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The Best Credit Card Processing Companies for 2020

Cash is out. Credit cards are in. Unless you’re selling peanuts at a football game or managing a lemonade stand, you can’t expect your customers to carry coins and bills to pay for your product. This is especially true when it comes to the sale of luxury items, machinery, or other types of expensive services. Most customers don’t bother carrying much cash, and depriving them of the option to pay with a card means losing business. So if you want a successful business, you need credit card processing services.

But with so many companies on the market, how do you find the one you can trust with your clients’ money? That’s where we come in. For a list of the best credit card processing companies that will handle payments with great care, simply read on.

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The Best Credit Card Processing Companies - Top 3 Picks

Top 3 Picks

Square

Great processing fees

Free mobile app

Integration with other software

Sign up now READ REVIEW

Payment Depot

All major credit cards accepted

Great virtual terminal

Excellent customer support

Sign up now READ REVIEW

Helcim

Transparent fees

Great customer service

Cheap credit card processing

Sign up now READ REVIEW

6 Best Credit Card Processing Companies

1. Square

Great processing fees

Free mobile app

Added features integrated

Sign up now

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Square Point of Sale is easy to use. The systems are highly intuitive and require very little time to master. Each processed payment goes through smoothly and quickly. Square is also fairly transparent about their fees, so you know exactly what to expect before you sign up.

Read full review

Mobile payments

Yes

eCommerce support

Yes

24/7 Customer Support

Yes

Fees

2.6% + $0.10 for in-person swipes; 3.5% + $0.15 for keyed-in transactions; 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions

2. Payment Depot

All major credit cards accepted

Great virtual terminal

Excellent customer support

Sign up now

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Payment Depot is a great credit card processing provider for companies that process a lot of monthly sales. If you process at least $10,000 in monthly payments, then Payment Depot’s membership plans will provide you with everything you need to set up a highly-functional payment system.

Read full review

Mobile payments

Yes

eCommerce support

Yes

24/7 Customer Support

Yes

Fees

$29 - $99 monthly fee, depending on the subscription; 5—25 cents transaction fee

3. Helcim

Transparent fees

Great customer service

Integration with third-party companies

Sign up now

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In a sea of vague information and companies that can’t seem to give a clear answer about pricing to save their life, Helcim comes in as a breath of fresh air. Not only are the fees clearly outlined on their website, they offer some very competitive pricing and a vast number of useful features that small businesses will appreciate.

Read full review

Mobile payments

Yes

eCommerce support

Yes

24/7 Customer Support

Yes

Fees

$12 monthly fee + different subscription plans

4. Intuit QuickBooks Payments

Over 1,200 apps that you can integrate with QuickBooks

Great fees

Excellent eCommerce platform

Sign up now

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Intuit QuickBooks Payments is the natural choice for any customer that already uses the company’s services for accounting. It’s not to be confused with the Intuit QuickBooks POS system, which is better optimized for brick-and-mortar businesses, whereas QuickBooks Payments is perfect for web-based merchants.

Read full review

Mobile payments

Yes

eCommerce support

Yes

24/7 Customer Support

Yes

Fees

2.4% transaction fee for in-person swipes, 3.4% transaction fee for keyed-in transaction + 25 cent transaction fee

5. TSYS Merchant Solutions

Customized payment plans

Great virtual terminal

Open API for developers

Sign up Now

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Formerly known under the name Cayan, TSYS Merchant Solutions is a global provider of merchant services with a history that stretches back to 1983. It’s one of the largest and oldest credit card merchant services around, and it has built up a solid reputation and a loyal client base over the years.

Read full review

Mobile payments

Yes

eCommerce support

Yes

24/7 Customer Support

Yes

Fees

Customized depending on the business

6. Flagship

Customized payment plans

Great merchant portal

No cancellation fee

Sign up now

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Founded in 2001, Flagship has a long track record of satisfied clients and has dealt with countless small to mid-sized merchant businesses over the years.

Read full review

Mobile payments

Yes

eCommerce support

Yes

24/7 Customer Support

Yes

Fees

Customized depending on the business

How We Chose the Top Credit Card Processing Companies — Methodology

Each of the financial products we review is carefully examined by our staff. In order to find the best credit card payment processing companies, we analyzed businesses, conducted several surveys, and compiled a list of important features that every card processing system needs to have to deliver an adequate experience.

Through our own experience and the experience of other small, mid-sized, and major businesses, we’ve come to understand what different companies need in a fully-optimized payment system. Before making up your mind about the best companies for credit card processing, check out an outline of our method and focus throughout the search process.

Transaction fees

Even the cheapest credit card processing involves some sort of transaction fees. This is how companies earn their money. It’s standard practice for them to expect compensation for the service they provide. However, how they go about getting paid and how much they ask for is where things can get a little fuzzy. Credit card processing is a cutthroat industry, and businesses often resort to questionable practices to get ahead of the game. That’s why hidden fees, small print that hits you when you least expect it and costs that you simply didn’t feel like you signed up for, are commonplace. However, we’ve also noticed the best credit card processing companies in the USA avoid such practices. These businesses won’t try to trick you into paying more than you agreed to, and they won’t put a significant dent into your company’s profits as you attempt to establish a payment system.

Transaction fees are some of the most common, and we’ve done our best to find firms that offer fair prices and clear terms right from the start.

Another thing we took into consideration is how a company collects its transaction fee. Some firms will have flat-rate charges for each transaction, while some ask for a percentage of each transaction. Neither is better or worse, and your pick depends on your own business. For example, if you sell mostly expensive items, then flat rate credit card processing is the perfect choice. If you sell a lot of small, cheaper items, then you should probably look for a company that takes a percentage of the transaction.

We outlined how each of the firms on our list collects transaction fees.

Monthly fees

Monthly fees are another fairly frequent thing to expect. Sometimes companies will offer lower monthly fees in exchange for higher transaction fees. Other times you’ll have low transaction fees and a pricey monthly fee. Again, neither of these is bad. The best wireless credit card processing companies with higher transaction fees could be perfect for businesses that get less than $5,000 in card sales on a monthly basis and mostly receives cash. If you own a high-volume business, you might want to find a company that offers lower fees.

Equipment

This is another cost you’ll have to consider when choosing the best credit card payment processing payment companies for you. To process cards, you’ll need specialized card processing equipment, and this can often amount to several hundred dollars in costs. Some major credit card companies will rent out the needed systems or give you discounts on purchases. Others will make the equipment available for free. Be wary of those who give you equipment for free — this usually means they’ll have higher transaction fees or monthly fees than the rest. You’ll have to do some calculations to figure out whether this type of company will boost your profits in the long run.

eCommerce support

What’s a retailer without a webpage and an online payment method? Practically invisible. If you want to accept credit cards online, you need credit card processing companies for small businesses that take eCommerce into account. Most of the companies we examined offer great brick-and-mortar equipment, but we’ve also found plenty that give you online payment options that you can incorporate into your website.

Mobile payments

The world is becoming more mobile with each passing day. People want to shop for things on the go, and the best rated credit card processing companies generally make sure that all their online payment systems allow for complete mobile optimization. The satisfaction of your customers is likely to take a hit if they can’t make purchases through your website with their handheld devices. To gain their trust and present yourself as a fully-professional, modern company, you simply need a mobile payment option.

We’ve made a selection of companies that make this possible.

Terms and conditions

We always examine the small print for you. Credit card payment processing is often complicated to explain, and a lot of companies feed off this. They work with small business owners who are not familiar with the costs, adding unnecessary fees that go unnoticed until you start using their credit card systems. We made a credit card processing comparison chart, and we’ve noticed that a lot of companies simply don’t disclose all of the features and elements to customers. We decided to exclude those names — every business owner deserves to know exactly what they’re signing up for, regardless of their financial knowledge. Every company on our list fully checks out and can be trusted completely.

Ease of use

If you have to organize a seminar just to train your employees to use a payment system, you are allocating time and resources that could be used in a far more effective manner. Credit card payment processing should be easy and straightforward — if users can’t figure it out quickly or require special training, we’ll be sure to point it out. This is particularly true for brick-and-mortar stores or businesses that need to instal a lot of payment terminals. The best processing credit card companies offer easy-to-use equipment that doesn’t require constant servicing to function.

Additional features

We will point out any special features that these merchant credit card processing companies have to offer. These special features often separate one company from another and can be very helpful if you need something more specific. For example, the best credit card processing companies for healthcare would need to have a comprehensive dashboard to track a multitude of payments and customers that are common in healthcare environments.

Things like virtual terminals, good point-of-sale (POS) solutions, or web hosting will all be marked in our reviews, so you can easily pick the company that provides the exact features you need to run everything successfully.

Customer service

Customer service is extremely important with merchant processing services. You’ll want to look for companies that offer 24/7 assistance and can be contacted by phone. If there’s a hitch in CC processing, you need someone that you can contact immediately. In addition to researching our list of credit card processing companies, we also made sure to check out the BBB rating with the Better Business Bureau, while examining online reviews from regular customers who interacted with these companies and their processing systems.

Top Credit Card Processing Companies

Square: Best for fraud protection
Helcim: Best for small business companies
Payment Depot: Best for customer service
Intuit QuickBooks Payments: Best for software integration
TSYS Merchant Solutions: Best for custom rates
Flagship: Best for no cancellation fees

At a Glance

  • Fees: 2.6% + $0.10 for in-person swipes; 3.5% + $0.15 for keyed-in transactions; 2.9% + $0.30 for online transactions
  • Mobile payments: Yes
  • eCommerce support: Yes
  • 24/7 Customer Support: Yes

Overview

Square Point of Sale is easy to use. The systems are highly intuitive and require very little time to master, ensuring that every payment is processed smoothly and quickly. Square is also fairly transparent about their fees, so you’ll know exactly what to expect before you sign up. Both high-volume merchants and small to medium sized businesses will appreciate the sheer number of available features and straightforward functionality.

Fees to expect

Fees are clearly visible on Square’s website – you can expect to pay 2.6% of every in-person transaction, plus a flat rate of $0.10. For every keyed transaction, you’ll pay 3.5% of the transaction plus a flat rate of $0.15. For every online transaction, you’ll pay 2.9% of the transaction plus a flat rate of $0.30. It’s the cheapest way to accept credit cards considering that every payment is completely secure.

Favorite features

Square’s easy credit card processing is made even better with the free mobile app, an iPad POS, and an online store that will synchronize with your in-app inventory. You get a sleek virtual terminal that allows for stored card capabilities, recurred billing, and invoicing, so your customers can pay for everything quickly and with minimal effort. Square is one of the largest credit card processors around, and the features they enable reflect their success. It’s a whole business platform that enables several features that aren’t strictly related to card processing: employee management, inventory management, customer management, and sales analysis. You can access lists, charts, and reports related to your business to get a general overview of profit, growth, and other statistics.

A customer can use an electronic credit card, debit card, cash, gift card, Apple Pay, or Android Pay for their purchases. Square is one of the best virtual terminal credit card processing companies for small companies because it also enables developers to access the application development interface (API) for its e-commerce store.

All Square customers also get a chargeback protection that goes up to $250 a month, and you can expect a top of the line fraud security system to protect user data.

Equipment

You will get the Square Chip Card Reader for free, and if you want to get a swiper that reads chipped and contactless cards, it is available for $49. You can also get the the Square Register, which includes a large stand and display where customers can input their payment info. It costs $799 plus 2.6% of every transaction and a flat-rate of 10 cents for every transaction.

Customer support

Customer support is great. Credit card merchants can reach customer service over the phone from Monday to Friday, from 6 AM to 6 PM, Pacific Time. They can also contact Square through their social media handles, email, and online support center.

Best for

Square offers great credit card processing for small business with no monthly fee. They can also work well for high-volume businesses, but might not be suitable for high-risk businesses that deal with cryptocurrency.

At a Glance

  • Fees: $29 - $99 monthly fee, depending on the subscription; 5—25 cents transaction fee
  • Mobile payments: Yes
  • eCommerce support: Yes
  • 24/7 Customer Support: Yes

Overview

Payment Depot is a great credit card processing provider for companies that process a lot of sales within a month. If you process at least $10,000 in monthly payments, then Payment Depot’s membership plans will provide you with everything you need to set up a highly-functional payment system. Unlike the majority of others, this company uses a wholesale subscription model instead of tacking on its fee to the interchange fee. Most companies markup the fee charged by the credit card company to earn a profit whereas Payment Depot has monthly fees, interchange fees, and flat-rate transaction fees.

Fees to expect

The fees will depend on the subscription plan you choose. The basic plan costs $29 per month plus a flat-rate 25 cent transaction fee, and it allows for up to $20,000 in transactions. The “most popular plan allows for transactions up to $40,000 and costs $49 per month (or $499 per year), and has a 15 cent flat-rate transaction fee. The “best value” plan offers transactions up to $100,000, with a monthly fee of $69 (or $599 for a whole year). The premier plan will give you unlimited processing for $99 per month ($999 per year), and a flat-rate of 5 cents per transaction.

This isn’t exactly one of the best third party credit card processing companies for startups, but it’s great for larger corporations that process a high volume of sales. Payment processing companies such as Payment Depot are practically tailor-made for successful, growing businesses that plan to expand quickly.

Favorite features

Like any good credit card payment platform, Payment Depot accepts all major credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard. It also accepts mobile payments and payments through Android Pay and Apple Pay, and it offers an eCommerce platform and a virtual terminal with an excellent user interface. It offers integration with other third-party software such as Shopify and QuickBooks, meaning you can have all your important tools in one place.

Equipment

There are three types of terminals you can purchase, a mobile card reader and a couple of handheld swipers. One thing that makes Payment Depot one of the most transparent credit card vendors around is their offer to customers to reprogram their equipment for free. This means that you can use the equipment even after canceling your account – you bought it, you tailored it to your needs, and you can keep using it.

Customer support

Payment Depot might not have the cheapest payment gateway of all the companies on the list, but they sure have some of the best customer support. They are available 24/7 and are ready to help you with any problem. Customer reviews are all positive, and even the employees say Payment Depot is one of the best credit card processing companies to work for.

Best for

Payment Depot offers some of the best credit card processing for construction companies and similar businesses that process a lot of money on a monthly basis.

At a Glance

  • Fees: $12 monthly fee + different subscription plans
  • Mobile payments: Yes
  • eCommerce support: Yes
  • 24/7 Customer Support: Yes

Overview

In a sea of vague information and companies that can’t seem to give a clear answer about pricing to save their life, Helcim comes in as a breath of fresh air. Not only are the fees clearly outlined on their website, they offer some very competitive pricing and a vast number of useful features that small businesses will appreciate. Low-volume merchants will be particularly happy with this company’s great customer service and their flat-rate fees.

Fees to expect

The first thing you can expect to pay is a $12 monthly fee. This is a set amount that remains the same for every company. In addition, Helcim charges an interchange fee for every transaction, and the amount depends on the type of card and the card provider who issued it.

When it comes to credit card processing, the best companies for small business usually give the option of online processing. Helcim is no different, and if you run an eCommerce business, you can expect to pay a flat rate of $25 each month to enjoy their virtual terminal. It’s fully mobile-optimized, so your customers can shop for everything on the go.

Helcim also has a chargeback fee of $15. The reason the company has this flat-rate fee is because verifying fraudulent charges takes manual effort – a Helcim representative arbitrates between the credit card company and the vendor.

Favorite features

Helcim accepts all major credit cards. They also accept mobile payments through Android Pay and Apple Pay, and all accounts get international card processing. This means that you can enable multiple currencies and let customers from abroad pay for goods and services in their own currency.

Helcim credit card processing also makes it easy to integrate with third-party companies like Shopify and QuickBooks. These shopping card providers and accounting tools are invaluable to many small business owners, so the fact that merchants get to have everything in one place is quite handy.

Online purchases are protected by a software called Fraud Defender. Fraud Defender rates each transaction based on several security factors and then it assigns it a score. You can set everything up so that low-score transactions are automatically rejected. This makes it one of the best rated credit card processing companies for small hotels, where frauds are a frequent problem.

Equipment

Helcim sells its own equipment. You can expect to find a range of necessary hardware such as wired and wireless credit card scanners and mobile readers. All of the hardware tools are compatible with each other, and you can switch between them if you need to. You’ll get a one-year replacement warranty, 24/7 tech support, and shipping included into the price.

Customer support

Helcim has better customer support than any other company on our list. They are always available to offer assistance and we noticed very few lodged complaints against Helcim on websites like Better Business Bureau.

Best for

Helcim is one of the best credit card processing companies for small business around. In addition to low credit card processing fees, great customer service, and transparent terms offered, Helcim also offers a whole bundle of useful tutorials and guides on their website. You can learn all about credit card processing services by reading their Understanding Payments section.

At a Glance

  • Fees: 2.4% transaction fee for in-person swipes, 3.4% transaction fee for keyed-in transaction + 25 cent transaction fee
  • Mobile payments: Yes
  • eCommerce support: Yes
  • 24/7 Customer Support: Yes

Overview

Intuit QuickBooks Payments is the natural choice for any customer that already uses this company’s services for accounting. It’s not to be confused with the Intuit QuickBooks POS system, which is better optimized for brick-and-mortar businesses, whereas QuickBooks Payments is perfect for web-based merchants. It offers a couple of payment plans and you can pick the one that best suits your monthly sales volume or business needs. All in all, this company stacks up well against its competitors because of its good pricing and ability to integrate with a vast number of other softwares and applications.

Fees to expect

There are two payment plans: Pay as You Go and Low Monthly Rates. For the Pay as You Go plan, you can expect to pay 2.4% of every in-person transaction plus a 25 cent flat-rate fee, and 3.4% for every keyed-in transaction plus 25 cent flat-rate fee. The Low Monthly Rate plan costs $20 per month. In addition, you’ll pay 1.6% of every in-person transaction plus a 25 cent flat-rate fee, and 3.2% for every keyed-in transaction plus 25 cent flat-rate fee. QuickBooks Payments offers fast credit card processing, and fairly competitive rates. It’s one of the best credit card processing companies that process on weekends.

Favorite features

There are over 1,200 apps that can be integrated with QuickBooks. You can also access the application programming interface if you’re a developer, and customize the business ecosystem to suit your needs. Since you can connect pretty much anything to this payment system, you can have your accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll features all put into one place where you can access it at your convenience. This makes it one of the best credit card processing companies for independent contractors and small businesses because it removes the hassle of managing too many different systems at the same time.

Equipment

There is a large POS system that you can purchase for $1,800, and a mobile credit card reader that can be plugged into your smartphone or tablet. The first reader is free, and every additional device costs $10.

Customer support

Customer support for QuickBooks Payments and QuickBooks company leaves something to be desired. While they do offer 24/7 online support, we’ve found them to be slow to respond and slightly unhelpful when it comes to answering questions. Nonetheless, QuickBooks answers to most of its credit card processing reviews and complaints online, even if they’re negative.

Best for

QuickBooks Payments has some of the best credit card processing fees merchandise for companies. If you’re already a QuickBooks user, then using their credit card processing solutions will be a breeze.

At a Glance

  • Fees: Customized depending on the business
  • Mobile payments: Yes
  • eCommerce support: Yes
  • 24/7 Customer Support: Yes

Overview

Formerly known under the name Cayan, TSYS Merchant Solutions is a global provider of merchant services with a history that stretches back to 1983. It’s one of the largest and oldest credit card merchant services around. It built up a solid reputation and a loyal client base over the years. TSYS acquired Cayan for $1.05 billion in 2017 and maintained an excellent standard of service. One of the main reasons TSYS Merchant Services made onto our list of best credit card processing companies is their commitment to transparency and great pricing options for high-volume businesses.

Fees to expect

TSYS Merchant Solutions stands out for offering custom pricing options. The TSYS team creates a special pricing structure based on the applicant’s volume of transactions and the needs of your company. This means that everything is open to negotiation. Your chances of getting a good deal increase if you are an established business. TSYS Merchant Solutions isn’t one of the best high risk credit card processing companies for cryptocurrency or similar businesses. Our recommendation is to ask about chargeback fees and interchange plus plans to get a clearer idea of the costs.

Expect a monthly fee that can range anywhere from $9.95 to $49.95, based on your processing volume and agreed processing rates. Expect an early termination fee if you quit their services, or if you close the account before your term expires. It’s possible to waive this fee when you’re negotiating your deal.

Favorite features

TSYS Merchant Solutions has an open API that you can interact with and integrate with their shopping cart solution and software such as MerchantWare4. You can also take on special implements such as customer loyalty programs and reward cards.

Equipment

There is a wide range of equipment you can get both for Genius products and several third-party brands. The Genius platform lets you choose from mini terminals, handheld mobile readers, POS systems, and countertop systems. TSYS Merchant Solutions is the best credit card processing option for traveling companies because of its multiple software and hardware integrations offered.

Customer support

Customer support is good, but the TSYS website still lacks an online chat option. You can reach out to a contact center round-the-clock or send an email with your inquiries and receive a fairly prompt response.

Best for

TSYS Merchant Solutions offers some of the best credit card processing for small business companies with high-volume sales. A skilled negotiator can probably get excellent fees that are perfectly customized to their business.

At a Glance

  • Fees: Customized based on your sales volume
  • Mobile payments: Yes
  • eCommerce support: Yes
  • 24/7 Customer Support: Yes

Overview

Founded in 2001, Flagship has a long track record of satisfied clients, dealing with countless small to mid-sized merchant businesses over the years. It offers a tiered pricing structure in addition to an interchange plus pricing structure. This translates into a host of options to choose from when doing business with them. They’re a great option for smaller companies because you’ll be able to negotiate good prices based on your sales volume and business needs.

Fees to expect

Flagship has no cancellation fee, so if you don’t like their services, you can easily switch companies without much of a hassle. If you’re considering switching to Flagship, bear in mind that the best way to change credit card companies is to explore your options first and contact customer service representatives to learn more about pricing.

Your monthly fees and transaction fees will depend on several factors, but mostly revolve around your monthly sales volume. Flagship representatives will examine your business and determine a custom pricing plan. The company offers some of the lowest credit card processing fees, but we’ve noticed that there are a lot of hidden costs that aren’t clearly disclosed on the website. To make sure you know what you’re getting into, ask for a list of all the fees you’re expected to pay.

Favorite features

Flagship is not a direct credit card processor. Payments are processed through iPayment, and Flagship also offers two options for payment gateway — Quiq and Authorize.Net. You can use mobile processing through iPayment’s MobilePay app and card reader. MobilePay also has a merchant portal similar to Square’s where you can access your sales analytics and manage inventory.

Equipment

Technically, Flagship will give you one “free” credit card terminal when you sign up, but a portion of your monthly fees will go towards the terminal’s insurance. The prices of other processing equipment isn’t clearly stated on the website. You have to contact them to ask for each specific kind of credit card processing platform or piece of equipment.

Customer support

Customer support gets mixed reviews with Flagship, but they’ve generally been open and helpful with us. You do get 24/7 online support, but the best time to contact them is during business hours when you’ll get to speak to a more informed in-house representative.

Best for

Flagship can be one of the best credit card processing companies for small restaurants and other types of smaller companies. They offer great rates, especially if you can negotiate skillfully and they’re experienced enough to provide you with a professional, seamless service.

What is credit card processing?

Understand the procedure before picking the best credit card processing companies

One of the most frequently asked questions we get is how do I choose a credit card processing company? At Fortunly, we believe that complicated financial processes should be translated into simple language that anyone can understand. Since we know that there are plenty of people who aren’t sure how credit card processing works and why they need it, we’ve decided to introduce a little guide to help you understand everything before you pick credit card processing companies from our best list.

How does credit card processing work?

Here are the basics: when a customer swipes their credit card or enters their credit card data through an online system, the card info makes its way through a processing company and card networks before reaching the cardholder’s bank. Once the bank system gets this information, it approves the transfer (or denies it in case the card gets rejected). The info then flows back the same way it came. Once that process is complete, the payment goes through.

But how exactly do mobile credit card processing companies and other types of independent sales organizations (ISOs) work? To help you understand, we’ll show you the exact steps that happen when a customer pays with a credit card.

Step 1: The consumer uses a physical credit card to pay for specific goods and services .

Step 2: The customer’s payment info is collected by the merchant, either on a physical location like a brick-and-mortar store, or through an online gateway on the merchant’s website.

Step 3: Once the customer’s info is in the system, web credit card processing companies step in. The companies collect the info and pass it onto the card network. They essentially facilitate communication between the merchant, the card network, and the cardholder’s bank.

Step 4: The info collected by the card networks is passed it onto a bank. The most common card networks are Visa and Mastercard. It doesn’t matter what kind of processing company is involved, the process is the same. Whether you work with credit card processing companies for nonprofits or simple retail stores, these steps are the only way to get payment information passed along the right route.

Step 5: The information has now finally reached the bank. The bank immediately checks whether the customer has enough funds in their account to complete the transaction. They often run automated security checks to verify that the attempted purchase is legitimate. If the transaction isn’t fraudulent, the bank allows it to go through. Transactions are most commonly denied due to insufficient funds, a customer’s credit limit, or fraud.

Step 6: Following the approved transaction, the info makes its way in the opposite direction. It goes to the credit card network, and then a credit card processing business takes the info back to the merchant. Online credit card processing and physical processing work the same. If the transaction is handled in person, the card swiper will usually display an “Approved” or “Denied” message. The purchase is now complete, and customers get what they paid for.

It might take a few days for the funds to clear because this is a separate process, but once they do, the transaction is fully settled.

Who is involved?

There are five parties involved in a credit card transaction.

The consumer: The consumer has nothing to do with credit card processors. The customer simply wants to pay for goods or services using a credit card instead of cash.

The merchant and their bank: The merchants are the ones that have to find the best credit card processing for merchant account companies. A merchant can be a small business, a medium-sized enterprise, or a large company. As long as they’ve got something to sell and they have customers, they’re merchants. The merchant company doesn’t process any payment info on its own — the bank does that. Merchants have their own banks that hold account information and can withdraw and deposit funds as needed. When a consumer uses their card to pay for something, that money is wired to the merchant’s bank.

With the rise of fintech, a lot of merchants have been pulling away from banks and opting to work with ISOs instead.

The credit card processing company: You need a processing company if you want payments to go through. That’s why we’re making this list in the first place — you can’t run a company without choosing the best credit card processing for your small business. Processors are basically the middleman between the merchant and the cardholder’s bank, and they take a fee for the service they provide. They make sure that all of the information being sent through electronic channels is completely secure, and that all of the parties get the data they need to process a payment in full. To act as a facilitator, a credit card processing company charges either a set fee, or a percentage of the transaction.

The card network: Credit card networks and associations work with the processing companies to transport and analyze the data and take it from the consumer’s card to the merchant and the cardholder’s bank. This is especially important with credit card processing companies for large sales volumes because of their numerous daily transactions. Card networks set assessment fees and interchange fees. Interchange fees are the costliest part of card processing, and they are passed onto the bank that issued the credit card. Credit card networks collect assessment fees.

The cardholder’s bank: This is the bank where your customer opened their account, and they are the ones that issued the credit card that’s being used in the transaction. Even if you find credit card processing for small business with no monthly fee, you’ll still have to pay for a percentage of the transaction to the card processing company. The fact that they verify your information and pass it onto relevant parties, provides an invaluable intermediary service that keeps your data safe.

The main role of a bank is to check whether the customer has enough funds in their account, whether they’ve reached their credit limit, and whether it’s really them using the card. The dimensions of a credit card make it vulnerable to theft, which is why each bank has security systems and ID verification put into place. The best small business credit card processing companies will also have their own security systems put into place.

A word on ISOs

ISOs are third-party companies that work independently from a financial organization or a bank. They allow you to set up your business so it accepts credit cards, and are partnered with banks. These partnerships allow them to create systems that accept different credit cards and determine transaction fees as well as markups on processing transactions. When it comes to credit card processing companies, the best are usually focused on being completely transparent with their clients. There are no surprise fees or hidden costs that will unbalance your profit projections.

FAQ

Who is the best credit card processing company?

It depends on your sales volume and your business needs. In general, Square and Helcim are one of the best companies we’ve reviewed, but it might not be the perfect choice for everyone. For example, best credit card processing companies for dental offices could be Payment Depot because of their flat rate fees and subscription plans. If you need online credit card processing, then QuickBook Payments could offer you some excellent features that integrate well with numerous other software such as QuickBook Accounting.

How do I choose a credit card processing company?

We conducted credit card processing comparisons to help you out in this endeavour. Check out all the fees and added features that you can expect from each company, analyze your own business needs, and you’ll find the best way to accept credit cards for small business, mid-sized enterprise, or a large corporation. When you compare credit card processing companies, you can contact their representatives and ask for more details.

What credit card processing is the cheapest for small business?

Square and Helcim offer some of the best rates, but you can also negotiate very affordable fees with TSYS Merchant Solutions, especially if you’re a high-volume business.