The 5 Best Small Business Credit Card Processing Companies

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 in order to compete in today’s marketplace. Customers are increasingly relying on their “plastic” to make purchases, and 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 set-up 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 options 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, 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. 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 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. Whether you’re running a large retail store or just selling fresh produce out of the back of your truck at the local famer’s market, there’s a card-processing service that’s right for you.

Dharma Merchant Services

Dharma Merchant Services 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 PCI compliance fees. Dharma is unique in the world of credit card processing companies in that they donate a whopping 50% of their profits to charity, living up to their motto “Commerce with Compassion.”

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 supports 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 store front 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. Other additional fees (such as Address Verification 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.

PROS:

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

CONS:

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

For more information about Dharma, see our complete review here.

CDGcommerce

cdgcommerce-logo

Another one of our favorite providers, CDGcommerce 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 normally 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 your thousands of dollars over the full term of the lease.

CDG also offers very competitive processing rates. All of their pricing is interchange-plus and disclosed on their website. Here are their current rates:

  • Online: interchange + 0.30% + $0.15 per transaction
  • Retail: interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Mobile: interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction
  • Non-profit: interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction

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.

PROS:

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

CONS:

  • Only available to US-based merchants

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

Helcim

“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 offers a full gamut of services and equipment for both storefront and online businesses. Their website features a variety of EMV-compliant credit card terminals, starting at $199. Terminals with NFC capability for Apple Pay support start at $329. 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. 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.

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 VirtualMerchant Mobile app for iOS and Android. This comes with a free universal card reader that plugs into your smartphone’s audio jack (additional readers are $45 each). There’s also a flat $30.00 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 $30.00 per month subscription. In addition to the per-transaction interchange rate charged by the issuing credit card company, Helcim charges 0.18% + $0.08 per transaction over the interchange rate for retail and mobile payments. Online transactions are charged 0.36% + $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.

PROS:

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

CONS:

  • 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 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.

For traditional, in-store credit card transactions, Payline offers a variety of EMV-compliant credit card terminals. They also offer a virtual terminal, along with a USB-connected device that allows you to process credit card transactions from any Internet-connected computer. Payline Gateway ties your physical hardware to your online account, allowing online transactions and automatically generating detailed analytical reports. Payline also offers NFC-capable terminals that support Apple Pay (at no additional cost).

Payline’s standard merchant accounts cost a flat $15.00 per month and feature interchange-plus pricing. Billing is month-to-month, with no long-term contracts or early termination fees. Retail pricing is interchange % + 0.2% + $0.10 per transaction. Online pricing is interchange % + 0.35% + $0.10 per transaction. If your business processes more than $80,000 per month, enterprise pricing with lower rates is available.

For eCommerce merchants, Payline also offers a variety of bundled pricing plans that include features you’ll need to setup and run an online business. Options include a Standard plan featuring flat rate pricing for small businesses and startups, and Professional and Enterprise plans for larger, more established businesses. The latter two plans feature interchange-plus pricing and numerous bells and whistles that aren’t included in the Standard plan, such as web hosting and website setup.

Payline’s Standard plan costs $29.00 per month and charges a flat 2.9% +$0.30 per transaction processing rate. The plan includes a secure payment gateway and virtual terminal for manual order entry, as well as online shopping cart integration. You’ll have to provide your own web hosting and PCI security scans are only available as an option. Nonetheless, it’s a great economical choice for a small eCommerce business, especially if you’re just getting started.

The Professional plan costs $79 per month and features interchange-plus pricing, with rates starting as low as 0.49% per sale. You’ll want to get a quote before signing up, as your actual processing rates will usually be higher than the advertised “as low as” rate. In addition to all of the features of the Standard plan, the Professional plan also includes web hosting, website setup and customization, and PCI security scanning. It’s an excellent choice for an established business, whether you sell only online or in conjunction with a physical retail presence.

For really large businesses, the Enterprise Plan includes all of the same features as the Standard Plan, plus domain name registration. Interchange-plus processing rates start as low as 0.29% per sale. The Enterprise Plan costs $159 per month. It’s only cost-effective for a very large, established business.

Payline also offers additional optional features, such as an iPad-based POS system and support for mobile payments via smartphones. While these features cost extra, pricing is very competitive. See Payline’s website for details.

PROS:

  • Fair pricing with easy-to-understand contracts and no hidden fees.
  • Great 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

CONS:

  • Currently only available in the USA and Canada.

For more information, see our complete review here.

Square

Finally, there’s Square, 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 normally 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.

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 Reader app. The Square Reader mobile app requires either an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch running iOS 8.0 or higher, or an Android phone or tablet running Android 4.0.

PROS:

  • 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.

CONS:

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

For more information, see our complete review here.

CONCLUSION

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.
Leave a comment

52 Comments

    Kim

    Hi,
    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

    Kim;

    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.

    Patricia

    Hi,
    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

    Patricia;

    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.

    Deb

    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

    Nancy;

    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.

    Dario

    Hello,
    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,
    Dario

    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 support@paylinedata.com

    – The Payline Team

    SJ

    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

    Jon;

    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.

    Arcelia

    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

    Nick;

    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

    LaToria;

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

    Joanne

    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

    Joanne;

    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.

    Kelli

    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.

    shah

    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.

    Isen

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

    Thanks,

    Isen

    Frank Kehl

    Isen;

    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

    Crystal;

    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

    Dennie;

    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.

    Gisele

    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

    Gisele;

    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.

    Frank

    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.

    mike

    Frank,

    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

    Mike,

    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

    Derek;

    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.

    Kristi

    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

    Kristi;

    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.

    Katherine

    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

    Katherine;

    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.

    Carmelita

    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?
    Thanks,
    Carmelita

    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

    Omar;

    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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Review

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.
Please read the "User Review and Comment Policy" before posting.