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Every good therapist knows that client comfort goes beyond the therapy session. The same principle applies to collecting payments, too. By offering a simple invoicing process and multiple ways for clients to pay, you can set yourself apart from the competition.
Unfortunately, not every credit card processor offers the level of service you need. Some accept very few payment methods, while others don’t offer HIPAA-compliant software for managing your practice’s finances. Many companies also impose lengthy contracts and early termination fees, making it easy to end up stuck with a provider that isn’t meeting your expectations.
After researching dozens of credit card processors, I’ve found the most affordable and reliable options with great features for therapists. Most therapy practices will get a great deal from Stax, which offers tons of HIPAA-compliant software included in your monthly fee. You can even set up payment plans on the Ultimate plan, which offers your patients even more ways to pay.Carry on reading to see my what other HIPAA-compliant payment solutions I recommend.
What We Look For in the Best Credit Card Processing for Therapists
Though every therapy practice is unique, there are some common payment processing features that almost any in-person or virtual practice will benefit from. Here are the therapist-friendly features I made sure every processor on my list offers:
HIPAA compliance. If you want to use any built-in software or software integrations, you’ll need to keep an eye out for HIPAA compliance. Every payment processor on this list is either HIPAA compliant itself or integrates with third-party software that is.
Various payment methods. While credit cards are still a popular payment method, they’re not everyone’s preferred way to pay. Offering a variety of payment methods will make it easier for your clients to pay your invoices on time.
E-commerce integrations. E-commerce integrations allow your clients to schedule and pay for therapy sessions online. This means you can spend more time supporting your clients and less time on administrative tasks.
Invoicing. Invoicing software that allows partial payments or custom payment plans will make your services accessible to clients who can’t pay upfront or all at once. Every credit card processor on this list either integrates with third-party invoicing software or offers one or more virtual terminals with invoicing functionality built-in.
A Note on HIPAA Compliance
Credit card processing itself is not considered a HIPAA-covered activity because you’re not storing any health-related information in your merchant account. However, if your payment processor offers built-in software solutions to help you manage invoices, bookings, health records, or any other aspect of your practice, then this needs to be HIPAA-compliant.
Similarly, any third-party software you integrate with your merchant account needs to be HIPAA compliant if it can access personal health information (PHI). This, unfortunately, limits what integrations you can use with your payment processor.
Stax is a great solution for therapists that need both payment processing and HIPAA-compliant software, as nearly every software tool you could need is included in your monthly fee. Not only this, but you’ll only have to pay the standard interchange rates plus a small flat fee on every transaction, so you couldsave up to 40% by switching to Stax.What’s more, you can create digital invoices on the Pro plan and above. Clients can then pay in full or in part (and even add a tip). Though invoices only work with card payments and ACH transfers, they’re a convenient way for clients to pay in installments if they need to. The ultimate plan even lets you set up payment plans and recurring invoices for repeat clients.
Therapists that work with clients in-person can also benefit from Stax’s fantastic POS solutions. You can either get a free terminal, or you can use your smartphone or tablet as a terminal. This will allow you to set up invoices, charge cards on file (via the virtual terminal), and manually enter card information. You can accept card payments and ACH transfers with Stax, and if you connect the Authorize.net payment gateway, you’ll also be able to accept PayPal.
Features and Benefits
Built-in shopping carts. If you already have a website, clients can make bookings and pay for sessions or deposits with Stax’s one-click shopping cart.
Analytics and reporting. Every Stax plan grants access to Stax Pay software and its reporting and analytics dashboard, allowing you to keep an eye on your practice’s financial health throughout the year.
Industry-leading security. Stax has a comprehensive guide to help you achieve PCI compliance. You’ll also get a PCI compliance dashboard that guides you through your yearly security assessments and shows your current compliance status.
Fraud protection. Stax’s virtual terminal uses the Address Verification Service (AVS) to detect potential fraud. It also places temporary holds on customer accounts that require additional verification, protecting you from fraudulent transactions and chargebacks.
Payment Depot offers significant savings over processors with traditional interchange-plus pricing models. It even charges a lower monthly subscription fee than Stax (its parent company), though it also imposes a lower limit on how much you can process a year. In any case, you’ll enjoy the same 0% markup on interchange fees.
In theory, interchange-plus pricing offers the best value to therapy practices with a low-volume, high-cost revenue model. However, Payment Depot is the exception to this rule due to the many value-added benefits it offers. With HIPAA-compliant software for digital invoicing and monitoring your finances,Payment Depot offers far more support for therapists than most competitors.
Payment Depot has an impressive security history, too, having never suffered a data breach. It’s also voluntarily compliant with GDPR, which means that it follows best data security practices to ensure that your payment and client data is as secure as possible.
Features and Benefits
Discounted Clover hardware. Clover’s smart POS terminals are ideal for therapists, but they don’t come cheap. As a Payment Depot merchant, you can buy these at a discounted price and equip your in-person practice with smart payment technology.
Easily dispute chargebacks. You can dispute chargebacks directly from your Payment Depot account, saving you a ton of time over the traditional process of contacting your bank.
Rapid onboarding. Payment Depot claims to accept applications in as little as 24 hours, provided you’ve sent over all of the requested information. You can start taking payments online as soon as you’ve been accepted.
Varied payment methods. Payment Depot accepts all major debit and credit cards, ACH transactions, and PayPal (if you connect the Authorize.net payment gateway).
Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) is a good choice if you’re looking to expand your therapy practice. On top of LMS’s affordable per-transaction rates, you can also apply for merchant cash advances. These collateral-free loans are paid back through a small commission on your future sales, making them a flexible financing option that’s ideal for new therapy practices.
It’s worth noting, however, that LMS itself isn’t HIPAA-certified. That’s because it doesn’t offer any of its own software, and the software that LMS integrates with isn’t HIPAA-certified either. However, because LMS charges extra to use this integrated software, you’re not forced to pay for software you can’t use.
With that being said, LMS is a certified Clover reseller and Clover’s POS software is fully HIPAA-compliant. Using this software comes at an additional monthly fee, but it’s worth the extra cost to access the HIPAA-compliant features you’re likely to need for your practice.
Features and Benefits
Variety of payment methods. On top of the standard debit/credit card payments and ACH transfers, you can also accept check payments if you purchase the mini check reader from LMS.
24/7 phone support. If you offer out-of-hours appointments and therapeutic support, LMS will still be available to help resolve any issues if something goes wrong.
96% approval rate. With one of the highest approval rates in the industry, you’ll almost certainly be able to start processing payments within a few days of applying to LMS (or even on the same day, in many cases).
Low monthly fee. LMS charges a monthly fee of around $10, which is one of the lowest in the payment processing industry.
Flagship Merchant Services is another processor that isn’t HIPAA-compliant itself but that integrates with software that is. For example, every Flagship merchant account gets access to the iAccess business portal, which you can use to see financial analytics, explore industry trends, and respond to online reviews. You can also pay an extra monthly fee to use Clover’s HIPAA-compliant software to schedule appointments, manage client data, and more.Its biggest benefit, though, is that Flagship has a custom pricing structure that can be tailored to your business’s needs. You’re encouraged to negotiate an interchange-plus or tiered pricing structure that works for your business. While this means you won’t know exactly what your rates will be until you apply, you won’t be left paying for software you won’t use, either. Best of all, you can expect relatively low monthly and per-transaction fees with whatever pricing model you choose.
Features and Benefits
Business financing. Flagship offers merchant cash advances of up to $150,000 to help you grow your practice. Like with LMS, these advances are paid back via a percentage of future sales. The application process is simple, and you can receive your funds in as soon as one business day.
Free terminal. Depending on your contract length, you may be able to get a free Clover POS system. Clover’s POS software is HIPAA-compliant and allows you to set up an online booking system, manage your staff, and create financial reports.
Same-day funding. While payments normally take two days to reach your account, Flagship offers same-day funding for an additional fee.
Quick set-up. It takes less than 5 minutes to apply for an Flagship merchant account, and most accounts are approved within 2 business days. Once approved, you can start accepting payments the next business day.
Luminous Payments is a great option for smaller, in-person practices. While it does have some software available, like NMI’s payment gateway, HIPAA-compliant shopping carts, and reporting and payment management tools, its primary focus is on in-person payments.
Every Luminous Payments merchant gets a free B250 Bluetooth card reader, which allows you to accept contactless, EMV, and magnetic stripe transactions. Luminous Payments also sells Clover POS hardware, but you’ll need to pay an extra monthly fee to use Clover’s HIPAA-compliant software. If you already have POS devices, Luminous will reprogram them for you (provided they meet modern security standards).
Luminous offers 5 different pricing packages that together cover just about every kind of therapy practice, regardless of their sales volume or hourly fee. The Cash Discount plan is a great choice for in-person practices that accept cash, as it allows you to recuperate the cost of processing fees from your card-paying customers.
Features and Benefits
Quick application process. Whether you call or fill out the online form, you’ll be guided through the application process over the phone. Once you’re happy with the suggested plan, all you have to do is review and sign the application document and wait for approval, which can happen on the same day.
Quick payouts. Luminous Payments offers next-day funding as standard, but if you need to access payments quicker, you can pay an extra $10/month for same-day funding.
Custom pricing. If none of Luminous Payments’ standard pricing models suit you, you can negotiate a custom pricing deal that works for you.
Guaranteed savings program. If you’re already using a merchant services provider and Luminous Payments can’t save you money on your existing processing fees, it’ll pay you $1,000 for signing up.
CreditCardProcessing.com uses subscription-style pricingthat offers great savings forlarger practices or practices with multiple locations. However, unlike other subscription-style processors like Stax, it doesn’t offer an all-in-one solution. You can use the iAccess business management portal to keep track of your finances, but this doesn’t offer all the features that can help you run your practice.
That said, you can get a free Clover Mini on the High Volume plan, which will give you access to the features that iAccess is missing, like invoicing and a virtual terminal. These devices aren’t cheap to buy, and very few other processors offer them for free.
All in all, CreditCardProcessing.com is one of the more expensive subscription-style processors on the market. However, if other subscription-style processors don’t work for your practice, this payment processor is still a great option.
Features and Benefits
High approval rate. CreditCardProcessing.com is one of the few processors that will work with merchants with a low credit score. If you’re a new business or considered high risk because of your financial history, this processor is a good option.
Free training. If you need help setting up iAccess or your POS hardware, CreditCardProcessing.com offers free training to help you to get up to speed and deal with common issues.
24/7 multi-channel support. You can access 24/7 support over the phone or via email, which is more than what most competitors offer.
Data breach insurance. If you suffer any financial losses as a result of CreditCardProcessing.com having its data breached, you’re insured for up to $100,000.
These Are the Best Credit Card Processing for Therapists
While credit card processors don’t need to be HIPAA-compliant to handle your sales, your payment processing software does. This does limit what software you can use. Fortunately, all of the processors on this list have built-in or available integrations for HIPAA-compliant software.
With its great value subscription-style pricing model and HIPAA-compliant payment and practice management software, Stax’s all-in-one payment solutionis my top pick for therapists.
If you don’t have the budget for Stax, then take a look at Payment Depot. This processor is a subsidiary of Stax, so you’ll get access to many of the same features for less. Payment Depot’s monthly plans start at $79.00, so you can save money on payment processing if you’re a new or small therapy practice.
With that being said, new practices will also find a lot of support from Leaders Merchant Services. LMS offers cheap rates and business financing, which is ideal if you’re looking to grow your practice.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the best credit card processors for psychologists and therapists.
Monthly fee on cheapest plan
Transaction fees on cheapest plan
Comprehensive payment and business management software
Therapists looking for an all-in-one payment solution
Payment providers do not have to be HIPAA compliant if all they do is process payments. That’s because under HIPAA regulations, credit card processing companies are simply providing a financial service. However, if these merchant services providers offer built-in software that handles (or has access to) PHI, they are considered healthcare business associates and need to be HIPAA-compliant.
How do you charge clients online?
To charge therapy clients online, you have two main options: you can use a payment gateway to accept payments through your website, or you can use invoicing software to create digital invoices that can be paid online. Either way, you need to make sure that any software that handles PHI is HIPAA-compliant.
Is Helcim HIPAA-compliant?
No. Helcim specifically states in its help center that healthcare businesses should not use Helcim to store PHI as its software is not HIPAA-compliant. If you need an interchange-plus payment processor with HIPAA-compliant software for your therapy practice, I recommend Leaders Merchant Services instead. You’ll get competitive per-transaction rates, great POS support, and (for an extra monthly fee) Clover’s HIPAA-compliant POS and e-commerce software.
Can therapists use Venmo for payment?
No. While Venmo is covered by the payment processing service exemption under HIPAA, it shares user information with PayPal. PayPal also sells user data to advertisers. While Venmo (and other apps) offers a convenient alternative for clients, therapists need to be aware that most of these payment apps are not HIPAA-compliant. Stax offers compliant convenient payment options like digital invoicing, payment links, and even subscription plans that make it easy for clients to pay you with no legal risk.
Emma is a freelance content writer who specializes in thoughtful and insightful blogs and articles. Her main passion is the intersection of human behavior and modern technology, particularly in the context of marketing and cybersecurity. Outside of work, Emma loves video games, superhero movies, crochet, and cuddling her German Shepherd.