The Best Credit Card Processing Services (2024)

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

The Best Credit Card Processing Services (1)

Square Point of Sale

Supports New and Mobile Payment Technologies

4.5 Outstanding

Bottom Line:

Square Point of Sale is an option with a great feature selection for organizations looking for flat, predictable pricing. With all that it offers and a reasonable price, it takes our Editors' Choice award.


  • Straightforward pricing.
  • Many customer support channels available.
  • Outstanding hardware options.
  • Android and iOS compatibility.
  • Can run in offline mode.


  • Account freezes may occur with rapidly growing businesses due to the appearance of fraudulent activity.
  • Lacks modules for reporting or inventory management.
  • Larger organizations may have to pay high fees.


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The Best Credit Card Processing Services (2)


Excellent Overall Payment Processing

4.0 Excellent

Bottom Line:

Helcim provides credit card processing the way small businesses need it: with complete transparency. All of its pricing is clearly spelled out on its website and if anything confuses you, the company provides a host of online tutorials and how-to guides.


  • Pricing and fees clearly outlined on the website.
  • No outbound sales team.


  • Not an ideal service for micro vendors.


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The Best Credit Card Processing Services (3)

Intuit QuickBooks Payments

Great for QuickBooks Customers, Lots of Options and Integrations

4.0 Excellent

Bottom Line:

Intuit QuickBooks Payments is a no-brainer if your retail operation is already standardized on QuickBooks for general accounting. If you're not an Intuit customer, then this payment gateway is still a solid choice, though it can get a little pricey for some.


  • Solid pricing options.
  • Wealth of integrations.
  • Works across mobile and desktop.
  • Offers point-of-sale (POS) option.


  • Competition offers some of the same connections to QuickBooks Online.


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The Best Credit Card Processing Services (4)

Payline Data

Good at Secure Payment Processing

4.0 Excellent

Bottom Line:

Payline Data delivers secure payment technology to both small business and enterprise customers. It has a good reputation when it comes to customer service, and its tool kit checks all the boxes that most e-commerce merchants require.


  • Good choice for high-risk merchants.
  • Transparent, interchange-plus pricing.


  • Pricing for equipment is not listed on the website.


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The Best Credit Card Processing Services (5)


Good Hardware and Software Options

3.5 Good

Bottom Line:

Cayan does a solid job as a payment processor, delivering a good range of hardware and software combined with an open API. While you'll need to negotiate a fair price, if that hurdle doesn't bother you this service is well worth a look.


  • Custom pricing.
  • 24/7 support.
  • Responsive customer service.


  • Termination fee after 60 days.


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The Best Credit Card Processing Services (6)

Payment Depot

Good for Larger Merchant Operations

3.5 Good

Bottom Line:

Payment Depot impresses with a wholesale-style pricing structure because that lets customers better predict what they'll wind up paying. But even so, the end price for this service seems a little too high for most small business operators.


  • Easy-to-understand pricing plans.
  • Money-back guarantee.


  • Not price-feasible for smaller businesses and startups.


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The Best Credit Card Processing Services (7)

Credit Card

Solid Features, Vague Pricing

3.0 Average

Bottom Line: falls into a trap that several of its competitors have also tripped: it's great when it comes to offering a full range of pricing plans and processing equipment, but is too vague about exactly what everything costs.


  • Offers interchange-plus pricing.
  • No cancellation fees.


  • "Free" equipment offers could be deceptive.
  • Monthly minimums apply.


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The Best Credit Card Processing Services (8)

Flagship Merchant Services

Decent Features, But Cloudy on Cost

3.0 Average

Bottom Line:

Flagship Merchant Services has everything most customers will want from a credit card processing service, but its somewhat unclear on what everything costs.


  • No cancellation fees.
  • Interchange plus pricing is an option for merchants.


  • Tiered pricing is often unpredictable.
  • Equipment pricing not listed.


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The Best Credit Card Processing Services (9)

National Bankcard

Good Customer Service Reputation and Hardware Options

3.0 Average

Bottom Line:

National Bankcard has a good reputation for customer service and also offers several forms of payment processing and pricing as well as a full line of hardware. However, like some of its competitors, the company is overly vague about its pricing.


  • Offers interchange-plus pricing as an option.


  • No pricing listed on its website.

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The Best Credit Card Processing Services (10)

Sam's Club Merchant Services

FirstData Reseller With Decent Features

2.5 Fair

Bottom Line:

Sam's Merchant Services stands apart because it's one of the few credit card processing services that is upfront about its pricing on its website. However, it falls short again by using proprietary hardware equipment and locking you into a multi-year contract.


  • Transaction pricing listed on the website.


  • Equipment pricing not advertised.
  • Pricing for AMEX transactions not advertised.


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Buying Guide: The Best Credit Card Processing Services

You Can Trust Our Reviews

Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions.Read our editorial mission & see how we test.

What Is a Credit Card Processing Service?

While consumers are using more and different ways to pay for goods and services, especially via fast-growing mobile payments, stodgy old credit cards remain the most popular payment method in use today across any channel, whether in physical retail operations or in e-commerce settings. But taking a payment from a customer this way requires any business to route the transaction through a credit card processing service, typically a merchant bank. As competition in this sector has grown, these services have become much more complex and fraught with hidden fees and limitations. Small business owners in particular are often the targets of such practices, and the fact that some predatory salespeople take advantage of new business owners' lack of knowledge makes things even harder.

Luckily for merchants, fair-minded processors are emerging that offer transparency, fair fees, and good customer service. This is true especially for online "e-tailers," but also for small brick-and-mortar operations. There are Point-of-Sale (POS) systems, such as Square Point of Sale, and subscription services such as Helcim, and even retailers such as Sam's Club that are getting involved.

Whether you need credit card payment processing on the street or online, accepting credit cards and processing those payments is still complicated, though. This is due to the sheer number of moving parts inherent in this aspect of merchant services and mobile payment processing. It's also due to all of the various entities involved. Since rates and contracts vary by customer, it's difficult to make a direct comparison between these providers.

In this review roundup, we cover some of the most popular credit card processors on the market, and consulted with experts in the field at CardFellow and FreedomPay to determine how to choose a provider. We also interviewed the 10 processors featured here—Cayan,, Flagship Merchant Services, Intuit QuickBooks Payments, National Bankcard, Payline Data, Payment Depot, Sam's Club Merchant Services, Square Point of Sale, and Editors' Choice Helcim—to get demonstrations and clarify details about their fees and features. Finally, we looked at user reviews and ratings from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to get a sense of customer service and reliability.

Startup Costs, Fees, and Equipment

In the payments industry, there is a sort of pyramid of providers. At the top are the credit card companies, which charge flat interchange fees to big processors such as First Data, Flagship, Global Payments, and Vantiv. These entities clear the credit card payments and, while some take individual customers, each works with intermediary services, including Independent Sales Organizations (ISOs), which must register with a bank. Most of the services featured in this roundup are ISOs, including Cayan, National Bankcard, Sam's Club Merchant Services, and others.

Square Point of Sale and Intuit Quickbooks Payments are merchant services aggregators. Rather than providing you with a merchant account, these merchant services set you up with a sub-account under its master merchant account.

At the bottom of the pyramid are the business owners, who have to contend with two or three sets of fees: interchange fees from the credit card company and transaction fees from the processor and intermediary. There are a few different pricing structures available, and which one you choose depends on the number of transactions you clear each month, the sum of the credit card payments you receive, and the average amount of each transaction. A merchant who sells 10 pianos per month for $20K a pop has different needs than a coffee shop that accepts hundreds of swipes worth $10 each.

Most credit card processing companies have wide support for popular credit cards such as AmEx, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa, as well as for contactless payments such as Android Pay, Apple Pay, and PayPal. While these represent the most popular digital and mobile payment systems in use today, in the near future you can expect them to be joined by ever-more-sophisticated cryptocurrency payment systems, even at the retail and micro-payment level.

Likewise, most have a variety of equipment options for folks whose business isn't exclusively in the cloud, including point-of-sale (POS) system terminals, tablet and other mobile credit card readers, swipe and dip card readers, and even virtual terminals for e-commerce players.

As we mentioned, interchange fees are fixed by the credit card companies and all processors pay the same amount. However, different types of cards can have higher fees, such as corporate cards and the more exclusive rewards cards. Another unavoidable fee is chargebacks, which vary from processor to processor. When a customer or credit card company reports a potentially fraudulent charge, the processor must manually verify the fraud and arbitrate between the merchant and the credit company.

Processors make a profit by either marking that fee up or charging both a subscription fee and a small transaction cost. Unfortunately, many providers are not upfront about additional charges, which are often purely designed to increase the provider's profit. The experts at Cardfellow, a quote generator and credit card processing review website, told us to beware of bundled pricing, which offers qualified and non-qualified rates. Certain types of transactions can cost more and it's not easily transparent how much or which types of transactions are burdened with these price hikes.

Carefully read your merchant agreement for hidden fees up to and including cancellation fees. It used to be standard for processors to offer 3-year, auto-renewing contracts. Recently, however, the industry is moving away from that. Ask for an amendment or a separate cancellation fee waiver to make sure you don't get hurt by a new trend.

Some providers, such as Payment Depot, offer wholesale rates. This means they're passing on the interchange fee to the merchant without markup but charging a monthly subscription fee, and a small transaction fee, to balance the loss.

Cardfellow recommends factoring in the number of transactions you'll process each month to choose the type of plan you need, as too few or too many will be costly. Consider also the average amount of your transactions. In all cases, be sure to get a complete list of fees, and be sure the agreement doesn't let the processor increase fees or charge new ones without notice.

In most cases, it's a good idea to buy your payment processing equipment (if you need any), and many of the companies featured here sell their own or partner with hardware providers. When taking advantage of these kinds of partnership bundles, basic equipment is usually only a few hundred dollars, though more advanced hardware, such as intelligent POS systems that talk to back-end accounting, supply chain, or cloud apps, can cost more. Don't fall for "free equipment" offers as this usually means you're about to get stuck in a costly lease agreement.

Payment Card Industry Compliance and Support

Merchants must adhere to the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and most providers include PCI compliance as a basic feature of their services (if they don't, you'll probably want to look elsewhere). However, it's important to note that this isn't a government regulation. It's actually overseen by a private, self-funded organization. Some of the requirements are onerous for small, inexperienced businesses, and some processors charge a compliance fee (ranging from $20 to several hundreds), even though they don't even help the merchant become compliant. Using an aggregator, such as Square Point of Sale, is helpful, as Square (the company) is responsible for maintaining its merchant account, including compliance overhead.

Firms such as ControlScan and TrustWave can help if you don't have onsite tech support for your provider or payment gateway; however, most of the providers featured here offer 24/7 tech support, though some use call centers. Even if these resources are offered, you should still be sure to ask about getting a dedicated account manager when signing up for the service. Try calling at off hours to see how easy it is to reach a human and how long the wait times are. Stay away from companies that don't have support details on their website or ones that shunt your call into a neverending phone menu.

Have any questions about how credit card processing services work? Join the PCMag@Work discussion group on LinkedIn and you can ask vendors, other professionals like yourself, and PCMag's editors.

I am an expert in the field of credit card processing services, with extensive knowledge of various payment processors and their features. My expertise is backed by years of experience and a deep understanding of the industry.

Now, let's delve into the concepts mentioned in the article about credit card processing services:

  1. Square Point of Sale:

    • Features: Square Point of Sale offers straightforward pricing, multiple customer support channels, outstanding hardware options, and compatibility with both Android and iOS. It can also operate in offline mode.
    • Cons: Potential account freezes for rapidly growing businesses, lack of modules for reporting or inventory management, and higher fees for larger organizations.
  2. Helcim:

    • Features: Helcim provides credit card processing with complete transparency. Pricing and fees are clearly outlined on its website, and it offers online tutorials and guides.
    • Cons: Not ideal for micro vendors.
  3. Intuit QuickBooks Payments:

    • Features: QuickBooks Payments is recommended for businesses using QuickBooks for general accounting. It provides solid pricing options, a wealth of integrations, and works across mobile and desktop.
    • Cons: Pricing can be on the higher side for non-Intuit customers.
  4. Payline Data:

    • Features: Payline Data delivers secure payment technology to both small business and enterprise customers. It has a good reputation for customer service and offers transparent, interchange-plus pricing.
    • Cons: Equipment pricing is not listed on the website.
  5. Cayan:

    • Features: Cayan serves as a payment processor with a range of hardware and software options and an open API. It offers custom pricing, 24/7 support, and responsive customer service.
    • Cons: Termination fee after 60 days.
  6. Payment Depot:

    • Features: Payment Depot impresses with a wholesale-style pricing structure, providing easy-to-understand pricing plans and a money-back guarantee.
    • Cons: Not cost-feasible for smaller businesses and startups.
  7. Credit Card

    • Features: offers a full range of pricing plans and processing equipment with interchange-plus pricing and no cancellation fees.
    • Cons: Vague pricing, "free" equipment offers could be deceptive, and monthly minimums apply.
  8. Flagship Merchant Services:

    • Features: Flagship Merchant Services offers everything most customers need from a credit card processing service, but it can be unclear on costs.
    • Cons: Tiered pricing is unpredictable, and equipment pricing is not listed.
  9. National Bankcard:

    • Features: National Bankcard has a good reputation for customer service, various payment processing options, and hardware choices.
    • Cons: Vague pricing with no details listed on the website.
  10. Sam's Club Merchant Services:

    • Features: Sam's Club Merchant Services stands out for upfront pricing on its website, but proprietary hardware and multi-year contracts are drawbacks.
    • Cons: Equipment pricing not advertised, and pricing for AMEX transactions not disclosed.

The article provides a comprehensive overview of credit card processing services, highlighting key features, pros, and cons of each option. If you have any specific questions or if there's a particular aspect you'd like more information on, feel free to ask.

The Best Credit Card Processing Services (2024)


How to pass on the credit card processing fee to the customer? ›

  1. There are legal options for passing on credit card fees to customers.
  2. Credit card surcharging and cash discounting are the two main options for passing on fees.
  3. Adding a surcharge to credit card payments is not legal in every state, but offering a cash discount is.
May 31, 2024

What credit card has the highest processing fee? ›

American Express

Is it legal to pass credit card fees to customers? ›

But passing on credit card fees to customers is legal in the majority of the U.S. Whether or not a merchant can charge them boils down to local laws and the parameters provided by payment processing networks. Being familiar with the restrictions in your area is important to ensure you aren't overcharged.

Who is the largest credit card processing company? ›

J.P. Morgan Chase is the largest credit card processor in the world.

Is it OK to charge a credit card processing fee? ›

The answer is: yes, if your business operates in states where it is legal to do so. As of the time of publishing this, the practice of imposing additional fees on credit card transactions (i.e., credit card surcharges) is prohibited in only three U.S. locations: Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Puerto Rico.

How do I tell customers about credit card fees? ›

Aside from conspicuous signages, you should ensure that customers have a clear view of surcharged fees on their receipts/invoices. You should consider displaying the final surcharged sum separately on a receipt. for easy reference. The bill should show the exact dollar amount of the surcharge.

What is a good rate for credit card processing? ›

In most cases, credit card processing fees will run between 1.5% to 4% of the total value of a transaction.

What are the hidden costs of credit card processing? ›

In the end, these are the most common hidden fees that catch merchants by surprise. Monthly Minimum Fees: This fee is charged if a merchant does not meet a certain threshold of transaction processing fees during the month. This can catch merchants off guard because there will be a fee even if there are no transactions.

How much is the Amex processing fee? ›

The American Express (Amex) and Visa merchant fee structures necessitate careful consideration for businesses. Visa generally imposes lower interchange fees, ranging from 1.15% plus 5 cents to 2.40% plus 10 cents, in contrast to Amex's higher fees ranging from 1.43% plus 10 cents to 3.30% plus 10 cents.

In what states is it illegal to surcharge? ›

What laws exist that may relate to surcharging? Currently, 10 U.S. states have surcharging restrictions including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma and Texas. Please consult with legal counsel to determine whether your practices comply with relevant state law.

How much can I charge a customer for a credit card fee? ›

Credit card surcharges are optional fees that merchants charge customers who use a credit card to pay at checkout. Surcharges are legal unless restricted by state law and are limited to 4% of the total transaction.

How much does Square charge per transaction? ›

Square Invoice Fees
Payment TypeInvoices FreeInvoices Plus
Online card transaction3.3% + 30c2.9% + 30c
In-person (tap/dip/swipe)2.6% + 10c2.6% + 10c
Manually Entered card payment3.5% + 15c3.5% + 15c
Card on File3.5% + 15c3.5% + 15c
1 more row

Who is the best merchant service provider? ›

10 Best Merchant Services of July 2024
ProductBest for▼
Square POS Learn more on Square POS's secure website5.0/5 Best for Flat-rate option
Helcim Learn more on Helcim's secure website5.0/5 Best for Interchange-plus processing
Stripe Learn more on Stripe Payments' secure website5.0/5 Best for Flat rate for online sales
7 more rows

What is the number 1 credit card company in the world? ›

American Express.

This credit card network offers the world's largest global payment network. American Express also doubles as a card issuer.

What credit card company has the most complaints? ›

  • Capital One was the most complained-about credit card issuer by total number of complaints, followed by Citibank, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase.
  • Ten U.S. credit card companies accounted for about 93 percent of all consumer complaints to the CFPB.

How do I add credit card processing fees to an invoice? ›

Here's how you can do it:
  1. Calculate the fee: Multiply the total cost of the invoice by 2.99% to determine the fee amount.
  2. Add a line item: While creating the invoice, include a separate line item for the processing fee and enter the calculated amount.
Jan 20, 2024

How do you explain credit card processing fees? ›

This is in exchange for having the payment securely processed by a credit card network. In most cases, credit card processing fees will run between 1.5% to 4% of the total value of a transaction. A $1,000 transaction, therefore, could have fees ranging from $15 up to $40. The overall impact depends on your margins.

Who should pay credit card processing fees? ›

Credit card processing fees are paid by the merchant, not by the consumer. Businesses and their acquiring banks pay credit card processing fees to the consumer's credit card issuer, credit card network and payment processor. On average, credit card processing fees can range between 1.5% and 3.5% of the transaction.

How do I write off credit card processing fees? ›

Credit card fees are not deductible for individuals and are deductible for businesses. Businesses can deduct all credit card fees as well as finance charges. Businesses are eligible to deduct credit or debit card processing fees associated with paying taxes, but individuals are not.

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