The 5 Best Small Business Credit Card Processing Companies

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Paying with credit card

Unless your small business consists of running a lemonade stand on the corner of your street, sooner or later you’re going to need to accept credit and debit cards as payment to compete in today’s marketplace — which, for better or worse, means that you now are forced to wade into the deep and murky waters inhabited by credit card processing companies. Customers are increasingly relying on their “plastic” to make purchases, and are consequently carrying less cash. eCommerce – something that barely existed twenty years ago – is now a serious competitor to physical retail stores. The more recent advent of smartphones, and the mobile payment features that are being added to them, promise to take this evolution even further by allowing consumers to leave both their plastic and their cash at home.

While we’re still a long way away from a truly cashless society, the options for processing credit and debit card payments have increased dramatically in just the past few years, and the setup costs have come down to the point that even the smallest business can afford to offer this option. While accepting credit cards has traditionally required a hefty investment in card-reading terminals and expensive point-of-sale (POS) systems, today’s credit card processors leverage smartphone technology and cloud-based data storage to provide the same capabilities in a lighter, more affordable, and more mobile package.

In 2009, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey introduced Square (see our review), the first service that allowed merchants to accept credit card payments using their smartphones. Square included a card reader which, when attached to a smartphone, could read the magnetic strip information on a customer’s credit or debit card. The Square app provided an interface between the card reader and the merchant’s account for tracking transactions. While Square is still the leading player in the field of mobile payments today, it also has a lot more competition. Even just in the phone-based hardware department, you can see the current diversity of good-quality option in our post covering the best credit card readers for small businesses. (Spoiler alert: Square is still a dominant force and the best option for most merchants.) But today’s small business owner has a large variety of providers to choose from. While all offer the same core function (i.e., credit and debit card processing), each provider also offers unique features and options that differentiate it from its’ competitors.

So, which one is right for you? The general answer is going to depend on the nature and size of your business. Do you operate out of a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment? Do you sell online, either exclusively or in conjunction with a physical business location? Is your business a full-time occupation with a large volume of sales, or is it just a part-time side gig? Below, we’ve rounded up our top picks among the current crop of card processing services and summarized what we like (and don’t like) about each of them. We will compare some pricing information, but in order to have a real understanding of the complexities related to credit card processing costs, we highly recommend you check out our complete guide to credit card processing rates and fees. It goes into more detail than we possibly could in this post.

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Best Choice ForAll-In-One PaymentsNon-Profits, Clover POSeCommerce, Low-CosteCommerce, High-Risk, MobileMobile, Low-Cost, Canadian
Mobile POS and Other FeaturesYesYesYesYesYes
Rate Matching/ NegotiableYesYesYesYesNo
Pricing StructureSubscriptionInterchange-PlusInterchange-PlusInterchange-PlusFlat Rate
Retail Rates0.00% + $0.080.25% + $0.100.25% + $0.100.30% + $0.102.75%
Monthly Fee$99/mn$10/mn$10/mn$9.95/mn$0/mo

Whether you’re running a large retail store or just selling fresh produce out of the back of your truck at the local farmer’s market, there’s a card-processing service that’s right for you.


We like Fattmerchant (see our review) for every business type, but it really shines for ecommerce and card-not-present merchants. One of our favorite things about this company is its subscription pricing model. With this fee structure, you have a 0% mark up alongside a small per transaction fee ($0.08 – $0.15) and a larger monthly fee ($99). Don’t let that monthly fee discourage you. The truth is that the 0% mark up saves most small businesses so much money that it more than pays for the monthly fee. This is especially true for ecommerce and other card-not-present business because Fattmerchant does not charge an inflated mark up on these accounts! Just about every other merchant services provider, even our favorites, charge a lot extra for phone order and ecommerce businesses. Because you don’t pay a percentage mark up on your processing volume, you save more as you process more. This is exactly how the markup process had ought to work in our opinion.

Still not convinced that it’s worth it? Well, Fattmerchant adds even more value to your account with high-quality invoicing and billing tools, customer management, virtual terminal, POS app, inventory management, detailed reporting analytics, and more. It’s a growing platform that is constantly improving and adding new features, so the value you get from the service will only grow over time. Even now, the tools Fattmerchant offers rival the offerings of the ever-popular Square Payments service. Fattmerchant’s invoicing and billing tools are, in fact, far superior.

So whether you are a standard retail business, and online store, a phone order business, a professional service provider, or just about any other seller, we recommend Fattmerchant as a good place to start your search. It’s our top all-in-one payment processor pick because of its versatility, predictability, reliability, and value for a wide range of business types.


  • Full range of services and equipment for both storefront and eCommerce businesses
  • Great customer support
  • Transparent pricing with no undisclosed fees
  • 0% markup means that you aren’t penalized for processing more
  • High-quality payment processing tools for a wide range of merchants


  • Best value for merchants who are not very low-volume because of monthly fee

Dharma Merchant Services

Dharma (see our review) takes its name from the term dharma, which is found in several Eastern religions. While it can mean many different things and there is no direct translation, it roughly refers to a “right way of living.” The folks at Dharma take this seriously, offering a full spectrum of credit card processing services for a fair and reasonable price. Their fee structures are transparent – interchange-plus pricing is used exclusively, and there are no annual fees. They also don’t charge account setup fees, early termination fees, or have a monthly minimum. Fees that they do charge (including PCI compliance fees) are fully disclosed on their website. Dharma is unique in the world of credit card processing companies in that they donate a significant percentage of their profits to charity, living up to their motto “Commerce with Compassion.” Related to that, Dharma provides discounted rates for non-profit businesses. Our guide for nonprofit payment processing discounts has more information for charities looking to save money on credit card acceptance.

In addition to merchant accounts, Dharma offers a variety of wired and wireless countertop terminals for in-store use. Their terminals are EMV-compliant and also support Apple Pay. Dharma offers mobile swiping through Authorize.Net, and also uses ShopKeep, one of our favorite iPad-based POS systems. Authorize.Net can also support online and mobile payments, and integrates with QuickBooks.

Dharma easily offers the fairest and most transparent fee structure in the industry. In addition to a flat $10.00 per month fee for storefront and eCommerce accounts, transactions are billed according to an interchange-plus cost model. In-person transactions are charged 0.25% above cost, plus $0.10 per transaction, while eCommerce transactions are charged 0.35% above cost, plus $0.10 per transaction. For restaurants, Dharma offers a special discounted rate of 0.20% above cost, plus $0.07 per transaction. Other additional fees (such as PCI compliance fees) are clearly spelled out on Dharma’s website.

While there is no minimum monthly volume requirement, Dharma openly acknowledges that their full-service merchant accounts don’t make financial sense for low-volume businesses processing less than $10,000 per month in transactions. If your business falls into that category, they recommend either PayPal or Square.


  • Full range of services and equipment for both storefront and eCommerce businesses
  • Great customer support
  • Transparent pricing with no undisclosed fees
  • Discounted rates for non-profits


  • Not a good fit for low-volume (less than $10,000 per month) accounts

For more information about Dharma, see our complete review.



Another one of our favorite providers, CDGcommerce (see our review) has been around since 1998 – long enough to have figured out what it takes to run a successful processing company and keep customers happy. CDG stands out from the crowd by not charging you any of the nickel-and-dime hidden fees that most other companies in the industry are notorious for. Their merchant accounts come with no account setup fees, no PCI compliance fees, no monthly minimums, and month-to-month billing with no early termination fees.

A basic merchant account with CDGcommerce costs only $10.00 per month, and includes free use of their proprietary Quantum payment gateway/virtual terminal (a free Authorize.Net gateway is also available as an alternative). Depending on your needs, you can add additional features like their cdg360 security package, which provides $100,000 in data breach/theft protection, PCI-DSS vulnerability scans, customized security alerts, and a number of other features – all for $15.00 per month.

While we generally highly recommend buying your credit card terminals outright instead of leasing them, we’ve made an exception for CDG. Rather than lock you into an expensive, four-year lease, CDG only charges $79 per year for terminal insurance. Wireless terminals will also require a $20.00 per month data plan and an additional $0.05 per transaction processing fee. This is a much better deal than a standard terminal lease, which can end up costing you thousands of dollars over the full term of the lease.

CDG also offers very competitive processing rates. The company currently offers two types of processing rate plans: simplified (i.e., flat-rate) pricing that’s available to any merchant regardless of monthly processing volume or processing history, and advanced pricing that’s only available to established merchants. All advanced pricing is interchange-plus and disclosed on their website. Here are their current rates:

Simplified Pricing

  • Online: 1.95% + $0.30 per transaction (2.95% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction)
  • Retail (swipe): 1.70% + $0.25 per transaction (2.90% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction)
  • Retail (POS): 1.70% + $0.25 per transaction (2.90% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction)
  • Mobile: 1.70% + $0.25 per transaction (2.90% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction)

Advanced Pricing

  • Online: interchange + 0.30% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Retail (swipe): interchange + 0.30% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Retail (POS): interchange + 0.30% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Mobile: interchange + 0.30% + $0.10 per transaction

Note that the advanced pricing rates quoted above are based on a monthly processing volume of between $10,000 and $25,000. Discounted rates are available for higher volumes.

With features like this, CDGcommerce hasn’t generated too many complaints from dissatisfied customers over the years. They are, however, the only company we’ve seen where the CEO has personally stepped in to address the few complaints that have occasionally tricked in. Thanks to CDG’s excellent customer service and support, however, he hasn’t had to do this very often.


  • Interchange-plus pricing for established merchants
  • Month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts or early termination fees
  • Free virtual terminal/payment gateway
  • Excellent customer service


  • Only available to US-based merchants

For a more detailed look at CDGcommerce, be sure to check out our full review.


“Trust, transparency, and fair pricing” is Helcim’s motto, and they live up to it by providing the most up-front, clearly-explained pricing structure of any of the credit card processing companies we’ve reviewed here. A Canadian company, they also have an office in Seattle and provide full support to US-based merchants.

Helcim (see our review) offers a full gamut of services and equipment for both storefront and online businesses. Their website features a variety of EMV-compliant and NFC-capable credit card terminals, starting at $199. Unlike many of their competitors, they encourage US customers to buy their terminals outright, rather than renting or leasing. Helcim will reprogram your current equipment for free if it’s up-to-date. If your current terminal isn’t compatible, they’ll exchange it for a refurbished terminal for $75.00. Unfortunately, Canadian EMV-compliant terminals are not designed to be transferred or resold, so Canadian customers will have to use the rental option or buy a new machine. Renting on a month-to-month basis (which is not the same as leasing) is usually the best option for Canadian merchants. Our comprehensive post on the best and worst Canadian credit card payment processing companies will give you a complete rundown of your options. Helcim will be the best bet for most Canadian businesses.

Helcim supports eCommerce through their Helcim Virtual Terminal, a 100% web-based solution that processes both online and manual payments on your computer, generating receipts that can be emailed or printed. This includes a web-based virtual terminal, payment gateway with API, support for recurring billing, billing information vault storage, e-invoicing, shopping cart integration, and hosted payment pages. No additional hardware or software is required. Best of all, you get all these features for a flat $25.00 per month fee.

Mobile payments are supported through the free VirtualMerchant Mobile app for iOS and Android. To use the app, you’ll need the Helcim Mobile Card Reader, which supports magstripe swiping and plugs into your smartphone’s audio jack. Readers cost $30 each. There’s also a flat $12.00 monthly fee for an unlimited number of users.

Helcim uses a Cost+ pricing model, which includes a monthly subscription fee and interchange-plus pricing for each transaction. Retail users pay $12.00 per month, while eCommerce users pay $25.00 per month for the Helcim Virtual Terminal service. Support for mobile payments requires a $12.00 per month subscription. In addition to the per-transaction interchange rate charged by the issuing credit card company, Helcim charges 0.25% + $0.08 per transaction over the interchange rate for retail and mobile payments. Online transactions are charged 0.45% + $0.25 per transaction, plus the applicable interchange rate. Helcim doesn’t charge fees for account setup or termination, and PCI compliance is included in the monthly subscription fee. Helcim’s website includes a detailed explanation of their fees, plus some truly eye-opening disclosures about how their bank-owned competitors are ripping you off with hidden fees and long-term contracts.

Helcim supports e-check payments (also known as ACH or EFT processing) for an extra $25 per month and $0.25 per transaction. If you’re curious about the pros and cons of accepting e-check payments, take a look at our guide to ACH payment processing.


  • Extremely transparent fee structure
  • Excellent customer support
  • Very competitive rates for businesses processing over $2,500 per month


  • Not suited for very small businesses processing less than $2,500 per month
  • eCommerce rates are higher for Canadian customers

For more information, see our complete review here.

Payline Data

Payline Data (see our review) covers all the bases for small business transactions, from mobile and online payments to in-store sales. They offer easy-to-understand pricing plans that are very affordable, especially for low-volume sellers. However, the company’s website fully explains all of the extra features and their associated costs, so you know up front what you’ll have to pay. Payline also stands out from the crowd for their corporate philosophy of charitable giving and support for non-profits through discounted pricing and their “Commercial Co-Venture” program.

The company offers four standardized pricing plans, all of which feature interchange-plus pricing and come with free hardware and software to get you up and running in no time. A standard feature of all four plans is a virtual terminal that allows you to process credit card transactions from any Internet-connected computer. Transactions can be keyed in manually or swiped with an optional USB card reader. All plans also feature month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts and no early termination fees. These are great terms, but be aware that these plans also come with a $25.00 monthly minimum.

For brand-new or mobile businesses, Payline Start is the most affordable plan. There’s no monthly fee, and processing rates are set at interchange + 0.50% + $0.20 per transaction. In addition to the free virtual terminal, you’ll also receive a free Ingenico GX5 card reader and the Payline Mobile app to go with it.

If you’re looking for value, but want better equipment and lower rates, the Payline Surge plan might be right for you. This plan includes the same features as the Payline Start plan, but upgrades your free card reader to an EMV-compliant Ingenico RP457C model. The plan costs $9.95 per month, and rates are set at interchange + 0.30% + $0.20 per transaction. Mobile businesses and small to medium retailers will benefit the most from this plan.

Payline also offers accounts to for high-risk merchants through partner banks that specialize in difficult to place accounts. Our short list of the best high-risk payment processing options can help you make some comparisons if you’re having trouble getting approved for a merchant account.

For larger retailers, the Payline Shop plan offers more bells and whistles. Instead of having to rely on a mobile processing solution, it includes a free countertop credit card terminal (either the Verifone Vx520 or the Ingenico iCT220, both of which are EMV-compliant and support NFC payments). You’ll also get free access to the Payline Gateway, the company’s proprietary payment gateway. This plan is a good fit for medium-sized retail businesses and omnichannel merchants who have both a retail and online presence. For larger businesses, Enterprise pricing is also available. Payline Data doesn’t disclose details about this pricing option on their website, so you can expect that processing rates, fees, and included equipment will all be negotiable. Expect to pay a significantly higher monthly fee in exchange for discounted processing rates.

If you’re in the eCommerce sector, the Payline Connect pricing plan is designed for you. You’ll receive both the virtual terminal software and free access to the Payline Gateway. There’s no monthly fee, and processing rates are interchange + 0.65% + $0.20 per transaction. This is a great plan for online merchants, especially those who are just starting out and want to keep their fees as low as possible, and it can even compete with Stripe for many businesses. You can read more about your options for ecommerce payments in our in-depth post on the best online credit card processing companies.


  • Fair pricing with easy-to-understand contracts and no hidden fees
  • Excellent customer service, including phone and email support
  • Integrates with Apple Pay and other mobile wallet services
  • Month-to-month contracts with no early termination fees


  • Currently only available in the United States

For more information, see our complete review here.

BONUS: Square

Finally, there’s Square (see our review), the oldest and possibly most well-known company in the mobile payments industry. It’s important to note that although Square will allow you to process credit card transactions and run an eCommerce website, it doesn’t provide a full-service merchant account. Because of this, you won’t get a unique Merchant ID number or the kind of 24/7 customer service that typically comes with one. While it’s still an excellent choice for startups and smaller businesses, it’s a little too limited for larger, more established merchants.

Square was the first company to offer smartphone-based mobile payments when it launched back in 2009. Today, it has plenty of competitors, but its lack of a monthly fee, reasonable transaction fees, and robust features still make it a great choice, especially for low-volume sellers. Square replaces the traditional credit card terminal with a simple dongle that attaches to your smartphone or tablet and works in conjunction with Square’s mobile app to swipe credit or debit cards. Square supports retail locations, eCommerce, and (naturally) mobile payments.

The heart of Square’s system is its family of credit card readers. Square’s original card reader was free, but it could only read magstripe cards. While it’s still available, most users will want to get the new, EMV-compliant reader. Like the original reader, it plugs into the headphone jack of your smartphone and works in conjunction with the Square app. At only $29.00, it’s one of the more affordable EMV card readers available. Square also offers an upgraded card reader that reads EMV-enabled cards and supports uses NFC technology to support contactless payments such as Apple Pay, Android Pay, and others. The Square contactless reader communicates with your smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth and costs $49.00. While Square is a force to be reckoned with in the mobile payments industry, you should take a look at our mobile payment processing comparison chart to weigh your options before making any decisions.

Square account holders can also access the Square Dashboard, available online or via the Square Dashboard mobile app. This free service features a host of powerful features to manage your business, including inventory management, invoicing, and detailed analytical data.

Square’s simple pricing structure is one of its most attractive features. Every credit or debit card swipe incurs a 2.75% fee. If the transaction has to be entered manually, the fee increases to 3.5%, plus $0.15 per transaction. Funds are deposited into the user’s account within 1-2 business days, unless fraud is suspected.

Unfortunately, one of the downsides to using Square is that fraud frequently is suspected, at a rate that’s well above the industry average. This often results in sudden, unexplained account terminations and account holds of up to 180 days. There are multiple reasons for this, but one major factor is that Square accounts are aggregated together, rather than each account having its own unique Merchant ID number. To make matters worse, Square’s customer service hasn’t always been the best. Originally lacking any kind of phone support, Square has gradually improved in response to user complaints, and now offers both email and phone support. Their online knowledge base for self-help is also excellent.

To use Square, you’ll need to set up a free Square account, get a compatible card reader, and install the Square Point of Sale app. The mobile app requires either an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running iOS 9.0 or higher, or an Android phone or tablet.

Many businesses considering Square are looking for the least expensive option available. If that describes you, take a look at our guide to the cheapest credit card processing services. Square is often — but not always — the best option. Note that some low-cost options are too good to be true, as we outline in our in-depth look at so-called free credit card payment processing companies.


  • No monthly account fees
  • Free and low-cost card readers available
  • Free access to powerful business management and analytical tools via the web or smartphone app
  • No long-term contracts or early termination fees


  • No unique Merchant ID number for merchant accounts
  • Frequent account holds and account terminations

For more information, see our complete review here.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re trying to juggle multiple retail locations or just selling products online, one of the five services we’ve highlighted here should be a “best match” for your business. While each service has its own standout features, they all offer competitive rates, transparent pricing, and an easy, low-cost setup. Square is a solid contender for very small, low volume businesses, while Payline, Helcim, and CDGcommerce are better for larger retail establishments. If you’re running a non-profit, Dharma may very well be your best choice. In any event, all of these services will, in most cases, provide you with a better, more affordable service than you’re likely to get with any of the traditional, bank-owned credit card processing companies. You can also compare our top processors (except for Square) head-to-head using our Merchant Account Comparison Chart.

Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl

Frank Kehl is an independent writer, editor, and blogger with an endless fascination for technology and gadgets. After a long and enjoyable career of traveling around the world as an Air Force navigator, he’s comfortably settled down in the wine country of California’s Central Coast. He enjoys reading, photography, hiking, and numerous other outdoor pursuits.
Frank Kehl
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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.

    Robert Gerbino

    Very thorough and informative review. We run a family business that sells and services parts/equipment in the construction/mining industry. A current customer of ours that has done over $100k with us in 2018 wants to begin only using a Citi Commercial Card on a Virtual Credit Card program as their form of payment. We are not setup to process credit cards. The majority of our business is paid through checks or ACH. There’d be major fluctuation from $0 one month to possibly $40-50k another month. What would you suggest?

      Jessica Dinsmore

      Thanks for your question Robert.

      I’d suggest either Dharma or Helcim. Even though you don’t anticipate needing the account every month, your overall volume suggests that you can afford the low monthly account fees. It is also likely that if you start accepting credit cards, more of your business customers will want to start using them for payment as well. Hope that helps!

        Rose Rowan

        Hi Frank – excellent article. I have a client who operates a large event once a year. They have 3 locations where they sell souvenirs. Volume is about $200,000. During the rest of the year, they do web sales and non-swiped telephone orders. Would any of these systems work for them. The Square system looks very clean and training of register operators looks simple; however, you mentioned that sometimes they suspend the accounts. That wouldn’t work. What do you think? Thank You!

          Frank Kehl


          Square is a good choice, although with that kind of processing volume their flat-rate processing charges will be higher than you’d get with most full-service merchant account providers. Account suspensions usually occur if the merchant has a single, unusually high sales ticket (i.e., several thousand dollars on a single transaction). CDGcommerce would be a great choice, although you’ll definitely want to explain the seasonal processing fluctuations to them in advance.



            I enjoyed your review. We are a small counseling center and do about 10,000 -15,000
            monthly. All transactions are mostly in house with a few phone payments. What would
            you reccomend for us? We would appreciate any insight you can give us.
            Thank you!

              Jessica Dinsmore

              Hi Kathy,

              Dharma, Helcim, or CDGcommerce would all be good choices for your clinic. Best of luck!


                Hi Frank,
                Thank you for a great article. I have a small coaching business that I am in the process of growing. Currently I use my personal paypal for processing the occasional payment. I have a client who is having issues with Paypal so decided perhaps it is time to step it up. Most of my clients pay with a credit/debit card. It is not in person – I would need a virtual terminal. Currently I am processing a couple a month. Sometimes there is a month where there is none. I was considering Square or perhaps Payline Start – is there a plan you think would be better for my situation? Which plan would you suggest?

                Thank you for helping me make a little sense out of what is for me confusing!


                  Frank Kehl


                  With your processing volume, it sounds like Square would be your best choice. When your business reaches the point where you’re processing over $5000 per month, you’ll want to look into switching to a different provider who can offer you a full-service merchant account. Any of the other providers mentioned in this article would be a good choice.


                    I am so glad that I found your site. We have an established Optical store that averages around 60K-75K per month in credit card sales. The vast majority are on site. We have our own POS/Inventory system for optical stores and use Quickbooks for accounting.
                    I am looking into changing our processor but it is overwhelming.
                    What do you recommend?

                      Jessica Dinsmore

                      Hi Bill,

                      Dharma is an excellent merchant account provider and they should be able to meet all of your needs. Helcim would also be a good option. They both integrate with QB, have excellent customer service, low monthly fees, and our five-star rating. Check them out and see what you think! Best of luck to you!

                        Al Warren

                        Excellent article Frank. I operate two shoe repair shops in Oklahoma and it’s been tough finding reputable and reasonable processors over the years. I was just approached today by a company
                        named Interchange Payment Systems claiming that most of the re-processors are already using
                        their platform and that they can offer 24 hour turn-around instead of 48 hour and a rate of 1.75 percent
                        instead of 4.0. Their rep said I’d have to use one of their new chip-compliant terminals but that IPS
                        would pay for the terminal. It all sounds a little too good. Are you familiar with this company (out of
                        Phoenix, Az.) and have you heard anything good or bad about them?
                        Thanks: Al

                          Frank Kehl


                          We haven’t reviewed Interchange Payment Systems and there isn’t much information about them online. They appear to be a very new company, and they’re a sub-ISO of Defyne Payments, another processor that appears to have just started up and doesn’t have much of a public track record. While their website offers almost no useful information, they appear – despite their name – to offer a tiered pricing plan, which we recommend against. That 1.75% rate they quoted you is probably their lowest qualified rate, and most of your transactions will be either mid-qualified or non-qualified, with much higher rates.

                          As for the 24-hour turn-around time, most companies charge a significant additional monthly fee for this kind of service, so you’ll want to find out whether it’s a standard feature or an option that you’ll have to pay extra for. While you will definitely want an EMV-compliant terminal, be aware that there’s really no such thing as a “free” terminal in the processing industry. At best, the company will “loan” you a terminal for as long as you maintain a merchant account with them. If you close your account, you’ll have to return it promptly to avoid being charged an inflated price for the equipment. Other companies will charge you a higher monthly account fee to cover the “free” equipment. At a minimum, you’ll probably have to sign up for a multi-year contract (with an early termination fee) if you want a free terminal. EMV terminals are quite inexpensive these days, and most processors use the same models, so we recommend that you buy your own equipment.

                          Overall, I’d recommend that you steer clear of Interchange Payment Systems and look for a processor with a proven track record. IPS doesn’t even have a BBB profile yet, and the only feedback I could find on them was a 5-star rating on their Facebook page from one of their employees. Not very convincing. Any of the providers profiled in this article would be a better choice. Hope this helps!

                            Meagan Rivard

                            Hey Frank! We’re a small construction company that is rapidly getting off the ground. We fluctuate so much between monthly incomes, anywhere from 5K to 50+K. What payment platform would you recommend for a business that has such drastic fluctuation?

                              Jessica Dinsmore

                              Hi Meagan,

                              This is a bit tricky as providers typically set their rates according to average monthly processing volume. You definitely need a true merchant account like Helcim or CDGcommerce, but whoever you choose, I’d recommend working closely with their sales team to accommodate the fluctuating processing volume.


                                Hi Frank,

                                I have a question about Simplied Pricing onCDGCommerce section.
                                Simplified Pricing

                                Online: 95% + $0.30 per transaction (2.95% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction)
                                Retail (swipe): 70% + $0.25 per transaction (2.90% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction)
                                Retail (POS): 70% + $0.25 per transaction (2.90% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction)
                                Mobile: 70% + $0.25 per transaction (2.90% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction)

                                95% or 70%… is it 95% or 70% of the sale?

                                  Tom DeSimone

                                  Hi Jarrod,

                                  Thank you for pointing this out. A formatting glitch removed an important part of this text. It should have read “1.95% + $0.30 per transaction” and so on, not “95% + $0.30.” This percentage is taken from the sale. The text is now corrected. Thank you again for bringing this to our attention.

                                    Ryan S.

                                    Hi Frank!
                                    Cheers to you on this awesome article!

                                    Right now I’m running a retail business in Puerto Rico (Post Maria) doing about 20k/mo with all card in hand transactions.
                                    I have a big problem that I realized today.

                                    The company “Banktech” closed my account down on 3/25/18 without any notice. The reason was “I sell CBD Products”, Which was not mentioned anywhere in my contract. I’ve been running transactions since then until now 4/3/18 (1 week). They owe about $5,000.
                                    I’m trying to contact the manager and find out how the money will be released but they claim that I’m at risk of losing all of it or maybe a check will be written. The manager doesn’t seem to care enough to call back. (I hear first data owns them or something?) ***** was the name they gave me.
                                    Also when I signed up it was supposed to be a “Bundle rate of 1.78%” but every time I checked my statement the average was over 2%. Over the past few months I’m missing $217 from that too.

                                    Should I wait it out or be seeking a lawyer right away to help with this matter?
                                    I’m really worried because that money was to pay up some bills and now it’s not there.

                                    Do you have any merchants that you can recommend that work with Puerto Rico?
                                    Any advice will be much appreciated!
                                    I’ve been writing down names of companies that seem to have fair rates and plan to call first thing tomorrow morning but I cannot take it anymore.
                                    (not to mention my 1st born son who’s 12 days old crying all day! 😉

                                    Thanks in advance!
                                    -Ryan S.

                                      Jessica Dinsmore

                                      Hi Ryan,

                                      Congratulations on your bundle of joy! As you’ve discovered, selling CBD oil pushes you into a “High Risk” category, which limits your merchant account provider options, and inreases your costs. Your location further limits these options. I’d suggest Instabill, The Transaction Group or possibly Durango. Call and talk to them first- tell them what you sell and ask if they can meet your needs before applying. Best of luck to you!


                                        Hello Frank, Thanks for the informative article.
                                        I have a small retail business that currently does about $70,000 to $100,000 a month in credit /debit transactions. We own our two terminals and use Chase Paymentech. We have no problems or issues, but I suspect I’m possibly paying towards the high end in fees. What would be the best choice for us to save money and still have no issues or hassles?
                                        Thank you

                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                          Hi Gregg,

                                          Since we do not know what you are paying in fees, it’s a bit difficult to say for sure. I’d suggest you do a comparison between what you are currently paying and what you could get with Dharma or CDGcommerce. You can also compare them against each other. That said, it’s likely that you might be better off just staying with Chase.

                                            Linda Vega

                                            Hello there. I am going to start my own business in a few months. A small restaurant and I believe that that the business will have customers that carries cash and credit cards. I couldn’t tell. But I definitely will need a credit card machine. I’m expecting that business will make less that $30,000 / month. Would square be best for my business? if so, is the tip system complicated? I ask because Ive once worked for a restaurant where we had to ask the customers ” if you would like to leave a tip you would have to let us know” because we had to put it in the machine before we print out their receipt to sign. (???) I don’t know why it was like that but our boss told us that the system was like that, eventually we ended up getting different machine. But I don’t know want to run into that kind of problem. Also, is it easy to refund customers their money if there was a mistake, like putting in the amount, or customers using the same credit card for two different transactions in one day? I found these to be some problems where we had to call the customer service number.

                                              Jessica Dinsmore

                                              Hi Linda,

                                              I think Helcim (see our review) would be a better option for you at $30k/month. You’d need to add a POS software (check our top choices), which Helcim does offer, or you can find another POS that is compatible with Helcim (most are). Square (see our review) does both payment processing and POS, but at your projected sales volume, Helcim offers better stability and a lower price tag, even if you pay for a separate POS software. Tipping will be determined by the POS software you choose, but most offer tipping, in my experience.


                                                I have a new pet grooming business and my monthly sales are 15k+ (expected to grow) and we have 10-20 transactions a day. I have Intuit now but I am looking for a more affordable processing company. All transactions are in person.

                                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                                  Hi Crystal,

                                                  Cute website! Dharma or Helcim would be my recommendations. You can compare their features in our comparison chart as well. I hope that helps! Best of luck!

                                                    Alex Martinez

                                                    Hi! Where is your business at. ?


                                                      I’m a very small home based business looking to have a credit card option for my clients whom I can’t run their card thru a larger wholesaler, and have to run it thru my business. I’m looking for the best way to go I would probably run the most $500 a month, and would not use it every month only when my wholesaler can’t take the credit card. We do not physically have the card in front of us so we would have to be able to punch in numbers and information. What company would you recommend us looking at for security and for best results for our small home based business.

                                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                                        Hi Wanda,

                                                        I think this would be a job for Square! As long as you aren’t selling anything in the high-risk category, Square should be able to meet your needs here.


                                                          We are a gym doing about 25000 to 35000 a month in sales. What do you suggest for a credit card processor? Most of our sales are through memberships and products billed directly from the cc information given by the member – no terminal sales. Thanks.

                                                            Jessica Dinsmore

                                                            Hi DMPA,

                                                            I’d recommend doing a cost comparison between CDGcommerce and Payment Depot to see which one would be the better deal for your business. Hope that helps!


                                                              Good day Frank,
                                                              I have a small marine retail store and repair facility in Canada. As most business owners I am not happy with the existing POS provider that we are using. We have big swings in what we process from month to month, spring through fall amounts are all over the place. Winter (November to March) very little. I have read a number of Reviews on this site and I have a few concerns. Square sounds like it would be the way to go but with our $ swings in our busy time I’m sure we would run into issues. It seams, and please correct me if I am wrong, that a lot of the other providers are not available in Canada. Do you have any advice for us Canadians that may be to small for HELCIM. Thanks!

                                                                Frank Kehl


                                                                Helcim claims that their rates and fees are affordable for any business processing over $1500 per month. You might want to consider your average processing volume over the entire year to see if this would work for you. Seasonal downtime is also available, but you wouldn’t be able to use your account during the slow months when the account is down. While Helcim does charge a monthly account fee, it’s low enough to be affordable if you still need to process transactions year-round.

                                                                  olya Caldwell

                                                                  We are dental office doing $20000.00-$30000.00 a month in credit card sales. Which merchant you recommend we use? Thank you!

                                                                    Frank Kehl


                                                                    Your processing volume is too high for Square’s fixed pricing to be economical. However, any of the other providers reviewed in this article would be a great choice. You’ll want to compare the rates and fees charged by each provider to determine which one offers the best deal for your business.

                                                                      Chris DeLuca

                                                                      Appreciate the thorough research. I’m an owner of a SoCal retail bakery that does about $35k/month in shop business and another $15k/month in special order business (over the phone, unfortunately, which results in higher processing charges for card not present). Currently with a flat rate provider but your articles lead me to think we are too big in terms of sales and transaction volume for that kind of platform. Based on your reporting, Helcim and Dharma seem better suited for us, unless I am looking at this incorrectly? Thanks.

                                                                        Frank Kehl


                                                                        You are correct. Either Helcim or Dharma would be a much better choice for you, thanks to interchange-plus pricing.



                                                                          We are from Socal as well. We use a company called VT Clearent which was set up by a company called Fusion. Might be worth looking into as we do 80+k a month in revenue and it is the cheapest, fastest cc processor we have found.


                                                                            We have a large medical practice with multiple locations. Our transactions range from $30,000 to 60,000 per week. We currently use a credit card reader through our bank. We have a budget crisis and need to cut cost. I don’t want to keep having to buy new credit card machines every time we change banks. What would you recommend.

                                                                              Frank Kehl


                                                                              If your current terminals are EMV-compliant, you shouldn’t have to buy new ones if you change merchant account providers. Most providers will re-program your existing terminals as long as the terminal is compatible with their system. Costs for re-programming range from free to around $100 per terminal. A good terminal to consider if you have to buy new ones is the Verifone Vx520. It’s EMV-compatible and can be purchased online for less than $150.

                                                                                Kathy Barber

                                                                                This type of thing always leaves me so confused. I’m currently looking to change my credit card company due to all of the strange fee’s I’m being charged. I have a small business in MA in which I do anywhere from $1500 to $10,000 a month depending on the time of year. I just can’t find the best credit card company for my business, do you have any suggestions?

                                                                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                  Hi Kathy,

                                                                                  I think Square is a safe bet for your fluctuating sales volume, and they offer no monthly fee. You can also read our review of Square for more detailed info.


                                                                                    Very helpful article, Frank. Thanks.
                                                                                    I have a meal delivery and take-away service. I take many orders over the phone which 1. makes customers a bit nervous giving cc info over the phone, 2. opens opportunities for transcription errors and 3. is the highest risk cc and therefore cost. Are there ways to make these transactions smoother, more secure and less costly?
                                                                                    Thank you.

                                                                                      Frank Kehl


                                                                                      The easiest step you could take would be to have your customers come in to physically swipe or dip their cards, although this might not be as convenient or practical in many cases. You would get lower card-present rates, eliminate transcription errors, and reduce your risk of card-not-present fraud. Alternatively, if you have a website for your business, you could integrate PayPal or Stripe and allow your customers to pay online.

                                                                                        Sandi Pratt

                                                                                        Square sounds good for my massage therapy business but I’m curious about its unexplained contract cancellations. Does Square just randomly cancel contracts with no notice, justification or explanation?

                                                                                          Frank Kehl


                                                                                          Like any other provider, Square has its own risk management protocols and procedures. These aren’t publicly disclosed, but from the volume of reported account terminations we’ve seen, they’re obviously more conservative than a typical merchant account provider. A single, unusually high-ticket transaction often seems to be the culprit. Check out our article How to Avoid Merchant Account Holds, Freezes, and Terminations for more information on protecting your account.

                                                                                            J Stephens

                                                                                            Great article! I have a 2 part question. First: I have a health and wellness business as a sole proprietor that I have built over many years, incorporating massage, aromatherapy, guided meditation and spiritual based practices for my clients. In 2015 I signed up for Square and began to take credit cards for the first time. I will add that my services were specifically not of an adult nature and my website clearly stated that I was not engaging in escort services. The business fluctuated and some months I would earn in the several thousands and other months it would be in the hundreds. My spouse also owns a company and in late 2016, my spouse booked a number of appointments with me for clients and for self. We have always traditionally charged each other for any services rendered through our respective businesses. At the time my spouse was also renting space in my work location for their business. So a number of charges were put through on my spouse’s Credit card. All charges were legitimate and for services rendered and relevant business expenses (such as the rent).

                                                                                            In early 2017, square contacted me to inform me that I had been engaging in prohibited activities and therefore account was closed and I was banned from using those payment processing services. They refused to discuss the matter with me or to even enlighten me as to what exactly I had done wrong. In my mind, I had engaged in legit business transactions and activities, and every single business expense and profit was detailed on both my tax return and my spouse’s tax return. Every dime was traceable and accounted for with the IRS, and there was no money laundering or prohibited business activities from a legal perspective. I was so distraught by Square’s treatment of the situation and not even allowing me the opportunity to answer to whatever they deemed a violation. In our courts we are entitled to due process but in the Court of Square, they are judge, jury and hangman! I was SO soured on the entire thing so badly, and was SO embarrassed to admit to my clients that I had been shut down for credit card processing that I abandoned my business that I had built up for over 20 years. To this day I don’t know if it was due to the nature of my business, or the fact that I charged my spouse for the sessions they purchased that got me shut down by Square. Or if it was something else entirely.

                                                                                            Which brings me to the second part: I remained unemployed and became a full dependent of my spouse though 2017 and in early 2018, I was asked by someone I knew to provide personal assistant type work for her and some of her colleagues that also needed temp personal assistant help periocally. In the past these clients had all used their credit cards (both personal and business) to pay for personal assistant work, which ranges from office help, filing, typing, messenger and delivery, prepping\help for events and meetings, event planning and driving. The hourly rates vary depending on the skill level needed and the resources involved (gas, mileage etc). I found that I quite enjoyed the work and quickly had 3 new clients. But they required me to be able to take credit cards for payment of my services. Because it was a completely new and unrelated business to my health and wellness failed business, I proceeded to see if I was eligible for a new Square accountfor this business. This time I told my spouse that even though it had been perfectly legal in the past to hire me for the services I rendered, that I was not willing to risk another cancellation. And that my spouse would have to hire elsewhere if using a credit card to pay for such services.

                                                                                            My new Square account was opened with no problem and I thought perhaps I had been forgiven since I had not provided any of the high risk or banned services! I’ve now processed about 5 small payments from my new clients, all under $130, and all completely traceable and fully legit and legal. So imagine my surprise when once again today I log into my email to discover that I’ve once again participated in “prohibited activities”. I log into Square to attempt to speak to someone about it and of course, there is no recourse and zero support! And this time I’ve done nothing wrong! In fact, I have been charging a lower rate than I’m with solely so that no red flags mess up my credit card processing again!

                                                                                            And yet, here it happens. I’m cut off, no help or explanations or even a chance to plead my case. They have kept my money from my “questionable paid activities”; A whopping $48 bucks for helping my client get ready for a live tv appearance and running a couple hours of errands for her! Sounds quite sinister doesn’t it? Ugh!

                                                                                            So my questions are: 1) any idea what the heck caused these problems and are they potentially related to each other? 2) if Square has unfairly place me on a banned list, what recourse do I have legally since I did not engage in any business transactions that can’t be fully explained and validated? 3) I’ve sent a strongly worded letter to Square informing them specifically about each transaction with my new account and asking to submit proof and affidavits from my clients that I have been engaged in legit business activities, but if they do not agree to hear my case or reinstate my account, where do I turn to next when I’m not needing volume cc processing, and need to keep cc processing expenses down. I’ve looked into Stripe, but they are requiring a website, and my new business doesn’t have one yet, and doesn’t necessarily need one at this juncture.

                                                                                            Thank you!

                                                                                              Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                              Hi J,

                                                                                              You aren’t alone in your frustration when it comes to Square account terminations, as mentioned in our Square review, as well as this article you are commenting on. Unfortunately we can’t say for sure 1. Why they cancelled your account, or 2. If you have any recourse aside from public review forums, but I’d suggest reading through How to Avoid Account Holds, Freezes and Terminations as well as Are You a High Risk Merchant? Best of luck!

                                                                                                Nicolle Gregory

                                                                                                Hi, I am starting a part-time credit repair service, just to do on the side. I want to set up recurring payments. Right now since I am fairly new, I am looking at less than $1500 a month until I grow the business. What payment service would you recommend. Thanks!

                                                                                                  Frank Kehl


                                                                                                  Credit repair businesses are usually classified as high-risk, so unfortunately your options will be more limited. Check out our article The Best High-Risk Merchant Account Providers for an overview of some of the best high-risk providers that can accommodate your business.

                                                                                                    Lori Zee

                                                                                                    Good article – thank you. I am a small business owner presently using Merchant Focus w/ All credit card transactions are strictly online with a monthly volume that varies from $800 to $3,000. My current fee with Merchant Focus is 2.93% across the board: 2.93%/per transaction and a separate 2.93% fee based on total volume amount. I also pay $25/month with I am looking for a new company with reduced fee charges. Which do you feel would meet my needs best?

                                                                                                      Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                      Hi Lori,

                                                                                                      This sounds like a job for Square! They have no monthly fee and offer 2.75% (card present) per transaction. Best!

                                                                                                        Matthew Berry

                                                                                                        Hello. I run a small business that varies on transactions each month. We could have 1 for $80 or we can have 10 for a total $4000. Right now I am with Square. I am looking for someone who’s better with no card present fees. Square charges 3.5% +.15

                                                                                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                          Hi Matthew,

                                                                                                          It sounds like you need to get a card reader and just start swiping cards with Square and you’d be paying 2.75%. Alternatively, you could take a look at SumUp. You can compare their features and rates here. I hope that helps!

                                                                                                            Chris Chu

                                                                                                            Great article, thanks. Got a question- we currently use and Flagship Merchant Services for our credit cards. We do about $6k per month with an average of 180 transactions per month using credit cards. Our website is on WooCommerce/Wordpress. Would you suggest changing our credit card service? If so, do you lean towards Stripe, Amazon Pay or basic Paypal?

                                                                                                              Frank Kehl

                                                                                                              Flagship Merchant Services is a fairly average processor, but there are better ones out there. Of the companies reviewed in this article, you might save money by switching to either Helcim or CDGcommerce. CDGcommerce also offers Authorize.Net as an option for a payment gateway, so you wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of switching gateways. As always, we recommend that you get a quote and compare it to what you’re paying now before deciding to switch processors. Hope this helps!


                                                                                                                I like this article, great review. I’m looking for a merchant service for small liquor retail store(no online sale) that would do credit/debit card gross sale between $10000-$40000 a month. what is the better merchant company for me, please advise.

                                                                                                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                  Hi Melody,

                                                                                                                  Most liquor stores are not high risk, so you should be safe going with any of our top Merchant Account Providers. From the list, I’d recommend Dharma Merchant Services or Helcim for your particular specs.


                                                                                                                    Hello. I own a small business and process between $4,000-$5000 per month. I need the ability to process recurring payments, but also the ability to modify these payments when/if needed. I currently use my computer as a virtual terminal, but would be open to a reader if it would be a better option for me. What would be your recommendation?

                                                                                                                      Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                      Hi Sue,

                                                                                                                      I think Square checks all your boxes. I’d recommend checking them out and taking a look at our review. Good luck!

                                                                                                                        Crystal Brown

                                                                                                                        hello i’m in the process of starting a small catering business as well selling kitchen attire( such as aprons, hand mittens,pot and skillet handle covers) to name a few, and would like to stay up with technology while giving potential customers the options to pay via credit card. im looking for a company that has a wireless handheld POS machine with printer as my business is a hands on mobility business , and monthly income will fluctuate. what company would you recommend so I can research? thank you

                                                                                                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                          Hi Crystal,

                                                                                                                          I think Square would be your best bet, however it may be worth your while to check out CDGCommerce and Helcim as well. All excellent choices.


                                                                                                                            I like your article. You provided a very useful information.

                                                                                                                              Linda Barrow

                                                                                                                              This is a question. We have a small business in the construction industry. There are a very few (may 1-2) clients who have wanted to pay on a credit card. $1000 – $4000 at a time. Maybe a couple times a year. What is the best way to accommodate that kind of sporadic, but high charge amount, need?

                                                                                                                                Linda Barrow

                                                                                                                                Just an addition to above. That would probably be less than $20,000 per year. And we would need to be able to take payments over the phone – no contact with the physical credit card.

                                                                                                                                  Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                  Hi Linda,

                                                                                                                                  That’s a tough one. You could avoid paying a monthly fee even during months when you’re not processing by going with Square. However, Square’s rates are somewhat high and charges over $1K often cause account freezes. You might be better off going with CDGcommerce. You’d be stuck with a $10 monthly fee, but your rates would be lower and you’d have better support for the kind of high-ticket charges you’re processing.


                                                                                                                                    Is there anyone familiar with Cardinity? I have applied for their services. I have seen Cardinity recommended on some other websites, and it seems that they are a reliable alternative to other payment solutions. They offer a merchant account and a card payment gateway as well as recurring billing for a relatively small price. Seems convenient. The only drawback that I have noticed is that it might be difficult to integrate if you do not have enough coding knowledge, but people write that their customer support is very good. So, I hope there will be no big problems.

                                                                                                                                      Jessica Dinsmore


                                                                                                                                      Unfortunately, we have not reviewed Cardinity, so we can’t confidently give an assessment one way or the other. If you haven’t made up your mind yet, you might want to take a look at the processors we’ve recommended in the article you are commenting on. Best of luck to you!


                                                                                                                                        What do you guys think about CARDX? They advertise 0% fees, but I am wondering if they have any down sides or hidden fees. I don’t see any third-party reviews for them.

                                                                                                                                          Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                          Hi Alex,

                                                                                                                                          Unfortunately, we have not reviewed CARDX, so we can’t confidently give an assessment one way or the other.


                                                                                                                                            Hi, we are a new dental office, really looking to only get about $8,000 at most credit card transactions a month for our first year. We hope to get that to $15,000/month year two. Long term would be $25,000-30,000/month. Which would you suggest of these 5 fits our situation best. Thanks in advance.

                                                                                                                                              Amad Ebrahimi

                                                                                                                                              Huy, I think Square would be your best option here. These days, almost every doctor or dentist office I walk into uses Square and every time I ask them how they like it, and every time they respond positively. For $8k/mn, Square is a no-brainer.

                                                                                                                                                Ed Mousa

                                                                                                                                                To all Consumers, STAY AWAY from SQUARE!!! This company is big scam. If you do high ticket, At any given moment that will hold on to the money deactivate your account for 90-120 /days . We run a A legitimate moving business and still holding on to over $6,000 in total transaction and refused to release the funds for 90/ days. They have huge lawsuits against them, please looked them up before you move forward on YouTube and Facebook under Square lawsuit.. Thanks!


                                                                                                                                                  My husband has an automotive repair business. We are looking to change our credit card processing and trying to figure out who to go with. Most customers pay with credit card or debit card. Every month is different. we could process from $15,000 to 30,000 per month. Which card company would be best. Thank You.

                                                                                                                                                    Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                    Hi Anne,

                                                                                                                                                    Dharma or Helcim would both be great choices for your auto shop. You can compare them against each other here, as well.

                                                                                                                                                      Jill Owens

                                                                                                                                                      Great article! My husband has asked me to research CC processing companies and I panicked a bit but thanks to these reviews and comments, I am not AS confused.
                                                                                                                                                      I was hoping to get a recommendation for our new start-up laundry business. All payments will be credit or debit card transactions and they will all be processed over the phone.
                                                                                                                                                      From what I have gather from this article, it sounds as if Square would be our best option. Thoughts?
                                                                                                                                                      Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                        Hi Jill,

                                                                                                                                                        We agree with you, Square would be your best bet.


                                                                                                                                                          I have just opened a hair salon 4 weeks ago in my home in Canada. I am the only employee and am not sure about which company to consider as I have no idea what my sales monthly will be. I had Moneris getpay and just cancelled it as the 2 times I tried to use it the app wouldn’t work and had to call them, the first time they fixed the issue, and the 2nd time they said it was my browser and then my tablet was the issue. I cancelled due to the fact that I can’t have clients waiting to deal with this. I am looking in to Square and am worried about them freezing funds. How big of an issue is this and what would you recommend as a good way to go? Thank you for your help.

                                                                                                                                                            Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                            Hi Lori,

                                                                                                                                                            I do think Square would be a great option for your new salon, and although there is still a risk for having funds withheld, the probability is small, and the benefits of not having a monthly fee might make up for the risk.


                                                                                                                                                              We’re an established dental office (30 years) and have recently decided to offer patients the option of paying with credit cards. We receive approximately $800,000 a year of which probably $500,000 is not covered by insurance and paid by check. What’s the simplest and safest credit card system for our practice. Patients would be paying in person. Thank you

                                                                                                                                                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                Hi Gail,

                                                                                                                                                                I think you are a good candidate for Helcim. You can read our five star review of them here.

                                                                                                                                                                  Michael Adler

                                                                                                                                                                  A very useful article, but I’m still left confused and uncertain. We’ve been using Cayan and I don’t think it’s the right provider for our small business. We have a Chocolate Fountain Rental business and there are months when we charge several times and other months when there are no charges. But Cayan charges us monthly regardless and the fees are very high. I don’t know who to consider? I know certain recommendations were made to others like CDG Commerce, Fatmerchant and Square. I certainly don’t want to pay large fees during months that there are no charges made. I welcome any recommendations. Thank you,

                                                                                                                                                                    Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                    Hi Michael,

                                                                                                                                                                    I’d suggest Square or CDGcommerce for your situation. Square has no monthly fee, and CDG is only $10/month. Either of those should be manageable during your slow months.

                                                                                                                                                                      Grace Zulueta

                                                                                                                                                                      We are a young organization, a Church. What are your suggestions as we begin processing credit card contributions via our church services contributions, website and selling products on special events? We don’t know which credit card machine to purchase or how to process this present need to assist our congregants. Thank you in advance for your assistance.

                                                                                                                                                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                        Hi Grace,
                                                                                                                                                                        Square is an excellent choice for nonprofits such as yours.


                                                                                                                                                                          Great article, over my head on several items. Hard for me to way the pros and cons when I have so many variables. I’m a dentist that is looking for a processor that can handle my needs, I run multiple offices that process $50k a month or more, and I have several different points of sale, from insurances that pay via a mailed credit card number on paper, to patients paying in person as well as over the phone. I need to be able to do processing at multiple different locations, and was wanting a terminal as well, as a way to process payments using the computers and the internet that my young staff know how to operate. And the lower the cost the better, I would like no terminal lease, or refund cost when reversing payment, and as low as possible the percentages and per cost transaction fees.

                                                                                                                                                                            Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                            Give Dharma a try, I think they will be able to cover all your bases.


                                                                                                                                                                              I am opening up a small hair salon and look to be processing maybe a little less than 10k a month through CC. I was looking into Square but we do not have a tablet or phone for clients to sign on so I have taken that off my list. Any suggestions on a second option? Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                Cindy, in all honesty, you’re better off getting yourself a tablet or a smartphone. These days most processors are moving in that direction, and getting a mobile terminal may become quite costly. It’ll be cheaper for you to just buy a used iPad mini or something.


                                                                                                                                                                                  I found your research very informative and helpful. We have been in the carpet cleaning business 40 + years, and just within the past few years have accepted cc. I’v found in our area most people still like to pay with checks, although we have had a steady monthly flow of cc usage. It ranges from $110.00 a month up to our peek months $1,300.00, very low-volume. I would like to find a merchant company that works with small business with low-volume usage like ours. I like the Square and that the PCI compliant is included, but have my reservations with the no merchant ID# and that they can hold your money if they think there fraudulent acts. Your recommendation would be most appreciated.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Sincerely Kris

                                                                                                                                                                                    Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi Kris,
                                                                                                                                                                                    I’d definitely recommend Square, and although there is still a risk for having funds withheld, the probability is small, and the benefits of not having a monthly fee might make up for the risk.


                                                                                                                                                                                      Hello, I am opening a small retail store inside a mall this is my firth time doing business and I don’t know which company should be the best for credit card processing. I just bought a uaccept post system to start.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi Rosy,

                                                                                                                                                                                        Unfortunately, we have not reviewed uAccept, so we can’t confidently give an assessment one way or the other. Our filtering tool can help you narrow down options best suited for your business. Give it a try and let us know if you have any questions.


                                                                                                                                                                                          Hello, Wonderful article. I got a lot of good information from it. We started our company in April. We have been selling on Amazon, as well as to some local restaurants. We are in the process of setting up our website to handle ecommerce. We currently do between $8-10K per month on Amazon. We expect to start out about the same through our website. In addition, we would like the option to be able to sell directly to the public (face-to-face) at trade shows. We definitely will not need a ‘swipe device’ full-time, just for those 1-2 trade shows a year. We are looking towards CDGcommerce from the ecommerce side. What are your thoughts on that, and how to handle the occasional need for the swiping CC capability. Thanks, Michael

                                                                                                                                                                                            Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                            CDGcommerce is an excellent choice. They offer a free mobile app and card reader, and their mobile processing rates are a little lower than their eCommerce rates. However, the card reader is currently not EMV-compliant. With the EMV liability shift, you would be responsible for any fraudulent transactions where you swiped an EMV credit card instead of reading it with an EMV-compatible card reader. This might be a consideration if you’re going to use the mobile processing system at trade shows. However, we anticipate that CDGcommerce will offer an EMV-compatible reader sometime soon. While it probably won’t be free, it will protect you from any card-present fraud that does occur. Your other option would be to get an account with Square as a secondary processing method. They already have an affordable EMV card reader for their mobile solution, and with no monthly fees you wouldn’t be paying anything during the months when you’re not using the account. The trade-off, of course, is that their processing rates are quite a bit higher.


                                                                                                                                                                                              We are a smaller law firm and bring in CC payments anywhere from $15-40k per month. We currently use WorldPay. Please let me know your thoughts regarding WorldPay and if you have any recommendations for merchant companies. We would prefer to accept all major credit cards including AMEX.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi Jeanette,

                                                                                                                                                                                                You’ll see we aren’t huge fans of Worldpay if you take a look at our review of them. We would need a bit more information to make a recommendation for your firm, so I suggest you try our filtering tool to help you narrow down your options and make an informed decision. You can also compare top-rated merchant account providers here.


                                                                                                                                                                                                  We are planning to open a retail meat market and we are guessing our volume to be close to 25k, majority of our customers (70%) might end up spending anywhere between 10$ – 20$ per purchase on average and few customers with more than (20%) 20$ purchases and very few customers (10%) 50$ or more, which option do you suggest for us? thanks in advance!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi Swekar,

                                                                                                                                                                                                    For your retail meat market I recommend Helcim. Dharma was a close second, but Helcim has better retail rates, which means more money in your pocket. Good luck with your new business!


                                                                                                                                                                                                      We currently use Best Merchant Services but are looking to switch. I manage a small hotel and we did around 460K in CC sales last year. More than half of our transactions are over the phone reservations or are from virtual cards issued from websites like Expedia for when guests prepay for their reservations online. So over a third of our transactions are virtual cards and have only the CC#, Exp date and Zip code keyed in only but we have very few charge backs maybe 10 total for under 1K annually.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      What CC processing company would you recommend we use? Thanks in advance for your help!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi Eddie!
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks so much for your question! For your hotel, I recommend CDGcommerce or Fattmerchant. Set up some demo’s and see what you think!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Stephen Ejide

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Great article! We’re a new restaurant expecting ~10K – 20K a month for transactions that average $10. Is there a merchant that most small, 1-2 register restaurants prefer?

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jessica Dinsmore


                                                                                                                                                                                                            For a merchant account I would recommend Helcim, but if you’re also looking for a POS system, you might want to check out Toast or Shopkeep. Both are great for restaurants and both come with credit card processing abilities built-in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Andrea Omidy


                                                                                                                                                                                                              I’m currently using Zirmed. How do they compare to other companies?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My average monthly cc charges are $7,200- $9,000, with average sale of $150. I need an online portal where I can enter in the card information rather than a card swipe system. Out of the companies you listed, which might be better suited for my situation? Thanks in advance for your help!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hi Andrea,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Unfortunately we haven’t yet reviewed Zirmed, so I can’t confidently give you an assessment one way or the other. However, based on your sales volume, I do recommend Square for as long as you are averaging less than $10k/mo.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We are a small law firm, processing anywhere between $30,000 and $80-90,000 a month depending on the month. We are less concerned with how much the cost is per transaction, and more so with the % fee. We do most of our transactions over the phone as well; So finding a lower fee for transactions that are not done face to face would be ideal. Any suggestions?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jessica Dinsmore


                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think that for your credit card volume, Fattmerchant would be the ideal choice. Their pricing is a bit different in that they charge a flat monthly subscription fee, rather than charging a % fee. For a high-volume, and I’m assuming high-average-sale business like yours, Fattmerchant’s pricing will likely save you some money.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Any reviews or thoughts on Payment Depot?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi Johana,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here’s our 5-star review of Payment Depot.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I work in a doctor’s office and we currently use a terminal that is connected to our phone line. Is there a company that has terminals where we can continue to process our payments through the phone line instead of the Internet? Our current terminal is through Care Credit and they process all of our payments. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jessica Jones

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I work at a small Farm Mutual Insurance Company that operates only in one state and currently does not accept credit cards. We are looking into accepting them for premium payments either by phone or in person at the office. Premiums could be anywhere from $50 to $2000 and until we get rolling with this, not sure how many people will pay by credit card or how much it will bring monthly. Fees are going to be huge on a situation like this, so where do we start and what provider is recommended? Thanks for your time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi Jessica, For your situation I would recommend Square. It’s a great choice for smaller businesses just starting to take credit cards, plus you avoid both upfront and monthly fees that traditional processors charge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Carole Shortt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I went with Helcim after checking it out. Easy to work with, clear statements at month end. I switched to Helcim after many years with another company. No more headaches! We have a seasonal, retail business. At $12/month I have 3 machines on 1 account., not 1 account per machine as before. The customer care is very good, too.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have a small mailbox and shipping store. Currently using Square and it’s working well, but am looking for something not tied to a smartphone. Average monthly CC volume is around $2,500. Will definitely buy my own terminal, but need suggestions for a transaction processer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi Phil,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Honestly, your best bet would be to continue using square and purchase an iPad. Most terminals cost from $150-$300 which is roughly the same cost as a used iPad.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Great article. I’m onlening a personal training business with 99% credit card payments, and some online payments. I was considering square, however the section you mentioned about freezing really scared me off. Helicium sounded interesting. Thoughts on Clover? Any help would be appreciated

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Shannon Vissers

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi Chris, it kind of depends on your needs and budget. For very new businesses and especially businesses that want to take payments from their smartphone, Square is a pretty solid choice as it’s mobile and free to use (no monthly charge). It’s super easy to get started with, too. But as mentioned, it’s not 100% reliable, and not the best choice for established, large-volume businesses. Clover is pretty good but it has an upfront hardware cost and there will probably be a monthly service charge as well ($60/month or so). You might want to start off with a free system like Square and then as you grow, switch to another system like Clover or Vend. And if you do end up graduating to another system, you can always keep Square just to take payments on the go.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Very helpful article, thank you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I own a beauty salon, I am the only employee. I am looking for a better credit card processing company. I currently use world pay. I have used them for over 20 years. That being said, I am very unhappy with the customer service and fees. I process under $5000 per month. What would be a good choice for my situation? Thank you

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Jessica Dinsmore

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Hi Kathy,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you for your inquiry. I think Square may be your best bet. I hope this helps!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We haven’t reviewed Merchant Services, Inc., but their online reputation is very poor. They settled a class-action lawsuit a few years ago, but don’t appear to have made many positive improvements to their service. The Clover line of POS systems is sold by First Data, but is also available through many different resellers. Check out our Clover Station review for more information.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hello, I currently have 4 restaurants and about to jump to 7 restaurants. I am currently using Vantiv for my credit card processing.. currently I am being offered a rate of 0% plus 3 cent per transaction. However I am not very fluent in understanding what visa/mastercard/discover charges on top of it for processing. Is what they are charging controlled by vantiv, where it can be reduced.. or is it something that cannot be negotiated to bring those processing charges lower..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Interchange rates are controlled by the various credit card associations, and the processing company (even a direct processor like Vantiv) cannot lower them. The rate you are being offered is very low in comparison to what most business owners have to pay. As a very general rule of thumb, interchange rates average around 1.9% for card-present transactions and 2.4% for card-not-present transactions.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I’d like to know have you checked to see if that is what Vantiv is charging you? I signed up and had a statement comparison but when I got active they were over charging me by about 50% in total fees including interchange.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What about Tribeca Merchants out of NYC? I like the rep, and the fees and products fit my needs…they also have the surcharge option where I have no fees?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tribeca Merchants is a DBA for National Merchant Services. We haven’t reviewed them, but most of the reviews on the web are pretty negative. There are also a lot of complaints from former employees, which is always a bad sign. Not recommended.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Amanda Long

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I’m the president of a small booster organization, a 501(c)3. We are looking to streamline fee payments and looking to build a website. This will allow us to collect fees better as families seem to be mostly debit card users these days. What recommendations would make for our organization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Of the companies profiled in this article, only Dharma and CDGcommerce offer discounted processing rates for non-profits. However, if your monthly processing volume is very low, you might be better off with Square.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I just started a thrift store, I have the square now but everytime I take it out to run a card on my phone my customers look at me a little funny, in fact I lost a few customers that didn’t trust it? So I’m looking for something that sits on the counter more “traditional” so to speak I don’t do a lot in credit card sales less than $2500 a month does anyone have any suggestions…..thank you

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Although they’re not profiled in this article, Fattmerchant is an excellent processor that has recently introduced a low-cost, pay-as-you-go plan that’s similar to Square (i.e., no monthly fee). You’d still have to buy your own terminal, but they’re pretty affordable these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Terri Trejo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Great info but still not sure what I should use. I am starting a party equipment rental business. I want to take a deposit on my website and then the rest of the payment 7 days before party, again on my website. I want credit card/ debt card payments. What would be good for my business

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hi Terri,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I am going to send you an email right now so please keep an eye out for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kevin Van Den Heuvel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hey Terri,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While Heartland isn’t on this specific list, we are the 4th largest processor in the country and the only one with NO middlemen! We pride ourselves on fair and honest statements and the best CS. We have an incredible amount to offer to small to mid size businesses in the way of technology, security and breach protection as well as being local to most of the U.S. Shoot me an email whenever you get a chance, I’d love to learn a little more about your business to see how we can benefit you! At a minimum, we’ll take a look and make sure you’re being treated fairly! Look forward to hearing from you, thanks!



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hi! Thank you for your article. I am starting to teach seminars for continuing education students. I plan on having about 25 students for one weekend every other month and the cost of the course is $400. I am going to be taking all payments over the phone (deposits and full payments) so I’m probably going to need to key in all the debit and credit cards. It will probably end up being about $4,000 to $5,000 a month on average, so I’m guessing that square or PayPal is the best option? Which processing company do you think would be best suited to doing that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hi Jessie,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Square is a great option but since you are dealing with only over-the-phone payments, I would also recommend CDGcommerce. They are going to have a monthly fee, but along with that comes greater account stability and customer service, so they would be worth looking into as well. I would encourage you to click on the green “visit site” button within our reviews if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I have not yet started my bus. I purchased a website, training, and tax club from STORES ONLINE, ALSO GOES BY OTHER NAMES iMERCHANT, ETC. They screwed thousands of people … never built my website, so I used another expensive company and step by step I built it. When it was ready to go live (they would have hosted it too) the programmer left the company that same day and my site could not even found on the servers. Just some of my preliminary. I got no response to my calls, emails and letters.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So, I want to try again, but some of merchandise is out of style (clothing and jewelry), and don’t have any idea how long it will take to be found. I studied since I bought and paid over $20,000 for the past 10 YRS>
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            NOW I would like to try to sell what I have. Is Square still the best. First Data contacted me and said go with us because all Visa and Master Cards are processed thru them. IS THIS TRUE? One response you gave was to use another company because they were the bitter deal.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What do you recommend. I might not get buyers instantly, and it may take months, but I have to have a merchant account before I starts. A CATCH 22. AT LEAST FOR ME. SENT 5.18.2017

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              For an eCommerce-only business, we recommend that you take a look at our article “The Best Online Credit Card Processing Companies” for some affordable alternatives.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                hello I have a pizzeria and looking merchant services I have one already but i think im paying to much 0.78 + $0.15 and monthly fee. and maybe 90% of the time credit are not present they order by phone. can you give me some merchant that i could look in to thank you very much

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi Mikey,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thank you for your inquiry I am happy to help you with this. I would recommend giving our filtering tool a try here. It will help narrow down your options and point you in the right direction. I would encourage you to use the green “visit site” button within our reviews if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps but if you have further questions please don’t hesitate to let me know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Kevin Van Den Heuvel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hey Mikey,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If the narrowing field still leaves you unsure, take a look at Heartland Payment Systems. We are the 4th largest processor in the country and the only one with NO middlemen! We pride ourselves on fair and honest statements and the best CS. We’re the ONLY processor endorsed by the National Restaurant Association as well as many state associations. Shoot me an email whenever you get a chance, I’d love to learn a little more about your business to see how we can benefit you! At a minimum, we’ll take a look and make sure you’re being treated fairly! Look forward to hearing from you, thanks!



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I am a home based travel agent. I accept credit cards over the phone only from known clients (friends, family or their friends) for their tour package invoices. My clients would like to pay by credit card but they would also like to earn triple points as offered by Chase Sapphire reserve card when it is used for travel related purchases. Normally I use Square or PayPal but that is not accepted by Chase to give triple points to my clients. Which credit card processing company I can use, where my business name and SIC code are associated with the payment ? Since my SIC code is associated with “Travel”, my clients can earn triple points for every $ they spend. My annual charges could be over $100K

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Check out our review of Chase Paymentech. They probably can support triple points under their own cards, although you’ll probably want to verify that with a sales representative before signing up.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am running a Dr’s clinic where patient spay fee for service and sell a small amount of retail products in Canada. Gross sales are approx $20 000/mth. I used to use Chase Paymenttech but there were a lot of hidden fees. I switched to First Data a few years ago and they have been ok except they hold my transactions an extra day before depositing it in my account. I have been contacted by Elavon and they say they have recently acquired my account from First Data and my fees will be “basically the same” as they were with first Data. First Data says that theya re still offering the same services and I can choose to stay with them. It all seems a little confusing so I have been looking at other options. What would be your best suggestion to minimize costs?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Helcim serves merchants in both the US and Canada, and they’re an excellent provider overall. They can probably get you a much better deal than signing up with First Data directly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Kevin Van Den Heuvel

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi Patricia,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I know it’s been a little over a month since your inquiry, if you are still reviewing options, take a look at Heartland Payment Systems. We are the 4th largest processor in the country and the only one with NO middlemen! We pride ourselves on fair and honest statements and the best CS. We have an incredible amount to offer to small to mid size businesses in the way of technology, security and breach protection and have a growing footprint in Canada. Shoot me an email whenever you get a chance, I’d love to learn a little more about your business to see how we can benefit you! At a minimum, we’ll take a look and make sure you’re being treated fairly! Look forward to hearing from you, thanks!



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We invoice all of our customers (kitchen/bath remodeling and plumbing services), so we do not bill on the site once the work is completed. The last few years we’ve averaged approximately $220,000 of income, so I would guess we COULD fluctuate between $3,000 or $4,000 a month up to $8,000 a month or more once our customers learn we take credit cards. Since we don’t sell on-line or face-to-face, which credit card processors would fit our needs best? We were looking at PayPal to start with. Any other suggestions?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi Deb,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would also recommend CDGcommerce, Payment Depot, and Helcim. I would encourage you to use the green “visit site” button within the reviews if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nancy Knowles

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for the great review. We are a non-profit that only conducts business one time every other year at our one and only fundraiser, the Festival of Trees. We have averaged a take-in of $25,000 over one weekend and, in the past, we have only accepted cash. We have s price increase this year so the numbers will go up. Due to patron request we are exploring accepting credit/debit cards. Do you know if there is a way we could just do business for this one period every other year. All business would be conducted during that weekend except for some tickets that might be issued from payment through our website (have not explored that option yet). Thank you for your advice, in advance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Your best bet is probably to try Square and see how it works out for you. If you end up processing over $10k in credit card transactions at your fundraiser, you will probably be better off going with a provider that will offer lower rates and let you suspend your account when you’re not using it. Dharma and Helcim are good options in this case.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have a retail location that does $20k/mo in cc sales. cc are present 99% of the time.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Any suggestions as to which merchant services provider would be the best for me?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thank you,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hi Dario,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We have a great filtering tool that you can try here. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Brenda Brooks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wanted to let consumers know that I had a really, REALLY bad experience with Payline Data. One of the worse experiences I’ve had in 21 years of doing business. Beware.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Renee Kovalcheck

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hello Brenda,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you for your feedback. We always hope to exceed the expectations of our customers. However, it looks like we did not meet your expectations and we apologize for that. We reviewed your account and verified that you were previously issued a refund for the issues that occurred. We had hoped that this corrected the frustrations you experienced. We always aim to provide the best payments partnership to our customers. Please contact us if you would like to explore other options with your account. We can be reached at

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              – The Payline Team


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you for the article. Question? I have a client that is looking into credit card processing for their marketing business. They would probably only have 1 or 2 transactions a month for approx. $5k in sales. What would be the best processing company for something this small? They could use an Iphone/ipad processor.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi SJ,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I would recommend taking a look at Square. If you have further questions please let me know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Russell Adams

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for the very understandable article.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In my case I have a single “old-fashioned” retail store where I average just under $10,000./mo., have not had a chargeback in the almost three years I’ve been operating and the card is in-hand 99% of the time. In January of this year I processed $5,433. in credit card sales and paid the merchant fee of $149.34.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I’m near the end of the contract with the card servicer: Am I paying too much? What providers do you suggest for my situation?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hi Russell,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. It looks like your effective rate is about 2.7% which is pretty standard. You could try Helcim and CDGcommerce, but their rates are going to fall around that rate as well. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please don’t hesitate to let me know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jon Howard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Great article! Is there any advantage to going with a Bank of America for credit card processing?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You might want to check out our Bank of America Merchant Services review before signing up with them. There are plenty of other providers out there that cost less and provide better service.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Great information Frank, thank you! I am looking for a merchant services for a new business, grocery and butcher shop. I am new at this and would like your advise as to which one would be a good fit for this type of business. Hope this info helps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi Arcelia,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am going to send you an email right now so please keep an eye out for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Nick P.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Great article, very helpful but I’m still wondering your advice for a smaller landscape designer/ contractor firm that could have no CC transactions one month and $10,000 the next month. Much thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  For your business, you might want to consider CDGcommerce. You’ll have a monthly fee, even when you’re not using the account, but the savings in processing charges during your busy months should more than make up for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    LaToria T Smith

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hello ! And great article, I am a Life Coach, and have had some clients ask about accepting credit cards. My packages range from $1-3k. How should I go about accepting cards in this case? Alot would be done over the phone. (Manually) This can definitely increase my revenue!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      For a business of your average processing volume and a need for accepting mobile payments, we recommend Square.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Wonderful information! Thank you so much, however I am still confused! I own an estate sale company and therefore we must be completely mobile. Our sales are conducted in our clients homes each week. Any help and suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All of the providers listed in this article offer a mobile payment solution. Depending on your needs, you’ll want either a smartphone-based system or a dedicated wireless terminal. Terminals cost around $300 or more to buy and require a $15-20 per month data plan. Smartphone-based systems are much more affordable, but many providers haven’t put out an EMV-compliant reader yet. We highly recommend using an EMV card reader, as most of your customers will now have EMV cards, and you could be liable for any fraudulent transactions if you swipe an EMV card with a magstripe card reader.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Excellent reviews and great information!!! I own a Floral Shop in a two red light town. Most of my business I receive over the phone. I have been in business for almost three years now and I have operated with square since the beginning. Income averages between $4500-12000 in sales with credit cards each month and 90% of this is manually keyed in. I am hoping to find a system that would benefit me more and take less with fees and monthly charges. Any suggestions?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hi Kelli,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Based on the information provided, I would recommend CDGcommerce, Payment Depot, and Helcim. I would encourage you to use the green “visit site” button within our reviews if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please let me know.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The informational is very helpful but i am not able to make a call which would be better for me

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                i am starting a business and i am hoping the transactions would be around 15k a month in person value transactions, would you please advise which would be the best here. Thanks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Hi Shah,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am happy to help you with this. Please reply to me here with the following:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Your average monthly revenue, more details about your business, and where the business is located and I will be able to help you.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What is the best choice for a small restaurant business. Processing about $35k a month. Is there anything more affordable?



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Any of the companies profiled in this article would be a good choice, except for Square. Your processing volume is too high for Square to be a good deal, and you’ll also want the stability of a full-service merchant account, which Square doesn’t provide.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Crystal Barber

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This article has been helpful. I am looking to switch my merchant service since I spent over $1000 in fees using that particular service this year. For my small business that is financially devastating. I have a business that is half consignment retail (educational items) and half services (tutoring). My transactions are usually over $1000 but have not reached $5000 in a month. What would you recommend? Also, what is my best tactic to get out of my current merchant service contract? I feel like I was suckered in because I was new to being a business owner. Thanks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          CDGcommerce would be a very good choice for your business. Compare what you’re paying now against what your costs would be with them. The nice thing about the companies profiled in this article is that they’re very transparent about their costs, allowing a business owner to make a fairly accurate cost estimate based on their current processing history. Getting out of your current merchant account contract will depend on who your provider is. You’ll want to review the account closure procedure in your contract very carefully and follow it to the letter. Get everything in writing, and submit all required paperwork well ahead of the required notice period. Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Dennie Pyeatt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This year I will have other employee’s to run cc transactions (before I used my phone on square and did all the transactions). I want a way they can run a cc for sales but not be able to see my bank info or how much we make. Should I stay with square or CDG Commerce?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The answer to your question will depend on your average monthly processing volume. Under $10K/month, you’re probably better off staying with Square. Above that, Dharma or CDGcommerce are both excellent choices. If you do a cost projection based on your current processing history, you should be able to determine which company will be more affordable for your business.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We are a small mortgage lender and want to start taking credit cards for appraisal and credit report fees. We expect less than $2,000 per month on credit cards. The borrower/customer would complete an authorization form and we would enter it into the credit processor’s site, no equipment would be needed. What companies do you suggest?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As long as you anticipate processing *some* transactions every month, CDGcommerce will give you the lowest rates for only $10/month. You could also consider Square. You won’t pay a monthly fee, but the rates (especially for card-not-present) are much higher.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dan Anderson

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you for the information. I am a professional services company, so I have no need for anything related to typical retail, online, or other goods-based sales. I will be charging from $10k to $30k per month to roughly 7-10 other small businesses. While simple is desired, it seems simple costs a fair bit more, so I’m willing to sacrifice simplicity for lowest cost – I am begrudgingly even going to accept credit. What would your thoughts be for such an arrangement?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hi Dan,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thank you for your inquiry, I am happy to help you with this. Based on the information provided, I would recommend CDGcommerce and Helcim. I would encourage you to use the green “visit site” button within the reviews if you would like to support our work. I hope this helps and if you have further questions please don’t hesitate to let me know.



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Great information with lots of good detail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I have a question for you. How do I get a CC processing solution for my company if my company is located in Singapore and I am an American? Seems nobody has a solution here and everybody is telling me it cant be done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          You might want to look into BueSnap, at least if you’re in eCommerce. They’re available in 180 countries, including Singapore. We have a review of them coming out in the next few weeks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            derek smith

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I am a small startup limo service looking for the best mobile credit card processing. Can you help.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Square is probably your best bet. They have the best mobile processing solution at the moment, and they’re inexpensive overall. Just be aware that once your business gets larger, you might want the added security (and lower rates) of a full-service merchant account.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Hello This was great information. I am a small start up personal training company and would like to know what you would recommend for Automatic payment transactions? currently I invoice my clients monthly but want to get away from that since I have some clients who are on 3 or 6 month contracts.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks Kristi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Square offers a recurring bill feature as part of their accounts for no additional charge. You might also want to check out the detailed reviews of the other companies profiled in this article, as almost every processor offers this feature. Watch out, though, as some processors charge extra for it.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thank you so much for this overview, great information! I am starting a small business and anticipate relatively low volume, probably max $2K/month at least for a while. Do most of the merchant account companies offer advice about minimum for which their product is a good option, like you did for a few of the ones outlined here? Square was sounding good, but you lost me at the fraud, frequent account holds and terminations!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Some merchant account providers will be honest about the minimum processing volume you should have for their pricing to be a good deal, but many others will not. Of the processors reviewed in this article, CDGcommerce might be your best bet. They have interchange-plus pricing and a $10/month fee. Providers that don’t charge a monthly fee and charge on a “pay as you go” basis – such as Square – will all have much higher processing rates.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What is the best card reader for very small daycare business. Processing less than 2000$ a month. Have the square but the 2.75 % is a killer. Is there anything more affordable?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chloe Bahal

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hi Carmelita,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The 2.75% is going to be pretty much the standard across the board, but you might want to check out Spark Pay and PayPal Here as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Omar Mushfiq

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Frank, excellent review. I am looking for merchant services for a small start up medical practice with one physician. Need to process in person transactions and also occasional key in transaction of credit cards. Looking for someone with reasonable rates and good customer service. Can you recommend someone?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank You.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Omar Mushfiq

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Frank Kehl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The companies outlined in the article are all good choices. You might also want to take a look at PayJunction. They’re also a 5-star processor, and they specialize in working with professional services (such as medical offices). Hope this helps!

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