Customers are more and more using credit cards today to pay for their purchases. So having the ability to process credit cards is a must for businesses of all sizes, regardless of their industries. But high and often complicated credit card processing fees eat up total profits, forcing business owners to constantly look for the cheapest credit card processing solution.
So which small business credit card processing options are the cheapest for your small business?
In this definitive guide, we will find an answer to that question. But let us explore some background first.
What are Card Processing Services?
Though it appears simple from the outside, credit card processing is complicated. This is because various entities are involved in this payment processing method. From you collecting credit card information to the acquiring bank account getting funds, a number of moving parts are inherent in the process. A credit card processing service enables you to accept credit cards in your business without any hassle as payment options.
Companies offering card processing services work as mediators between customers, merchants, and financial institutions, making payment processing seamless.
When you decide to start accepting credit cards in your business, you have two options – one is a merchant account, and another is a card payment processor.
Why You Should Use a Credit Card Payment Processing Service for Your Business
Credit cards have become a preferred way of making payments among customers now. If you don’t have the capability to process credit cards, you’re going to lose tons of credit card sales to your competitors.
Here are key reasons why you should use a credit card payment processing service for your small business:
- Accepting credit cards is convenient for your customers
- Credit card payments can improve cash flow in your business because credit cards transactions are cleared quickly as opposed to cheque payments that take time
- Credit cards inspire customers to buy impulsively. So, accepting credit cards means more impulse purchases in your store
- You eliminate the risk of bad checks when you accept credit card payments
- Credit card processing is essential for online business as cards are a preferred online payment method
Now a question comes – should you charge credit card fees if customers decide to pay via credit cards? Well, it depends. In some states, it is illegal to charge card processing. So, you should check local guidelines in this regard.
15 Cheapest Credit Card Processing Services for Your Small Business
When you look for the cheapest credit card processing services, it is worth noting that the cheapest is not always the best solution.
Instead, you should make a list of leading credit card processing providers and compare their features. Doing so will help you find the best payment service provider that can meet your needs and fall within your budget.
Here are the top seventeen cheapest credit card processing solutions to start your research:
Square Payments is one of the most reputed credit card processors in the market. The company offers a wide range of POS hardware and equipment to enable small business owners to process card payments. The product range includes Square Terminal, Square Reader, Square Register, etc.
Here are key benefits of using Square payment processing:
- Simple transparent pricing
- No lock-in contracts
- Fast setup (account creation and verification in minutes)
- Free dispute management and fraud protection
- You have to pay a fee if you want to access your money instantly
- Custom price is available only if you process more than $250,000 yearly
Square offers simple pricing with no hidden fees. If you tap, dip, or swipe a credit card, Square will charge 2.6% + 10¢ per transaction. For eCommerce transactions, Square charges 2.9% + 30¢ for cards or 1% with a minimum of $1 per transaction for ACH bank transfers (via invoices only).
For those who wish to manually enter card details or use a credit card on file, Square will take 3.5% + 15¢ per transaction.
Square Payments is well-suited for restaurants and the retail industry.
PayPal Zettle is a complete POS solution for your small business. It enables you to accept credit card payments online and on-site.
To start processing credit cards, you have to buy a PayPal Zettle reader. PayPal Zettle POS app is free. Also, PayPal Zettle offers a range of cash registers and card terminals to choose from. This is an alternative to PayPal for business with more features.
Here are the main highlights of the PayPal credit card payment processing solution:
- Capability to accept major credit cards, mobile payments
- Complete POS solution with inventory tracking
- Easy setup that takes just 5 minutes
- Free QR code payment tool
- Known to freeze accounts
- Hard to reach customer service department
PayPal Zettle doesn’t charge any monthly fee. For each transaction through PayPal Zettle, you have to pay 2.29% + $0.09 transaction fee per card-present transaction. And for manual card entry transactions, you will have to shell out 3.49% + 0.09 USD per transaction.
PayPal also offers contactless payment processing. QR code transactions $10.00 and below will cost you 2.4% + 0.05 USD per transaction.
PayPal Zettle is good for no-profits as it offers discounted transactions rates for charities.
Stripe is a reputed name in credit card processing. With Stripe, you can customize online and personal checkout experiences for your customers.
The company offers reasonably priced pre-certified card readers that come with cloud-based hardware management to help you accept credit cards on-site.
- Highly customizable experience
- No long-term contract
- Unified reporting with online payments
- Comprehensive security
- Technical expertise is required to get the most out of the
- Account stability issues for riskier businesses
- Daily payout limit may be applied on instant payouts
Stripe charge 2.9% +30¢ per online transaction. It also charges + 1% for international cards and + 1% if currency conversion is required for online transactions.
An on-site transaction will cost you 2.7% + 5¢ per successful card transaction. You will be charged $15 for a lost dispute transaction.
Stripe is ideal for companies offering online business services. Thanks to its quick setup, you can create a free account online in just a few minutes.
4. Stax by Fattmerchant
Stax by Fattmerchant is a subscription-based credit card processing solution for small business owners. This all-in-one payment processing solution will enable your business to accept payments from anywhere – swiped, keyed, mobile, online, or contactless.
The company offers a free terminal or mobile reader to process credit card payments in your store.
- 24/7 customer support
- Powerful analytics reporting
- 0% Markup on direct-cost interchange fees
- Useful optional add-ons, such as custom branding, digital gift cards, QuickBooks Online Pro Sync, etc.
- Not suitable for businesses that have just started and don’t have many credit card transactions in a month
- Some add-ons are available for free or at lower charges with other credit card processing providers
Stax by Fattmerchant Pricing
For small businesses, Stax by Fattmerchant offers three monthly credit card processing subscription plans – Growth ($99), Pro (159), and Ultimate ($199).
Also, it offers some additional paid add-ons like a one-click shopping cart, QuickBook Online Pro Sync, Terminal Protection, Same Day funding, and more.
Stax by Fattmerchant is good for businesses that have a large volume of credit card processing per month. If you just started out and process a smaller amount of money per month, its subscription cost might be costlier than any other transaction-based credit card processor.
5. Payment Depot
Payment Depot is a subscription-based cheapest credit card processing solution for small businesses. Some plans of Payment Depot come with free equipment and discounts.
A good thing about Payment Depot is your subscription plan will cover everything – online payment, virtual terminal payment, in-store payment, etc.
- 90-day money-back guarantee
- No hidden fee or cancellation fees
- Rate protection
- Free Payment gateway and virtual terminal
- Not suitable for high-risk industries
- Monthly commitment regardless of payment processing volume
Payment Depot Pricing
Payment Depot offers three monthly pricing plans. Its starter package will cost you $79 per month plus $0.15 per transaction plus interchange. In this plan, you can process up to $50,000 per month.
The most popular card processing subscription starts at $99 per month plus $0.10 per transaction plus interchange. Under this plan, you’re able to touch credit card sales of $150,000 per month.
If you’re going to process a large volume of credit card payments, the enterprise plan is suitable for you. It will cost you $199 per month plus $0.07 per transaction plus interchange.
Also, the company offers custom plans on requests.
Payment Depot is good for all businesses (leaving high-risk businesses) that are looking for a subscription-based payment processing solution.
6. Dharma Merchant Services
Dharma Merchant Services is a reputed merchant services provider (MSP) known for offering extremely low-cost Dharma interchange-plus pricing on credit card processing.
This account offers you a free virtual terminal, online reporting, mobile processing, online payment links, a customer database with credit card storage, and more.
You also have an option to choose from a wide range of Terminals and Gateways that Dharma offers.
- Low cost interchange-plus pricing
- Free virtual terminal, mobile processing, and online reporting
- No batch fees
- Socially conscious company
- Monthly fee
- Not suitable for low volume processing
Dharma Merchant Services Pricing
Thanks to its interchange-plus pricing, Dharma Merchant Services offer low-cost credit card processing for small businesses. For online, virtual & e-commerce credit card processing, you will pay 0.20% + $0.11 above interchange.
If you run a retail business or provide a service, Dharma Merchant Services will cost you 0.15% + $0.08/transaction above interchange.
In most of its plans, Dharma charges an additional $25 monthly fee. For non-profits and high-volume credit card processing, Dharma offers discounts on a monthly fee and transaction fee.
Dharma is perfect for retail business owners, restaurants, hospitality businesses, and non-profits.
7. National Processing
National Processing is one of the cheapest credit card processing solutions for your small business. The company offers a free SwipeSimple mobile reader, free Gateway setup, free reprogram of existing equipment with all of its plans. And some higher plans offer free terminal, free mobile reader, and free Pin Pad.
- Locked-in rates to ensure no charge hike
- Highly competitive plans for large businesses
- Easy integration with popular tools like QuickBooks, Zendesk, Ecwid, and more
- Interchange-plus pricing
- Good customer support
- Cancellation fee in some cases
- No trial period or money-back guarantee
National Processing Pricing
For online eCommerce transactions, National Processing charges $9.95 per month and 0.29%+$0.15 per transaction. And if you are running a retail business, you will have to pay $9.95 per month and 0.18%+$0.10 per transaction. Restaurant owners have to shell out $9.95 per month and 0.14%+$0.07 per transaction.
National Processing also has two plans for large businesses. Its subscription plan costs you $59 per month and 0%+$0.09 per transaction. If you want to save more on a transaction fee, go for the subscription plus plan that costs $199 per month and 0%+$0.05 transaction cost.
National Processing is good for restaurants and businesses that process a large volume of credit cards.
8. Payline Data
Payline Data provides businesses with easy-to-use online solutions, in-person solutions, and mobile solutions. The company, as it claims, offers same-day approvals and saving over 40%.
The best thing about Payline Data is you can try it for the first month for free – no risk, no upfront fees, and no cancelation fees.
What’s more, the company offers interchange-plus pricing. A high-risk merchant account is also available.
- Interchange-plus pricing
- No cancellation fees
- Fully customization through Payment Gateway and Mobile APIs
- Good customer service
- The additional monthly cost for virtual terminal
- Account stability issue
Payline Data Pricing
For credit card-present transactions, you have to pay 0.2%+$0.10 per transaction along with $10 per month. If a credit card is not present, Payline Data charges 0.4%+$.20 and $20 per month. Also, you have to pay $10 per month to use the virtual terminal of Payline Data.
Payline Data is well-suited for medical offices.
PayJunction is one of the cheapest credit card processors. A good thing about this credit card processor is you can try it alongside your current card processing solutions as the company doesn’t charge any cancellation fee. Also, the company promises to match or beat the credit card processing rates of your existing payment service provider.
If you average over 25k a month, you can get a free terminal. There is no monthly fee if you process over $10,000 or more.
- One day deposit time
- No PCI compliance fee
- Smart terminal for faster processing
- Easy customization
- Monthly fee if you process lower than $10,000 per month
- Not good for high-risk industries
For credit card transactions, you will pay cost + 0.75%. And if you are processing checks, you will have to pay 0.75% for each transaction. For businesses already using any credit card processing company, PayJunction will beat or match the existing processing rates.
PayJunction is best for auto dealers, veterinary, and dentistry. Small businesses that do a large volume of credit card processing can also benefit from PayJunction.
10. Payment Cloud
Payment Cloud is a leader in credit card processing for small businesses active in medium and high-risk industries. The company offers hassle-free merchant account solutions that come with reliable customer service. Payment Cloud claims to charge a reasonable fee for its merchant services.
- Good for high-risk industries
- Excellent customer service
- Fast processing
- No information on pricing
- No free trial to assess the company
- Monthly fees
Payment Cloud Pricing
Payment Cloud doesn’t show any pricing information on its website publicly. So, you have to contact the company to get the pricing details.
Payment Cloud will serve you the best if you’re active in high-risk industries.
11. Amazon Pay
Amazon Pay offers a user-friendly payment gateway for eCommerce business owners. If you’re running only an online store, Amazon Pay can be a good option to explore. This online payment solution from Amazon works with all popular eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify, Magento, and BigCommerce.
- Easy to integrate with your eCommerce store
- Powerful brand recognition
- Predictable pricing
- No monthly fee
- Advantage of Amazon’s years of eCommerce and checkout optimization innovation
- High processing fees
- Not good for high-risk industries
Amazon Pay Pricing
Amazon Pay pricing has two components – one is a processing fee and another is an authorization fee.
If you are going to process a $100 order value transaction, Amazon Pay will charge you 2.9% ($2.9) as the domestic processing fee and a $0.30 authorization fee. So, you will $3.2 per $100 domestic transaction. This cost is for orders placed on the web or mobile.
For Alexa voice-activated purchases, the domestic processing fee is 4% and the authorization fee is the same. So, you will shell out $4.30 for $100 Alexa voice-activated purchases.
Also, cross-border processing fees are 3.9% for web and mobile purchases and 5% for Alexa voice-activated purchases. And authorization fee is the same $.30.
Amazon Pay is good for online business owners who want to leverage Amazon’s brand recognition.
PayStand is one of the leading credit card processors for b2b businesses. It can help you completely digitize your receivables by leveraging the power of the cloud.
Reputed businesses, such as Choozle, eMDs, Urban Surfaces, and many more trust PayStand to accept payments by credit cards.
A good thing about PayStand is you can easily integrate it with NetSuite, Sage Intacct, Xero, Magento, and more. Also, PayStand enables you to speed up tracking and simplifying reporting.
- Zero transaction fee
- Flat monthly rates
- No markups and no surprise rate hike
- Wholesale rates
- Not suitable for small businesses that don’t process a large volume of credit cards
- Slow tech support
PayStand is a subscription-based credit card processer. The company hasn’t mentioned pricing on its website. PayStand claims to offer straightforward, transparent, predictable merchant costs. You have to contact the company to get price quotes.
PayStand is ideal for B2B businesses that process a large volume of credit cards.
13. Inuit QuickBooks Payments
Intuit QuickBooks Payments offer flexible credit card processing for small business owners. The company provides you with easy payment options. You can quickly create instantly payable invoices, and your customers will have complete flexibility to pay you online via debit cards or credit cards.
With the help of a mobile app and a card reader, you can easily accept payments in your store. What’s more, Inuit QuickBooks Payments allows you to accept payments by ACH or eChecks. Also, with the help of Inuit QuickBooks Payments, you can easily set recurring invoices to be automatically sent and paid.
A useful thing about QuickBooks Payments is you can pair it with a QuickBooks Cash bank account to get an instant deposit. If you’re eligible, you won’t have to pay any fee for availing of this feature.
- Customizable card payable invoices
- Automatic bookkeeping
- Cancel anytime without any cancellation fee
- High transaction fee
- Not suitable for high-risk industries
- Monthly fee
Intuit QuickBooks Payments Pricing
To start using QuickBooks Payments, you have to set up a QuickBooks account that starts at $25 a month. For online transactions, Inuit QuickBooks Payments charge 2.9% + 25 cents per transaction. And for keyed transactions, you will have to shell out 3.4%+25 cents per transaction.
If you swipe a credit card in your store, QuickBooks Payments will cost you 2.4%+25 cents per transaction. And ACH bank payments are charged at 1% or max $10 per transaction.
Intuit QuickBooks payment gateway is suited for businesses that are already using QuickBooks accounting software.
Braintree is one of the reputed payment service providers, offering payment platforms to the world’s leading brands, such as Yelp, Uber, Dropbox, and many more.
The company started in 2007, and PayPal acquired the company in 2013. Now, the company brands itself as Braintree – A PayPal Service.
Braintree is a popular choice for those looking for merchant account providers having a wide international reach. And opening a merchant account with Braintree means you can process credit cards, debit cards, PayPal, Venmo (online in the US), leading wallets, and local payment methods in a hassle-free way.
Braintree is optimized for both mobile and the web to offer a seamless checkout experience to your customers.
- Predictable pricing
- Interchange plus pricing option for merchants on custom pricing
- Advanced fraud tools
- Integration support
- Advanced developer tools
- One payment platform to handle multiple payment methods
- No merchant accounts for high-risk industries
- Need technical know-how to fully leverage it
- Expensive for businesses doing a lower volume of credit card processing
For credit cards and digital wallets, Braintree charges 2.59% + 49 cents per transaction. If you process American Express cards, you will have to pay only 3.50% per transaction. And you have to pay a 1% additional fee if the transaction is presented in any non-USD currency. Also, you will have to pay a 1% additional fee if a customer uses a credit card issued outside the US.
Verified charitable 501(c)(3) organizations receive discounts on processing fees. They have to pay 1.99% + 49 cents per transaction.
If you process a Venmo transaction, you will pay 3.49% + $.49 per transaction. ACH Direct Debit will cost you 0.75% per transaction, and the maximum transaction fee is capped at $5 per ACH transaction.
You can contact Braintree to know if your business qualifies for custom pricing.
Braintree offers good discounts for charitable organizations. So, it’s no brainer that it is ideal for verified charitable 501(c)(3) organizations. You will benefit from using Braintree if you process a large volume of credit cards and qualify for custom pricing.
PaySimple offers hassle-free merchant services for small business owners. Its all-in-one platform allows you to accept payment in the most flexible way. PaySimple enables you to accept payment online, in-person, or on your mobile phone.
PaySimple is not limited to just a merchant account provider. You can easily connect PaySimple to Mailchimp and Constant Contact to boost your marketing effort. Whether you want to promote your business or generate more leads, PaySimple’s powerful payment data will maximize the success of your email marketing solutions.
PaySinple has a powerful mobile app to run your business on the go. To start using PaySimple, you have to pay a monthly fee. However, there is no contractual obligation a. So, you can cancel any time without worrying about the cancelation fee. PaySimple also offers a free trial that you can avail to assess if PaySimple’s merchant account is suitable for your business.
- No contractual obligation and no cancellation fee
- Customer relationship management
- Billing and invoicing automation
- Powerful reporting and insights
- Marketing integration
- Monthly fee
- The US only services
- Costly for businesses who process a small volume of card processing
In addition to a flat monthly fee, PaySimple charges 2.49% per transaction for credit card processing and $0.65 + .20% for ACH/eCheck processing. If you process more than $50,000 per month, you may qualify for lower processing rates.
PaySimple is perfect for businesses that process more than $50,000 per month. If you process less than that, using PaySimple can be costlier for your business.
Cheapest Credit Card Processing Companies for Small Businesses
Picking the cheapest credit card processing companies for your small business is not easy. This is because each business has different requirements, and there is no one-size-fits-all kind of credit card processor.
First, you need to make a list of your requirements. Then, you should start exploring different credit card processors and merchant account providers to find the best solution for your business.
Square and Stripe can be cheaper solutions if you process a low volume of credit cards and don’t want to be trapped in a monthly commitment.
If you process a large volume of credit cards, going with a subscription-based credit card processor can be the right decision. Stax by Fattmerchant, Payment Depot, Dharma Merchant Services, and PayStand are the cheapest subscription-based payment service providers. These companies include add-on services in their plans. Sometimes, you have to pay for these add-on services. Therefore, you should do thorough research to find the right credit card processor that comes with free add-ons that your business can use.
In the nutshell, assess your need, and explore the cheapest credit card processors mentioned in the list to find the best credit card processor for your business.
Which Credit Card Processing is Cheapest for Small Businesses?
The cheapest credit card processing for small businesses depends on various factors, such as volume of credit cards, online, in-store swiping, keyed transactions, etc.
If you have just started, Square can be a good option as it doesn’t charge any monthly fee and processing rates are low. For online businesses, Strip can be the cheapest credit card processing service provider.
In case your business makes occasional sales, you can use PayPal. For restaurants, Dharma Merchant Services offers the best value for money. Payment Depot is the cheapest for most businesses.
As you can see, the cheapest payment processor or merchant account provider depends on how much volume of credit cards you process and how you process them. Add-on features, such as terminal protection and same-day funding, also play a part in the final pricing.
So, the cheapest options might not be the best option. Go through the listed payment processors and merchant account providers to see what works best for you.
Finding the Best Credit Card Processing Companies for Your Business
Finding the best credit card processing company can be difficult even for tech-savvy business owners. You have to consider many factors like credit card processing fees, interchange fees, pricing structure, and more to make an informed decision.
To help you find one of the best credit card companies to process online and in-store payments, we have made a list of key pointers.
Let’s dive in:
Credit card processors usually follow two kinds of pricing structure – subscription-based plan and transaction-based plan.
Stripe and Square offer transaction-based pricing, meaning you don’t have to pay any monthly fee. Payment Depot and Stax by Fattmerchant follow a subscription-based pricing structure.
Whether you should subscribe to a monthly processing plan or go for a transaction-based structure depends solely on your requirements.
If you process a large volume of credit cards, subscription-based pricing can save you money. Also, look for a company that offers interchange-plus pricing to save money.
Many payment processing companies are known to charge additional fees besides credit card processing fees, which are often not mentioned on their websites.
When you are exploring payment processing companies, look for a company that promises to provide you with flat pricing. Make sure that there is no hidden additional fee.
Square and Payment Depot offer transparent pricing.
Minimum Processing Amount
A few payment companies offer custom pricing to businesses that process a certain amount (or more) each month. You should look for a payment processor that has a minimum processing amount so that you can qualify for custom pricing.
PaySimple may lower transaction fees if you process more than $50,0000. PayJuction, which follows a transaction-based pricing structure, will charge you a monthly fee you process less than $10,000 per month.
Therefore, it is good to check the clause of minimum process amount, if there’s any.
It goes without saying that you should choose a payment processer that offers superior customer support.
Talking to a company’s representative, looking at reviews, and going through social media interactions can give you an idea about how good customer support the company offers.
Stripe, Dharma Merchant Services, and Square are known to offer good customer support.
In order to start processing credit cards, you will require various equipment such as a card reader, payment terminal, a mobile processing app, etc. Therefore, it is necessary that you check equipment costs from different companies to get the best deal. Find out if a company is offering any tool for free or not.
Dharma Merchant Services offers a free virtual terminal, and Stripe offers reasonably priced card readers. Stax by Fattmerchant offers a free terminal and mobile reader to process payments in your store.
You should keep security at the top of your mind when doing research for a payment processor. Ask what kind of fraud protection tools the company offers and how the company is going to keep customers’ data safe.
Also, you should look for a processor that enforces SSL certificates and CVV2 verification. And make sure that the card processing company is PCI-DSS compliant.
Stripe, Braintree, Amazon Pay, Dharma Merchant Services offer good security.
What is the cheapest way to process credit cards?
The cheapest way to process credit cards is to partner with the most inexpensive merchant account provider or credit card processor. However, there is no one-size-fits-all kind of solution. Merchant accounts and card processing companies offer various plans, depending on the needs of businesses. You should assess your requirements and explore various credit card solutions to find the best credit card processing solution that suits your need.
Which card processor is the cheapest?
If yours is a new business, Square can be the cheapest. And Payment Depot can be the best bet if you want a subscription-based card processing solution. For e commerce merchants, Stripe can be the right choice.
The cheapest card processor may not be the best. You should make a list of features you want, and start researching various card processing solutions that charge low processing fees. Compare different options to settle on the best contender that ticks all the boxes.
What is the best way for a small business to accept credit cards?
The best way for a small business to accept credit cards is to go for a card processing company having a transparent pricing structure. Some payment processing companies charge monthly fees, and some companies offer flat processing fees for transactions. Businesses doing a large volume of credit card processing often find subscription-based pricing structures cheaper. For a small volume of credit card processing, transaction-based processing (without any monthly commitment) fits the bill.
Payment Depot and National Processing offer various attractive subscription plans for small businesses. And Square is a good transaction-based credit card processor for new businesses that process a low volume of credit cards.
Is Square cheaper than a merchant account?
Yes, Square is a cheaper option than a merchant account for most businesses to process low to medium volumes of credit cards. However, a fully functional merchant with interchange-plus pricing will be a cheaper deal if you process a large volume of credit cards even though you pay additional annual and monthly fees for it.