Online Credit Card Processing

The ability to accept online credit card processing in your business opens up a lot of doors.

No longer will you be tied to a physical location or have to accept payments in person. Any customer can visit you online to make a purchase or payment.

Online credit card processing can be a boon to your business, but it also comes with risks. Any time a card-not-present transaction occurs, it increases the risks of fraud.

Card-not-present transactions are a big reason businesses get classified as “high risk.”

To process credit cards and online payments, you must select a merchant account, but not every merchant account provider accepts high risk businesses.

A merchant account is like a bank account for your cashless payments and is necessary to process and accept credit, debit, check, online or mobile payments.

To select the right merchant account for your online credit card processing, you need to pick one that accepts high risk businesses and preferably is familiar with your business model.

Our Top Picks for Online Credit Card Processing

Easy Pay Direct
Works with all kinds of businesses including online businesses and those considered high risk.
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.



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
Started as a family business and is now considered a leader in the industry.
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.



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:

A full-service provider that specializes in high risk businesses.
Works with any size high risk business.
No setup fee.
Variable rates depending on the merchant's volume.
Merchants are notified whenever a fraud or chargeback occurs.
Checks are allowed to be accepted from customers.



Best for

eMerchantBroker is best for any size business that is considered high-risk. It's considered one of the top payment processors for high-risk businesses that would otherwise have difficulty finding a standard merchant account provider. 

Specializes in

eMerchantBroker specializes in credit repair, collections agencies, adult websites, travel and timeshare, firearms and guns, bankruptcy and bad credit, online and in-person smoke shops. They also work with electronic cigarettes and other companies that fit into the high-risk merchant account category.

Pricing Summary

Setup Fee: $0

Monthly Fee: Undisclosed

Swipe Rate: 3.00% + $0.15

Keyed-in Rate: 4.00% + $0.25

Early Termination Fee: Up to $595

Contract Terms:

1 Year 3 Years

What is Online Credit Card Processing?

Online credit card processing is any credit card transaction that takes place online via a payment gateway. They are also known as card-not-present payments.

A merchant account provider provides online businesses a payment gateway, which gives them the ability to process online credit card transactions.

Most people use payment gateways all the time and may not even realize it. Anytime you enter your credit card number online at an ecommerce store you are using a payment gateway.

Why Would I Want Online Credit Card Processing?

Any business that wants to break the barriers of only operating out of a physical location needs to offer online credit card processing to their customers.

This allows you to sell your merchandise or services online as well as in-person in a physical location. Online credit card processing is useful whether you’re selling physical goods, services, or digital goods.

There are a lot of benefits to selling online.

Increased Sales

Even if you’re not planning on selling merchandise via a website, you can still allow customers to book tickets online, make reservations, or make payments via a payment gateway.

A payment gateway should accept all types of credit and debit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express. Your payment gateway can also be set up to accept gift cards and shopping apps such as Apple Wallet or Google Pay.

The easier and more convenient you make it for your customers to pay you, the more likely you will be to get paid on time, and attract more business.

An online payment gateway can save a customer’s credit card information, making repeat sales or recurring payments extremely easy, and further increasing your revenue.

Digital Recording

All payments, refunds, and financial data are saved and tracked automatically. This makes it extremely easy to keep track of finances and record revenue come tax time.

Going digital reduces the need for printing paper receipts and mailing payment reminders. This saves the business owner time and money.

Analytics and Reporting

One of the great things about online transactions is the amount of data that can be captured in a single click.

Many merchant account providers have tools to help you analyze the data. This valuable data can help further increase sales because you can better understand who your customers are and what they need.

Potential Risks

There are many benefits to online credit card processing, yet there are some drawbacks as well. Accepting online payments increases the risk of fraud, disputed charges, and chargebacks.

Doing business online also automatically labels your business as “high risk.”

For most businesses the benefits of expanding online far outweigh the risks.

Types of Online Credit Card Processing

To process cashless payments, including online credit cards, businesses need a merchant account provider.

A merchant account processes all cashless payments. This includes check, credit, mobile, debit, online and mobile. They also allow you to accept gift cards and gift certificates.

A merchant account will provide a payment gateway, which allows businesses to accept online payments. The payment gateway is hosted on your business’ website.

In addition to online payments, merchant accounts can also provide physical equipment if desired such as POS systems, credit card terminals, and virtual terminals you can set up on your tablet or mobile device.

There are two different approaches you can take to get your online credit card processing set up.

Merchant Account Provider

A merchant account provider will work with a business to set up a dedicated merchant account just for that business.

Merchant accounts are all PCI compliant and use Triple Data Encryption Standard (3DES). Enhanced security means less chance of fraud and chargebacks.

This type of security is especially important for businesses that need to secure sensitive customer information entered online.

A merchant account can also reduce the risk of chargebacks. They can do this by contacting the business when a customer disputes a charge so the business can reach out and offer a refund or replacement.

Payment Aggregator

A payment aggregator, also known as a third-party payment processor, can also process a business’ cashless payments, including credit cards.

Payment aggregators include companies such as Square, Stripe, or Paypal. These popular services charge a flat transaction rate fee and can get businesses set up very quickly.

However, a payment aggregator is not a dedicated merchant account for just that business. Instead, the business shares the merchant account with other businesses.

Although payment aggregators can be easy to set up and use, making it appealing for new businesses, they have a low tolerance for chargebacks, refunds, or disputed charges.

Any high risk or high-volume business runs the risk of their account getting frozen or terminated, which can have a negative effect on their business.

What’s the Difference Between Merchant Accounts and Payment Aggregators?

Both a merchant account provider and a payment aggregator will allow you to get started accepting credit card payments and online payments. However, there are some key differences between the two you should be aware of.


Payment aggregators are quick to set up and can offer near-instant approval.

Merchant accounts can be quick to set up, but the approval process generally takes two to five days.

Transaction Rates

A payment aggregator charges a flat rate for transaction fees. This can mean higher rates per transaction.

A merchant account will charge variable rates depending on the type of transaction. This can mean lower rates on some types of transactions.

What Businesses Should Work with Payment Aggregators?

A payment aggregator may be best for new businesses or low-volume businesses. A merchant account is typically a better choice for higher volume businesses or high risk businesses.

A dedicated merchant account is more sensitive to your needs and can help reduce the instances of chargebacks and fraud.

Things to Consider Before Selecting an Online Credit Card Processing Service


When customers are entering their financial data online, it’s extremely important to make sure their data is secure.

Merchant account providers should include the following security benefits for online transactions:

  • Triple Data Encryption Standard (3DES) - A data encryption standard that uses three keys instead of just one.
  • Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) - An encryption standard that ensures data is safe from the point of transaction to the point of delivery to the merchant account.
  • Tokenization - Ensures credit card data is converted to tokens so that even if it is compromised it will be impossible to steal.


No matter your choice, you’ll typically always have to pay a fee per transaction. If you choose a payment aggregator, this is typically a flat rate per transaction.

If you go with a merchant account, the transaction fee will be variable.

Some of the fees you may have to pay include:

  • Set up fee
  • PCI compliance fee
  • Annual fees
  • Statement fees
  • Early termination fees

Payment aggregators may be less expensive if you plan on having a low transaction volume.

Merchant account providers will give you more ability to negotiate rates than payment aggregators.

Make sure you understand all the fees you may owe before signing up. Some merchant accounts have more fees than others!

Ease of Use

If you’re ready to begin selling online, you don’t want difficulty with your merchant account to hold you back.

Look for a merchant account provider with a quick set-up, as well as 24/7 live customer support.

Online shopping happens day or night, and you never know when there may be a problem. Ensure that the account provider you’re working with is responsive and cares as much about your business as you do.

Physical Equipment

Is your business strictly online, or will you need physical equipment?

If you do need a POS system or credit card terminal, see what kind of equipment you will need to purchase or lease through the merchant account.

Experience with High Risk Businesses

Although you may not think of your business as high risk, know that any business that processes online transactions or card-not-present transactions are considered high risk by banks and credit card companies.

When deciding on an online credit card processor for your business, consider choosing a merchant account provider that has experience or specializes in high risk businesses.

A merchant account familiar with your business model will be able to work around your unique needs. They may be able to help you reduce the risks of fraud and chargebacks in your system so you can succeed online.

How to Choose the Best Online Credit Card Processor For Your Needs

Whether you’re a physical business ready to start selling online, or a purely online business, offering online credit card payments to your customers is an exciting step.

Before you choose your merchant account provider, consider the needs of your business.

The Needs of a High Risk Business

Any business that processes credit cards online is considered high risk.

Some merchant accounts do not work with high risk businesses, or if they do they charge extra for the service.

Depending on the merchandise you sell, and the transaction volume you anticipate, it may benefit you to choose a merchant account that specializes in high risk industries.

The right merchant account provider can help reduce instances of fraud and chargebacks. They will not limit the number of transactions you can have.

Check for hidden fees such as early termination fees, and make sure transaction rates are competitive.

24/7 live customer support should be a given, as an online business needs to be operating at all hours of the day.

Payment aggregators may be a good choice for you if you need a simple and quick way to get started, and are not planning on a high volume of transactions.

Many businesses will do better choosing a merchant account provider that can set them up with a dedicated merchant account. This option is more secure and potentially more affordable if you are a high-volume business.

Additional Tips & Considerations

Be Prepared for the Application Process

To get approved as quickly as possible, make sure you have all the information you’ll need before you apply.

This will include at a minimum:

  • Financial and/or bank statements
  • Business URL
  • Estimated Annual Sales
  • Highest Transaction Amount
  • Type of business

Update Your Business Website

To accept online payments, your business needs an online presence. Your website will host your payment gateway which will allow customers to enter their credit card information.

Before you even apply to a merchant account provider, it will help you to have your website up and running so you can host a payment gateway. This will simplify the process once you get approved.

Final Thoughts

Expanding online is a crucial step in the growth of your business, and it pays to take some time to make the right decision.

A payment aggregator may be a good choice for low-volume businesses, while a dedicated merchant account is usually the right choice for high-volume businesses.

If you’re ready to select a merchant account, these are the ones we recommend: