Best credit card processing companies in 2024

Apr 05, 2024

In an era where card payments are becoming the standard, it’s very difficult to run your business without accepting credit card payments.

Regardless of whether you operate largely online or in-store, you’ll want to be able to accept cards and encourage your customers to purchase your products.

Credit card processing companies come in as a third party that helps bridge the gap between you as the merchant and credit card networks. By using credit card processing services, you’ll be able to receive funds paid by your customers through cards.

What is credit card processing?

Credit card processing services are third-party companies that act as the bridge between businesses and credit card networks, enabling businesses to accept credit cards as payment.

Without credit card processing companies, businesses would not be able to get funds to be transferred from their customers’ credit accounts to their business accounts.

When a customer makes a credit card payment to a merchant, their funds won’t be instantly transferred to the merchant’s bank account. Credit card processing companies will enable the fund transfer process. This can happen in person or virtually by phone, mail, or online.

Top 10 credit card processing companies

1. Square

Square is one of the best credit card processing services for small businesses, offering a free credit card reader and POS (point of sales) software.

It’s known for its ease of use, with flat processing rates of 2.6% plus 0.10 USD per transaction for in-store payments, 2.9% plus 0.30 USD per transaction for online transactions, and 3.5% plus 0.15 USD per transaction for keyed-in payments.

Square’s credit card processing services can be used from mobile devices and other payment hardware, which Square offers for your business.

With the upgraded plan that starts at 29 USD/month, you can also get advanced features like inventory management and customer loyalty systems.

2. Stripe

If your business is e-commerce, Stripe might just be the best credit card processing company for you. While it has rates that are comparable to Square, Stripe has an edge when it comes to online and in-app payments.

They accept all kinds of mobile wallets, starting from Apple Pay to Alipay. Paired with integrations with e-commerce software such as Shopify and WooCommerce, Stripe could be one of the best credit card processing companies for you.

The standard payout time from Stripe is two days but with an additional 1% fee (minimum 0.50 USD), you can get instant payouts.

3. Helcim

Helcim allows your business to accept credit card payments with a flat-rate processing fee for each transaction. The more credit card transactions your business receives, the lower the cost for each transaction is. Your cost per transaction can go down all the way to 0.10% of the total plus 0.05 USD.

With Helcim, you also get an array of built-in tools such as a customer relationship manager (CRM), an online store you can utilize, and integrations with many popular accounting systems. However, keep in mind that any hardware that you need with Helcim will incur additional costs.

4. National Processing

While you will have to pay a subscription fee to get started with National Processing, this particular credit card processing company offers an affordable fee of 9.95 USD per month. You get a free mobile credit card reader along with that plan, with their standard interchange-plus transaction fees to be charged for each transaction.

You can get lower rates by subscribing to their more expensive plans. One benefit of National Processing is that you get free hardware when you subscribe to any of their plans, with the more expensive plans netting you more hardware options.

National Processing is also one of the best credit card processing companies for small business owners, as it offers affordable pricing and lower rates.

5. Payment Depot

Like other credit card processing companies, Payment Depot offers a variety of credit card readers, terminals, and POS software and hardware.

However, instead of taking a percentage of your transactions as a processing fee, Payment Depot has a small flat fee per transaction and charges a monthly subscription starting from 59 USD.

The subscription fees may be on the more expensive side for smaller businesses, but if you get a large volume of customer transactions, the low fees of only 7 to 15 cents (USD) plus the interchange rate can ultimately help you save a lot of money.

6. Paypal

Paypal is a well-known and reputable name when it comes to payments. They offer an easy-to-use credit card processing service that allows you to accept not just physical credit card payments, but also payments through your customers’ Paypal and Venmo accounts.

Its integration with the Zettle POS system also opens up more access to different card readers and terminals.

There are no monthly fees that you have to pay to start using Paypal, with interchange rates that start at 3.4% plus 0.49 USD per online transaction and 2.29% plus 0.09 USD per in-person transaction (via Zettle POS).

7. Stax

While Stax is geared toward businesses with higher revenue, it’s one of the best credit card processing companies for small business owners who run more established businesses. On top of your Stax subscription fee, you’ll also be charged processing fees based on your transaction volume.

The more transactions you process, the more beneficial Stax’s pricing structure is. If your revenue is less than 500,000 USD per year, then Stax may feel like too expensive as an option.

With Stax, you get customization options for your invoices and receipts and integration with many software and payment gateways.

8. Chase

As Chase is a bank on top of being a credit card processing company, you’ll get convenience without needing a third party to accept credit card payments. Chase offers a free virtual terminal and Paypal integration for e-commerce businesses, along with an additional USB-connected card reader for a fee.

One feature that makes Chase stand out amongst other credit card processing services is the Chase Customer Insights feature, which allows you to track your customers’ demographic data and monitor customer behavior when they make credit card purchases with your business.

9. Clover

Clover is one of the best credit card processing services as business owners can make use of the Rapid Deposit feature, which allows funds from credit card payments to appear in your business account almost instantly.

Subscription pricing plans with Clover start at 14.95 USD, with a small fee for every credit card purchase made. Clover offers a variety of products ranging from POS software to hardware like card terminals.

By purchasing or leasing Clover products, businesses will get access to not only credit card payments but also additional features such as inventory management and reporting tools.

10. QuickBooks

While QuickBooks is better known for its accounting software, it also offers a credit card processing service called QuickBooks Payments. There is no monthly fee to start using QuickBooks Payments, but you will need either a QuickBooks Online account or the QuickBooks Desktop software.

With the latter, you can get lower credit card processing fees for a 20 USD monthly subscription fee. QuickBooks Payments allows you to integrate with your QuickBooks accounting software.

It also supports invoicing and e-commerce payments, offering a mobile payments app for easier payments. Your funds will be deposited in your account the next day with QuickBooks Payments.

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Why do businesses need credit card processing?

As digital payments rise in popularity, the last thing you want to do is limit your customer’s payment options. With credit card processing, you’ll be able to accept debit and credit card payments, as well as other payment methods such as Paypal accounts and mobile wallets.

Regardless of whether your business operates in a physical store or through online platforms or both, there’s no denying that these card and digital payment methods are convenient for many people.

The biggest benefit your business gets from using credit card processing services is that you won’t lose potential customers and sales due to limited payment methods. With a variety of payment methods, you can easily encourage your customers to make purchases hassle-free.

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How to choose the best credit card processing companies for your business

1. Check your sales volume

There are certain credit card processing services that can help you save money when you have a bigger sales volume. You want to see how many transactions you get from customers and base your choice of credit card processing company on that.

With some companies like Stax and Payment Depot, for example, it’s potentially cheaper to pay a bigger monthly subscription fee but get lower rates the more sales volume you have.

2. Type of account & merchant services

There are different payment processing technologies that your business can use to accept credit card payments. Be sure that you know what you need, whether it is a virtual card terminal or in-store POS hardware.

You want to decide how you want customers to make their payments and pick the best credit card processing service accordingly. Consider the pros and cons of each piece of equipment carefully.

3. Fees & pricing

Each credit card processing company will have a different pricing scheme. While the most common fee that you’ll come across are interchange fees that can range anywhere from 0.5% to 3.5% of each transaction, there are different fees that you need to pay attention to.

Some credit card processing services will offer lower transaction fees in exchange for a monthly subscription fee on top of the interchange rates.

4. Application process

The best credit card processing companies for small business owners will have an easy application process. This is especially important if you want to start accepting credit card payments as soon as possible.

The sooner you can apply for a credit card processing service, the sooner your business can get started. You don’t want to spend too long stressing on the application itself.

5. Time to deposit

While some credit card processing companies can deposit funds into your account instantly after a transaction happen, some others may take a few days to go through this process.

If you are tight on cash flow, the best credit card processing companies for small business finances would be the ones that take less time to deposit funds into your account. You want to be sure you know how long it’ll take before you receive the money.

6. Customer support

You’re bound to run into queries and the occasional issues like service interruptions or bugs. While they’re not entirely avoidable, having good customer service that you know will be able to support you when you come across these issues can make all the difference.

You’ll want a credit card processing company that can reliably provide you with customer support through various contact channels.

7. Decide based on how you sell

Depending on what type of business you have, the best credit card processing service for you may change. For online sellers, for example, you’ll want to pick a credit card processing company with benefits like mobile wallet acceptance or lower online transaction fees.

Some credit card processing services also offer additional features like inventory management, which is useful if your business is in retail or food and beverages.

8. Tokenization rates

With automation technology, merchants can replace customers’ credit card information with random letters and numbers that act as a ‘token’ that represents the credit card. You’ll be keeping your customers’ card data safe.

As an added benefit, many credit card processing companies also offer lower tokenization rates compared to non-tokenized cards. You’ll want to look at what the tokenization rates are for the credit card processing service you choose.

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Which is the best credit card processing company?

The best credit card processing company for your business depends on the size and type of your business. You want to look at what different credit card processing companies offer and pick the one that suits your business needs. Reputable names such as Stripe, Square, Stax, Paypal, and many more are some of the companies you can look at.

Why should my business accept credit cards?

With the popularity of card and digital payments, many customers now prefer making credit card payments instead of paying in cash. Allowing customers to pay using a credit card can also encourage customers to spend more, therefore increasing your revenue. Businesses that offer credit card acceptance are often also seen as a better and bigger brand.

What do credit card processing companies do?

Credit card processing companies are third-party intermediaries between merchants and credit card networks, allowing your business to take credit card payments and get the funds reflected in your bank account. The fund transfer process from your customer’s credit account to your account is done through credit card processing services.

How do you choose a credit card processing company?

Factors that you want to consider when choosing a credit card processing company for your business include but are not limited to fees, customer support, security, and what type of business you have. The best credit card processing company will depend on what your business is, how big it is, and whether your customers do mostly online or in-store payments.