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Top 10 Credit Card Processing Options for Business

Credit Card Processing Options for All Your Business Needs

Having reviewed credit card processors for over 10 years, we have spent thousands of hours studying the industry. We learned about payment processing so we can share this information with businesses like yours. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, we have divided our reviews so you can see recommendations based on your business needs. You can then read our full reviews for an even more details regarding what each processor offers.

  • Month-to-month service
  • Tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans
  • Robust customer service
  • Month-to-month service
  • Low monthly fee
  • Lowest cost for a basic EMV-compliant terminal
  • Month-to-month service
  • Tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans
  • Low tiered rates, especially for swiped debit cards
  • Month-to-month service
  • Tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans
  • Robust customer service
  • Month-to-month service
  • Tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans
  • Low tiered rates, especially for swiped debit cards
  • Month-to-month service
  • Low tiered rates; low monthly fee
  • Flat-rate, interchange-plus, and tiered pricing plans
  • Month-to-month service
  • Tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans
  • Robust customer service
  • Month-to-month service
  • Low monthly fee
  • Lowest cost for a basic EMV-compliant terminal
  • Month-to-month service
  • Tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans
  • Low tiered rates, especially for swiped debit cards
  • Innovative wholesale pricing
  • Membership fee includes Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance
  • No Cancellation Fees
  • Month-to-month service
  • Monthly fee includes PCI compliance
  • Lowest interchange-plus rates and transparent pricing
  • Month-to-month service
  • No cancellation fee
  • Simple rate plans
  • Pay-as-you-go service
  • No fees
  • EMV/NFC card reader available
  • Pay-as-you-go service
  • Low processing costs; no fees
  • No hardware required; works using your cell phone and app
  • Pay-as-you-go service
  • Flat-rate pricing plan; no fees
  • EMV/NFC card reader with PIN pad available
  • Pay-as-you-go service
  • No fees
  • EMV/NFC card reader available
  • Pay-as-you-go service
  • No monthly minimum
  • No monthly fee, gateway fee or PCI-compliance fee
  • Innovative wholesale pricing
  • Membership fee includes Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance
  • No Cancellation Fees
  • Month-to-month service
  • Monthly fee includes PCI compliance
  • Lowest interchange-plus rates and transparent pricing
  • Pay-as-you-go service
  • Flat-rate pricing plan; no fees
  • EMV/NFC card reader with PIN pad available
  • Month-to-month service
  • Special rates for nonprofit organizations
  • Socially responsible company with B-Corporation and Green America certifications
  • Month-to-month service
  • No cancellation fee
  • Simple rate plans
  • Interchange-plus pricing
  • Lowest PCI-compliance fee
  • Waivers available for month-to-month service
  • High-risk specialist
  • Serves international companies
  • Interchange-plus pricing
  • Month-to-month service
  • Flat-rate, interchange-plus and tiered pricing plans
  • No annual PCI-compliance fee; no cancellation fee
  • Month-to-month service
  • Flat-rate, interchange-plus and tiered pricing plans
  • Monthly fee includes PCI-compliance fee
  • Low per-transaction fee
  • Flat-rate, interchange-plus and tiered pricing plans
  • Competitive tiered rates
  • Pay-as-you-go service
  • No fees
  • EMV/NFC card reader available
  • Pay-as-you-go service
  • Per-transaction fee for manually entered cards only
  • No minimum processing requirements
  • Pay-as-you-go service
  • No per-transaction fee
  • Two flat-rate pricing plans available
  1. Start looking a month in advance. Look for a credit card processor way before you actually need to start processing. This way you have enough time to properly and thoroughly research the companies you’re interested in. This way, you won’t feel rushed into making a hasty decision just because you need to accept credit card payments soon.
  2. Talk to more than one company. Make sure to get quotes from multiple companies, so you have options and you can find the lowest pricing suited to your business’s specific needs. As your business’s needs are different than the ones we used in our testing scenarios, you may get different rates than the ones we did. By speaking with several companies, you can get the best pricing and terms that suit your company.
  3. Evaluate customer service. While you’re reviewing the processor’s service terms and pricing, you will also evaluate the person who (in most cases) becomes your account manager should you sign up. You need to be able to communicate with this person well, and have them be knowledgeable, responsible, honest, and easy to reach. You need to feel that they’re respectful and you’re comfortable having them on your side.
  4. Request pricing quotes and contracts. When you’ve narrowed down your choices to maybe three top contenders, it’s important you request written quotes which should include a list of all fees, as well as copies of the service contract and application, including Program Guides and Terms and Conditions. Get these documents before signing anything, so you can read through them and make sure the terms you were quoted over the phone match those in the contract.
  5. Read the contract. This is a critical part of your decision – if there’s any discrepancy at all from the information you’ve received over the phone, make sure to contact them again and have it changed before you sign anything. If a term is in writing, and you sign that document, you are agreeing to that term regardless of what you have previously agreed upon verbally.

Once you’ve decided which credit card processor you want to go with, you can follow up with the representative, sign the contract, and pay for your terminal. After you start processing and receive your first statement, try contacting your rep if you have any questions regarding reading it, or about your processing costs and fees. If after a few months you find that your processing volume is higher than what you expected, there will be processors willing to reassess your costs.

Data Breaches Are Expensive

If your small business experiences a data breach, and you are found liable, the costs can be pretty daunting. According to First Data, a breach costs a small business an average of $36,000, while some even exceed $50,000. Within six months of such an experience, 70 percent of those small businesses close down.

Data breach expenses include:

  • Liability for fraudulent charges – you pay for any charges made to the customer’s card after it was compromised
  • Hiring independent forensic investigators who pinpoint the scope of the breach
  • Notifying affected customers by mail several times, and then providing them with a year of credit monitoring services
  • Paying PCI-compliance fines to the card brands and the acquiring (merchant) bank if you weren’t in compliance when the breach incident happened
  • Paying for the cost of providing your customers with replacement cards

Other costs may also include legal fees, upgrading or replacing your point-of-sale system, and hiring a Qualified Security Assessor to help you in establishing your PCI compliance.

In addition to the expenses that you have due to a data breach, you may also lose business due to negative press, as well as your customers losing trust in your business. If your customers are unable or unwilling to pay you in cash, you may also lose business due to your inability to accept credit cards while the investigation is still undergoing. If the card brands revoke your processing privileges due to the breach, you may also permanently become unable to accept credit cards completely.

Protect Your Business from Fraud

With the above in mind, you can take two important steps that increase security, reduce fraud, and protect data. First, comply with PCI data security standards, and second, upgrade to EMV-compliant processing equipment.

  1. PCI Security Standards. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council has established guidelines called the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which helps businesses protect payment data. Most processors require you to be PCI-compliant, and charge both a compliance fee in helping you achieve PCI compliance plus a noncompliance fee to discourage you from putting off annual requirements. These PCI DSS measures have been proven successful in discouraging attacks – 96 percent of merchants that sustained data breaches in 2011 were not PCI DSS compliant.
  2. Before October 1, 2015, it was always either the payment processor or the issuing bank that dealt with customer losses resulting from cards that were compromised, stolen or counterfeit. Now, the costs for these kinds of fraud fall to the least EMV-compliant party. In many cases, this is the merchant, due to their outdated equipment. As previously mentioned, data breaches can be disastrous especially for a small business, which is why it’s important to upgrade to EMV-compliant equipment.

Going with a company that helps you get PCI compliance (or takes care of this for you) and gives you EMV-compliant equipment is vital in that it helps you protect your business from data breaches and any other type of fraud.