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10 Best Credit Card Processing for Small Businesses in 2024

Ivana Shteriova Ivana ShteriovaFinance Specialist January 13, 2024
January 13, 2024
It’s not easy finding the right credit card processing company for your small business. With multiple types of payment models on the market, it can be difficult to know which one is best for you. Plus, very few small business merchant services publicly advertise their rates, making it even harder to draw an accurate comparison.

Not every small business is the same, either. Your transaction volume, where and how you sell, and even what Point of Sale (POS) hardware you already have will all impact which credit card processor will benefit you. If your small business is relatively new, you’ll also want the flexibility to try out card processors without being locked into a contract.

Having researched dozens of services, I’ve compiled a list of the best credit card processing companies for small businesses.

Overall, my top recommendation is Leaders Merchant Services (LMS). This processor offers negotiable rates and custom plans so you’ll never have to pay for features you don’t need. If LMS doesn’t work for your business, don’t worry – keep reading for more great small-business-friendly processors.

Short on Time? These Are the Best Credit Card Processors for Small Businesses in 2024

  1. Expert’s Choice
    LMS_Monogram Leaders Merchant Services
    Leaders Merchant Services is a popular choice with our readers
    Low fees and custom small business plans with free high-quality Clover POS hardware.
  2. logopayarc PAYARC Best international payment processing and top invoicing tools for growing businesses.
  3. promerchant-logo ProMerchant Best for small restaurant and retail businesses looking to minimize processing costs.

What We Look For in the Best Credit Card Processors for Small Businesses

While I was researching credit card processing companies for this list, I focused on certain features that would directly benefit small businesses.
  • Free or discounted terminals. Getting a free or discounted terminal means there’s more money in the budget to invest in your business. Every card processor on this list helps you start selling in person for little to no extra cost.
  • Quick approvals. These credit card processors have a quick application process and aim to approve every eligible application within 48 hours. This means you’re not waiting around and potentially losing business.
  • E-commerce support. With many small businesses selling both in-person and online, you’ll need a payment processor that offers e-commerce support. Whether that’s integration with popular e-commerce platforms or virtual terminals, these features make sure you never miss a sale.
  • No or low monthly minimums. Given how volatile small business incomes can be, I’ve avoided including payment processors on my list that charge a high minimum monthly processing fee.

Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) helps small businesses grow thanks to its fantastic core feature suite. Not only can you get a free Clover device depending on the length of your contract, but for an additional fee you can use the popular Authorize.Net payment gateway to handle card-not-present transactions

While LMS offers custom rates, so you can negotiate a plan that works for your specific business needs. This approach means you’re not wasting money on features you don’t need. With a monthly fee of just $9.00, LMS is a highly affordable option for lower-volume businesses – freeing up money in your budget to invest back into your business.

Speaking of business investments, LMS offers merchant cash advances, which you can repay through a small commission on future sales. This allows you to avoid the risk of putting up collateral while having access to the funding you need to grow.

Features and Benefits

  • 98% approval rate. There’s a good chance LMS will approve your application regardless of your industry or financial history. It only takes a few minutes to apply, and the approval process can take as little as 24 hours.
  • Customized services. Depending on your business and industry, you’ll be able to access additional services like subscription tools, loyalty programs, gift cards, online menus, and more.
  • 24/7 phone support. Unlike other providers, LMS provides round-the-clock customer service to solve any payment processing issues that might arise.
  • Cash discount. LMS’s affordably priced cash discount plan lets you pass the processing fees onto your credit card paying customers while granting a 4% discount to clients who pay in cash.
Read our expert Leaders Merchant Services review for more great features.

Free terminal (depending on contract length)
E-commerce features
  • Payment gateway
  • Virtual terminal
  • Shopping cart integration
Contract length 3 years average (open to negotiation)
Transaction fees on cheapest plan ~2% + 0¢
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $9.00

If your business sells internationally, PAYARC is an excellent option. It gives you access to multiple gateways to accept online payments, including a proprietary option for $5/month and the trusted Authorize.Net for $12/month. Additionally, you can offer your international customers the option to pay in their local currencies through the Planet Payment gateway and e-commerce integrations with RS2 and TSYS.

PAYARC offers a suite of advanced invoicing tools, giving you even more ways to get paid. You can create professional invoices for one-time purchases, and if you run a subscription-based business, you can use its recurring billing tools at no additional charge. Invoicing based on usage or volume tiers is possible, and you can automatically adjust your billing for promotions, discounts, and trials.

PAYARC has a versatile pricing structure, allowing for better rates as your business grows. Its Flat Rate plan with no monthly fee and per-transaction fee of 2.49% + 30¢ (in-person) and 2.9% + 30¢ (online) is ideal for small businesses and startups. As your processing volume increases, you can transition to membership-based pricing. While monthly costs start at $69.00 per month, you’ll benefit from low, flat transaction fees from 0% + 15¢ (in-person & online).

Features and Benefits

  • Business management platform. Once you sign up, you can access PAYARC’s robust dashboard. You’ll be able to monitor your payment data, issue invoices, and get reports, among other things.
  • Free mobile app. You can use the app to take payments on the go or turn your phone into an additional POS device to save on equipment. You can also access PAYARC’s dashboard through the mobile app.
  • Advanced security features. PAYARC has a robust set of security features to help small businesses keep fraud at bay. You can set velocity filters to limit the number of attempts made by a customer, IP address, or other criteria. You can also limit transactions from specific regions, countries, and IP addresses.
  • E-commerce integrations. PAYARC seamlessly integrates with popular e-commerce platforms WooCommerce and Magento. You can also integrate its payment solutions into any e-commerce website with very little programming. You’ll receive detailed instructions so you won’t need to hire outside help.
Read our detailed PAYARC review for more information.

Free terminal  (with some plans)
E-commerce features
  • Payment gateways
  • Virtual terminal
  • Integrations with WooCommerce and Magento
Contract length 3 years
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 2.49% + 30¢ (in-person)
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan N/A
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ProMerchant offers a zero-cost program for restaurant and retail businesses that lets you pass processing fees of up to 4% to your card-paying customers. You’ll only have to pay a fixed monthly fee of around $7.95 to use the program, ensuring low and predictable processing costs. This monthly fee also applies to its interchange plan, but transaction fees are higher than what you’d pay at LMS.

Regardless of the type of small restaurant that you run, ProMerchant offers free hardware tailored to your needs. If you process payments at the counter, ProMerchant provides the Ingenico Desk 3500 credit card terminal, an efficient model known for fast processing. For restaurants processing payments at tables, ProMerchant offers a complimentary PAX A920 terminal. This wireless model lets your waitstaff collect tips and e-signatures.

The same terminals are available to retail merchants at no cost. The PAX A920 will help you manage your retail operations and stores transaction data in the cloud. You’ll have secure access to your transaction history, reports, and inventory. This terminal also lets you process gift cards.

Features and Benefits

  • High-risk merchant accounts. ProMerchant boasts high approval rates and offers fair pricing and advanced security, regardless of your industry or credit history.
  • Next-day funding. Small businesses will benefit from ProMerchant’s standard next-day funding at no additional cost. Funds from transactions processed and settled by 8:30 pm EST will be available the following day.
  • Free mobile payment solution. ProMerchant offers the Payanywhere app and Bluetooth card reader enabled for card dipping and swiping payment processing. The smartphone app lets you view up to 3 years of transaction history, send text and email receipts, and accept tips.
  • Free virtual terminal. Small retail businesses that don’t need a complete POS system can use the Payments Hub virtual terminal to receive payments. It’s also suitable for catering businesses getting paid through invoices or restaurants handling remote takeout orders like curbside pickup and delivery.
See our in-depth ProMerchant review for more details.

Free terminal
E-commerce features
  • Payment gateway
  • Payments Hub virtual terminal
  • Third-party shopping cart integration
Contract length Monthly (no cancellation fees)
Transaction fees on cheapest plan Custom
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $7.95

Flagship Merchant Services is remarkably easy to set up. Unlike other processors that require documentation, Flagship has a simple application process only asks a few questions about your business. Merchant accounts are typically approved within two business days, and you can start processing payments on the next business day.

Once you’re accepted, you’ll get a “free” terminal. Depending on what you’ve negotiated with Flagship’s sales team, this will be either a Clover Mini or Verifone VX 520. Unfortunately, it won’t be entirely free – you’ll likely have to pay a small insurance and maintenance fee while you have the equipment.

Still, this equipment isn’t cheap to purchase outright, particularly if your business is brand new and you don’t have a lot of budget to spare. Plus, with month-to-month contracts and no early termination fees, Flagship offers a good starting point for brand new businesses.

Features and Benefits

  • Same-day funding. Flagship can help keep your business afloat with its same-day funding option. There’s no information about how much this service costs, so you’ll need to contact a sales representative for a custom quote.
  • iAccess Business Management Portal. You can keep an eye on all aspects of your business with this software suite. Use it to see sales summaries, generate financial statements, analyze your business’s growth, and more.
  • 24/7 support. In addition to a dedicated account manager that operates during business hours, you’ll get 24/7 phone support for time-sensitive technical issues.
  • Custom merchant account solutions. With Flagship, you only have to pay for the card processing features you actually need. By negotiating rates, features, and pricing structures with your sales agent, you can make sure everything is set up in a way that benefits your business.
Read our Flagship review to see how it can help your new business.

Free terminal
E-commerce features
  • Payment gateway
  • Virtual terminal
  • Shopping cart integration
Contract length Monthly
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 1.58% + 19¢ (in person)
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $7.95

5. POS Pros: Best for Small Brick-And-Mortar Businesses

POS Pros offers a wide range of industry-specific POS solutions, catering to a variety of brick-and-mortar businesses. A POS Pros specialist will recommend the best equipment for your business type, industry, and needs. You can also virtually test the recommended solutions to make sure the hardware suits your needs before committing.

POS Pros offers a free Dejavoo Z11, Clover Mini LTE, or Clover Flex terminal, a value-added offer for budget-conscious businesses. Any Clover device will give you access to the Clover App Market where you can select from hundreds of free and paid apps for business management, customer relationship management, inventory, marketing and more.

POS Pros has various plans, including interchange and tiered pricing, to suit diverse small business needs. The representative quoted me an affordable monthly fee of $5.00 for both pricing models and transaction fees ranging from 0.30% + 10¢ (in-person) to 1.5% (in-person). However, sales support wasn’t very clear about what features I’d get with each plan.

Features and Benefits

  • Cash discount. Reduce processing costs with POS Pros’s cash discount program, which incentivises customers to pay with cash to receive a discount.
  • 24/7 POS help desk. If you purchase POS equipment from POS Pros, you’ll gain access to knowledgeable 24/7 technical support. This means you won’t lose business, even if your POS device malfunctions on a Sunday morning.
  • Cash advances. You can secure up to $500,000 in capital for new equipment, staff hiring, and business expansion. POS Pros will evaluate your application in just 10 minutes to determine whether you qualify and how much you can borrow.
  • Flexible contracts. You can use POS Pros’s services on a monthly basis without any cancellation fees. This flexible approach is crucial for small businesses focused on stabilization and growth.
For more on pricing, check out our in-depth POS Pros review.

Free terminal
E-commerce features
  • Payment gateway
  • Virtual terminal
  • Integrations with WooCommerce and Shopify
Contract length Monthly (no cancellation fees)
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 0.30% + 10¢ (in-person)
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $5.00

6. CreditCardProcessing.com: For Advanced Small Business Solutions

Starting at just $15.00 per month, CreditCardProcessing.com stands out as a processor that provides small businesses access to modern software and a 0% interchange-plus markup. It also offers a flat rate plan that starts at 0% + 30¢ (Starter), making it ideal if your business has a high processing volume. With this pricing plan, the more transactions you process, the lower your transaction fee will be.

If you rely on high volumes of low-ticket sales, you might not see any significant savings due to the higher transaction fees on less expensive plans. You’ll need to crunch the numbers to determine if its flat rate pricing saves your business more than its interchange-plus plan.

Each CreditCardProcessing.com account has access to Vindicia, which allows you to set up recurring payments and provides analytics to help you optimize your plans. Vindicia Retain can turn up to 30% of failed transactions into successful payments.

Features and Benefits

  • Free terminal. If you commit to a 1-year contract, you can receive a free Pax A920 terminal. Alternatively, signing up for the High Volume plan will get you a free Clover Mini. Just keep in mind that there is an additional cost for using Clover’s software.
  • High approval rate. CreditCardProcessing.com is happy to accept businesses with low credit scores and boasts the highest approval rate of any US credit card processor.
  • Free training. If you’re not sure how to use your included POS terminal or e-commerce solutions, CreditCardProcessing.com offers free training to help get you up and running.
  • Data breach protection. If you suffer financial losses because of a data breach on CreditCardProcessing.com’s servers, you’re insured for up to $100,000.
Read our expert CreditCardProcessing.com review for more details.

Free terminal (depending on contract length/plan)
E-commerce features
  • Customizable checkout
  • Subscription management
Contract length Variable
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 0% + 30¢ (Starter)
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $15.00

Other Notable Credit Card Processing Companies for Small Businesses

7. Chase Payment Solutions

Chase Payment Solutions offers a slew of features for small online businesses, including multicurrency support, an integration with Authorize.Net, and access to its proprietary Orbital Virtual Terminal. With a Chase Business Banking account, you can receive same-day funding for online sales made through BigCommerce.

However, Chase Payment Solutions may not be the right fit for businesses needing diverse POS hardware options. It offers limited POS choices and no free POS terminals. The limited compatibility with third-party POS systems, in particular with popular Clover devices, might be a dealbreaker if you have already invested in equipment. However, fast funding and multicurrency support are more than sufficient for small e-commerce businesses.

8. Square

Low-risk small businesses seeking both in-person and online payment solutions will benefit from Square’s quick onboarding process. You can start processing immediately because there’s no vetting process or binding contracts. Moreover, you’ll get instant access to your funds by linking a Square Checking account to your current account. This can significantly enhance your cash flow, helping to maintain a steady operational rhythm.

While Square offers undeniable benefits, it has a history of unexpectedly terminating accounts that it perceives as high-risk, which can lead to disruptions and loss of revenue. Combined with its mediocre customer support, you might struggle to get the help you need. However, the platform’s ease of use, quick setup, and free online store may outweigh these downsides.

9. Helcim

Low volume e-commerce businesses can benefit by signing up with Helcim. It provides access to a fully hosted e-commerce platform, eliminating the complexities of setting up an online store. Helcim offers a suite of free tools that make it easy to get paid online, including a user-friendly virtual terminal, recurring payment tools, and handy payment links.

If you’re primarily a brick-and-mortar establishment, you might find Helcim’s in-person processing solutions limiting. There’s only one basic card reader and integrating third-party POS hardware might not be possible. However, for businesses focused primarily online, Helcim can be a practical choice.

10. Luminous Payments

While many processors focus on e-commerce, Luminous Payments offers solutions for brick-and-mortar stores. Admittedly, its POS selection isn’t as extensive as what you’d find at POS Pros, but it does offer hardware for various businesses. It also provides cash registers, which isn’t something I regularly see among payment processors.

When it comes to e-commerce, however, Luminous has limited options. It does provide some e-commerce features like a payment gateway, a virtual terminal, and shopping cart integrations, but they’re somewhat limited when compared to the other processors on my list.

Finding the Best Credit Card Processing for Small Businesses

Naming a definitive best credit card processing service for small businesses proves challenging due to the unique needs of each small business. Nevertheless, certain credit card companies outshine others in terms of what they have to offer.

To minimize processing expenses without compromising quality, consider Leaders Merchant Services. LMS provides low negotiable fees and custom plans for small businesses, as well as a complimentary Clover device for qualified candidates.

If your small business plans to go international, PAYARC offers the ideal solution. It supports global payments with a range of payment gateways and international e-commerce integrations. It also offers a comprehensive range of invoicing tools for professionally branded invoices and recurring billing.

Finally, if you run a small restaurant or retail business and are looking for niche plans, ProMerchant stands out as the best processor. Its affordable zero-cost processing program will keep your monthly costs low. You can also select complimentary equipment that aligns perfectly with your operational needs.

Here’s a quick comparison of my top credit card processing companies for small businesses.

Best Feature Best For Monthly fee on cheapest plan Transaction fees on cheapest plan
Leaders Merchant Services Low, negotiable fees and free Clover POS hardware (depending on contract length) Growth-focused small businesses looking to save on payment processing without compromising features and quality $9.00 ~2% + 0¢
PAYARC Robust support for international payment processing and free advanced invoicing tools Tech-forward small businesses that want to sell internationally N/A 2.49% + 30¢ (in-person)
ProMerchant Affordable zero-cost processing program with a choice of free hardware Small restaurant and retail businesses $7.95 Custom
Flagship Merchant Services Simple application process with high approval rates New small businesses that don’t have a lot of documentation $7.95 1.58% + 19¢ (in person)
POS Pros Over 25 custom POS solutions for small businesses Small brick-and-mortar operations looking for bespoke hardware solutions $5.00 0.30% + 10¢ (in-person)
CreditCardProcessing.com Flat-rate pricing with low transaction fees and advanced software to manage subscriptions and recover lost payments Small businesses with high processing volume $15.00 0% + 30¢ (Starter)


What is the cheapest way to take card payments?

That depends on your business and its transaction volume. CreditCardProcessing.com offers significant savings for high-volume businesses but its pricing model can have drawbacks. Low-volume businesses will likely find Leaders Merchant Services to be a cheaper option.

How do I set up credit card payments for my small business?

To set up credit card processing for your small business, you’ll have to apply for a merchant account with a credit card processor. Some processors will ask for bank documentation, processing history, and proof of identity. If you can’t fulfill all of these documentation requirements as a small business owner, Flagship Merchant Services is a great option.

How can I accept credit card payments without a machine?

To accept card payments without a machine, you’ll need to use a payment gateway or virtual terminal. Both software tools are an affordable option for small businesses that don’t have the budget to lease or purchase a terminal. PAYARC’s proprietary payment gateway costs only $5/month. You can also use the free PAYARC mobile app to turn your smartphone into a payment processing machine.

Can small businesses charge for card payments?

Small businesses can add a surcharge, provided it’s legal in your state. However, you can’t apply this to Visa or Mastercard debit cards. You’ll need to use a payment processor that supports surcharging, which many of our top 10 credit card processors in 2024 do. Alternatively, you can avoid transaction fees with a cash discount program from ProMerchant or Leaders Merchant Services.

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