Canadian Merchant Accounts

Credit cards are the new global currency. They offer the best exchange rates and are accepted worldwide.

In addition to a solid domestic market, Canada boasted 22.1 million tourists in 2019. According to a 2009 survey, 61% of travelers prefer the security and ease of using credit cards for travel.

A more recent survey shows domestic use at 78%. If there was ever a time to ensure credit card access for your clientele, it is now.

Our Top Picks for Canadian Merchant Accounts

Easy Pay Direct
Offers flexible fee options to fit the specific needs of the individual business.
Domestic accounts have zero early termination fees.
Variable contract terms.
High risk tolerance.
Single point of contact for multiple merchant accounts.
Public pricing is available.

summary

5/5

Best for

E-commerce companies, SaaS companies, "high-risk businesses", & established small/medium businesses ($500,000+ in annual sales)

Specializes in

Easy Pay Direct has unique gateway software and banking solutions to optimize payments for eCommerce, SaaS, information products, supplements, and CBD amongst other verticals.

Pricing Summary

Setup Fee:  $99

Monthly Fee: $24.95

Swipe Rate: 1.59% + $0.17

Keyed-in Rate:  2.39% + $0.29

Early Termination Fee: $0 (domestic accounts)

Contract Terms:

1 Year 3 Years
Cornerstone Merchant Services
Offers simplified services to help streamline the needs of their clients.
Focuses on small businesses of middle to low-risk distinction.
In-house accountants help keep fees and rates at the lowest industry levels.
Wide variety of payment accepted options, both in-person and online.
Offers a wide variety of value-added services.
Free installation and training for all POS hardware and software.

summary

5/5

Best for

Merchants with standard-risk businesses who are in need of payment processing services or ATMs.

Specializes in

Cornerstone Merchant Services specializes in working with merchants who are standard-risk. This company has received accolades from the Florida Family Policy Council for not doing business with objectionable companies.

Pricing Summary

Setup Fee: Unknown

Monthly Fee: Unknown

Swipe Rate: Unknown

Keyed-in Rate: Unknown

Early Termination Fee: Unknown

Contract Terms:

Unknown
Mynt POS
Mynt is a system specific for restaurants that boast streamlined integration for the different parts of the food business.
Specializes in POS systems for restaurants and retail merchants.
Offers a wide variety of payment processing hardware and software to fit merchant needs.
Sells hardware to merchants to avoid inconvenience of long-term leasing payments.
Upfront about costs and fees.
24/7 technical support.

summary

5/5

Best for

Merchants searching for POS systems and software that are easy to use and that offer subscription billing and payment capabilities.

Specializes in

Mynt specializes in providing POS systems and its own proprietary software to merchants of varying risk levels who want to process payments and bill for subscriptions or memberships. This provider particularly specializes in offering the Mynt Enterprise solution for restaurants.

Pricing Summary

Setup Fee: N/A

Monthly Fee: $69 for software costs

Swipe Rate: 1.00% - 4.99%

Keyed-in Rate: 1.00% - 4.99%

Early Termination Fee: 50% of Remaining POS Subscription

Contract Terms:

1 Year

What is a Canadian Merchant Account?

A merchant account, whether in Canada, Egypt, or South Korea is simply a bank account through a payment processor that gathers the funds from credit cards and digital transactions in one place before depositing.

Once the funds have been cleared by the credit card processing company, the funds then transition into the bank account held by the business.

The merchant account is an intermediary between the credit card companies and the business account. It is a buffer that protects the business from any disputes.

There is usually a 1-2 day processing period before the funds are cleared for deposit into the business account.

While you can open your merchant account and go through the underwriting process to do that, credit card processing companies can do the legwork for you. There is an application process, but it is streamlined and most companies can offer a contract in a day or so.

There are alternatives to processing companies, namely Square and Paypal. These offer the benefits of a processing company but offer less individuality for each business.

Why Would I Want a Canadian Merchant Account?

Not all merchant account providers work with Canadian businesses, but some do.

Simply put, a merchant account allows any vendor to accept credit cards and digital payments. As stated in the introduction, customers are shifting towards a cashless society.

If your customers don’t carry cash and you don’t accept credit cards, they can’t be customers. Having a merchant account allows you to process more transactions and therefore increase your revenue stream.

Merchant accounts protect the business. If there is any sort of dispute over a charge, whether a refund request or service dispute, the merchant account allows a cooling period.

Things to Think About:

What is Your Goal?

The first order of business is to determine what you’re trying to accomplish.

Most businesses are looking to increase their profit margin without losing the integrity of their product. In today’s market, credit cards are a must. The question then lies in what you’re selling.

Small, individually owned Canadian businesses can often achieve their goals with an aggregated merchant account. Crafts merchants, artists, authors, and small collectors often find that services such as Square or PayPal will meet their needs without the complexity of individualized fees.

What is Your Budget?

Aggregated services charge a flat rate on each transaction. This works for small steady transactions, but might not be affordable on a larger scale.

For instance, a restaurant could have some transactions that are a single item, versus another party who could feed twenty-five people. The transaction fees would hurt the bottom line.

Understanding these fees plays into your budget and helps you determine which route you choose. Your volume tends to be the deciding factor. Large and varied volume transactions often make a Processing Company the easiest choice.

What do the Fees Mean?

Fees will vary depending on your business. High risk businesses will inherently draw higher fees. Some of these businesses will automatically eliminate the possibility of working with a processing company.

General fees you’ll see with a merchant account are set-up fees, monthly fees, and batch fees. There are other fees, such as early termination fees, statement fees, and chargeback fees that can pop up occasionally.

Understanding the fees and how they relate to your business will dictate your choice in your merchant account.

How to Choose?

The simple answer would be, your business and your budget.

Having an idea of your transaction volume can tell you what you should be looking for in your merchant account.

Likewise, having a rough idea of your budget and how allowing credit card transactions will impact your sales should give you an understanding of how different fees and percentages will increase your revenue stream.

With these two pieces of information in mind, you also need to weigh the ease of your choice. One may save you some money, but be more labor-intensive every month.

Conversely, you may find that one choice is streamlined, but may hurt your profit margin.

The simple answer isn’t so simple. Like everything else in business, the pros and cons need to be carefully weighed and examined.

What is the Difference Between a Canadian Merchant Account and a Credit Card Processing Company?

A Canadian merchant account is an account that holds the money until it has successfully cleared with the credit card companies.

A processing company offers its merchant accounts and can often save on the actual banking fees by grouping similar businesses together.

The processing company will also afford a business a greater financial variety to fit their individual needs.

However, there are instances where bypassing a processing company and obtaining your merchant account can be the best option for your business. This is usually the case when you run a small to medium-sized business.

A small business can often obtain its merchant account and keep the costs down. However, this route can rule out some of the benefits afforded by a processing company.

The biggest difference a business will see between the two is the time needed to run the finances. With just a merchant account, the provider will work directly with the business.

In contrast, the processing company will do all the work behind the scenes, leaving the business free to focus on growing its brand. However, they will be paying for the service.

Things to Consider Before Applying for a Canadian Merchant Account:

Understand Your Business Risk

Each type of business is categorized by the bank writing the merchant account. The loosest categories are low risk and high risk and the category will determine what is offered.

The difference in the two risk categories is mainly in the fees and percentages that will be paid.

Many businesses fall under the low risk umbrella simply because they aren’t big enough to make the jump.

When a bank makes the determination, they look at some simple factors: sales volume (under $20,000/month); items being sold; is the company in a low risk market (Canada, USA, Japan, Western Europe); low level of returns or chargebacks.

A high risk business would fall in the opposite categories: high sales volume; items sold (cbd, software, digital media); high fraud markets; high levels of returns or charge-backs.

Knowing where your business falls on these scales can help determine the best course of action when applying for a merchant account or turning to a specialized processing company.

Types of Payment You Want to Accept:

Credit cards are a given at this point, but you need to look beyond to understand the depth of payment types and how they affect what you pay out each month.

Apple Pay, Google Pay, Paypal - There are more and more forms of digital payment that are clamoring to be accepted in the marketplace.

Do you want to only take in-person sales or does your business require an online presence that can accept digital payment? Even traditional in-person businesses like restaurants can take advantage of an online presence through gift card purchases.

Beyond this, you want to understand that different cards can lead to different fees and percentages based on the credit card company.

Cost and Fees

This leads directly into what your business will be paying to offer the customer payment choices.

Understanding the balancing act of what to offer can take time to figure out and adjust.

It is also good to understand the bank that holds your merchant account wants to make money as well. They will offer the fees that cover the potential for loss to ensure profit.

When applying for your merchant account, always pay attention to the fees and how they will affect your bottom line. Determine which fees are one-time and which will be recurring so you can effectively craft your business budget.

Nothing comes for free, but understanding the upside to these fees helps make an informed decision. You might end up paying a little more, but offering different payment types could increase your overall revenue stream.

Businesses and Canadian Merchant Accounts

Each business is different. Even when they are similar there will always be subtle differences that set a business apart from its direct competitors.

Understanding your specific niche in the market can ultimately determine how to proceed.

Knowing your business and your marketplace will provide you with the insight for exactly what you need in a merchant account. Also, understanding how your Canadian merchant account interfaces with your POS can help you on both ends.

Perhaps you operate on a digital platform. Are there different fees for online payments? Could your payments be lowered in this format?

These are all questions that need to be answered when you apply for your merchant account. Don’t be afraid to ask.

How to Choose the Best Canadian Merchant Account for Your Needs

The simple answer to this question is information. Canadian merchant account providers have multiple levels of what they offer. They can cater specifically to your business needs.

Also, look into the potential for a processing company. Would the streamlined benefits leave you more time to grow your business?

Perhaps going straight to the source and eliminating the middleman is the best course of action. Only you can determine that after careful research and examining how your specific business needs can be met.

The best merchant account will be the one that finds that perfect balance of cost and return. It will also hinge on how it impacts your business in the balance between time spent and income.

Additional Tips & Considerations

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions when you apply for a Canadian merchant account. Make sure you are prepared with the required paperwork and business license.
  • Research ahead of time so you understand where your business fits into what is being offered. Are you high or low risk? What is the preferred payment option of customers and how would you like to see that change and increase?
  • Weigh your options when it comes to a personal merchant account vs. a processing company that can bundle your business into a larger merchant account.
  • What is the size of your business and would an alternative payment provider be worth looking into?

Concluding Thoughts

Maybe you are a new business looking to get established or perhaps you run a successful Canadian business and want to expand your payment options. Perhaps you have a brick-and-mortar store in Canada and want to create an online presence.

Whatever your situation, knowing there are options can relieve some of the stress. While every business is different, there are established criteria to help you make the best decisions.

The best course of action is to evaluate each possibility. Talk to several companies to carefully examine all the different options at your disposal.

Whether you ultimately decide to apply for a merchant account, talk to a processing company, use an alternative payment provider, or stay put with your existing payment options, only you can determine the best course for your business.

Making an informed choice can be the difference between breaking even and turning a profit.

If you determine a Canadian merchant account provider is your best option here are a few:

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