Credit card processing companies enable credit card transactions. They link the cardholder, the credit card network, and the merchant(stores).
Methods of payment have evolved over the years. Now, businesses have to keep up with the changes to receive payments from their customers. Among the various forms of payments, credit cards remain the most popular choice for online and in-store transactions.
However, even with many credit card processing companies available, businesses are still concerned about finding reliable, efficient, and, most importantly, affordable ones. They are particularly wary of the loopholes and unclear terms and conditions issued in the contracts.
The main challenge is knowing what to look for when searching for a credit processing company. Getting a reliable processor is critical to the long-term success of your business.
Also, finding a payment processor may prove difficult for business owners with low credit scores. That is why this article is so important, and it highlights the five best credit card processing companies that fit the requirements.
Furthermore, it provides you with a complete breakdown of what to look for when choosing a processor. It also gives insights into what a contract should detail.
With this knowledge, you can enter an agreement with a processor that is mutually beneficial.
Best 5 Picks For Credit Card Processing Companies
#1. Helcim: Overall Best Credit Card Processing Company
Helcium is top on our list of credit processing companies for many reasons. The company founded in 2006 is renowned for excellent service. It has over 800 businesses on its list of clients. The company is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliant. It also prioritizes data protection and charges almost nothing monthly fees.
- Reputation: Helcim has been in operation since 2006. It services over 800 companies in the USA and Canada. Notable companies on their list include Unicef, Techvibes, and Michelin. They have years of experience and have expanded to offer more services to their clients.
- Security and Compliance: Helcim maintains the highest level of compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI-DSS). They undergo audits and random testing to ensure efficiency. The processor detects and deals with any threats quickly without interruptions to their service. Furthermore, they encrypt all the data on their system.
- Transparency: Helcim is one of the few credit card processing companies that display its rates and fees on its website. They pride themselves on transparency and give their clients all the information upfront. There are also no hidden fees or limitations that clients are unaware of.
- Moderate Fees: There are no monthly fees for using Helcim, making them the go-to company for small businesses. In addition, the only fees you pay are for interchange and transactions. These further benefit clients as they depend on volume. The more processed transactions, the more discounts you will receive on the fees charged.
- Customer Support: Helicim prides itself on the human approach. Clients who need support can speak to a company representative to resolve their issues.
Easy Process: Signing up on Helcim takes only five minutes, and you can sign up via your PC or mobile phone. Besides, the platform only requires basic details such as your business’s name and contact information.
- No monthly fees
- No long term contracts
- They offer volume-based discounts for companies dealing with transactions exceeding $25 000
- Great customer support
- Additional services at no extra cost. Includes Point Of Sale (POS), online store, and CRM services
- No early termination fees
- Easy to use Payment App that does not require additional hardware
- Allows international payments
- Businesses with low transaction volumes will not benefit from using Helcim
- Do not accept high-risk businesses
- If you are processing in-store transactions, you need to pay extra for terminal hardware
#2. National Processing: Known For E-Commerce Credit Card Processing
National Processing provides a range of financial solutions, including credit card processing for businesses. Although the company is not a direct card processor, it provides customer support and has excellent reviews from customers. Also, it is a good option for non-profit companies and is affordable. Furthermore, the company has a transparency policy, and clients know about all requirements and fees.
- Plan Options: National Processing offers seven credit card processing plans suitable for various businesses. There are five plans available for small-medium businesses and two for large companies. The monthly fees for each plan vary. Besides, the pricing for these plans is available on the website. Moreover, they also provide free hardware and 24/7 customer support.
Competitive: As a company, National Processing knows that its rates are some of the lowest on offer. Because of this, they offer a reward to clients if they cannot beat the price of the current processor. They offer $500 to companies that deal with transactions up to $10,000 or more per month. Also, if you terminate your contract with National Processing because you have found cheaper rates elsewhere, they will waive your termination fee.
- Easy Integration: The processor integrates with shopping platforms easily. Integration is possible with Shopify, QuickBooks, and BigCommerce, to name a few. This list is not as long as some of the other processors, but this is how National Processing can keep its fees so low.
- Batch File Processing: National Processing allows businesses to submit a file with transactions processed simultaneously. That saves time as each transaction does not have to be processed independently. Although the company has no mobile app to process transactions, customers can access a web terminal to pay for their purchases.
- Other Services: Aside from having the cheapest rates compared to competitors, clients on the small business’s plan receive a free SimpleSwipe mobile reader. The device has Bluetooth, which easily connects to your phone or tablet. In turn, this allows chip, magstripe, and contactless payments. In addition, the company has a feature that enables clients to make payments without hardware.
- Plan options to satisfy small, medium, and large businesses
- 24/7 customer support
- PCI compliant
- Free terminal hardware with free upgrades every two years for firms based in the USA
- Accepts high-risk businesses
- No mobile app is available
- If you terminate your contract early, you will have to pay termination fees.
- National Processing often gets confused with National Processing Company, an entirely different company.
#3. Square: Best For Multiple Devices Utilisation
Since 2009, Square has grown to understand the needs of businesses. They have also adjusted their services to satisfy their customer’s needs. Not only do they handle credit card processing, but they also provide financial tools that help businesses. They strive to continue with these adaptations to stay true to their customer’s needs.
- Reputation: Square has been around since 2009. Besides handling credit card processing, they also offer many software integrations to help companies get the best out of their services. Square is PCI compliant and conscientious about who they do business with. The company insists that users adhere to the terms and conditions of their contract. They also review large transactions as a measure against fraud.
- No Extra Fees: Square does not charge extra fees for signing up, PCI compliance, or monthly subscription fees. The only fees you pay are the fixed fee for each transaction. If you have a large business that processes more than $250 000 in transactions per year, you may be eligible for custom pricing. Square is upfront with its pricing structure, and it provides information on its website, including helpful videos about pricing.
- Quick Setup and Payments: Applying to Square is a quick process. However, you should read the terms of service before applying. Also, check their pricing structure. Those will give you an idea of what you will need to budget repayments. In addition, you can check for the plan your business qualifies for. To apply on Square does not require credit checks. Once you apply, you can expect an answer on the same day. The free hardware comes a week later.
- Available in Multiple Countries: Square’s growth in recent years has seen them expand. In addition to covering all 50 states in the US, they support businesses in Canada, Australia, Japan, and Ireland.
- Flat rates no matter the card type
- Mobile app available
- No extra fees
- The user agreement means are no long term contracts
- There are no termination fees
- They offer custom rates for more than $250 000 per annum.
- You receive chargeback protection which will prevent excess charges
- There are additional services and integrations available
- Customer service only available on weekdays
- Your account can be closed without notice if you violate the user agreement
#4. Payment Depot: Best Credit Card Processor For Small Business
Payment Depot started in Los Angeles in 2013. They are slightly different from other processors. They offer membership pricing, which allows their customers to access wholesale rates and save money. The company also boasts a 90-day money-back guarantee if a customer isnt satisfied with their services.
- Membership Pricing: Payment Depot does not charge any further mark-up percentage on the interchange rates like other credit processors. Instead, they use a monthly membership model that charges a fixed monthly rate. There are three memberships available: Starter Membership, Mid-Level Membership, and Enterprise Membership. The pricing model helps companies pay less for each transaction. Furthermore, they guarantee up to $400 saved from not paying a mark-up percentage. However, if these plans do not meet your business requirements, you can request a custom plan.
Mobile Payments and Virtual Terminal: Payment Depot uses a third-party app and hardware to facilitate payments for companies. There is also a virtual terminal that merchants can utilize from any device with an internet connection. These services are free, except for the hardware. Also, the terminals are free on specific packages.
- Funding for Members: Payment Depot offers cash advances for companies that need a capital boost. You can receive up to $500 000 in cash within 24 hours after your request. However, you must repay within 18 months.
- No Hidden Fees: Since Payment Depot has a membership subscription, the fee is all-inclusive. There is no need for separate PCI compliance, termination, or application fees. You will also know how much you will pay every month. However, you will be charged PCI non-compliance fees if your business account does not comply with their policies.
90 Day Satisfaction Guarantee: Even though Payment Depot works on month-to-month billing, you can pay your fee annually. If you do and are not satisfied with their credit card processing services within 90 days of joining, you can cancel your account. If you cancel and return your equipment, you will get your annual membership payment back. You will also receive a 20% restocking fee on any accompanying equipment.
- Excellent customer support
- They have a transparent monthly billing structure
- No fees associated with the application
- Interchange rates and membership pricing
- Customer reviews are positive
- Not suitable for businesses with low transaction volumes
- Not all plans come with a free terminal
- Do not accept high-risk businesses
#5. Stax: Best for Large Businesses
Stax is the newest company on our list. However, this does not mean they are new to credit card processing. Stax is the go-to processor for new businesses. They charge a fixed monthly rate between $99 and $199. Although their pricing may seem high, they offer tools and software optimized for your business.
- Best Suited For Businesses With High Transaction Value: Stax charges a fixed monthly rate. If your company processes below $500 000 per annum, the fee is $99. However, if your business processes between $500 000 and $1 million, the fee goes up to $199. Businesses that make less than $5000 per month will not find Stax suitable. In addition to these monthly charges, Stax also offers three software plans. These are the Growth, Pro, and Ultimate plans. They vary in price and offer different options depending on the size of your business.
- Customer Support Availability: You can contact Stax customer support via phone or live chat round the clock. Stax also offers customized support as they do not deal with as many businesses as other processors. However, they also provide helpful information in a blog and an online library.
- Great Analytics: Stax has software that facilitates payments and runs analytics. It uses your business’s transaction data to provide valuable reports. These can help you determine the highs and lows of your business sales. Also, with this data, you can make improvements that will contribute to your business’s success.
- Quick Payments: Stax is a favorite amongst businesses because of its fast processing of payments. When you process a transaction, you can be sure that the money will be in your business account by the next day. In some circumstances, you can receive your money on the same day; however, Stax charges a fee for same-day payments.
- Transparent pricing
- Free API on offer for integration with an online store
- Analytics available as part of the software used
- You have to speak to a representative to be able to know more about pricing
- High monthly fees
- Hardware is not free
How We Compiled the List Of Top Credit Card Processing Companies?
To compile our list of the five best credit processing companies, we conducted a poll for the most popular credit processors from a broad audience of businesses. Next, we drew up a list of why these businesses preferred some processors over others from the feedback. After that, we trimmed the list based on specific criteria and expert opinions. Finally, we selected only credit processing companies with over two-thirds of the factors on our list of requirements.
What We Looked For
Here are some of the criteria that served as a benchmark for our five best credit processing companies.
- Reputation: If a company has been around for a long time, you know it is doing something right. If clients were unhappy about its services, they would likely leave poor reviews. Therefore, we had to consider the years that a company has been operating and its overall reviews. We also checked to see if the company filled the regulations stipulated by PCI (payment card industry).
- Affordability: Processors have different pricing models depending on your business’s requirements. The fees per transaction also vary. Yet, we ensured that the companies listed in this article do not exploit customers in this aspect.
- Security: Credit card processors deal with sensitive data that must be kept safe. So, we ensured that companies on our list consider this a top priority. We made sure that the payment process and users’ information were secure. We selected only companies with multiple security measures, such as the latest encryption codes and tools, to be on the safe side.
- Integration: A processor must not only ensure quick credit card payments. Many businesses need the processing functions to fit in seamlessly with other software. That is important for companies that have online stores.
- Customer Support For Businesses: This is an essential aspect for many businesses. Dealing with credit card transactions is not always easy, and problems arise. Thus the need for customer support. So we only selected companies that provide quality customer support.
- Hardware Options: A credit card is also required if your business requires in-store transactions. We took a look at whether the processor offered hardware to companies and if there were any additional costs.
Factors to Consider When You Choose a Credit Card Processing Company
Depending on the size of your business, you will have varying numbers of transactions. Therefore, you have to weigh your options regarding transaction fees. Small businesses that deal with a large number of transactions of low monetary value may end up losing more money than they would like. Credit card processors take a percentage of each transaction. Thus, you have to work out if the processor you chose is the right choice for your business. It has to be affordable and a benefit to your business.
The credit card processing company you choose has to integrate with the existing systems you have in place effortlessly. It should sync with the processing system, online, point of sale (POS), or accounting software. The purpose is to ensure that your business functions optimally without additional costs. Extra charges are possible later if you do not guarantee that a processor’s system can integrate into your existing software.
The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS, is a set of requirements that need to be met by companies dealing with credit card data. It ensures that the data is secure at all stages of the transaction. Your processor must be PCI compliant. That will reassure you of your processor capabilities and legitimacy. With a PCI compliant, transactions are secure, and there is a minor threat of identity theft.
You need reliable customer support from your processor. Extra charges are possibly significant if you have a high transaction volume. If there are any issues with your business transactions, you want to contact customer support immediately. That will ensure that you can resolve problems quickly and that your business can run smoothly. Moreover, not getting customer support 24/7 when you need it can be problematic. It may halt sales or even cause you to lose customers.
You may want to check what else you get from a processor besides processing credit card transactions. Things like hardware in terminals, online store hosting, software, and additional management tools can be available. As a business owner, you have to ensure that you get the most out of your processor.
Your credit score can affect your ability to secure a credit card processor for your business. Also, if you have been in debt or have had a business failure, this may drastically lower your credit score. You can look at ways to quickly improve your credit score to get the processor you want.
Credit Card & Payment Processors: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. How quickly will I receive payment after a transaction is processed?
That will depend on a variety of factors. Mainly the credit card associated with the transaction, the processor, and the bank. The request is sent to the credit card processing company’s bank from the POS system when you make a purchase. They then send this request off for authorization to the card-issuing bank. After this happens, approval is sent back to the POS system. Typically, this entire process should not take longer than 76 hours.
Q2.Is there a minimum amount of transactions that my business must make to secure a credit card processing company?
No. However, you must be aware of the fees associated with the processor you choose. Most credit card processing companies charge per transaction. However, if you have a monthly fee to pay your processor but your transaction volume is low, you may be wasting more money than you are making. In addition, some processors offer a discount if you have a high transaction volume. Therefore, although there are often no limitations regarding the number of transactions, you must ascertain if you make enough to cover the fees.
Q3. After my application is approved, how long does it take to start accepting credit card payments?
That is dependent on the processor and your hardware requirements to accept credit cards payments. The application process does not take long, and most processors say that you can start processing credit card transactions in just two days. However, if you have a physical store and need hardware, this may be delayed until you receive it.
Q4. How secure is credit card processing?
Credit card processing is secure since the authorities implemented the PCI DSS framework. The framework aimed to protect businesses and customers from data breaches and identity theft. Thus, if the credit card processor is PCI compliant, there is a more negligible risk of being targeted by fraudsters. If your credit card processing company is not PCI compliant, you risk incurring fines from credit card companies.
Q5. What is interchange-plus pricing?
An interchange fee is sometimes called a swipe fee. It is the fee that merchant account providers incurr with every transaction. Interchange plus pricing is usually what credit card processing companies offer you. It shows the interchange fee plus the percentage fee they are charging for processing the transaction. Meanwhile, interchange plus pricing is crucial to determine if the cost per transaction is beneficial or harmful to your business.
Q6. Should I lease a terminal to process payments?
No. If you need a terminal to process payments, check which processors offer free hardware. Many processors will have hardware as part of the packages they offer. In addition, if you require a terminal, it is better to purchase than to lease one. That is because the costs associated with leasing a terminal often exceed purchase.
Q7. Should I sign a long-term contract with a credit card processor?
Most processors do not have long-term contracts. There may be a month-to-month or more of a pay-as-you transact agreement. You need to make sure that you read the terms and conditions carefully before signing any agreement. Business owners should not take long-term contracts with a processor, which puts them at a disadvantage. Firstly, you may be unhappy with the processor or find that the fees are too much. Secondly, your business may experience changes or growth that change your processor needs. If you sign a long-term contract, you will be unable to change processors and might even incur early termination fees.
Q8. I know about transaction fees. What other fees do I need to check?
The first fees you need to look out for are any monthly or annual fees linked to your account. Next, check for hidden costs like compliance, statement, or early termination fees. There may even be foreign exchange fees if you deal with international customers. These may not be clearly stated. However, when consulting a processor, you should not be afraid to ask them about the fees. You can ask them to explain the quote you receive and any additional fees that may arise later.
Q9. What does ‘high-risk business’ mean?
A business is high-risk if it has a bad credit history. The same goes if it is particularly susceptible to fraudulent transactions and chargebacks. Chargebacks cost processors a lot of money. If your business has more than 1% chargeback, it is considered high risk by a processor. Credit card processors deem high-risk businesses as more likely to experience financial failure. It is not impossible to secure a processor if you are at high risk. However, there are usually more conditions in your agreement with a processor.
Q10. What happens if I process a refund?
If a customer requests a refund, a processor will keep the original transaction fee. In addition, they may ask for an additional fee to process the refund. As a business owner, you will lose money if a customer returns a product.
Q11. Do processors offer customized support or is it general customer support?
That will depend on the credit card processing service company. Some processors will offer dedicated customer support for your business. That will include a team of people who know your business’s specifics and its workings. Dedicated customer support will help resolve problems faster. However, you will have to ask the processor before committing to them.
The best credit card processing companies can be hard to find. However, this article has listed them for you. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Your choice depends on your business’s requirements and budget. The most important thing you have to consider is whether the fees are affordable. Also, you must know the rates associated with transactions, along with any further monthly or annual fees, before you make your decision.
It is also vital that your processor is PCI compliant to protect your transactions and customers. The processor you choose is essential to your business’s reputation, and it must have adequate security measures in place. Also, check if they have a good reputation themselves. Transparency and customer support are critical to any good payment processing company.
Consider improving your credit score first if you have difficulty finding a reputable processor. As much as this will take more time, improving your credit score and getting a better processor is better than settling for one with high rates and credit card processing fees. The overall success of your business will depend on the choice you make; it will be wise to do so carefully.