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6 Best Retail Credit Card Processing Companies in 2023

Alexandros Melidoniotis Alexandros MelidoniotisFinance Specialist November 18, 2022
November 18, 2022
Choosing the perfect credit card processing company for your retail business used to be easy. Before, you would just look at subscription and transaction fees, check out the available equipment, and you’d be good to go.

Well, not anymore. Even if most of your transactions happen in-store, you now have to think about virtual terminals, online storefronts, payment gateways, and a million other things.

What about software solutions that can help you manage your sales and grow your business? How can you be sure that your processor will continue to meet your needs in an ever-changing market? And will you be able to integrate with your existing hardware quickly?

The world of credit card processing can be intimidating, but I’m here to help. I’ve done the research, and I know which processors have what retail businesses need to succeed.

Every one of my recommendations would be a good choice for your retail business. However, finding the perfect processor for you will depend on your business’s size, revenue, and total sales volume – among other things.

Read on to find out which payment processor is the best option for you.

Short on Time? These Are the 3 Best Retail Card Processing Companies in 2023

  1. Stax – The best option for retail merchants with high transaction volumes.
  2. Payment Depot – Cheap monthly plans and excellent support for medium to high-volume retailers.
  3. Leaders Merchant Services – Unbeatable deals for retail merchants looking to switch processors.

See 3 More Great Options | Comparison Table | FAQ

What We Look For in the Best Retail Credit Card Processing Companies

Great credit card processing companies offer retail businesses plenty of options when it comes to hardware and software. The ideal processor should also offer affordable rates and easy-to-use online services. Of course, any additional features that make retailers’ lives easier are always welcome.

Here’s a list of factors that determined the rankings on this list:

  • Cost. How much you end up paying in processing fees can significantly impact your profits over time. As a retail business, your margins are probably tight, so every dollar counts. I’ve only included processors that offer the best deals and lowest rates.
  • Hardware options. Without reliable and efficient payment processing hardware, things can fall apart pretty quickly in retail. I’ve only included processors that offer good quality hardware at reasonable prices (or even for free).
  • Reporting and analytics. If your goal is to grow, you need to know exactly how your business is performing day in, day out. An integrated reporting and analytics tool can help keep you in the loop. That’s why I made sure every processor on this list offers easy-to-use software solutions.
  • E-commerce services. Even if you’re not currently trading online, it’s a good idea to choose a processor with everything you need to start taking online payments. Every processor included here offers the e-commerce functionality needed to future-proof your business.
  • Responsive support. Excellent customer support is always a plus, but it’s practically essential when you’re handling hundreds of payments daily. If something goes wrong, you can’t afford to wait for a fix. All of these processors are known for their responsive technical support.

Stax summary
Stax is one of the best options for merchants in retail
Stax often tops our lists of the best credit card processors. That’s because it offers a complete package that meets the needs of almost any kind of merchant, including retailers. Retail businesses can save up to 40% thanks to 0% markups, and low transaction fees, so it really stands out from the competition. There are also no hidden charges to worry about, making your monthly statements more consistent and predictable.

Retail businesses can quickly set up payments with Stax by taking advantage of the quick onboarding process. Stax offers a wide range of stands and terminals, and if you’re integrating with existing software, you can always get in touch with Stax’s excellent customer support (we’ve tested it) via live chat, email, and phone. Plus, Stax integrates with over 90% of third-party POS devices. This means you’ll have no trouble switching from another provider, even if you want to keep your existing hardware.

Stax’s reporting tool is ideal for retail businesses that want to keep an eye on their business’s health. ts intuitive UI makes it easy to view your data, create and schedule payments, view customer information, and more. There’s also a huge knowledge base with easy guides on making the most of Stax’s desktop and mobile applications.

Best of all, 

  • Low cost. Stax’s monthly subscriptions aren’t exactly cheap, but its very low per-transaction fee means you’ll likely make significant savings in the long run.
  • Various hardware solutions. Every new Stax account comes with a free Swipe Simple, Dejavoo, or PAX payment terminal to handle in-person transactions.
  • Great reporting tool. Stax’s user-friendly, all-in-one payment platform gives you all the information you need to manage your transactions from a single place.
  • Full e-commerce support. You can either take advantage of Stax’s own e-commerce platform or easily integrate with popular third-party platforms like WooCommerce, Shopify, and Magneto.
Check out our updated Stax review for more details.

Hardware solutions & setup
  • Free Swipe Simple, Dejavoo, or PAX terminal
  • Mobile app
  • Easy integration with existing equipment
Onboarding process
  • Quick and painless
  • Begin processing in a few hours
Customer support
  • Phone support
  • Live chat, email, web tickets, fax
  • Comprehensive knowledge base
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 0% + 8¢ (in-person)
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $99.00

Payment Depot summary
Along with Stax, Payment Depot is one of the cheapest options for retail merchants
Much like Stax, Payment Depot is a popular option among retail merchants, mainly due to its convenient monthly subscriptions and low transaction fee. You pay a little more upfront but can potentially save hundreds of dollars a month, especially if you’re a high-volume retailer.

All plans come with a free terminal and full access to Stax’s excellent e-commerce tools (Payment Depot is a subsidiary of Stax). There are also several advanced Clover terminals available for purchase at a discounted price. Alternatively, Payment Depot’s team will help you integrate your existing hardware, so you don’t have to worry about spending a significant part of your budget on new POS devices.

The onboarding is quick and painless, and you can begin processing in-person and online payments in as little as 24 hours. Deposits usually reach your bank account within 24 hours, and Payment Depot’s customer support channels are live 24/7.

Features and Benefits

  • Fair pricing. Like Stax, Payment Depot charges an affordable monthly fee in exchange for a 0% markup on your transactions. Instead, you’re charged a flat transaction fee between 7¢ and 15¢.
  • Free terminal. All merchants receive a free Dejavoo Z11 terminal. Depending on the size of your retail business, you might be able to negotiate multiple free terminals.
  • Quick onboarding. It only takes 2 minutes to fill in Payment Depot’s application form. As long as you don’t run a high-risk business, you only need to answer a few questions, and you could start processing payments in less than a day.
  • Fantastic phone support. Payment Depot’s phone support is available 24/7, and its representatives are knowledgeable, helpful, and eager to please.
Learn more by reading our full Payment Depot review.

Hardware solutions & setup
  • Free Dejavoo Z11 terminal
  • Possibility to negotiate multiple free terminals
  • Easy integration with existing equipment
Onboarding process
  • Fast onboarding
  • Process payments in as little as 24 hours
Customer support
  • 24/7 phone support
  • Email
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 0% + 8¢ (in-person)
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $59.00

3. Leaders Merchant Services: Best for Negotiating

Leaders Merchant Services summary
Leaders Merchant Services is a verified Clover reseller
Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) has made constant improvements over the years to become one of the best credit card processing companies available today. LMS has a lot going on for it, including a high approval rate, easy onboarding, and a range of great features.

LMS isn’t very transparent with its pricing, but customers report that it offers some of the lowest per-transaction rates on the market. You’ve got lots of room to negotiate a good deal, particularly if you’re switching from another processor. And, if you’re happy to sign a long-term contract, you can even get a free terminal for your store. 

On top of that, LMS offers gift and loyalty card programs. While these incur additional fees, it’s worth considering if you want to encourage repeat business to your store.

Features and Benefits

  • Modern hardware. As a verified Clover reseller, LMS sells Clover’s modern and intuitive POS systems at a great price.
  • Powerful e-commerce tools. LMS uses the popular and secure Authorize.net payment gateway, and it has developed its own shopping cart integration for online stores. It also accepts a range of online payment methods, including Google Pay, Apple Pay, Paypal (via Authorize.net), and Venmo.
  • High approval rate and quick onboarding. Leaders Merchant Services offers one of the highest approval rates in the industry, making it a great choice for higher-risk retail businesses that want to start trading as soon as possible.
  • Cash advance program. Starting a retail business can be very challenging and usually requires lots of capital. Whether your business is new or you’re looking for ways to grow, LMS’ cash advance program can give you the extra boost needed to hit your targets.
Read our expert Leaders Merchant Services review for more details.

Hardware solutions & setup
  • Free equipment with certain contracts
  • Verified Clover reseller
  • Easy integration with existing hardware
Onboarding process
  • Easy online application
  • 96% approval rate
  • Accept payments almost right away
Customer support
  • 24/7 phone support
Transaction fees on cheapest plan Around 2% + 0¢
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan
$9.00

Flagship Merchant Services summary
Flagship contracts include a free Clover Mini POS or EMV terminal
Flagship Merchant Services offers payment solutions for all kinds of retail businesses, with convenient features that can help you stay organized and promote your brand. The onboarding process is also quick and easy, with most merchants able to start processing in less than a day.

Although Flagship doesn’t openly disclose its rates, our research shows that small to medium-sized businesses on its interchange-plus contracts tend to pay less than the industry standard. You’re not limited to this payment model, though. Flagship also offers tiered pricing, which is a good option if your customers tend to pay with qualified payment methods like debit and non-reward credit cards. And because you can negotiate for more favorable rates, you could end up paying much less than with most other processors.

Features and Benefits

  • Free terminal for retail merchants. If you sign a contract with Flagship, you’ll automatically qualify for a free credit card terminal.
  • Quick onboarding. Flagship’s online application takes 2 minutes to complete. Flagship doesn’t ask too many questions, and merchants often begin processing on the same day.
  • Same-day funding. A great way to improve cash flow is through Flagship’s same-day funding program. For a small fee, you can expedite payouts and gain access to your earnings on the day payments are made.
  • Cash advance. Flagship’s cash advance program allows merchants to borrow up to $150,000 for nearly any business need. With a more reliable cash flow, you’ll have the opportunity to grow your business a lot quicker.
Learn more by reading our expert Flagship Merchant Services review.

Hardware solutions & setup
  • Free Verifone/Clover terminal
  • Easy integration with existing hardware
Onboarding process
  • Quick application and onboarding
  • No setup/cancellation fees
Customer support
  • Dedicated account manager
  • Phone support during working hours
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 1.58% + 19¢ (in person)
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $7.95

Luminous Payments summary
Luminous Payments offers multiple payment solutions for all kinds of businesses
Luminous Payments might not be the biggest credit card processing company on the market, but it has grown rapidly in a short space of time. This doesn’t surprise me given its merchant-friendly approach to payments and its consistently low rates.

Luminous Payments doesn’t come with all the extra features you can get with some other processors on this list, but what it does, it does well. E-commerce retailers might be put off by the lack of software available, but brick-and-mortar retailers will love the modern POS devices and free mobile reader offered by Luminous Payments. 

Perhaps most impressive is the sheer variety of payment models it has available, which makes it easy to get the best deal possible for your business. If you’re looking for flexible pricing for your small retail business, Luminous Payments might be the one for you.

Features and Benefits

  • Free hardware. Every Luminous Payments merchant will receive a free Bluetooth card reader, which will allow you to process contactless and swiped transactions on the go.
  • Variety of POS equipment. Luminous sells the equipment you might need for your retail business. Luminous also sells most of Clover’s multifunctional POS devices at a discounted price, so you’ll have access to all the hardware you need to start taking payments.
  • Reliable online payment gateway. Although Luminous’ native e-commerce options are limited, merchants can access NMI’s feature-packed gateway for a low monthly fee of $6.
  • Guaranteed Savings program. Luminous promises to save you money on your processing costs. If it can’t meet or beat your current rates, it promises to give you $1,000 through its Guaranteed Savings Program.
Read our expert Luminous Payments review to learn more.

Hardware solutions & setup
  • Free B250 Bluetooth reader
  • Reconfiguration of existing equipment
  • Verified Clover reseller
Onboarding process
  • Same-day approvals
  • Choose from 5 different pricing models
Customer support
  • 24/7 phone support
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 1.59% + 5¢
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $10.00

CreditCardProcessing.com summary
CreditCardProcessing.com’s High Volume plan is an excellent choice for busy retail businesses
CreditCardProcessing.com offers one of the best high-volume plans on the market. Unfortunately, its cheaper plans aren’t as enticing with flat transaction fees as high as 30¢, which is why it doesn’t secure a better position on this list.

Set at $15.00, CreditCardProcessing.com’s High Volume plan is expensive, but it also offers one of the lowest flat per-transaction rates you can find at just 5¢. If you handle lots of low-volume transactions (more than 5,000/month), you could end up saving quite a bit over other subscription-style processors.

There are four different subscription-style plans to choose from. As the monthly price goes up, the flat transaction fee goes down. CreditCardProcessing.com is also known for its high approval rate and enhanced security features.

Features and Benefits

  • Free Clover Mini. If you sign up for the High Volume plan, you’ll receive a Clover Mini – a high-tech terminal for accepting chip, swipe, and contactless payments.
  • E-commerce and software solutions. CreditCardProcessing.com uses the Authorize.net gateway for online sales and related e-commerce solutions, such as shopping carts. If you get your hands on the Clover Mini terminal, you’ll also be able to use Clover’s advanced reporting and analytics software – for a price.
  • High approval rate. CreditCardProcessing.com enjoys one of the highest approval rates in the US, and the onboarding process is relatively straightforward.
  • Heightened safety and security measures. CreditCardProcessing.com goes the extra mile to ensure all merchants are appropriately secured within the network. If disaster does strike, CreditCardProcessing.com insures you for up to $100,000.
Check out our expert CreditCardProcessing.com review for more information.

Hardware solutions & setup
  • Free portable Pax A920 terminal
  • Free Clover Mini (High Volume plan)
  • Easy integration with existing equipment
Onboarding process
  • High approval rate
  • Same-day approval in many cases
  • Free training for its POS terminals and e-commerce solutions
Customer support
  • 24/7 technical support
  • Email
  • Dedicated account manager
Transaction fees on cheapest plan 0% + 30¢ (Starter)
Monthly subscription on cheapest plan $15.00

The Best Retail Credit Card Processing Companies In Focus

Choosing the best retail credit card processing company for your company is all about evaluating your needs and researching the market. Unfortunately, spending hours researching credit card processing companies isn’t always feasible when you’re busy running your retail business. To save you time, here are my top recommendations.

If you’re making more than $5,000 and don’t like surprises on your statements, I’m certain that Stax’s 0% markup plans won’t disappoint.

If you’re looking for a payment processor that combines low costs, quick onboarding, and excellent customer support, I’d recommend you sign up with Payment Depot.

Or, if you’re already processing and are looking for a better deal, LMS’ custom contracts come with the low rates and tools you need to grow your business.

For a quick comparison of the best credit card processing companies for retailers, check out the summary table below
.

Best Feature Best For Monthly fee on cheapest plan Transaction fees on cheapest plan
Stax 0% markup and low transaction fees Retail businesses processing over $5,000 per month $99.00 0% + 8¢ (in-person)
Payment Depot Low fees and excellent customer support Medium to high-volume retail businesses $59.00 0% + 8¢ (in-person)
Leaders Merchant Services Bargaining power when negotiating fees Merchants who’re already processing $9.00 Around 2% + 0¢
Flagship Merchant Services Free Verifone/Clover terminal with contract Medium to high-volume retailers that need access to cash flow $7.95 1.58% + 19¢ (in person)
Luminous Payments Five different pricing options Small retail businesses that value stability $10.00 1.59% + 5¢
CreditCardProcessing.com Very competitive high-volume plan Retail businesses that handle many small payments $15.00 0% + 30¢ (Starter)

FAQ

Which payment processor is best?

While every business is unique, Stax is the best payment processor for most merchants. Its 0% markups, combined with its many hardware options, reporting capabilities, and full e-commerce support, really help it stand out in a crowded market. If you’d like to review your options, our list of the 10 best credit card processing companies in 2023 can help.

What is the cheapest way to take card payments?

According to our research, Stax and Payment Depot will tend to work out as the lowest cost options for most retail businesses. That said, high-volume retailers that process at least $10,000 per month could save even more with CreditCardProcessing.com’s High Volume plan.

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

First, you need to choose a credit card processing merchant. We recommend Stax or Payment Depot due to their low transaction fees and easy onboarding. Both of these processors can help you integrate your existing hardware at no additional cost.

Is there a way to avoid credit card processing fees?

Not exactly, although some processors will let you pass these costs on to your customers via surcharging. Alternatively, you could apply for Luminous Payments’ cash discount program. Essentially, you add a small percentage to the standard price of all goods and then offer a discount to customers who pay with cash. This means that your credit card processing fees are effectively covered by your card-paying customers.

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