyed-in transactions
  • Switch to a processor with lower cost
  • Get transactions submitted within 24 hours

How To Process Card Payments For Free

To process card payments for free, you can have your customers cover the processing costs of their credit card payments. To avoid payment processing fees, you’ll need to implement a convenience fee or practice credit card surcharging.

Both convenience fees and surcharging are designed to help businesses offset payment processing costs by adding additional fees to customer transactions that are paid via credit card.

However, there are several legalities involved in the practice of both surcharging and charging convenience fees. If you intend to offset credit card processing costs via surcharging or convenience fees, you’ll need to do your due diligence to ensure that you implement the practice legally and avoid scaring your customers away.

Which Free Merchant Account Is Best For Your Business?

While you can’t avoid payment processing fees while accepting card payments in most cases, you can significantly reduce your financial burden by choosing a free merchant account. Free merchant accounts keep fees down and offer month-to-month billing that allows you to pay for what you use — they are great cost-cutting options.

Despite an enticing price point, sometimes free isn’t the way to go. Paid merchant accounts with monthly fees often include a wealth of additional features that extend beyond payment processing.

For growing or larger businesses with a less limited budget, we recommend checking out some of the best small business credit card processing companies for a look at some of the top payment processing options on the market.

However, if you’re looking for a payment processing option that offers a better balance between cost and features, we recommend looking at some of the best cheap payment processing companies instead.

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Davina Ward

Davina Ward

Senior Staff Writer
Davina joined Merchant Maverick in 2022, covering small business payroll and accounting. She began writing for small businesses in 2018 and has since gained expertise in the SaaS industry. She earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in English Literature from SUNY Geneseo in 2018. She currently resides in New York.
Davina Ward
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