The Best B2B Payment Processing In 2023: Everything You Should Know About B2B Payments
Accepting B2B payments electronically gives you faster, cheaper, and safer alternatives to paper checks. B2B payment processing providers can also offer money management tools.
Jason VissersJason Vissers has been researching, analyzing, and writing about small business software and finance since 2015. His financial expertise has been cited in numerous publications, including The Ladders. Jason graduated with a Political Science degree from San Diego State University in 2001.
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Accepting B2B payments electronically can help your business cut costs, save time, and get paid faster, yet digital B2B payment processing still lags behind digital payments in the consumer space. While most consumers at the grocery store prefer to pay with a credit or debit card rather than writing out a check while the line backs up, many businesses still prefer to pay each other via paper checks.
While some businesses may prefer this old tried-and-true payment method, relying on paper checks can cost your business more than you think in terms of time, labor, and fraud risk.
Finding one of the best credit card processing companies for B2B credit card processing can help you do business more safely and efficiently. In this piece, we’ll start with the basics, then we’ll highlight some top B2B payment processing providers.
A business-to-business (B2B) payment is a commercial transaction between two businesses. These transactions have a higher average value than business-to-consumer and consumer-to-business transactions, are often recurring, and are often made in quarterly or monthly installments.
The Most Common B2B Payment Methods
How does the B2B payment landscape differ from the B2C payment scene? The main difference is that payment methods long considered passé among consumers, like checks and wire transfers, are still commonly used as business-to-business payment methods.
Checks For B2B Payments
All remittance information is listed on the check
Still preferred by many tradition-minded businesses
Checks are slow
Checks cost your business unnecessary time and money
You might think you’re saving money with checks by avoiding the payment processing fees associated with digital payments, but after considering the time and money a business must devote (in material and manpower) to writing, mailing, collecting, and depositing paper checks, it turns out to be an expensive way to do business. Furthermore, the time it takes for checks to ultimately hit your account won’t help your cash flow.
Plus, there’s the inherent fraud risk. A 2020 study by the Wall Street Journal (cited by PYMNTS.com) found that check fraud accounts for 47 percent of total fraud losses incurred by banks. This is largely due to the fact that so many different people handle a check between the writing and depositing of the check (particularly so with large firms), though, of course, a check can also get lost (or stolen) in the mail.
ACH For B2B Payments
Convenient for installment payment plans
Can only be made between two US bank accounts
Transactions are not instant
ACH payments are electronic fund transfers that allow your clients to pay you directly from their bank account and can make taking recurring payments easy. With relatively low fees, ACH is cheap, easy, and takes a lot of the grunt work out of payments. It’s a particularly good option for high-value B2B payments — the current same-day limit for ACH payments is $1 million.
On the downside, if you make or receive payments to non-US entities, ACH won’t work — ACH payments can only be made between US bank accounts. Also, ACH payments can take up to three days to get processed — it’s not nearly as quick as a wire transfer.
Credit Cards For B2B Payments
Easy to make & accept
Can make and receive payments across borders
Credit card payments post quickly — good for your cash flow
Fees are even higher for cross-border payments
B2B payment processing can work in person, over the phone through a virtual terminal, through an invoice, and through a payment gateway (a service that lets you accept payments over the internet). These can be one-off payments or recurring payments.
Using credit cards for B2B payments carries several advantages. Credit card payments are easy to accept, are quicker than checks, and can be used to make cross-border payments. Unfortunately, with credit card processing, you’ll pay more in fees than you will with many other payment acceptance methods, and if the payment is international in nature, expect to pay an additional 4-6%. Additionally, credit card payments have relatively high failure rates, and there’s always a risk of fraud.
Wire Transfers For B2B Payments
Can be sent internationally (unlike ACH payments)
Can’t be reversed
If you’re looking for a tried-and-true method of sending and receiving payments, wire transfers certainly qualify. Introduced by Western Union 150 years ago, wire transfers are commonly used in B2B transactions, particularly high-value ones.
Wire transfers can typically be completed within a day and, unlike ACH payments, can be sent internationally. This alone makes them commonly used in international transactions. However, wire transfers (especially international ones) carry high fees, cannot be reversed (which presents a number of potential challenges), and must be set up directly through the sender’s bank on a case-by-case basis — not terribly convenient.
The 5 Best B2B Payments Solutions
The best B2B payment processing providers can handle a variety of payment methods. From credit cards to ACH to other digital payment forms, the following payment processors offer what businesses need to make and accept B2B payments while keeping costs reasonable.
1. Dharma Merchant Services: Best B2B Payments For Nonprofits
Additional discounts for businesses processing over $100K/month
Not cost-effective for businesses processing under $10K/month
Not for international B2B merchants
Why We Chose Dharma Merchant Services
We chose Dharma Merchant Services as one of our top B2B payment processing services due to its considerable pricing discounts for nonprofit organizations and its strong value proposition for small to medium-sized businesses more generally.
With month-to-month billing and a history of ethical business practices, Dharma has long been one of Merchant Maverick’s favorite merchant account providers. Dharma’s services and pricing structure make it great not just for nonprofits, but also for companies taking US B2B payments domestically and who process over $10K/month. Sadly, Dharma doesn’t handle international money transfers.
Dharma Merchant Service Features
Dharma pairs its ethics and transparency with a strong feature lineup for businesses and nonprofits.
Full-service merchant accounts through Fiserv or TSYS
MX Merchant integrated payment platform
MX B2B app for B2B processing
Choice of Authorize.Net or MX Merchant payment gateways
QuickPay virtual terminal
Full line of credit card terminals, including Verifone Engage V200c, Fiserv FD-150, Ingenico Desk/5000, and Dejavoo Z11 models
Offering competitive interchange-plus pricing, Dharma also has an exclusive program for B2B businesses that sports discounted rates for merchants processing Level II and III data (our guide to B2B payment processing explains what this refers to). For this, you’ll need the MX B2B app, which costs $20/month.
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Accepts high-risk B2B businesses
Reasonable rates and fees
No international money transfers
No publicly disclosed pricing
Why We Chose PaymentCloud
We chose PaymentCloud for this list because it offers honest payment processing to B2B companies in the high-risk space. While the high-risk processing industry is rife with shady business practices, PaymentCloud is hailed in the industry as an ethical provider, offering an unparalleled level of support — not just to existing clients but to potential clients during the application/underwriting process.
PaymentCloud specializes in high-risk processing but serves low-risk businesses as well. Here’s some of what PaymentCloud offers:
While PaymentCloud does offer ACH processing (but not international money transfers), it may be harder to obtain than credit card processing. The highest-risk B2B merchants may even have to start with only eChecks (similar to ACH) to set up a payment history before they can be approved for credit card and/or ACH processing.
No account setup fee
No monthly minimum (low-risk accounts)
Interchange + 0.05%-0.30% + $0.08-$0.10 per transaction (low-risk accounts)
Processing rates vary by acquiring bank/back-end processors (high-risk accounts)
$15/month account fee (low-risk accounts)
Account fees vary by the acquiring bank/back-end processor (high-risk accounts)
Because PaymentCloud is not a direct processor (as with almost all high-risk specialists) and instead partners with other banks and processors to maximize your odds for account approval and stability, the company can’t provide pricing information for high-risk businesses. If this is you, your rates and fees will depend on the processor you get matched with. Nonetheless, if you accept B2B transactions and you deal in bail bonds, adult entertainment, CBD, or another endeavor considered high-risk by the banks, PaymentCloud will find you the best deal possible.
PaymentCloud offers both interchange-plus and tiered pricing. If at all possible, get an interchange-plus quote. Only accept a tiered pricing plan if you absolutely must. However, as with all such providers, the highest-risk merchants will likely have to accept tiered pricing.
Competitive and transparent interchange-plus pricing
Not for high-risk merchants
Not cost-effective for businesses processing under $5K/month
Why We Chose Helcim
We chose Helcim as a favorite B2B payment processor due to the great value it provides to a wide variety of businesses, including B2B businesses. For international B2B payments, Helcim offers outstanding processing capabilities. Regardless of the payer’s local currency, you’ll receive your funds in your currency without any conversions.
Helcim sports a 5-star rating from Merchant Maverick, and it’s not hard to see why. Offering transparent interchange-plus pricing, month-to-month contracts, exceptional direct customer support, and low fees, Helcim also offers every business, regardless of history or processing volume, interchange-plus pricing, which is great news for new B2B companies. High-volume businesses are eligible for discounted rates.
Full-service merchant account
Proprietary Helcim Card Reader for in-person payments
Helcim Payments app for mobile processing
Virtual terminal included with each account
Helcim POS software (requires tablet, laptop, or desktop computer)
Access to Helcim API for customized credit card payments
Helcim also lets you build a hosted payment page for the convenience of your B2B clients — you’ll get a customizable template into which you can add any field you need, including recurring payments, invoice payments, customer registration, and so on.
Stripe was an obvious choice for us here as it has a great deal to offer B2B sellers, and with its powerful developer tools, it’s particularly appealing to businesses with varied and sophisticated payment needs. Businesses with basic payment needs may find Stripe to be overkill, as it takes some technical know-how to set up and use.
Stripe’s abundance of plugins, integration partners, and developer tools give you much more than payment processing — it’s an entire commerce ecosystem, and one which is particularly well-suited to international B2B transactions. Along with ACH and credit card processing, Stripe supports many different universal payment types & mobile wallets, along with a broad array of local payment types available in particular regions worldwide.
We chose Square here as it is one of our favorite third-party processors — one that is particularly easy to set up and use for new businesses. Square offers a wide range of payment services, many of which suit B2B merchants well. For the simplest possible B2B payment solution, Square offers Cash App, a Venmo-like payment service that specifically accommodates B2B credit/debit transactions and which sets up a payment page for you. For more sophistication, there’s Square Invoices.
Square’s value proposition is remarkable. For no monthly fee, you’ll get invoicing (one-time and recurring), ACH processing (a recent service addition), estimates, sales tracking, contact management, appointments, and more.
Aggregated account for credit/debit card processing
Free mobile card reader (magstripe-only) included with an account
EMV and NFC-capable card readers
Square Register POS system available
ACH processing included with every account
Square Online Store website builder for eCommerce businesses
Basic Square Invoices feature included at no extra cost
Analytics and reporting available through Square Dashboard
Unfortunately, regarding international payments, Square isn’t as strong as Stripe, as Square accepts fewer currencies, charges more in conversion fees, and doesn’t accept regional payment methods.
No setup or application fees
$0/month for Square Free account ($29+/month for Square Plus accounts)
2.6% + $0.10/card-present transaction
2.9% + $0.30/online transaction
3.5% + $0.15/manually keyed-in transaction
2.9% + $0.30/invoice paid via credit or debit card
3.5% + $0.15/invoice paid via card on file
1%/ACH transaction (minimum $1 charge)
No ACH reject or chargeback fees
Square Contactless & Chip Reader — $49 each
Square Stand With Contactless & Chip Reader — $169
Square Terminal — $299
Square Register — $799 (or $39/month for 24 months)
Looking For One Of These B2B Payment Processing Companies?
The following two payment solutions are formidable options that could certainly be used by businesses to send and receive B2B payments. However, due to some key deficiencies, they just missed our best-of list.
Payments colossus PayPal is used by millions of businesses (including B2B businesses) around the world and is a trusted name among consumers and businesses alike. It offers an enormous number of integrations and developer tools and is a formidable business tool. However, a few factors contributed to them just missing our best-of list.
For one thing, PayPal doesn’t support ACH payments. This means that your only options for taking high-value B2B payments will involve paying much more than you would with an ACH transaction.
For another thing, PayPal’s current pricing scheme (introduced in 2021) makes determining your fees much more complicated, especially if your clients pay in a variety of different ways (invoice, payment link, PayPal digital payment, etc.). While you can certainly go with PayPal, there are providers that offer more payment options in a more cost-effective manner.
QuickBooks Payments works with the company’s mega-popular QuickBooks accounting software, making it an appealing option for B2B businesses that already use QuickBooks to balance their books. With ACH processing, invoicing, and currency conversion, QuickBooks Payments is a solid B2B credit card processing option.
However, with limited invoice customization, relatively high per-transaction fees, a lack of support for recurring billing/subscriptions, and sluggish deposit times, most businesses should be able to find an option that better suits their needs.
How Much Does B2B Payment Processing Cost?
The topic of B2B payment processing costs is a complex one.
Strictly speaking, when you receive a payment, the amount you pay for processing will be the same regardless of whether that payment came from a business or an individual customer. However, the B2B payments landscape is much more complex than the B2C payments landscape.
Perhaps the biggest difference is that the average B2B transaction is much higher in value than the average B2C transaction. The volume of goods/services being sold tends to be much higher as well. This means that B2B businesses must have the flexibility to deal with a more complex payment process than what a B2C business must accommodate.
Another difference lies in the nature of the transactions themselves. Unlike B2C transactions, B2B payments are not made in advance of the goods/services being delivered. Often, this requires invoicing, which extends the time over which the transaction takes place.
On the whole, considering the vast differences in the nature of the industries in which B2B transactions take place, we can’t provide an estimate of the overall percentage of payment volume you can expect to pay in fees. However, if you have a good idea of what you require in terms of payment methods, payment information storage, billing cycles, and other factors, you should be better able to find the provider that offers what you need at a reasonable cost.
Lower Your Costs For B2B Credit Card Processing
The good news is that if you process a substantial portion of your transactions as B2B, you can enjoy lower interchange costs as well as lower overall processing costs. However, you may have to jump through a few hoops to establish yourself as a B2B merchant, and the specialized software you’ll need to take advantage of those lower rates isn’t free. You’ll want to evaluate very carefully whether it’s cost-effective to add specialized B2B processing services to your merchant account. (Also note that with third-party processors like Square and PayPal, special B2B credit card processing rates are not supported.)
Classifying With A Merchant Category Code (MCC Code) For A Special B2B Rate
Not to be confused with the Merchant Identification Number (MID), Merchant Category Codes (or MCC codes) are assigned by credit card associations to classify businesses according to the products and services they provide. Before you can take advantage of the lower interchange rates available for B2B transactions, you’ll need to be assigned an MCC code that identifies you as a B2B merchant.
Unfortunately, all the major credit card associations have their own set of MCC codes, and they all treat them differently when it comes to B2B transactions. Visa, for example, will offer you a discounted interchange rate on B2B transactions if you’re assigned a qualifying MCC code and meet certain other criteria. Mastercard also uses MCC codes but doesn’t offer a discount for B2B transactions.
Because each card association uses its own set of MCC codes, your business will end up with a separate code for each type of credit card you accept. Establishing the proper MCC code for your business is ultimately up to the credit card associations, although your merchant services provider can assist with this task to make sure you’re assigned an appropriate code.
What You Need To Know About Data Levels
In case you’re already feeling a bit overwhelmed, the good news is that processors can (and should) assist you in setting up what you’ll need to collect the proper information when it comes to data levels if you opt to go for specialized B2B rates. The primary reason is that you’ll need some specialized software to input the sale correctly, and here’s why:
Credit card associations recognize three levels of payment data. Each has its own requirements for information that a merchant gathers at the time of the sale: Level I, Level II, and Level III data. Each major credit card association has its own separate way of classifying this data, too. Visa, for example, refers to these three data categories as “data levels,” while Mastercard calls them “data rates.” (Nothing is made simple in the world of payment processing!)
For standard transactions between your business and individual consumers, you only need Level I data to process your transaction. Level II and III data is not submitted, as you won’t get a discount on these interchange rates. Because most businesses primarily sell to individuals rather than other businesses, your merchant account is likely only set up to handle Level I data — unless you add a service to record and transmit Level II and Level III data. This option is usually only available as an optional upgrade, and you’ll often be charged an additional monthly fee for it.
Here’s an overview of the typical data requirements for each data level:
Level I Credit Card Processing
Level II Credit Card Processing
Level III Credit Card Processing
Merchant DBA name, transaction amount, and billing zip code
All Level I data, sales tax amount, customer code, merchant postal code, merchant tax ID number, invoice number, and order number
All Level I & II data, product commodity code, item ID or SKU, item description, unit price, quantity, unit of measure (each), extended price, and line discount
B2B and B2C
As you can see, entering Level III data requires a lot of additional information for each transaction. Unfortunately, manually entering this data on a standard countertop credit card terminal is not an easy process. If you’re using a virtual terminal or a payment gateway, it’s a little easier since you’ll have access to a full alphanumeric keyboard. Some merchant services providers can also set you up with a specialized software load for your terminal that automatically captures the required data, but you’ll have to pay extra for it. The bottom line is that manually entering Level II and III data is only a practical option for merchants who only handle the occasional B2B transaction and for whom specialized B2B processing software would not be cost-effective.
Again, the good news is that your processor will assist you in setting up what you need, and it’s not too complicated once you get started.
Trends In B2B Payment Processing
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic caused an enormous amount of economic disruption worldwide, which has impacted B2B business greatly.
According to a 2021 SMB survey summarized by PYMNTS.com, 49.7 percent of surveyed SMBs said cash flow woes have caused them to be unable to pay suppliers or monthly bills, with 20 percent having started doing this in 2020 and an additional 30 percent either continuing or starting this practice in 2021. While pandemic-related disruptions are winding down in 2023, ongoing economic turbulence should mean that instances of nonpayment will remain a factor in your operations for the foreseeable future.
Likewise, payment fraud and scams are proliferating as never before. A 2020 study by the Association For Financial Professionals found that the percentage of businesses experiencing attempted or actual B2B payments fraud to be rising steadily since 2013. This trend only increases the importance of moving away from insecure paper checks and toward the acceptance of more secure electronic payment methods.
Using B2B Payment Terms To Manage Your Cash Flow
So far, we’ve discussed payment methods, payment processors, costs, and trends as they relate to B2B business activity. Continuing this theme, one final matter we should broach is B2B payment terms.
What Are B2B Payment Terms?
In a B2B context, payment terms refer to the payment timeframes established by the two parties to a B2B transaction, such as those established between a corporate buyer and a supplier of goods. Clearly, buyers prefer to have lenient payment terms, while sellers would prefer to be paid more quickly.
How Do Payment Terms Affect My Cash Flow?
This article focuses on the needs of B2B sellers, so that’s the perspective from which we’re coming at this issue. Naturally, payment terms that require timely payment will help improve your cash flow. What can you do to get payment terms that are as advantageous to you as possible?
Send an invoice to the buyer as soon as the transaction is completed
Send friendly reminders as the payment deadline approaches, and enforce late fees if the deadline is not met
Consider offering a discount to incentivize quick payment
There are many strategies you can use to improve your cash flow. Merchant Maverick’s resources can help with this.
How Do I Choose The Right B2B Payment Processing Solution For My Business?
Relying on paper checks to get paid in B2B transactions costs you extra time, money, and comes with more inherent security risks and problems than you might realize. Despite this, paper checks are hanging on for dear life. From well-known corporations to the small mom-and-pop, sometimes what we’ve always done seems like the path of least resistance.
However, adding new B2B payment options is not only a step in the right direction as far as saving time; it can trim down your payment cycle, get you paid faster, and reduce payment fraud. The payment processors we’ve listed and the tips we’ve given should help you operate more effectively in the B2B arena.
Common Questions About B2B Payments
What is B2B payment processing?
B2B payment processing is the process by which a business makes and completes an electronic payment to another business for goods and/or services rendered. Examples of B2B payment types that require processing include credit card payments, ACH payments, and wire transfer payments.
What are the key features of B2B payment systems?
B2B merchant services providers should provide both credit card processing and ACH processing. Ideally, your provider should also offer special B2B processing rates, an invoicing service that allows you to create and send customized invoices, and a way to automate the process of notifying B2B buyers of impending payment due dates.
What are the advantages of B2B payment systems?
The main advantage of a B2B payment system is that it lets you accept payments electronically, thus giving you faster, cheaper, and more secure alternatives to the paper check. B2B payment systems may also offer you tools for managing your orders, invoices, and projects.
What is a B2B payment gateway?
A B2B payment gateway is a software application that allows a vendor to accept electronic payments from a buyer.
What is B2B accounts payable?
In a B2B context, the accounts payable department of the selling business is the entity responsible for ensuring that outstanding invoices are paid on time.
Jason Vissers has been researching, analyzing, and writing about small business software and finance since 2015. His financial expertise has been cited in numerous publications, including The Ladders. Jason graduated with a Political Science degree from San Diego State University in 2001.
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Merchant Maverick’s ratings are editorial in nature, and are not aggregated from user reviews. Each staff reviewer at Merchant Maverick is a subject matter expert with experience researching, testing, and evaluating small business software and services. The rating of this company or service is based on the author’s expert opinion and analysis of the product, and assessed and seconded by another subject matter expert on staff before publication. Merchant Maverick’s ratings are not influenced by affiliate partnerships.
Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.
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