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Want To Accept Credit Card Payments Instantly? Here’s What You Need To Know First

When it comes to instant or next-day credit card processing, there is no magic bullet, but some processors can move more quickly than others.

    Chris Motola
  • 6 comments
  • Updated on:
Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.

Every business owner knows that controlling cash flow is essential to survival. For most businesses, incoming cash flow includes credit and debit card sales, but a lot of behind-the-scenes work happens between that initial swipe or dip of the card and the money finally being deposited into your account. Though much of this money transfer is automated these days, delays still happen. How, then, can you get your money as fast as possible despite the standard wait times?

Below, we give some tips on how to get your funds quickly and recommend some reputable processors who can process your payments fast. Read on to find out more!

Learn More About Our Top Picks

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Best for fast standard deposits.
Best for fast standard deposits.

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Best for high-volume businesses.
Best for high-volume businesses.

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Best all-in-one processing solution.
Best all-in-one processing solution.

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Best for eCommerce businesses.
Best for eCommerce businesses.

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Best for growing businesses.
Best for growing businesses.

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Other Featured Options:

  • PayPal: Best for new and very small businesses.
  • Payline: Best fast approval for mature businesses.
  • Wave: Best for independent contractors.

Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

Can You Really Get A Same Day Merchant Account Approval?

Getting a same-day merchant account approval requires using merchant services with an expedited vetting process. This usually means going through a third-party processor like Square, Stripe, or PayPal. Just be aware that you’re not getting your own merchant account, but are instead being aggregated into a large pool of merchants.

While third-party processors can be an excellent option for low-risk businesses, high-risk businesses won’t be able to use them. You should also be aware of the account stability issues that tend to plague third-party processors. Likewise, merchant services that offer expedited approval will usually only do so for low-risk businesses.

Why Being Able To Accept Credit Card Payments Instantly Doesn't Mean Instant Funding

If you’ve ever shopped around for a payment card processor for your business, you’ve probably visited more than a few websites that promise Instant Approval! or No-Hassle Setup! These promises often come with the additional assurance that you can Get Your Money Right Away! Account approval and funding are not, however, the same thing.

Being instantly approved/signed up to take payment card sales and getting the money from your first credit/debit card sale are two completely different processes. The approval/sign-up part involves checking the creditworthiness of your business (and often your personal creditworthiness). Getting the money from your payment card sales involves the mechanics of bank-to-bank money transfers.

Next Day Funding For Merchant Account Services

With next-day funding, merchants receive the funds from their credit card transactions within the next business day. Typically you’ll have to process your daily batch before a designated time for the funds to be available for the next business day. You’ll also want to check with your payment service to see how it handles Friday and Saturday transactions; in many cases, next-day means “next business day.”

Same-Day Funding For Merchant Account Services

Same-day funding allows a merchant to access the funds from their recent credit card transactions on the same day they send their batch. Like next-day funding, you’ll have to process your batch before a designated time to get your funds on schedule. Generally, the cutoff time will be early in the day rather than at the end. Because of this, same-day funding can be useful to businesses that are open overnight. Same-day funding is more likely to have maximum limits on the amount you can get advanced than next-day funding.

Instant Deposits & Other Options For Merchant Account Services

Faster still are instant deposits, which make your money available immediately after a transaction is made. If it sounds like there’s a catch to this, you’re right.

Most services offering instant deposits do so as part of their broader payment infrastructure. For example, Square offers instant deposits with its Square Checking service. It’s able to do this because there’s no need to transmit the payment information to a third party. Square is both your processor and your bank. This works similarly with digital wallet transfers on a service like PayPal or similar peer-to-peer transactions.

How Soon Do You Need Your Funds?

Fast funding sounds great on paper, but since it can often come with added expenses or limitations, you should consider which, if any, type of expedited funding fits your business model.

For most businesses that occasionally need to smooth out their cash flow with faster deposits, next-day funding should be sufficient. Same-day deposits will be of interest to businesses that make a lot of sales during non-business hours and would regularly miss the batch deadlines for next-day funding.

As for instant deposits, you’ll want to consider the value of the platform you’re signing up for and to what degree you’re willing to centralize your accounts under it. If you’re cool with having your payment service double as a money-storing account, instant deposits are a significant perk.

The 8 Best Merchant Services For Instant Credit Card Processing Approval & Fast Funding

Below are eight of the best payment services that offer fast approval and funding. Some work well for eCommerce processing, while others work best for high-volume businesses.

  • Square
  • Stripe
  • Payment Depot
  • Helcim
  • Stax
  • PayPal
  • Payline Data
  • Wave

1. Stax By Fattmerchant: Best For Fast Standard Deposits

Stax by Fattmerchant



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Stax by Fattmerchant promises next-day funding for merchants on its website, but it doesn’t make it clear that next-day funding is only for qualified merchants. By default, Stax offers 24-hour funding for everyone — in other words, 24 hours after you batch out, you’ll have your funds. With the next-day funding plan, you’ll get your funds the morning after you batch out.

Stax has also recently started to offer same-day funding for an additional fee. With same-day funding, payment card sales are batched at five different times in a 24-hour period, and funds are deposited into your account a few hours thereafter.

Pros

  • Transparent membership pricing
  • Same-day funding available
  • Month-to-month funding
  • Default deposit time is usually 24-hours

Cons

  • May not be suited to small businesses

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2. Payment Depot: Best For High-Volume Businesses

Payment Depot



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Payment Depot offers individual merchant accounts to qualifying businesses, as well competitive membership pricing for transactions.

While it’s not instantaneous, Payment Depot’s approval process is a lot faster than that of many of its peers. If all goes well, you can be approved with 24 hours. Payment Depot doesn’t explicitly offer expedited funding, but its default funding schedule is pretty fast: 24 to 48 hours.

Pros

  • Competitive membership pricing
  • Fast approval time
  • Good customer support

Cons

  • Not cost-effective for low-volume businesses
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries
  • No same-day or instant funding

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3. Square: Best For All-In-One Processing

Square



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Square is less of a payment processor than a payment ecosystem. Square’s standard transfer schedule is faster than most services, with payments made before 5:00 p.m. PT landing in your bank account as soon as the next day.

If that’s still not fast enough for you, Square offers same-day transfers for the cost of 1.5% of the amount being transferred from your Square account to your bank account. You can move up to $10,000 per transfer this way.

Square also offers instant funding for Square Checking customers. Since there’s no third-party bank involved, Square Checking allows you to access your funds immediately and to spend them with the Square Debit Card.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • No monthly fees
  • Massive feature set
  • Offers next-day, same-day, & instant deposits

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

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4. Stripe: Best For eCommerce Businesses

Stripe Payments



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Stripe is a third-party processor focused on eCommerce transactions. Like other third-party processors, Stripe’s approval process is fast and relatively easy, making it a good option for businesses that need to be up and running quickly.

Stripe’s default payout schedule is a little slower than that of some of its competitors, with payments usually landing in your account after two business days. While account activation is fast, Stripe does do some risk mitigation upfront. New accounts should be aware that there’s a 7-day delay to receive your very first deposit.

Stripe does offer instant payouts to customers in good standing and charges 1% of the amount being transferred.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • No monthly fees
  • Massive feature set
  • Offers instant deposits

Cons

  • Account stability issues
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

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5. Helcim: Best For Growing Businesses

Helcim



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Many of the payment processors on this list use flat-rate pricing. While that offers advantages to lower-volume businesses, it tends to not scale well to higher-volume merchants. Businesses in the latter group looking for a fast turnaround time on deposits should consider Helcim.

Helcim offers payouts within one to two business days for most US merchants, with next-business-day transfers for weekend transactions. You can also opt for next-business-day deposits as standard for $10/month, which is different than many other processors.

Pros

  • Transparent interchange-plus pricing
  • Processing costs decrease with business growth
  • Accepts international payments
  • Next-day deposits available

Cons

  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

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6. PayPal: Best For New & Very Small Businesses

PayPal



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PayPal was really the first third-party processor to offer instant access to your money from credit card payments. By default, funds are available in your PayPal account almost as soon as the transaction is complete.

You can spend the money online anywhere that PayPal is accepted, and if you have the PayPal debit card, you can spend your money anywhere that accepts Mastercard. Transfers to a bank account can take up to 5 days, but it will depend entirely on your bank. You can also initiate an instant deposit for 1% of the transfer amount.

PayPal is a breeze to get started with and it’s easy to use, but it’s a bit more expensive than its third-party processor competitors. If you’re doing a higher volume of transactions, the costs will add up fast.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Quick setup & approval
  • No monthly fees
  • Massive feature set
  • Instant deposits available

Cons

  • Transaction rates aren’t competitive
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

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7. Payline Data: Fast Approval For Mature Businesses

Payline



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Same-day approval for individual merchant accounts is rare, but Payline Data somehow manages to pull it off for some of its customers. Deposits are also fast, hitting your account within one or two business days.

Even if you aren’t concerned about speed, Payline Data is a solid choice for established businesses, offering transparent interchange-plus pricing. Non-profits, in particular, may want to take notice as Payline Data offers discounted processing rates and support for recurring donations.

Pros

  • Transparent interchange-plus pricing
  • Quick setup & approval
  • Fast default deposit times
  • Good feature set

Cons

  • No same-day deposit option
  • Not suitable for low-volume businesses

Get Started with Payline

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8. Wave Payments: Best For Independent Contractors

Wave



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Wave Payments will appeal to a fairly narrow market segment, specifically those who are using Wave for their accounting needs.

Wave offers flat-rate credit card processing as an integrated feature for its suite of accounting tools. While not as fully featured as many other services offering flat-rate credit card transactions, Wave Payments does offer instant payouts. You can choose to withdraw any amount so long as it’s greater than $25 at the cost of 1% of the amount transferred. Funds are usually available within 30 minutes.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Basic Wave features are free
  • Instant payouts available

Cons

  • Unsuited for large businesses
  • Limited payments features

Read our in-depth review

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Looking For One Of These Instant Payment Processors?

The list above is by no means complete. There are many other services that accept credit cards instantly or that offer quick approval for merchant accounts. Two that didn’t make our list include:

ProPay

ProPay advertises instant approval for merchant accounts, with the ability to start taking credit cards immediately. Overall, we like ProPay for its flexibility, reasonable flat-rate pricing, and solid reputation. There are a couple of points of caution, however. ProPay charges a setup that, while not too expensive, is an unnecessary expense you won’t see from many of its competitors. ProPay also requires an annual contract from customers. While they’re not as punitive as many other payment processors that require long-term contracts, we generally frown on this practice.

Due

Due is an accounting program similar to Wave, with built-in payment processing. Overall, its pricing is competitive, and there’s a free version for those who just need very basic features. Unfortunately, Due proves limited in terms of integrations and mobile support. Customers also report poor customer service, unclear guidelines regarding who qualifies for payment processing, and frustration with Due’s limited feature set.

Is An Instant Merchant Account Really The Best Option?

All things being equal, who wouldn’t want fast approval for their merchant account? As with most things, however, speed comes with some trade-offs. Third-party processors, which tend to make up the bulk of providers that offer fast approval, are illustrative of this.

A third-party processor typically assesses that risk after you’ve signed up with and have started to take payment cards through them. This allows them to approve your account quickly. Your business’s ability to process payment cards, however, might be interrupted later, after they’ve assessed the risk of doing business with you. You might be required to establish a reserve account with the processor. They might even suddenly terminate their business relationship with you. In other words, processing with third-party processors means you might have to deal with an unstable/unreliable process. That’s not to say that every merchant who uses these services will have a problem — that’s simply not true. But almost any merchant could run into trouble.

With a merchant account provider, risk assessment is done upfront. You have to submit documents and be subject to credit checks, but your ability to take payment cards is less likely to be interrupted later. Unfortunately, due diligence takes time, so this translates to no instant approval. (Some good merchant account providers still move pretty fast, even if it’s not instant.)

Why Do Payment Processors Withhold Funds From Merchants

Payment processors withhold funds from merchants or terminate accounts when suspicious activity is detected. Here are some things that may trigger hold:

  • Unusually large transactions
  • Sales of an unfamiliar product
  • An unusually high number of fraudulent transactions
  • A high volume of chargebacks
  • Being categorized as high-risk
  • Using your merchant account for purposes other than processing credit cards

In other words, something is going on with your account that triggered a red flag. Unfortunately, this can happen even when you’ve done nothing wrong. Third-party processors, in particular, are known to be unforgiving about suspicious behavior.

7 Thing You Can Do To Keep Your Same-Day Or Next-Day Funding

Many companies manage to keep their merchant accounts in good standing. There are things you can do to minimize your chances of triggering an account freeze:

  1. Avoid Keyed Transactions: If your retail shop has an unusually high number of keyed transactions, your processor may become suspicious and implement a hold or a reserve fund. Keyed transactions may take an extra few days to process. They also are usually more expensive to process, so you should be avoiding these for your bottom line anyway.
  2. Stay Within Your Processing Limits: Mobile processors such as PayPal and Intuit GoPayment have been known to set weekly and monthly limits for merchants based on their processing histories. You can sometimes work around these concerns by contacting your service provider and letting them know that you expect a higher than average volume because of a sale, special event, or new product launch.
  3. Document High-Value Transactions: Just like unusually higher overall volumes can draw the attention of your merchant account provider, so can unusually large individual transactions. Third-party processors, in particular, will usually ask for an invoice, signature, and other documentation and hold the funds until you provide the documentation or the chargeback window has closed. Some merchant accounts may also specify that for transactions above a certain value, a percentage will be subject to a hold for so many days.
  4. Minimize Your Chargebacks: Try to keep your chargebacks to a minimum. A high number of them signifies to your processor that customers are unhappy with your service or you have been accepting a high number of fraudulent cards. Neither situation is acceptable.
  5. Optimize Batch Times: Unless you’re with a third-party processor such as Square or PayPal, you can expect to pay a batch processing fee every time you submit a transaction for processing.  It’s an industry-standard security process to batch out at least once in a 24-hour period. Waiting longer than that often comes with higher processing rates because of an added security risk.
  6. Choose A Processor With Fast Funding Times: Not all processors are the same, and processing times can vary. Two business days has become the industry standard, but some processors can still take longer than that (3-5 days). There may also be some exceptions to the standard funding time for particular types of transactions (keyed, for example).
  7. Watch Your Cash Flow & Bank Balances: Lastly, keeping a steady cash flow will help you get funded faster. When a transaction is held, some processors want to see your bank statements to make sure you do have the money to cover any chargebacks that might occur.

The Bottom Line On Instant Merchant Accounts & Getting Your Funds Fast

There are no tips or tricks or magic buttons to push to get your money fast when you have a merchant account. If you want to get your funds as soon as possible, you need to be a responsible merchant, establish a good processing history, minimize your risky transactions, and batch out every day by the cut-off time. You might have to pay an additional fee as well if you truly need “instant funding.”

Of course, all of that is useless if your processor’s default processing time is 3-5 days and cannot offer anything faster. So, if fast funding is important to you, make sure you check on deposit times before you sign a contract. Look for a reputable processor that has funding options that work for your needs.

Last, if the worst should happen and you have a large transaction held in limbo, you have options. Contact your processor and see what you can do to work it out. If you’re really in need of cash, you can get a small business loan (a working capital or bridge loan, specifically). This can help keep the lights on, ensure your employees are paid on time, pay your suppliers, etc. until your cash flow can smooth out again.

Frequently Asked Questions About Instant Approvals & Deposits

How long does it take a merchant to receive funds?

Time to funding will vary by processor, but the industry average is around two days.

How do I open an instant merchant account?

To open a merchant account quickly, you’ll need to apply with a payment processor that offers fast approvals. Be aware that most of the companies that offer this are actually third-party processors, which don’t provide traditional merchant accounts.

Do credit card payments post on the weekends?

In most cases weekend transactions will be floated over to the next business day. However, not every payment processor handles weekends the same way.

How long does it take to get approved for a merchant account?

On average, it takes 3-6 business days to be approved for a merchant account. Some services, particularly third-party processors, are faster.

In Summary: The 8 Best Merchant Services For Instant Credit Card Processing Approval & Fast Funding

  1. Stax by Fattmerchant: Best for fast standard deposits.
  2. Payment Depot: Best for high-volume businesses.
  3. Square: Best all-in-one processing solution.
  4. Stripe Payments: Best for eCommerce businesses.
  5. Helcim: Best for growing businesses.
  6. PayPal: Best for new and very small businesses.
  7. Payline: Best fast approval for mature businesses.
  8. Wave: Best for independent contractors.
Chris Motola

Chris Motola

Expert Analyst & Reviewer at Merchant Maverick
An expert in personal and business loans and financial health, Chris Motola has been writing about small business finance and payments for over 5 years. He has been cited in various industry publications, including Forbes Advisor, GoBankingRates, and Medium. Chris is a graduate of the University of Central Florida.
Chris Motola
View Chris Motola's professional experience on LinkedIn.

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6 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.

    Nicole

    What drives me nuts is the way cc companies make one giant deposit with my weekend batches. How can I get them to make 3 different deposits instead of 1 big one

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Hi Nicole,

      Unfortunately, this is due to banks being officially closed on Saturdays and Sundays — The only processors that may offer a way around this are ones that offer same-day deposits, which will typically cost extra. Square is a good example of this. But this isn’t a very common feature at all.

        This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

        David

        Can any body tell me, How much time the merchant takes to release the funds of fozen account. Is it 90days or what?

          This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

          Jessica Dinsmore

          Hi David,

          Our understanding is that it varies based on how suspicious a transaction is or why the account was closed. We’ve seen 90 days, to 120 days sometimes, but 180 days seems to be most common because 6 months is the chargeback window. 180 days is the most common window because customers usually have 6 months to dispute a charge. However, it’s by no means universal. I hope that helps!

            This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

            Tanja Deloney

            Please help !!! I’m in desperate need of honest, reputable merchant services for credit repair AND Gateway. I contacted “Payline” but they told me they do not do credit repair companies.

            Your assistance is greatly appreciated

            Stay blessed
            Tanja
            PlatinumCreditConsultants.com

              This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

              Jessica Dinsmore

              Hi Tanja,
              We have a list of High Risk Providers, but if you haven’t already tried Durango, I’d definitely recommend you start there.

                This comment refers to an earlier version of this post and may be outdated.

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