10 Best Credit Card Processors in 2022
The Biggest Comparison of Credit Card Processors Ever Done
Finding the right payment processor for your business isn’t easy – after all, it’s an industry filled with aggressive marketing and not-so-transparent fees. That’s why we decided to look past the flashy deals and find the facts on pricing, features, security, and more, so that you can make an informed decision.
Credit card processors are at an advantage. They know that credit card processing is no longer optional for businesses, big or small. This has emboldened many to adopt some unsavory business practices. It’s not uncommon for a sales agent to sweet-talk a business into a great-sounding deal, only to laden them with exorbitant hidden fees.
Sadly, credit card processors are almost impossible to compare on the surface, as many offer no information on their site other than a few empty promises about how they are definitely your cheapest choice. This has caused many businesses to just accept a poor deal and service – but you don’t have to.
We spent hundreds of hours putting together a list of the top 10 credit card processors operating today. To perform the most detailed comparison possible, we compiled thousands of merchant reviews, extensively compared features and pricing, and even tested the trustworthiness of each provider’s sales process for ourselves.
With our comparison, you’ll be able to minimize your processing fees without missing out on the best features the credit card processing industry has to offer. Read through our findings below to find the right credit card processor for your businesses.
- Monthly subscription model with no markup
- Feature-filled e-commerce platform
- Your choice of a free POS terminal
If you’re tired of credit card processors taking a sizable cut of every transaction, you’ll like Stax’s simple monthly payment model – you just pay a monthly subscription with no percentage-based markup. What’s more, it’s a beginner-friendly platform that’s easy to set up and start selling with, even if you have no prior experience.
While there is a small flat fee per transaction in addition to the usual interchange rates (which isn’t mentioned on the site), most businesses will benefit greatly from this payment model. If you’re earning over $5000 per month, you’ll save significantly over traditional processors that charge a percentage markup on every transaction.
Stax is a particularly good option for online selling, with an e-commerce platform that allows you to create a custom shopping cart in a few clicks. It also provides easy integrations for popular e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce and Shopify, as well as for accounting software like Quickbooks. Its flexible API even lets you implement your own checkout system and create custom integrations.
To top it off, Stax offers exceptional sales and technical support through various channels, including live chat, email, and phone. And unlike most processors, it features a comprehensive knowledge base on its site complete with helpful guides and videos covering just about everything there is to know about processing payments with this provider.
Payment Depot has high customer satisfaction. Anywhere you look online you’ll find happy merchants speaking of the savings they’ve made working with Payment Depot. And they’re not lying – Payment Depot is among your cheapest options, thanks to its low-priced monthly subscription model.
Like nearly all monthly subscription credit card processors, there’s a minimum amount you’ll need to be earning to really take advantage of Payment Depot’s monthly pricing. As with Stax, I’d recommend a stable income of at least $5000 per month.
Unlike the support teams of many credit card processors who seem to disappear when issues occur, Payment Depot offers responsive and incredibly helpful 24/7 phone support. In fact, Payment Depot’s dedicated risk monitoring team helps your business avoid roadblocks even before they occur by minimizing your risk of chargebacks and fraud.
- Promises to meet or beat your current processor’s rates
- 24/7 technical support, entire department available to help with chargebacks
- Friendly to high-risk merchants
Leaders Merchant Services promises to try to at least meet, but in many cases beat, the rates of your previous processor. You’ll be asked to provide your two most recent monthly processing statements and the sales agent will try to offer a better deal overall.
This makes Leaders Merchant Services a nice option if you’re already with a payment processor – you can use your current rates as a starting point on the negotiation table. On the flip side, merchants looking for their first payment processor might not get as great a deal, as the sales agent will have no existing rates to beat.
As for its actual payment processing services, Leaders offers reliable solutions for both in-person and online transactions. It also provides 24/7 technical support, with an entire department dedicated to helping you effectively dispute chargebacks. If you’re a mid or high-risk merchant, this will likely save you a lot of money (and headaches) over time.
- Option for same-day payouts
- Offer your customers branded gift and loyalty cards
- Begin taking payments in just a few hours
Flagship Merchant Services offers same-day funding to your merchant account, regardless of whether the sales were made in-person or online. Most merchants will leave you waiting over 24 hours to have access to your earned funds, so this is no small bonus.
Same-day funding allows you to more flexibly manage the financial difficulties of running a business. You can more easily meet monetary obligations, ensure your inventory remains well-stocked, and so on. The same-day funding service does cost extra, but it’ll be well worth it for many businesses.
Flagship Merchant Services is also refreshingly easy to get started with – onboarding is straightforward and your account can be approved in just a few hours. That said, Flagship isn’t the most transparent processor when it comes to pricing. I’d recommend negotiating for a simple interchange-plus plan for the best deal.
- Keep 100% of your earnings by incentivizing cash payments
- Multiple payment models to fit every business
- $1000 paid to you if Luminous can’t beat your current deal
Luminous Payments encourages the use of cash, which isn’t something I thought I’d ever say about a credit card processor. Thanks to its Cash Discount plan, you can add your processing fees as a surcharge on all card payments. Your customers will get lower prices paying by cash – and either way, you’ll keep more of your money.
If you’d prefer a more traditional payment model, Luminous Payments also offers flat rates, tiered rates, and interchange+ pricing. You can even combine these various pricing models in a custom plan tailored just for your business. Regardless of what you go for, Luminous Payments offers better rates than most.
That said, Luminous is pretty new to the industry and has yet to build up a real reputation. All of the early indications are positive, but some merchants may prefer to go with a more tried-and-tested option.
- Free Clover Mini POS terminal
- Easily sell subscriptions through the Vindica management platform
- Complementary training
Like Stax, CreditCardProcessing.com ditches percentage-based markups in favor of a simple monthly subscription plus flat transaction fee. While this transaction fee is quite high on its lower-volume plans, high-volume businesses get some of the cheapest transaction fees I’ve seen.
Sweetening the deal even further is the free Clover Mini terminal you get with the High Volume plan. This offers responsive software with tons of useful functionality. You can manage inventory, staff scheduling, and more, straight from the terminal. I rarely see Clover terminals offered for free, so this is a major perk of CreditCardProcessing.com’s High Volume plan.
In addition, every plan gives you free access to the premium Vindica service, which makes it easy to manage and optimize the selling of subscription services, thanks to detailed analytics and a user-friendly platform. Vindica also attempts to fix any failed payments automatically, helping to keep your customers happy and your revenue stable.
It’s rare for a credit card processor to display all of its rates and fees prominently on its website. National Processing bucks this trend by clearly stating all of its pricing details upfront.
In an effort to be 100% transparent, National Processing offers a pricing calculator to help you work out the exact rates you’d be paying. Most of its plans charge a monthly subscription, a low percentage markup on interchange rates (usually less than 1%), and a flat transaction fee. These rates vary based on the method of sale and your industry.
National Processing also offers its own line of impressive POS solutions. The included software allows you to split checks, create loyalty programs, and more. Furthermore, it starts cheap – you can use your own tablet with a basic terminal and cash draw to get started. That said, National Processing’s rates aren’t the cheapest, even if they are competitive.
- Build and host your own store with Helcim
- No contracts – cancel at any time without paying a fee
- User-friendly customer and inventory management tools
Starting an e-commerce business isn’t easy. Not only do you have to select a good payment processor, you’ll also have to find a web hosting company that provides decent performance and store development tools. Helcim handles all of this for you by offering free web hosting and a store builder alongside its payment processing services.
This is great if you’re selling online, but the picture isn’t quite as rosy if you take payments in a brick and mortar store. Helcim only integrates with a limited range of third-party POS hardware, which doesn’t include any third-party card terminals. This means you’re forced to purchase its proprietary card reader outright.
Still, this all-in-one solution definitely makes things easier. Helcim’s platform is super user-friendly – every aspect of it, from store and checkout creation, to customer & inventory management, requires zero code and can be controlled with a few clicks. Best of all, Helcim doesn’t lock you into a contract, so you can cancel at any time without paying a fee.
- Pass on your processing fees to the customer
- Free POS terminal delivered with fast shipping
- Extra fraud protection for high-risk merchants
While it’s nearer the bottom of this list, ProMerchant can still offer a great deal to the right business. Its standout feature is its Zero Cost Processing plan, which is only available for retail businesses and restaurants. This plan allows you to pass credit card processing fees to your customers via a surcharge.
This means you get 100% of every payment you take – even interchange fees can be passed on to the customer. Because of this, ProMerchant better fits businesses with high sales volumes, who’d get the most out of saving on transaction fees.
Keep in mind that you will still have to pay a monthly subscription, and the surcharge will slightly raise your prices. Also, if your business isn’t in the retail or food industry, you’d have to use ProMerchant’s Interchange Plus plan. Sadly, the rates offered by this plan aren’t so impressive, so it could be worth shopping around.
- High approval rate
- Fast same-day setup of critical e-commerce functionality
- Accept a wide range of payment methods, including crypto
If you operate in a high-risk industry or have a poor credit score, you’ll probably find that many credit card processors won’t even speak to you. Thankfully, PaymentCloud has a 98% approval rate – one of the highest in the US.
While mid and high-risk merchants are charged a slightly higher percentage markup per transaction, the rates are reasonable compared to other high-risk payment processors, who often take advantage of your narrower range of choice. Just be sure to negotiate with your sales agent – you can get a much better deal if you haggle for it.
In addition to providing a free POS terminal, Payment Cloud can set up a virtual terminal and payment gateway for you. Furthermore, PaymentCloud has one of the longest lists of accepted payment methods I’ve seen from a credit card processor. It even accepts crypto, including popular coins like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Monero.
How Do We Evaluate Credit Card Processors?
Unlike other review sites, we at Website Planet believe you deserve to know more than just the surface-level details of each credit card processor. To get at the truth beyond the marketing, here are the measures we take to evaluate the payment processors we review.
Obviously you need your credit card processor to process payments, but this isn’t all a good processor should offer. The best credit card processors also make running your business and managing your finances far easier by giving you management tools, detailed analytics, and integratable e-commerce and POS solutions.
We separately research the features listed by every payment processor to get at the reality behind all the marketing jargon. This allows us to determine what, if anything, really stands. For example, Stax’s e-commerce platform is among the most versatile in the business – even more so than those offered by more expensive payment processors.
Ease of Use
Most businesses simply want something that works, and works well. No one wants to get trapped in hours of setup and coding just to get their payment processor to integrate with their backend. After all, time is valuable – the best credit card processors can be set up in minutes.
That’s why we evaluate every payment processor on its overall ease of use. Will a beginner have difficulty setting things up? Are there guides or training available? How user-friendly is the platform? These are just some of the questions we ask when considering how easy to use a platform really is.
Compliance and Security
Security is a priority. If your payment processor cannot ensure PCI-compliance, your business could face heavy fines and class-action lawsuits. A data breach can easily bring an otherwise successful business to its knees, and customers need to be able to trust you if they’re going to hand over their money and data.
That’s why we ensure that every credit card processor we review is PCI-compliant. We also check overall security standards, whether data breaches occurred in the past, and more. Additional protections against fraud and chargebacks are always a bonus.
Credit card processors have a reputation for smuggling non-disclosed fees into their contracts. To make matters worse, many payment processors completely hide their rates, forcing you to ring their sales line. This immediately puts you at a disadvantage, as the trained sales agent has all the information while you have none.
We cut through this obscurity to give you more precise details on what you can expect to pay. That way, you can make an informed decision. We also reward credit card processors who offer transparent pricing information, which is something we’d love to see become the norm.
If the finances of your business are at stake, there had better be a responsive support team to help whenever there’s an issue. You can find plenty of horror stories online where crucial funds were withheld from merchants and the credit card processor’s support team just didn’t seem to care.
Testing the support team of each credit card processor is an important part of all our reviews. We call the sales team ourselves to find out whether they give honest and helpful information, and we also evaluate the responsiveness and availability of the technical support team.
Which credit card processor is best?This depends on many factors, such as your industry, transaction volume, average transaction amount, and more. That said, Stax is an excellent choice for most businesses, offering reliable processing and an impressive feature-set in exchange for an affordable monthly subscription. Otherwise, you can check out our comparison of the top 10 credit card processors above to get a feel for which processor might be a good fit for your business. For more information on a particular one, be sure to check out its detailed review.What is the largest credit card processor in the US?The largest payment processors in the US tend to be banks, such as Bank of America and First Data. However, this doesn’t mean that they are good options. They tend to charge high processing fees and offer little to no features that can help manage your business and finances. All of the credit card processors above offer better value.What are typical credit card processing fees?Most businesses will pay 1.5% – 4.5% of every cashless transaction in processing fees. The exact percentage will vary depending on the interchange rate charged by card-issuing banks, as well as the fees charged by the credit card processor. What is the fastest credit card processor?Square offers the fastest access to your funds through its small business checking account. That said, it’s not a great choice for businesses with a large transaction volume. In such cases, I’d recommend Flagship Merchant Services, which offers same-day funding along with better rates for larger businesses.
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