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7 Instant Merchant Accounts With Same-Day Approval

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

    Shannon Vissers
  • Last updated onUpdated

  • Matt Sherman
  • REVIEWED BY

    Matt Sherman

    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.

Accepting credit card payments is key to survival for restaurants, retailers, and many other business types. Whether you are opening a brand-new business or you have an established business but need a new merchant account, same-day merchant account approval means you can accept credit card payments online instantly—or at least within minutes.

However, there are some downsides to instant merchant account approval. Keep reading to learn what you need to know before applying for an instant merchant account and find out the best credit card processing companies for small businesses that offer same-day approval or approval in about a day.

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  • 24-48 hour approvals
  • Same-day transfers cost 1% + $20/month
  • Monthly fee: $99+
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  • Monthly fee: $99+

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  • Same-day approvals
  • Same-day transfers cost 1.75%
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  • Same-day approvals
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  • Monthly fees: $0+

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  • Same-day approvals
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  • Approvals within 24 hours or less
  • Next-day transfers available for $10/month
  • Monthly fees: $0+
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  • Monthly fees: $0+

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  • Same-day approvals
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Read more below to learn why we chose these options.

What To Know About "Instant" Merchant Account Approval

With a traditional 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. This due diligence takes time, which translates to no instant approval—typically it takes three to six business days to be approved for a merchant account.

In contrast, with so-called “instant merchant accounts,” you can open an account, start taking payments, and transfer funds to your bank account, all in the same business day. However, third-party processors, which tend to make up the bulk of providers that offer fast approval, come with some trade-offs.

Third-Party Processors & The Risks Of Instant Approval

Third-party processors (also called payment service providers or PSPs) typically assess that risk after you’ve signed up and have started to take payment cards. This allows them to approve your account quickly, which makes them a convenient credit card processing option for startups. Unfortunately, your business’s ability to process payment cards might be interrupted later after the processor has assessed the risk of doing business with you.

You might be required to establish a rolling reserve account with the processor and deal with account holds or terminations. That’s not to say that every merchant who uses these services will have a problem, but almost any merchant could run into trouble.

The 6 Best Merchant Services For Same Day Credit Card Processing Approval

If you have determined you want a same-day merchant account despite the potential risks, keep reading.

Below are the best payment processing companies that offer same-day approval, as well as fast funding with same-day or next-day deposits. Some are top-rated third-party processors suitable for low-risk businesses, though we also included a few traditional merchant account options that offer same-day approval.

  • Stax: Best For High-Volume Businesses
  • Wave: Best For Independent Contractors
  • Square: Best For New Businesses
  • Stripe Payments: Best For eCommerce Businesses
  • Helcim: Best For Growing Businesses
  • PayPal: Best For Instant Access To Funds

How The Best Instant Merchant Accounts Compare

Same-day approvalAccepts high-risk businessesContractThird-party or merchant acccountProcessing model
StaxSometimesMonth-to-monthMerchant accountMembership
WaveMonth-to-monthThird-partyFlat rate
SquareMonth-to-monthThird-partyFlat-rate
Stripe PaymentsMonth-to-monthThird-partyFlat-rate
HelcimSometimesMonth-to-monthMerchant accountInterchange-plus
PayPalMonth-to-monthThird-partyFlat-rate

Stax: Best For High-Volume Businesses

Total Rating 4.0
Fees & Rates3.6

Products & Services5.0

Contract4.6

Sales & Advertising Transparency3.5

Customer Service4.0

User Reviews3.6



Exclusive Promo: Get your first month free with Stax. Learn More

Pros

  • Affordable pricing for higher-volume businesses
  • Next-day funding offered as standard
  • No long-term contract

Cons

  • Monthly fees make it expensive for low-volume businesses
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

Why We Chose Stax For High-Volume Businesses

Stax offers businesses a true dedicated merchant account with speedy approval, and while approvals aren't quite as fast as a third-party processor (Stax typically takes about 24-48 hours to approve accounts from the time of application), Stax provides more account stability than you will get from PSP like Square. Additionally, Stax's membership pricing model is simple to understand and offers considerable savings for high-volume businesses processing at least $15,000/month.

In addition to its quick, easy approval process and simple, affordable processing rates, yet another thing to like about Stax is that it's equally suitable for eCommerce businesses as it is for brick-and-mortar stores. Stax also offers strong features for mobile, B2B, and subscription-based businesses.

Stax Features

Stax offers a holistic set of merchant services features, including:

  • Integrated payment processing platform
  • Variety of countertop terminals
  • Mobile processing app
  • Shopping cart software
  • ACH processing
  • Developer tools
  • Invoicing tools
  • QR code and text payments
  • Quickbooks integration

Stax Pricing

Stax’s monthly fees are as follows:

  • $99/month for businesses processing up to $150,000 year ($12,500/month)
  • $139/month for businesses processing $150,000-$250,000/year (up to $20,833/month)
  • $199+/month for businesses processing more than $250,000/year

The way Stax’s membership-based processing fees work is businesses are charged a few cents on every sale, plus interchange fees (unlike interchange plus, pricing, where you are also charged a percentage of each sale).

Specifically, Stax charges $0.08 – $0.15 + interchange on each transaction, depending on whether you accept the payment in-person, manually, or online.

What To Watch Out For

Payment processors with a memberhip pricing model typically charge a monthly membership fee in lieu of myriad merchant account fees such as PCI compliance fees, batch fees, gateway fees, and others. However, some Stax customers have complained that they were charged hidden monthly fees in addition to their membership fee.

To avoid unexpected fees, be sure to confirm exactly what fees you’ll be charged before signing your merchant agreement.

Stax Is Ideal For ...

  • Low-risk, high-volume businesses

Get Started With Stax

Read our in-depth review

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Wave: Best For Independent Contractors

Total Rating 3.9
Pricing4.4

Ease Of Use4.2

Features3.0

Customer Service4.3

User Reviews3.4

Accounting Method

Accrual & Cash Basis

Pricing

$0 - $16/month

Business Size

Freelancers & small businesses with unlimited users

Pros

  • Basic features are free
  • Useful features for independent contractors
  • Good for contractors who get paid via invoice

Cons

  • Not suitable for large businesses
  • Limited payments features

Why We Chose Wave Payments For Independent Contractors

Wave offers flat-rate credit card processing as an integrated feature for its suite of accounting tools. Wave Payments will appeal to a relatively narrow market segment, specifically businesses using Wave accounting software, a great product for independent contractors whose customers pay with digital invoices.

While not as fully featured as many other services offering flat-rate credit card transactions, Wave Payments does offer fast approvals and instant payouts. You can withdraw any amount so long as it's greater than $25 at the cost of 1% of the amount transferred, and funds are usually available within 30 minutes.

Wave Payments Features

Wave Payments offers some basic core features with its free processing services:

  • Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express processing
  • ACH payments
  • Integrated into Wave accounting platform

Wave Pricing

Wave offers simple, straightforward pricing with no monthly fee (unless you want the $16/month Pro plan with added features). Processing fees are as follows:

  • Visa, Mastercard, & Discover Transactions: 2.9% + $0.30
  • American Express: 3.4% + $0.30
  • ACH: 1% (minimum $1)

What To Watch Out For

Wave Payments is a PSP, and there have been some reports of account freezes and withheld funds among businesses that Wave deemed “high-risk” following their approval.

Wave Is Ideal For ...

  • Independent contractors who also need accounting software

Get Started With Wave

Read our in-depth review

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Square: Best For New Businesses

Total Rating 4.8
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.7

Contract4.3

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.

Pros

  • No monthly fees
  • Massive feature set
  • Offers next-day, same-day, and instant deposits

Cons

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

Why We Chose Square For New Businesses

Square is a third-party processor and comprehensive payment ecosystem that allows new businesses to accept credit card payments without a merchant account. Though established businesses can also use Square, Square has a basic and intuitive setup designed to quickly onboard new businesses, including freelancers and budding entrepreneurs who have never accepted credit card payments before.

Merchants can set up a Square account online and start accepting payments within minutes. Immediately, you can use Square's virtual terminal to take credit card payments online or use Tap to Pay to accept in-person contactless payments with just your iPhone (you can also order Square POS hardware through the mail, though that will take a little longer).

Square Features

Square’s massive feature set includes the following merchant account features for accepting credit cards:

  • Aggregated account for credit and debit card processing
  • Mobile card reader (magstripe-only) included free with an account
  • Tap to Pay with iPhone
  • EMV and NFC-capable card readers are available
  • Proprietary POS hardware available
  • ACH processing included with every account
  • Free Square Online Store to let customers place orders online
  • Free invoicing feature lets you send customers invoices they can pay via credit card online

Square Pricing

Here are the need-to-knows about Square’s pricing:

  • No setup or application fees
  • $0/month for Square Free account ($29+/month for Square Plus accounts)
  • 2.6% + $0.10/card-present transaction
  • 2.9% + $0.30/online transaction
  • 3.5% + $0.15/manually keyed-in transaction
  • 2.9% + $0.30/invoice paid via credit or debit card
  • 3.5% + $0.15/invoice paid via card on file
  • 1%/ACH transaction (minimum $1 charge)

What To Watch Out For

Square is a third-party payment processor and as such, you will not receive the same level of service as you would with a regular merchant account. Some businesses experience unexpected funding holds and even sudden account terminations with Square. Learn more about Square vs. a merchant account.

Square Is Ideal For ...

  • Smaller, newer, low-risk businesses

Get Started With Square

Read our in-depth review

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Stripe Payments: Best For eCommerce Businesses

Stripe Payments

Total Rating 4.7
Fees & Rates4.7

Products & Services4.5

Contract5.0

Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.5

User Reviews4.1



Pros

  • No monthly fees
  • Massive feature set
  • Offers instant deposits

Cons

  • No ready-to-use POS system for in-person sales
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

Why We Chose Stripe For eCommerce Businesses

Stripe is a payment gateway 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. As with Square, you can get set up your Stripe account to start accepting payments online in minutes.

While account activation is fast, Stripe does do some risk mitigation upfront. New accounts should know there's a seven-day delay in receiving your first deposit---or longer for high-risk merchants.

Stripe Features

Stripe has a reputation for quickly iterating on features and for being one of the more inventive payment processors in the business. Merchant account features include:

  • Stripe Payments integrated payment platform
  • Stripe Virtual Terminal
  • Stripe Radar anti-fraud protection
  • Stripe Terminal API & card readers for card-present transactions
  • ACH processing included with every account
  • Extensive library of APIs and developer tools
  • Broad support for international payments and local payment methods
  • Many ancillary services for establishing and running your business

Stripe Pricing

Stripe pricing is as follows:

  • No monthly fee (for basic account)
  • 2.9% + $0.30/online credit/debit transaction (+0.5% for manually entered transactions)
  • 2.7% + $0.05/in-person credit/debit transaction via Stripe Terminal
  • +1.5% for international cards
  • +1% for currency conversion (if required)
  • 0.8%/ACH direct debit transaction ($5.00 maximum)
  • 1.2%/ACH direct debit transaction (two-day settlement)
  • $1.00/ACH credit payment
  • $1.50/instant bank account validation
  • Additional fees for optional add-on services

Please refer to our full breakdown of Stripe’s pricing for additional details.

What To Watch Out For

Stripe is a third-party processor similar to Square. Some merchants have complained of the same problems that plague other PSPs—account holds, terminations, and impersonal customer service.

Stripe Is Ideal For ...

  • Low-risk eCommerce businesses

Get Started With Stripe Payments

Read our in-depth review

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Helcim: Best For Growing Businesses

Total Rating 4.9
Fees & Rates5.0

Products & Services4.4

Contract5.0

Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.8

User Reviews4.5



Pros

  • Processing costs decrease with business growth
  • Accepts international payments
  • Month-to-month pricing

Cons

  • Not suitable for high-risk industries
  • Expensive for very low-volume businesses

Why We Chose Helcim For Growing Businesses

Growing businesses looking for fast approval should consider Helcim, a provider with an interchange-plus pricing model that offers savings for mid-volume and higher-volume merchants (processing ~$10K+/month). Because there is no monthly fee or penalty for low volume, Helcim can also work for fast-growing new businesses that haven't yet hit that processing threshold.

Helcim is also one of the few traditional merchant account providers offering approvals within 24 hours or less.

If you also need to quickly transfer funds to your bank account, Helcim offers next-business-day deposits as standard for $10/month, which is different from many other processors.

Helcim Features

Helcim accounts come with a full range of essential payment processing features, including the following:

  • Full-service merchant account
  • Proprietary Helcim Card Reader for in-person payments
  • Helcim Payments app for mobile processing
  • Virtual terminal included with each account
  • Helcim POS software (requires tablet, laptop, or desktop computer)
  • Access to Helcim API for customized credit card payments

Helcim Pricing

Helcim pricing is as follows:

  • Interchange + 0.40% + $0.08/card-present transaction (volume discounts available)
  • Interchange + 0.50% + $0.25/card-not-present transaction (volume discounts available)
  • Helcim Card Reader — $109/unit
  • No monthly or annual account fees
  • No PCI compliance fees
  • No monthly minimum

What To Watch Out For

Helcim is a great processor with month-to-month pricing—but they generally do not accept high-risk businesses. Helcim can also be expensive for very low-volume businesses.

Helcim Is Ideal For ...

  • Low-risk, mid- to high-volume businesses

Get Started With Helcim

Read our in-depth review

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PayPal: Best For Instant Access To Funds

Total Rating 4.2
Fees & Rates3.8

Products & Services4.2

Contract4.6

Sales & Advertising Transparency5.0

Customer Service4.1

User Reviews3.3



Pros

  • Quick setup and approval
  • No monthly fees
  • Massive feature set

Cons

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

Why We Chose PayPal For Instant Access To Funds

PayPal is a breeze to get started with, allowing you to apply for an account and start accepting payments right away---either online or in person using the PayPal Zettle app. PayPal is a bit more expensive than its third-party processor competitors, but this processor offers near-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 a PayPal debit card, you can spend your money anywhere that accepts Mastercard. You can also initiate an instant deposit to your bank account for 1% of the transfer amount.

PayPal Features

PayPal’s feature set is exhaustive and includes:

  • Aggregated account for credit and debit card processing
  • Dynamic currency conversion
  • Recurring billing and subscriptions
  • ACH processing
  • Invoicing
  • Native POS and card reader
  • eCommerce integrations
  • Mass payouts
  • Developer tools and APIs

PayPal Pricing

PayPal’s transaction fees have grown rather complex as of late. Check out our complete guide to PayPal merchant fees to understand what it will cost you to use it.

What To Watch Out For

As with other third-party processors, merchants should avoid any behavior that could set off PayPal’s sensitive fraud-detection system (entering keyed-in payments, straying from your processing limit, etc.) so your account won’t get flagged/frozen.

PayPal Is Ideal For ...

  • Low-risk, low-volume businesses

Get Started With PayPal

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:

15

Years reviewing payment processors

100+

Providers evaluated

25

Attributes and features assessed per vendor

40+

Years combined experience


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

Account approval and funding are not the same thing.

Being instantly approved/signed up to take payment card sales does not mean you will instantly receive the money from your first credit/debit card sale.

Getting the money from your payment card sales mostly involves the mechanics of bank-to-bank money transfers, though your risk profile may also be taken into account when it comes to how long it will take you to receive the funds from your first sale. Some processors can provide instant or same-day funding for an additional fee, such as 1% of the amount being transferred, though next-day funding is more common.

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, such as Square, Stripe, or PayPal. Just be aware that if you go this route, 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.

Learn more about instant merchant accounts for high-risk businesses.

FAQs: 7 Instant Merchant Accounts With Same-Day Approval

What credit score is needed for a merchant account?

Minimum credit scores needed for a merchant account vary by processor, but having a low credit score can land a merchant in the high-risk category, which can mean higher processing fees. The good news is that getting a bad credit merchant account is possible.

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Shannon Vissers

Shannon Vissers

Lead Staff Writer at Merchant Maverick
Shannon has been writing for Merchant Maverick about small business software and financing since 2015. She started writing professionally about business topics in 2005. Shannon has been featured in the Washington Post, Reader's Digest, US News, MSN, Yahoo Finance, Business Insider, and other publications. She has a bachelor's degree in English from San Diego State University and currently resides in San Diego, California.
Shannon Vissers
View Shannon Vissers's professional experience on LinkedIn.