The 5 Best Credit Card Processing Companies For Healthcare Payments & 5 Important Things To Look For
Finding the right credit card processing for your healthcare office can be challenging if you don’t know how to dig for answers or read between the lines of slick marketing material. And many of you who currently accept credit cards are taking a long, hard look at your statements and wondering if there’s a better option out there. If you don’t have a good measuring stick to compare costs or understand what you should (and shouldn’t) be paying for in credit card processing, this post is for you. We’ll walk you through some difficult concepts and give you a better understanding of what to look for from the get-go.
The right merchant account platform can provide, not only credit card processing, but solid payment security, industrious software integrations, and brand-friendly customer-facing communications. You definitely do not have to always piecemeal solutions together; finding a cohesive solution when it comes to healthcare payments can take a huge load off of your administration team. Keep reading as we discuss our top five solutions — and why we think they’ll make your healthcare office run a bit smoother!
Read more below to learn why we chose these options.
Why Do You Need A Merchant Account For Medical Services?
Now more than ever, providing convenient and flexible ways for your patients to pay you is critical to doing business. TransUnion Healthcare recently released a report showing patients experienced an 11% hike in average out-of-pocket costs, and this trend continues to rise. That means patients are becoming the “principal payers” — and therefore a shift in thinking about payments in the medical office is critical to your success.
Jonathan Wiik, the principal of healthcare strategy at TransUnion Healthcare had this to say in a recent statement:
Given the increased payment responsibility, being able to determine a patients’ ability to pay is increasingly important for hospitals. In order to allow patients to focus on getting the care they need, healthcare providers need processes and tools in place to help patients meet their financial obligations and to establish funding mechanisms that will benefit both the patient and the provider.
Payment processing for the healthcare office or wellness center needs to meet the unique challenges inherent in these industries, and the right merchant account can do that for you.
Payment Security Is Issue #1
We can’t discuss payments without talking about security. When it comes to payment security and the safety of your patient’s payment information, nothing is more important. The HIPAA Journal regularly updates its news section with the latest in breach news, and it can look pretty bleak. Malware, phishing, and successful data breaches can compromise the personal information of thousands (if not millions) of people, and not only does the payment industry itself face the same risks, medical offices have that much more sensitive data to secure.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS) created a set of guidelines that requires all organizations that collect payment to become PCI Compliant. When you’re looking for a merchant account, you can reduce your office’s PCI scope by finding a processor that includes payment security (and hopefully for no additional fees). Keeping the onus of payment data storage and transmission off of your own database and onto a PCI compliant payment processing company is a cost-effective way to keep your patient’s payment data safe.
Our best-of list includes payment processors who prioritize data security, but we know that when you run a medical office you have many other immediate needs beyond security, too. Making it easier for your patients to pay you and increasing those “touchpoints” along the way in the payment process can mean reducing costs, increasing cash flow for your office, relieving your back office, and earning trust from your patients. And that’s a win-win.
The 5 Best Healthcare Payments Providers
Below you’ll find our top five credit card processor picks for the healthcare industry, and what we like most about each.
But first, here’s a quick note on cost comparison: Every business is different, and that’s why various merchant services can affect your bottom line in a big way. That’s why we recommend that every office be able to identify their effective rate, that is how much you’re actually paying for credit card processing with all of your fees totaled up. Not sure if you’re getting a good deal? We show you how to figure out exactly how much your medical office is paying for credit card processing and help you identify what’s a good effective rate in our post, Knowing Your Effective Rate For Credit Card Processing Is The Best Way To Not Overpay For Merchant Services.
Now, let’s take a look at our top five processors for healthcare offices, and why we love them.
1. Payline Data
Starting off our list is Payline Data. This is a top-5 choice for healthcare payment processors because it’s earned our 5-star review with excellent marks in nearly all categories we reviewed. That’s not an easy feat!
We love that Payline Data (read our full review) is a company that demonstrates a high amount of integrity through its sales team, transparent pricing, and even charitable giving. Those qualities in tandem aren’t all that common in the industry, which makes them a very notable option.
The Payline Medical plan offers the following features we like:
- Transparent Interchange Plus Pricing: When you swipe or key in a debit card payment, you’ll pay just 0.1% + $0.10 over interchange. You’ll be able to process healthcare credit cards, traditional cards (including American Express) and digital wallets like Apple Pay. Payline also charges a $10/monthly fee but includes a free gateway and virtual terminal (among other perks), which makes it a huge value. I like that there is considerable cost saving with PIN debit cards, and you won’t pay anything extra for American Express.
- Multiple Payment Channels: ACH can be a great option for patients, and you can do that with Payline for 0.4% plus $0.10. You also have the convenience of a virtual terminal. Whether you don’t want hardware cluttering your desk or you need additional options in taking payments over the phone, virtual terminals are a must-have option in healthcare payment processing.
- Customer Care: You’ll get a dedicated account representative with Payline Medical, and that’s fantastic. Payline has earned a great reputation all around from its customers, and that deserves some recognition. When a company has consistently good reviews, it signals healthy sales practices, transparency, and good customer service after the fact, and that’s exactly what we’ve found when we dug around consumer rating sites.
Additionally, your office won’t have additional PCI compliance fees for security and there’s no annual charge or any fee for canceling service. Check out our full Payline Data Review to find out more about their fraud protection, hardware options, and more details.
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2. Dharma Merchant Services
Dharma Merchant Services
Dharma is a fantastic option for credit card processing in the healthcare or wellness office. With no annual fee or monthly minimum account limits, and transparent interchange-plus pricing, Dharma delivers consistently excellent service all around. Plus you’ll have options with a full range of Clover hardware for your office.
Here are some features of Dharma worth highlighting:
- Clear Interchange-Plus Pricing: Storefront and POS pricing is 0.15% plus $0.07 above interchange. A virtual terminal is included for free, so you can take a payment over the phone or in-person and have no security worries. Virtual transactions process at 0.20% + $0.10. You also won’t have any PCI compliance fees for security. Dharma does charge a $20/monthly merchant account fee, but with comparatively low processing fees, they’re more than competitively priced for a traditional merchant account. Integrated ACH processing is also available at $25/mo.
- Trustworthy Business Practices: We love Dharma here at Merchant Maverick because of their highly ethical business practices and outstanding sales transparency from signing up to continuing service and care. Add in the fact that their in-house customer service is highly knowledgeable and helpful, and it’s no wonder that they have established, consistently high ratings from their customers.
- Software Options: Dharma offers the MX Merchant platform, where you have access to reports, deposits, creating invoices (additional $10/mo), the mobile processing app, a customer database, and more. We also like that you can create custom receipts with your office logo. You have more software options including Authorize.net, which is really the most widely compatible gateways out there.
While you can expect monthly fees and there is an additional monthly charge to send invoices, Dharma is a very good value with clear pricing, so you won’t get any surprises when your bill comes. You won’t have to worry about any binding contracts, early termination fees, or leasing agreements, either, putting Dharma high on the top-5 list for card processing at a healthcare center.
For more information about hardware options, customer reviews, and more check out our full Dharma Merchant Services Review for more information.
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3. Payment Depot
Payment Depot is another company that has earned our coveted 5-star review because they consistently deliver excellent service with transparent, affordable pricing and a fantastic reputation they continue to uphold. So what can you expect if you sign up with Payment Depot?
- No Percentage-Based Markups: The agreement and pricing structure of Payment Depot is fairly different than the others on our list so far. With Payment Depot, you’ll pay a monthly membership fee, and then you’ll only pay the wholesale cost plus a small fee of $0.05 to $0.15 each to process each transaction. What’s the wholesale cost, you ask? Wholesale costs are the interchange fees set by the payment brands. You won’t pay any additional fees beyond that.
- Flexible Agreement Options: Payment Depot’s most popular plan is $79 plus interchange costs and an additional $0.10 per transaction. With this plan, you get a free reader and a free standard terminal. All of their agreements come with chargeback and risk monitoring, rate protection, next-day funding, and have no cancellation fees.
- Customer Service: Payment Depot’s customer service is all in house and it’s available around the clock with any package above the Basic package (up to $25,000/month). We love that they continue to reflect open and honest sales practices, which is very hard to find in the credit card processing industry.
- Seamless Integration: Payment Depot integrates with most shopping cart platforms and website content management systems including QuickBooks, Authorize.net, Opencart, and WooCommerce.
Payment Depot is a solid option for processing payments in a healthcare office. In addition to all of the notable highlights above, check out our full Payment Depot review to find out all of the details when it comes to hardware options, customer reviews, product features, and more.
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We like Fattmerchant for its established reputation of providing great customer service and clear pricing for its customers. With a free and yet surprisingly robust analytics dashboard, as well as the overall fantastic value in services and features, we think it should be at the top of your list, too.
- Transparent Processing Costs: Fattmerchant is another credit card processor that is on the membership pricing model. With a subscription, you have a 0% markup on all of your transactions. For higher transaction sizes, this can represent huge savings over the long run. You only pay interchange fees (set by the card brands) plus $0.12 per swiped, dipped or tapped transactions. If you manually enter a card through the virtual terminal, you’ll pay interchange plus $0.15 per transaction. For medical offices that process up to $500,000, you pay $99/mo.
- No Binding Contracts: With the subscription-based plan, you might assume that you’d have to sign a year-long contract, but that’s not the case. (And that’s a breath of fresh air.) You will have a month-to-month contract with no cancellation fees should you choose to stop services.
- The Omni Integrated Payment Platform: Fattmerchant’s Omni dashboard and analytics integrate with all of your offices so you can track sales, accept payment at the virtual terminal, and access your business data from through one convenient web portal. For instance, you can track when expected payments from patients and batches will be hitting your bank account.
- Customization: If you want your office branding to be consistent across all platforms and communications, you can control the look and feel of receipts, invoices, and website payments through their Advanced Customization service ($10/m0). With Fattmerchant API, you can also fully customize your customer’s payment experience to accept one-time, and recurring, invoices all from your own website or platform.
While it’s true that Fattmerchant doesn’t have a laundry list of third-party integration options like the others on our list may have, their payment processing, POS system, and Fattmerchant terminals all seamlessly integrate. For more information about hardware, features, customer reviews, and more, check out our full Fattmerchant Review.
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Square is one of our favorite payment processors because it truly offers a lot of features with no monthly fee and transparent payment processing. Here’s what we love for medical, wellness, and other patient-centered healthcare centers:
- Flat-Rate Pricing: For every tapped, dipped or swiped payment, you’ll pay 2.6% + $0.10. If you take a payment at your virtual terminal or charge a card on file, you’ll pay 3.5% + $0.15. Invoice payments and any other payment online costs 2.9% plus 30% per transaction. There is no extra charge for American Express.
- Robust Dashboard: The Square dashboard that comes free with your account gives you a quick glance at everything you’ll need to take payments and more. You can track sales and payment history, get to your customer directory, take a secure payment at your free virtual terminal, send an invoice for services, and more, all from your Square Dashboard.
- Options for Email List Growth: When your patients make a payment, they receive a digital receipt to their email address (Square hardware with receipt printer available). After your sale, you’ll then have your patients’ contact information and can either follow up manually by email or upgrade to Square’s email marketing platform that starts at $15/mo. Emails are a great way to keep in touch with patients and let them know about any new therapeutic services or products you’re offering — or remind them when it’s time to make another appointment with your office.
- Healthcare Integrations: Square has a large library of available integrations that can make switching that much easier. In particular, the IntakeQ integration can help you go paperless and simplify your intake process with HIPAA compliant forms. You can accept and store patient cards for future billing in your intake package, including HSA cards. I also like that this integration also offers scheduling, invoicing, charting, and a secure messaging platform. Depending on what services you opt for with IntakeQ, you’re looking at $30 to 60/mo.
- Developer Tools: If you would like to create a fully customized web presence, Square provides a lot of free tools in their Developer Platform and Documentation areas. You can find what you need to build a branded payment flow and more.
While we think Square can be a fantastic choice for a healthcare office, it’s certainly not for everyone. Square is a third-party payment processor, which means that instead of opening up a dedicated merchant account for each user, Square aggregates all of its users under one account. This setup makes payment processing much more accessible with fewer hoops to jump through (e.g. no credit check) but it comes with some account stability issues. While the chance of any issues like this is very small, it can be very frustrating if it does happen. The healthcare industry faces relatively low chargeback risks, but to understand how to avoid the “red flags”, we recommend checking out our post, How To Keep Your Payment Processor From Holding Funds Or Terminating Your Account.
Want to know about Square? For more information on Square’s services, hardware options, and more check out our full Square Review.
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5 Features A Good Healthcare Payment System Should Have
Of course, as you narrow down your list of possible payment systems for your medical office, keep in mind the most important challenges that your office faces. Each of our options above has unique strengths. For instance, if you have multiple offices and you have current software considerations (e.g., QuickBooks integration), something like Payline would likely be a great fit. If you want a simple solution that’s easy for your office to navigate, while fully syncing across mobile and office locations (with plenty of additional goodies and and-ons), Square could be the best choice.
Keep these things below in mind during your search so that you get the basics covered and know for in your payment processor.
Multiple Payment Channels
As touched on briefly in an earlier section, offering payment options to your patients is important now more than ever. Patient responsibility is overall on an upward trend, and so healthcare offices that put better payment systems in place now can continue to meet these new challenges successfully.
Payment processing isn’t just about swiping. Here are some more tools to consider that help you offer payment flexibility to your patients:
- Hardware & POS: Whether you want something sturdy for your countertop, or a sleek tablet mobile processing option, consider what will help your front and back office become the most effective.
- Virtual Terminal: Every medical or wellness office should be ready to take a payment over the phone. A virtual terminal securely stores and processes your patient’s payment data. Keeping this information off of your own system and secured in a virtual terminal is not only best practice, it reduces your PCI scope (and fraud liability) in the process.
- Invoicing & Recurring Billing: Moving to electronic invoicing could save your office both money and time, not to mention give your patients more options in paying you. Recurring invoices can help automate for repeat services or agreements that are common in wellness centers.
- ACH & Online Payments: Medical centers with a web front should consider payment flow. ACH payments are a cheap and easy way to collect payment directly from your patient’s bank account. And online payments provide a convenient and secure way for your patients to pay an outstanding bill and avoid the stamp. It means you get paid a lot faster, too.
If your office relies on existing software programs, integration is certainly a critical consideration. Finding a processing company that works with medical software can make things like HIPAA compliance that much easier.
Good Customer Support
Finding help when you need it, whether that’s technical expertise or you have a question about funds, is also something important to consider. Check out our full reviews of each processor to find out more about what customers are saying. Not all processors offer 24/7 support, but finding quality support when you need it during normal business hours is important.
One of the biggest points of contention in the payments industry is the contract. We strongly encourage every healthcare office to read and understand their merchant account agreement. While every company on our list gets a clean bill of health when it comes to long-term, binding contracts, you’d be surprised that even some of the largest payment brands have unforgiving agreements that get very expensive (and very frustrating) for the merchants they serve. We recommend signing up with companies that offer more flexible terms like month-to-month agreements and no cancellation fees.
When you’re looking for a payment processor for your medical or wellness office, upfront pricing may be more elusive than you might think. We see a lot of “teaser rates” that mask hidden fees and similar bait-and-switch tactics. Again, reading your contract is very important when it comes to understanding what you’re actually going to be paying. Thankfully, all of the picks on our list have transparent pricing. That said, understanding how to look at your bill and find out what you’re paying for credit card processing in total can be critical.
Which Of These Healthcare Payment Solutions Is Right For Me?
Finding the healthcare payment processor that’s right for your office is all about understanding what comes with your merchant services and what your office needs. It’s possible to overpay for services you don’t need, and it’s also possible to get stuck with something that doesn’t serve your growing needs in the ways it could. Taking into consideration what each credit processing company offers in value — as opposed to just looking at the sticker tag — is critical to finding something that really supports your growth overall.
Interested in finding out more about our top picks? Follow the links and read more about each one we’ve offered here.
A Last Look At Our Top Picks
Summary - Payline Data offers a traditional merchant account with a well-deserved reputation for integrity and sales transparency. Your medical office won't need to worry about buried fees, as the standardized pricing packages eliminate the guesswork and the negotiations.
- Dharma Merchant Services
Summary - Dharma is a favorite for healthcare offices thanks to predictable pricing and consistently high-rated personalized care. Multiple payment channels make processing in-person and over the phone quick and secure for your office.
- Payment Depot
Summary - Payment Depot has a membership pricing model that can save your healthcare office money on expensive markup pricing. A transparent pricing model, established reputation, and specialized medical processing package with numerous integration options make Payment Depot a favorite.
Summary - Fattmerchant consistently ranks as our best all-in-one merchant account provider. With its 0% markup rate, subscription pricing model and robust features including free invoicing, virtual terminal, and POS software that come standard, it's a notable option for any healthcare office.
Summary - Square offers a lot of features for a small price tag. The Square POS is free and includes great security and features like reporting, invoicing, patient profiles, and more. With healthcare-focused data integration options like IntakeQ, you can opt to add more functionality by going paperless and automating both the intake and payment process.