We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links. Advertising Disclosure
  1. Website Planet
  2. >
  3. Blog
  4. >
  5. 9 Cheapest Credit Card Processing: Stick to Your Budget [2024]

9 Cheapest Credit Card Processing: Stick to Your Budget [2024]

Ivana Shteriova Ivana ShteriovaFinance Specialist April 05, 2024
April 05, 2024
Credit card processing companies aren’t always transparent about their pricing structure. Admittedly, calculating fees and producing rough estimates can be difficult when there are so many variables to consider.

Picture this: You choose a monthly subscription and agree on a transaction rate, but things don’t add up once the invoice arrives. You might notice hidden fees or unknown additional costs, plus surcharges if you go over your limits.

An offer that looks like a steal might cost you more in the long run, especially if you’re unfamiliar with common credit card processing practices.

Pricing in the credit card processing industry can be difficult to pin down as processors have found novel and creative ways to hide additional charges behind complicated jargon and fancy terminology. What you see isn’t always what you get, but to help you make better decisions, I’ve done the research for you.

Overall, Leaders Merchant Services (LMS) offers the cheapest payment processing for most merchants. It allows you to build a custom plan and negotiate your fees, meaning you’ll only pay for the features and services you really need. On top of that, you can cut processing costs with LMS’s affordable cash discount plan. Keep reading to see how LMS can save you money, or check out my other budget-friendly recommendations.

Short on Time? These Are the Cheapest Credit Card Processing Companies in 2024

  1. Expert’s Choice
    LMS_Monogram Leaders Merchant Services
    Leaders Merchant Services is a popular choice with our readers
    The cheapest option for most merchants with a cash discount plan to further cut costs.
  2. logopayarc PAYARC The cheapest international credit card processing offering free invoicing tools.
  3. promerchant-logo ProMerchant Zero-cost card processing for restaurants/retail with free equipment for your needs.

What We Look For in the Cheapest Credit Card Processors

When it comes to pricing, each credit card processor is unique – some charge a small monthly fee plus per-transaction fees that depend on payment method, while others offer all-in-one subscriptions with lower flat-rate transaction fees. Here are the factors I kept in mind when analyzing plans/contracts to determine whether you’re likely to save money.
  • Low transaction fees. Most experts agree that interchange-plus models are almost always better than tiered pricing. If your business processes a high volume of credit card sales, flat rate fees might be the cheapest option. I included options with different pricing models to find what works best for your business.
  • Extra costs or hidden costs. Many merchant service providers charge more for additional services such as PCI-compliance assistance, ACH fees, chargebacks, data processing – but most don’t openly disclose this. I’ve factored in any extra costs when evaluating plans.
  • Cost-saving programs. All my recommendations offer various programs such as cash discount, surcharging, cash advances, and loyalty programs. Implementing some of these programs can help reduce your overall processing costs and help you grow your business.
  • Free POS systems and software. Most of the credit card processing services on my list offer free point-of-sale (POS) systems or software to support your business operations without putting a burden on your budget. This can result in significant cost savings for you as these systems can get pretty expensive.
  • Fast payouts. All the processors I recommend provide fast payouts, ensuring you gain access to your funds promptly. Some of my recommendations offer same-day funding options for free or for a small fee.

With Leaders Merchant Services (LMS), you’ll benefit from a high approval rate, easy setup, and a broad feature set, ensuring a seamless credit card processing setup regardless of your industry. You can expect to pay a flat monthly fee of about $9.00 and an average transaction fee of ~2% + 0¢ for swiped transactions. These rates make LMS the most budget-friendly choice for low-volume businesses.

My research has shown that contracts are highly competitive because LMS is willing to negotiate rates, and its representatives will work to create a unique plan tailored to your processing needs. While LMS suits new businesses perfectly, established businesses can also secure the best possible rates with its meet-or-beat guarantee. If LMS can’t match or beat your current rates, you’ll receive a $200 gift card.

You can save even more with LMS’s affordable cash discount program. By passing the processing fees (typically 4%) to customers paying by credit card and discounting cash transactions at the same rate, you’ll find significant savings on your monthly bill.

Features and Benefits

  • Free high-quality equipment. When you sign a long-term contract, you receive Clover hardware worth hundreds of dollars for free. LMS also sells a variety of stands and terminals from different brands, helping you choose the best POS system for your business.
  • Flexible contracts. If you decide to buy your equipment outright or already own a POS system, you can enjoy LMS’s services on a flexible, month-to-month basis without cancellation fees.
  • Cash advance program. Access cash quickly with LMS’s merchant cash advance program, whether for growth investments or business support during tough times. You don’t need to provide collateral or worry about strict repayment deadlines. You can repay the sum gradually via a higher markup on future card transactions.
  • Value-added services. Services like gift and loyalty cards, subscription tools, and online menus are available as add-ons. These might come with additional costs, but thanks to LMS’s personalized approach, you can create a plan with only the tools you need to use.
Learn more by heading over to our expert Leaders Merchant Services review.

Pricing models Tiered pricing and interchange-plus
Average payout time 48-72 hours
What you’ll get on the cheapest plan
  • Free terminal
  • Powerful e-commerce tools
  • Advance funding options
  • Excellent phone support
Transaction fees on the cheapest plan ~2% + 0¢
Monthly subscription on the cheapest plan $9.00

2. Stax: Cheapest Processing for Established Businesses

Stax is the most affordable option for US-based merchants processing high-ticket sales due to its straightforward pricing structure with the industry’s lowest flat transaction fees of only 0% + 10¢ (in-person). While standard interchange fees still apply, processing more transactions results in greater savings with Stax.

With three monthly plans starting at $99.00, you can easily find an option that fits your budget. Additionally, if your business processes over $8,000 in credit card sales monthly, Stax can reduce your processing bill by up to 40%.

Stax doesn’t charge standard additional fees for compliance, plan cancellation, or surcharging, and you’ll also have free access to its advanced analytics software suite. However, chargeback fees do apply. You should also keep in mind that Stax’s pricing model might not work out as the cheapest option for new or small businesses that process less than $5,000/month.

Features and Benefits

  • POS integrations. If you already have POS hardware, you won’t have to replace it when signing up with Stax. The processor is compatible with 90% of third-party POS devices, including the widely used Clover hardware.
  • Free terminal. All Stax accounts come with a free terminal, and you can even use its mobile app to process payments on the go. Not having to buy hardware can save you a lot – especially if your budget is already spread thin.
  • Surcharging program. Stax owns CardX, an industry leader in seamless, compliant surcharging. The surcharging program is free with a subscription and allows you to pass a 3.5% processing fee to customers who use their credit cards to complete purchases.
  • Free e-commerce tools. Stax integrates with most e-commerce platforms but also offers its own developer tools and cart templates free of charge.
See our expert Stax review for more features.

Pricing models Subscription
Average payout time 72 hours as standard, optional same-day payout add-on
What you’ll get on the cheapest plan
  • Free terminal
  • E-commerce platform and integrations
  • Advanced reporting tools
Transaction fees on the cheapest plan 0% + 10¢ (in-person)
Monthly subscription on the cheapest plan $99.00
Unsure which processor is best for your business?
Take this short quiz and get a tailor-made recommendation in seconds
Find the Best Processor for Me >

3. PAYARC: Cheapest International Credit Card Processing

PAYARC integrates with several global gateways and supports payment processing in 150+ currencies at the most affordable rates. You can use the Planet Payment gateway to allow customers to pay in their local currency. PAYARC also integrates with the popular Authorize.net at a low rate of $10/month, which is more than half of its regular price. You can use it to accept domestic and international payments. Additionally, PAYARC offers its own gateway at just $5/month.

Additionally, you’ll get access to a comprehensive suite of invoicing tools to bill clients on a recurring basis, adjust promotion prices, set tiered and usage-based pricing, and apply discounts at no extra cost. For in-person sales, PAYARC offers various POS hardware options, and you might even receive a free card reader and PAX A920 terminal depending on your plan.

PAYARC offers a number of pricing models to meet diverse business needs. Low-volume businesses can benefit from its Flat Rate plan with no monthly fees and competitive transaction fees of 2.49% + 30¢ (in-person) and 2.9% + 30¢ (online). Growing businesses will find value in PAYARC’s membership pricing. With this model, monthly fees start at $69.00 and transaction fees are just 0% + 15¢ (in-person & online).

Features and Benefits

  • Cash discount program. PAYARC offers a diverse cash discounting program where you can choose between a free 4% cash transaction discount or paid options with lower discount percentages ranging from 2.5% to 3.5%.
  • Discounted rates for non-profits. If you run a registered 501(c), PAYARC will provide access to its processing solutions at discounted rates, allowing you to redirect a greater portion of your funds to the causes you care about.
  • Chargeback mitigation plan. PAYARC offers a free personalized chargeback mitigation plan to help keep costly chargebacks to a minimum.
  • Free mobile app. If you use an iOS mobile device, you can download PAYARC’s proprietary mobile app for free. This app lets you take payments remotely with just your phone, helping reduce equipment costs. It also serves as a business management tool, giving you access to insightful reports.
Read our in-depth PAYARC review for more features and benefits.

Pricing models Flat rate, cash discount, and membership pricing
Average payout time 24-48 hours as standard, same-day payout for $20/month
What you’ll get on the cheapest plan
  • Free terminal/card reader
  • Free mobile app
  • Free business dashboard
  • Chargeback mitigation plan
  • Extensive range of invoicing tools
  • 24/7 email and phone support
Transaction fees on the cheapest plan 2.49% + 30¢ (in-person)
Monthly subscription on the cheapest plan N/A

4. ProMerchant: Zero-Cost Processing for Restaurants and Retail

ProMerchant offers two pricing options: interchange-plus fixed rate and zero-cost processing. Although its interchange rates at 3% + 10¢ (credit) are higher than Leaders Merchant Services’ rates, ProMerchant provides a competitive no-cost program exclusively for restaurant and retail businesses. If you qualify, your only expense will be a small monthly fee of $7.95, while card-paying customers bear the remaining fees, typically amounting to 4% per transaction.

Many processors offer similar programs, but ProMerchant stands out because it genuinely provides a zero-cost solution, complete with a selection of free equipment. If you operate a fast-food restaurant, ProMerchant supplies the Ingenico Desk 3500, a terminal with a built-in printer for swift processing. For full-service restaurants, it provides the wireless PAX A920, enabling your waitstaff to collect tips and e-signatures.

Retail businesses also have access to the same terminal models. Equipped with built-in reporting, transaction history, and inventory management tools, the PAX A920 stands out as a more advanced and capable option. You can also process gift cards using this terminal.

Features and Benefits

  • Free mobile app and reader. ProMerchant grants you free access to the Payanywhere app and Bluetooth card reader, empowering you to process payments remotely and keep your equipment costs low. With just the app, you can transform any phone into a POS terminal and collect payments, tips, and e-signatures.
  • Free virtual terminal. ProMerchant lets you use the Payments Hub virtual terminal at no additional cost for processing phone or mail order (MOTO) payments.
  • Month-to-month agreements. No long contracts here – ProMerchant provides its processing solutions on a month-to-month basis. You can cancel at any time without incurring cancellation fees.
  • High-risk merchant accounts. ProMerchant partners with 12 different high-risk processors. This means that even as a high-risk business, you can still benefit from ProMerchant’s competitive pricing.
Learn more from our in-depth ProMerchant review.

Pricing models Zero-cost processing and interchange-plus fixed rate
Average payout time Next day
What you’ll get on the cheapest plan
  • Free terminal
  • Free mobile app and card reader
  • Free virtual terminal
  • 24/7 via email and phone support
Transaction fees on the cheapest plan 3% + 10¢ (credit)
Monthly subscription on the cheapest plan $7.95

5. Flagship Merchant Services: Best for Businesses With Bad or No Credit

Flagship Merchant Services offers an easy onboarding process. Unlike some processors with lengthy vetting, you can start taking payments with Flagship within a few hours of submitting your application. Flagship also has one of the highest approval rates in the industry. This means even new businesses with no credit history or those with a less-than-perfect credit score have a good chance of getting approved.

Flagship quoted me a monthly fee of just $7.95. Other merchants – especially those in high-risk businesses – might pay a bit more. Flagship also offers two pricing models: tiered and interchange-plus. While I favor the latter for the sake of transparency, it’s worth noting that Flagship’s interchange-plus fees of 3.58% + 0.19¢ (in-person) and 3.98% + 0.21¢ (online) are higher than what you’d pay with Leaders Merchant Services.

However, there is room for negotiation. Like Leaders Merchant Services, Flagship strives to meet or beat your current processing rates and if it can’t, you’ll receive a $200 gift card.

Features and Benefits

  • A choice of free equipment. If you sign a long-term contract with Flagship, you can choose between a Clover Mini POS and an EMV-certified terminal. Also, Flagship sells and leases plenty of modern equipment (Clover and Verifone, among others).
  • iAccess Business Management portal. Flagship offers access to an advanced business reporting tool that provides income and expense statements, as well as daily, weekly, and monthly sales summaries.
  • Gift card program. Flagship has a flexible gift card program that can help you boost your cash flow and consumer engagement. For example, your existing customers can purchase gift cards for friends and family, bringing more business your way. The gift card program comes with robust reporting for tracking and improving its performance.
  • Surcharging. Aside from a cash discount, Flagship also offers surcharging, enabling you to charge a 3.85% transaction fee to card-paying customers. Flagship will program your equipment to automatically deduct the cash discount or add the surcharge.
Our Flagship Merchant Services review has more details.

Pricing models Tiered pricing and interchange-plus
Average payout time 48 hours as standard, optional same-day payout add-on
What you’ll get on the cheapest plan
  • Free terminal
  • iAccess business management software
  • Dedicated account manager
Transaction fees on the cheapest plan 3.58% + 0.19¢ (in-person)
Monthly subscription on the cheapest plan $7.95

6. CreditCardProcessing.com: Cheapest for a Large Volume of Micropayments

CreditCardProcessing.com offers four flat-rate plans suitable for businesses with medium to high processing volumes – especially those taking many low-value payments. This structure allows you to access per-transaction fees starting at 0% + 30¢ (Starter) and going as low as 0% + 0.05¢ (High volume). Remember, you’ll still have to pay a fixed markup on interchange rates.

Stax also has a similar pricing model and it doesn’t add a markup to interchange rates. But unlike Stax, where you need to make quite a lot in card sales to cover the monthly fee, CreditCardProcessing.com’s monthly subscriptions start at just $15.00. Even with a lower card volume, you can save. For example, if your total monthly take is $5,000 and made up of $5 transactions, you’d pay less with CreditCardProcessing.com than with Stax.

In addition to its flat-rate plans, CreditCardProcessing.com offers interchange-plus plans, employing an “à la carte” approach. This suits budget-conscious businesses well because features are available as a separate add-on so you’ll only pay for the services you need. I must point out that CreditCardProcessing.com charges a customer service fee of $7.95 on interchange-plus plans, something other processors typically offer for free.

Features and Benefits

  • Zero-cost processing. You can save 80%–90% on your current processing fees through CreditCardProcessing.com’s cash discount and surcharging programs. These programs enable you to shift the processing fees to your customers, either by offering a discount for cash transactions or by adding a surcharge to credit card payments.
  • Discounted gateway fee. For only $7.95, CreditCardProcessing.com provides limited access to the trusted Authorize.net gateway at a quarter of its regular price. This discounted rate is available with its interchange-plus plans.
  • Free portable Pax A920 terminal. Unlike the free terminals offered by other processors, the Pax A920 terminal can take all forms of contactless payments and offers analytics through its PAXSTORE app. You can also get a free Clover device if you sign up for the Flat Rate Premier plan and above.
  • Advanced safety and security. CreditCardProcessing.com adheres to all PCI compliance regulations and comes with data breach protection, insuring all merchants for up to $100,000.
Head over to our expert CreditCardProcessing.com review for more.

Pricing models Flat rate, interchange-plus, and cash discount
Average payout time 72 hours
What you’ll get on the cheapest plan
  • iAccess business management software
  • Phone support
  • Free portable Pax terminal
  • $100,000 data breach insurance
Transaction fees on the cheapest plan 0% + 30¢ (Starter)
Monthly subscription on the cheapest plan $15.00

Other Notable Cheap Credit Card Processing Companies

7. Chase Payment Solutions

Chase Payment Solutions suits small and mid-size businesses that need quick access to cash. By linking a Chase Business Checking account to your merchant account, you can receive free same-day funding for a steady cash flow and greater financial stability. Same-day funding is also available for e-commerce sales via BigCommerce. Chase doesn’t charge monthly fees, keeping your processing costs low.

However, Chase’s transaction fees are higher for certain types of transactions, such as keyed-in transactions (3.5% + 10¢). It offers a limited selection of only five POS devices and readers and you won’t be able to use your own third-party equipment. Still, the ability to quickly access funds can be crucial for some small businesses, helping maintain a consistent cash flow and ensuring timely expense payments.

8. POS Pros

POS Pros is ideal for storefronts, offering various POS hardware and software tailored to different industries. POS Pros connects you with a specialist to provide personalized advice on the best equipment for your business. You’ll even have the opportunity to virtually test some of the specialist’s recommendations, ensuring you invest in the right equipment.

While it’s great for brick-and-mortar businesses, POS Pros offers very few e-commerce features, which cost extra. It’s also important to note that its customer service representatives are sales-oriented and may not always provide transparent information regarding plans and prices. That said, its dedication to providing you with the right POS equipment could be of great value if you’re selling in person.

9. Square

Square suits both small in-person and online stores, providing extensive features without any monthly fees. It offers modern POS systems, including a free mobile reader. You can also set up a free online store or sell through social media. Features like “buy now” buttons and QR codes even let you sell without a website.

Although Square offers a cost-effective processing solution with numerous features, it doesn’t suit high-risk merchants. Square may suddenly close your account if it considers your business high-risk, which can significantly disrupt your operations. Because customer service is hard to reach, you must rely heavily on its knowledge base and solve issues yourself.

The Cheapest Credit Card Processors in Focus

Choosing the cheapest credit card processing company isn’t just about finding the one with the lowest processing rates. Your business’s industry, size, and needs – as well as the processor’s monthly subscription fees and features – should also inform your choice.

Are you looking for a cheap, reliable, and flexible payment solution? I recommend Leaders Merchant Services (LMS). You can negotiate with LMS to secure the lowest rates and tailor a plan that suits your business needs. You can further reduce your processing bill with LMS’s affordable cash discount program. Additionally, you could also qualify for complimentary high-quality Clover hardware.

If you have customers worldwide, PAYARC provides international support at the lowest rates. Moreover, PAYARC offers a comprehensive suite of free invoicing tools, covering everything from recurring to tiered and usage-based billing. With the free PAYARC mobile app, you can manage your business and process payments on the go.

If you run a restaurant or retail business, ProMerchant’s zero-cost-processing plan (and the free equipment that comes with it) will get you processing with minimal costs. You’ll also gain free access to the Payanywhere app and Bluetooth card reader to take payments remotely, cutting equipment costs further.

Here’s a comparison table with a quick recap of my top picks:
Best Feature Best For Monthly fee on cheapest plan Transaction fees on cheapest plan
Leaders Merchant Services Lowest fees for small businesses, custom plans, and cash discount program Businesses processing a low to medium volume of card sales $9.00 ~2% + 0¢
PAYARC Cheapest international processing and free invoicing tools Businesses with customers worldwide N/A 2.49% + 30¢ (in-person)
ProMerchant Zero-cost processing program and free equipment Restaurant and retail businesses $7.95 3% + 10¢ (credit)
Flagship Merchant Services High approval rates, gift cards, and surcharging program New businesses with bad or no credit history $7.95 1.58% + 19¢ (in person)
CreditCardProcessing.com Affordable subscription-style pricing with low transaction fees Businesses that handle a large volume of small payments $15.00 0% + 30¢ (Starter)
Stax Straightforward subscription-style pricing with no markup Established high-volume businesses $99.00 0% + 10¢ (in-person)


What is the cheapest credit card processing company?

You’ll have to evaluate which processor saves you the most money based on your business model, the needed features, and other factors. Most small businesses will benefit from Leaders Merchant Services’ low rates and custom plans. For high-volume businesses, CreditCardProcessing.com is another good option.

How do I avoid payment processing fees?

If you want to process credit card payments, you won’t be able to avoid payment processing fees entirely. However, you can pass your transaction costs on to your customers, which many of our top recommendations offer. For example, you can use Leaders Merchant Services’ cash discount program.

Why are credit card processing fees so high?

If your business falls into one of the high-risk categories (e.g., gambling, tech support, credit repair, selling tobacco or e-cigarette devices), your quoted markup rates will be higher than usual – often closer to 4% to 5% rather than the typical 2 or 3%. However, Leaders Merchant Services boasts a 98% approval rate with no inflated rates, which makes it an excellent option for any type of business.

What is a reasonable processing fee?

Markup fees usually fall somewhere between 1.5% and 4.5%. On top of that, most credit card processing companies add an extra flat fee to every transaction, which usually ranges from 0.05¢ to 30¢. All of our top 10 credit card processors in 2024 offer rates within this range. Keep in mind that these are very rough numbers and different types of transactions (e.g., in-person, online, and card-not-present) often come with adjusted costs.

Rate this Article
5.0 Voted by 2 users
You already voted! Undo
This field is required Maximal length of comment is equal 80000 chars Minimal length of comment is equal 10 chars
Any comments?
View %s replies
View %s reply
Related posts
Show more related posts
We check all user comments within 48 hours to make sure they are from real people like you. We're glad you found this article useful - we would appreciate it if you let more people know about it.
Popup final window
Share this blog post with friends and co-workers right now:

We check all comments within 48 hours to make sure they're from real users like you. In the meantime, you can share your comment with others to let more people know what you think.

Once a month you will receive interesting, insightful tips, tricks, and advice to improve your website performance and reach your digital marketing goals!

So happy you liked it!

Share it with your friends!

Or review us on

< Prev
 of 3
Next >
Based on your answers, here are three credit card processors we recommend for your [business type].
< Prev
Quiz results