Choosing the right credit card processor will give you the peace of mind to know that your ability to accept alternative forms of payment won’t be shut down, frozen or restricted due to something out of your control.
With over 1,000+ credit card processing options available, all specializing in a certain type of business – how do you know which is best for your business?
Our team of merchant service industry experts has researched & analyzed every single one – and in this guide we’ve done all the hard work for you by hand-picking the top payment providers for any business looking to accept credit card payments.
“38% of small business customers have been unable to make a purchase at a physical store because their form of payment wasn’t accepted.” 1
Wow. Maybe that’s part of the reason why:
“70% of the United States population carries a credit card, with 34% of Americans carrying 3 or more cards.” 2
People want to buy things, and if you’ve done all the hard work to get them to buy from YOU, but you can’t accept their payment at the last second – you’re in big trouble.
Although, for most business owners, this isn’t even their primary concern.
The biggest reason for choosing a good merchant account provider comes from a concern from other side of the coin – the fees they pay by giving consumers all these different payment options to ensure the sale, like: point of sale card swiping, ipad terminals, chip readers, ecommerce functionality, online payment gateways, accepting credit cards, recurring/subscription billing, split payments, etc.
So, without further ado, here are the best merchant service providers to help you collect payments – broken down by the most important factors you should consider.
Let’s break down the pricing, pros, cons and considerations for each merchant service provider.
But first – is there any difference between the two? Why do we keep saying “credit card processing companies” AND “merchant account providers”?
Well, for all intents & purposes that you need to be concerned with – the answer is that there is no difference.
Merchants (aka business owners, aka YOU) know that they need the ability to accept credit cards. But for the most part, that’s pretty much where their interest stops. “Credit card processing” and “payment processing” is the most colloquial term for this.
A “merchant account” is really the specific type of bank account where these payments go, and the merchant account provider normally refers to the organization that provides access to this account, and other “merchant services” that you (the merchant) might need – like a card swiping machine, payment gateway, ecommerce shopping cart, etc.
As far as your needs go – they are synonymous, but we are saying both of them just to make sure business owners know they are in the right place!
Alright, now that that’s taken care of, let’s get to looking more in-depth at the best credit card processing companies – aka merchant account providers
There’s a lot of options when it comes to merchant accounts and credit card processing, and choosing the right one can have a hugely positive (or negative) impact on your business.
They each have their areas of expertise, and can offer better options for a specific type of business by focusing on that category. Conversely, they will give up features, functionality, and other rate-based advantages to businesses that fall outside of their bailiwick.
For the most part, these factors all orbit around where your business falls on the “risk spectrum”.
Why? Because if a business messes up and doesn’t have enough money to refund its unhappy customers – that financial burden falls on the merchant account provider. Therefore, depending on the type of business you run (selling coffee vs. selling male enhancement pills on auto-bill) there will be a much bigger chance of credit card disputes, chargebacks, etc. from your customers.
Merchant account providers know this. And they charge fees, and prepare/specialize, to accommodate this accordingly!
Typically when you’re just starting out you’ll want to get setup fast with a merchant account aggregator, like Stripe or Paypal. Or an all-around POS system like Square.
Then, as your business grows, you will want to branch out from your initial choice and consider a more specialized provider – one that can give you better rates, protect your account from closure, and provide more advanced equipment and features that will help you grow.
Which credit card processing companies are best for your businesses?
Here are our recommendations for the top merchant accounts: