Dentists – like all health practitioners – need a reliable credit card processor that can offer competitive pricing, quick onboarding, and other value-added features like free hardware, virtual gateways, and funding options. You’ll also need to be able to accept all payment types and easily set up payment plans for clients.
Unfortunately, long-term contracts, high processing costs, and inadequate customer support are only some of the common pitfalls of merchant services providers. A significant issue is that many payment processors don’t offer HIPAA-compliant software to help you manage your practice.
If you see hundreds of patients every month and your chosen pricing structure isn’t ideal or your provider isn’t transparent about price, you could quickly find yourself paying hundreds of dollars in unnecessary fees – everything from monthly minimums, statement fees, PCI fees, terminal fees, and gateway fees.
That’s quite a lot to consider, especially if your practice is new. Fortunately, I’ve researched dozens of merchant services providers to find out which ones have pricing and features well-suited to dental offices.
Short on Time? These Are the Best Merchant Services for Dentists in 2023
Stax – The best subscription-based option for high-revenue dental offices.
Payment Depot – Cheap monthly subscriptions for dentists who value exceptional customer support.
What We Look For in the Best Merchant Services for Dentists
Aside from being able to accept credit card payments at a fair rate, you also need access to modern hardware and software, virtual terminals, and other convenient features. Here are factors I focused on when ranking the best merchant services for dentists:
Competitive pricing. I’ve only included processors that can save you money one way or another – whether that’s by offering subscription-based plans, low markups on transactions, or getting rid of hidden fees.
Strong security features. Your patients’ billing information should be as secure as their classified medical records. I’ve only included processors that offer HIPAA-compliant software, so you can be sure the data your practice uses is safe.
Fast onboarding. As a busy professional, you can’t afford to wait for days on end for your merchant services application to get approved. I’ve only listed providers that can help you set up an account within 48 hours.
Accessible software solutions. Software solutions that allow dentists to track their data are always welcome. An easy-to-read dashboard should be enough – most dentists don’t have the time to keep up with complicated charts and advanced statistics.
Responsive technical support. Credit card processing can be tricky, especially if it’s your first time setting up a merchant account. If you want to make sure there’s always someone to help if things go wrong, you should only consider providers with exceptional customer support.
A Note on HIPAA Compliance
Payment processing itself is not considered a HIPAA-covered activity because you’re not storing any health-related information in your merchant account. If you’re only using a merchant services provider for this functionality, then it doesn’t need to have a BAA or be HIPAA-compliant.
However, any software you use – whether that’s built into your merchant account or offered as a third-party integration – needs to be HIPAA-compliant if it has access to personal health information (PHI). This includes the tools you use to manage invoices, bookings, health records, or any other aspects of your practice.
Stax gets many things right, so it’s no surprise that it so often tops our lists of the best merchant services for various kinds of businesses – dental practices being no exception. Why does it stand out? Stax offers fairly priced monthly subscriptions, and low flat transaction fees. On top of that, Stax’s HIPAA-compliant software is included in your monthly fee, so you’ll get plenty of software for managing your dental practice.
Stax’s pricing model is transparent and easy to understand. You choose the monthly subscription that fits you best, and you only pay a small flat transaction fee every time you process a payment. The cheapest plan starts at$99.00.
This might seem like a lot to pay upfront, but it buys you 0% markup on your transactions. Provided your office processes at least $5,000 of payments every month, Stax’s plans could actually save you up to 40% compared with more traditional interchange-plus pricing plans. You also won’t have to worry about any hidden charges racking up costs.
Features and Benefits
Free hardware. Not only does every Stax account come with free hardware, but there’s also a wide variety of readers and terminals to choose from, should you decide to upgrade in the future.
Flexible digital invoicing. Stax’s powerful software makes it easy to create and send customizable digital invoices to your clients. You can even schedule future payments and set up flexible payment plans for monthly/ongoing services.
Easy reporting tool. Stax’s all-in-one payment platform includes a user-friendly reporting tool that makes tracking payments as easy as possible.
PCI compliance support. You’ll get a third-party PCI compliance dashboard included in your monthly fee that guides you through your yearly security assessments. You’ll also be able to see your compliance status, whether you need to take any action, and access plenty of PCI guidance in Stax’s knowledge base.
Payment Depot earns its spot on this list for its straightforward approach to credit card processing. Like Stax, Payment Depot does away with markup fees, only charging a flat transaction fee on top of its competitive monthly subscriptions.
Because there are no percentage markup fees to worry about, you’ll save money as your total earnings increase. Payment Depot’s monthly plans start at a lower price point than Stax’s, too, making it ideal for smaller dental practices.
The onboarding process is quick and easy – especially for low-risk merchants like dental practices. You can complete the online application form in just a few minutes. Once accepted, you can start processing payments in less than 48 hours and enjoy next-day payouts on card payments.
You’ll also get HIPAA-compliant software solutions included in your monthly fee that lets you send digital invoices, set up payment links, integrate your payments with your other software, and more.
Features and Benefits
90-day money-back guarantee. If you sign up with Payment Depot and you’re not happy with the service, you can close your account within the first 90 days and receive a full refund.
Free terminal. All accounts receive a free Dejavoo Z11 terminal. Although it’s not the most advanced model on the market, it’s more than enough to cover the processing needs of the average dental office.
Discounted Clover hardware. Clover’s POS hardware is a good choice for modern dental practices that want to integrate their payments with HIPAA-compliant software. However, these devices aren’t cheap. Getting them at a discount from Payment Depot means you’ve got more budget left to invest back into your practice.
27/4 phone support. As a busy professional, you’ll probably prefer instant phone support over back-and-forth emails. Luckily, Payment Depot’s 27/4 phone support is among the best in the industry (we tested it!).
Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) has greatly improved its service and feature-set in recent years to become one of the standout payment providers operating in the US today. LMS’s 96% approval rate, easy onboarding, and advanced features (e.g., iAccess software, shopping carts) make it an excellent choice for dentists.
Although it doesn’t advertise all of its fees upfront, LMS lets you bargain for better terms and rates – especially if you’re looking to leave your current merchant services provider. In fact, LMS will give you $200 if it can’t meet or beat your current rates.
Long-term contracts with LMS can come with fees as low as 0.15% per transaction. When paired with its small monthly fee (usually around $10/month), this will give you plenty of room to grow your practice with confidence.
Although PCI-compliant, LMS itself isn’t HIPAA-certified. You can, however, opt for Clover’s POS hardware, which comes with software that is fully HIPAA-certified. Just keep in mind that using this software comes at an additional monthly fee.
Features and Benefits
Quick onboarding. With one of the highest approval rates in the industry, you can rest assured a representative will get back to you as soon as you submit your application.
Cash advance. With its cash advance program, LMS offers easy access to capital when you need it. You’ll then pay the sum back slowly through a small commission on your future sales.
E-commerce integrations. You can easily set up online payments with CartManager, LMS’s shopping cart provider. You’ll also get the fantastic Authorize.net for an extra monthly fee, which you can then integrate with the rest of your business’s software.
Great phone support. LMS doesn’t offer too many support channels when it comes to support, but its 24/7 phone line means you’ll always be able to get help if you need it.
Flagship Merchant Services is another provider that doesn’t advertise all the details of its pricing model upfront, but that’s because it gives you the freedom to negotiate the best terms for your practice.
Flagship’s custom plans are ideal for health practitioners, but you need to be willing to negotiate better terms. Interchange-plus contracts, for example, usually come with better rates than tiered-pricing contracts, so I recommend pushing for interchange-plus if you decide to get a custom quote.
Like LMS, Flagship isn’t HIPAA-compliant, but it integrates with software that’s fully compliant. All accounts also include access to the iAccess Business Management portal, an advanced reporting and analytics tool that provides all kinds of valuable data, such as sales performance, competitor stats, and review tracking.
Features and Benefits
Speedy onboarding. You can easily complete Flagship’s online application in a few minutes and have your account ready to receive payments within 48 hours.
Same-day funding. As standard, Flagship’s payments reach your bank account within two business days – but for a small fee, you can apply for the same-day funding program and access your earnings in just a few hours.
Cash advances. Flagship offers cash advances of up to $150,000 for any expenses related to your practice. Advances can be paid back through a small markup on your future sales.
HIPAA-compliant hardware. Some Flagship contracts come with advanced Clover POS hardware (e.g., Clover Mini, Clover Flex, Clover Station). Although you may be eligible for a free device, you’ll still need to pay to use Clover Suite. This software is fully HIPPA-compliant, keeping your customers’ data safe and secure.
Luminous Payments offers more pricing options than any other merchant services I’ve evaluated. Although it doesn’t have as many extra features as the other providers on my list, it’s a reliable option for health practitioners who want to handle in-person payments without hassle.
Aside from the usual interchange-plus and tiered-pricing plans, there’s also a convenient cash discount, flat rate, and custom pricing plan. With so many options available, you’re sure to find a plan that’s a great fit for your dental office.
Although Luminous Payments offers diverse pricing models, its software solution lacks certain key features like digital invoices and inventory management. If you have a larger dental office and are looking for affordable – yet advanced – software solutions, Stax will probably serve you better.
Features and Benefits
Access your funds faster. Next-day payments come as standard with Luminous Payments, but you can take advantage of its same-day funding program for an extra $10/month.
Guaranteed Savings Program. If you already have a credit card processor and Luminous can’t offer a better deal, you’re guaranteed $1,000 upon signup. That’s a lot more than what other competitors offer.
NMI gateway. For online transactions, Luminous uses the NMI gateway, which is one of the safest payment processing platforms available.
Like Stax and Payment Depot, CreditCardProcessing.com offers subscription-based pricing in exchange for 0% markups on transactions. However, to access its best rates and features, you’ll need to subscribe to its High Volume plan, setting you back $15.00.
While this is a lot to pay upfront, you’ll get an astoundingly low flat transaction fee of 5¢ in return.You’ll also get a free Clover Mini, unlocking all the advanced features that comes with this high-end terminal, like virtual terminals and digital invoicing. Clover devices are relatively expensive to buy outright, so this is a significant perk.
If your practice processes lots of payments every day and generates high revenue, CreditCardProcessing.com’s pricing plans could save you a considerable amount. On the other hand, smaller dental practices might be better off with a subscription-based processor with lower monthly fees, like Stax or Payment Depot.
Features and Benefits
Free training. If you need help with your iAccess Business Management account or Clover hardware (or software), CreditCardProcessing.com will teach you the ropes – free of charge.
98% approval rate. CreditCardProcessing.com offers one of the highest approval rates in the US, making it a great option if you can’t get a good deal with other providers due to a low credit score.
Insurance. CreditCardProcessing.com takes security seriously, insuring you for up to $100,000 for any financial loss resulting from a data breach.
24/7 support. You’ll be able to contact customer support via phone or email at any time of day, which is ideal if your practice handles out-of-hours emergencies.
While every merchant services provider promises to be your cheapest option, few actually have features and pricing well-suited for dental offices. Every provider listed here offers great rates, various hardware/software solutions, and exceptional phone support, but a few really stand out.
With its convenient subscription-based model, low transaction fees, and top-of-the-line software, Stax is the all-in-one payment solution that will serve most dentists best.
If you’re on a budget and need quick onboarding and exceptional customer support, you might be better off going for one of Payment Depot’s subscription-based plans. As a subsidiary of Stax, Payment Depot offers many of the same features at a reduced price.
Or, if you’re looking for cheap rates and easy access to financing for your dental office, you should look into Leader Merchant Services’s custom plans.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the best merchant services for dentists:
Monthly fee on cheapest plan
Transaction fees on cheapest plan
Advanced software that’s HIPAA-compliant
Dentists looking for a robust, all-in-one payment solution
It’s hard to give a precise number, especially when you throw subscription costs and other charges into the mix. Generally speaking, if you pay between 1.5% and 2% of your total earnings in fees, then you’re probably getting a good deal. Anything between 2% and 3% is considered average, and rates beyond 3% are considered expensive.
How do I choose a merchant service provider?
Consider your budget, your business’s size, and your hardware/software needs, then choose a merchant services provider that ticks as many boxes as possible. To make things easier, the top 3 card processors on this list can take care of all your payment processing needs.
What is considered a high-risk merchant?
High-risk merchants typically earn more than $20,000 per month, with single payments averaging more than $500. They often accept payments in multiple currencies and/or have a history of poor credit. With its 98% approval rate, CreditCardProcessing.com is a great option for high-risk merchants, although dentists aren’t usually considered high risk.
Alex is a linguistics nerd who’s got nothing against the Oxford comma. He spends most of his time writing, looking up words, and playing video games. He also enjoys testing software, often sharing his thoughts and ideas here on Website Planet.