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Reviews and expert opinion Helcim

Emma Ayres Emma Ayres Finance Specialist

Helcim isn’t perfect – it doesn’t offer accounts for “high-risk” industries and you can’t use third-party card readers. However, it’s not a bad place to start if you have a new, low-volume business and you need support as you grow. With cheap hardware, fantastic e-commerce software, and discounted rates, Helcim’s a good choice for your first card processor.

Overview

There’s Lots to Like With Transparent Pricing and Growth Incentives

Helcim's payment processing options
Helcim offers modern point-of-sale payment and e-commerce solutions

Whether you accept payments in person, online, or both, Helcim has a lot to offer. With a fully hosted e-commerce platform, cheap card readers, and recurring payment support, your small business will thrive with Helcim. You’ll also be able to process international payments, which is something not a lot of credit card processing companies offer.

In addition, customers love Helcim’s pricing transparency, particularly since most other card processors won’t provide a fee breakdown unless you’re applying for a merchant account.

Helcim has an Interchange-plus pricing model. These models generally offer good value for small, low-volume businesses. On the other hand, they will often leave you stuck with unfavorable rates once your business starts to grow.

Helcim aims to fix this by offering competitive interchange-plus rates on a sliding scale. As you grow and process higher volumes of transactions each month, the cheaper your per-transaction rates become.

That said, when you do start processing higher volumes, you might find that Stax offers better value for your money. That’s because you’ll only have to pay wholesale interchange rates and a minimal transaction fee on top of a fixed monthly fee. This could result in a cheaper monthly bill if you process a large number of transactions.

I know researching credit card companies can be frustrating, so I’ve done the hard work for you. Keep reading to see if Helcim is right for you and your business.

3.5

Features

Good E-Commerce Support, But Otherwise Limited

Helcim offers just one card reader, and compared to many other third-party devices, it’s remarkably basic. However, that’s only because it’s designed to be used as an extension of Helcim’s fantastic POS software.

What’s more, Helcim’s one of the few credit card processors that offer a fully-hosted e-commerce platform. This makes it a particularly good option if you’re looking to get your first online store off the ground.

A Simple Card Reader With Powerful Software

Helcim’s wireless card reader accepts contactless and chip and PIN transactions. However, there’s a notable lack of support for swiped transactions. This is possibly to reduce the risk of fraud, but it’s still somewhat limiting given that most other third-party hardware solutions support this.

Helcim's card reader
Helcim’s wireless card reader is lightweight and affordable

With that being said, Helcim’s card reader is great for new businesses. At $109 plus tax, it’s considerably cheaper than most third-party devices offered by Helcim’s competitors.

Just keep in mind that you won’t get a free reader included with your merchant account, so you’ll have to purchase this outright. Even though Helcim claims to support small businesses, this upfront cost isn’t going to help if you’re still setting up your business.

Most of Helcim’s POS functionality comes from its software, which allows you to key in transactions, set up invoices, and request payments via email or SMS. This is included with your merchant account, so you’ll still be able to accept in-person payments without Helcim’s card reader, but it’s not an ideal solution on its own.

Customers Can Manage Their Own Account

E-commerce is where Helcim truly excels. Helcim’s online store builder is fully hosted – all you need is a domain name. The platform automatically syncs with your main Helcim account, so if you’ve already got products set up there, Helcim will copy them to your web store for you.

Helcim's customer portal
Helcim’s customer portal makes it easy for customers to pay you

One of the best features of Helcim’s Online Store builder is the customer portal. This allows your customers to manage their subscriptions, payment methods, addresses, and invoices without needing to contact you. As a result, you’ll likely spend less time dealing with overdue invoices and expired credit cards.

Helcim integrates with Magneto and WooCommerce, which is helpful if you’ve already got a web store. However, you’ll need to use the API to build custom integrations if you want to link to any other e-commerce platforms or website builders. While the API is undoubtedly useful, the short supply of pre-built e-commerce integrations makes Helcim less accessible if you’re not technically minded.

You’ll Have To Wait to Access Your Money

Helcim accepts debit/credit cards, Google Pay, Apple Pay, ACH (or EFT in Canada), and international payments, giving your customer plenty of ways to pay. Still, the lack of PayPal or cryptocurrency payment options is a shame, particularly for a payment processor with such fantastic e-commerce features otherwise.

There’s also no option for same-day or next-day payments. Helcim settles all of your transactions once a day, and you’ll typically receive those payments within two business days. The only exception to this is ACH/EFT bank transfers. It takes 3 business days to set up and authorize a new customer, and 4 business days to receive a payment.

Built-in Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Helcim comes with a built-in CRM, which can save you a lot of money on third-party software. You can easily manage customer information and store payment details in the Card Vault.

Helcim’s Card Vault is particularly useful, as it lets you use Helcim’s virtual terminal to securely run card-not-present transactions without your customers having to re-enter their payment details with every purchase.

Extra Support for Restaurants

Helcim has its own online food ordering system, allowing small restaurants to save money on food delivery app commissions. You can create an online menu in Helcim’s online store builder in minutes. From here, you’ll be able to do things like manage tax calculations, create discount codes, and set tip recommendations for your restaurant. You can even set up contactless ordering so that customers can order and pay from their tables.

To help keep everything running smoothly, Helcim also sells a wireless thermal printer you can set up to automatically print incoming food orders for your kitchen.

4.0

Ease of use

Helcim Is Well-Suited for New Businesses

Helcim’s sign up process is simple. You’ll need to provide some basic information about yourself, your business, and your transaction history. Helcim claims to offer fast approvals, but I wasn’t able to find an exact timeframe.

Helcim doesn’t offer high-risk merchant accounts, but new businesses with no transaction history are accepted.

Getting Started With Helcim

To start the application process, click Get Started in the top right corner of Helcim’s website. You won’t need to upload any documents, but you will need to have your tax number/SSN and any business transactions history to hand.

Once approved, you can download Helcim’s payment software. This will let you set up online payments and integrate any approved third-party hardware right away. If you’re ordering hardware from Helcim – which you’ll need to do to accept card-present payments – you’ll have to wait 2-3 business days for it to arrive.

Easy-to-Use Payment Software

Helcim’s software is extremely beginner-friendly. With a clean, modern UI and tons tutorials in its knowledge base, you won’t need to have prior experience with credit card processing to understand how your dashboard works.

Helcim's payment software
Helcim’s payment software is intuitive and simple to use

In your settings, you can set up new tax regions, add currencies for international payments, and set up your account security to keep your sensitive data safe.

The only downside with Helcim’s software is that it lacks tooltips or links to the knowledge base to help you if you get stuck. While most of the settings are self-explanatory, some features, like the Helcim Defender for fraud protection, aren’t quite as straightforward.

Restrictive Third-Party POS Hardware Integration

Helcim only offers limited third-party POS hardware integrations. You can add any Bluetooth barcode reader, a Star Micronics/Syson cash drawer, and a Star Micronics thermal printer to your POS setup. You can’t use any third-party terminals with Helcim, however.

While this probably won’t be a dealbreaker if you’re a new business and don’t own any POS hardware, it might be frustrating if you’re an existing business looking to switch from your current processor.

5.0

Pricing

Helcim’s Transparent Pricing Is a Refreshing Change

Helcim’s per transaction rates start at 0.30% + 8¢ (card-present) & 0.50% +25¢ (card-not-present) for merchants processing up to $25,000/month. Though this is already a great price, Helcim’s rates get progressively cheaper the more you process each month. For example, if you process $50,000- $100,000/month, you’ll pay just 0.20% + 7¢ (card-present) and 0.40% + 20¢ (card-not-present) per transaction.

In addition, Helcim charges 0.5% + 25¢ for ACH/EFT bank transfers, plus $5 per returned or rejected transaction. This is on top of the wholesale interchange rate set by each card provider and bank.

Helcim also lists its other fees on its pricing page. At $15, Helcim’s chargeback fee is among the lowest I’ve come across and is even reimbursed if you win the dispute. Helcim doesn’t charge any monthly fees, cancellation fees, compliance fees, or setup fees.

Helcim’s pricing transparency is one of the reasons why this processor is so well-loved. It even has a rate comparison tool on its website that gives you a quick estimate of how much you could save with Helcim. This saves a ton of time, particularly when many other processors won’t give you an estimate unless you call them directly.

5.0

Compliance & Security

Good Fraud Protection and PCI Compliance Support

Helcim helps every merchant become PCI compliant with tutorials and its built-in PCI compliance questionnaire. In addition, your data and money are protected by military-grade encryption, strict password policies, and Intrusion Detection/Prevention firewall systems.

PCI Compliance & More

Helcim is a Level 1 PCI-compliant service provider, which means it’s regularly audited to ensure your payments are secure. This card processor also includes PCI compliance support for all merchant accounts at no additional cost.

Helcim's PCI compliance questionnaire
You can manage your PCI compliance directly from your Helcim account

If you need help filling out your PCI compliance questionnaire, Helcim offers a video tutorial and written guide. You can also hover over the information icon next to every question for a more detailed explanation.

Additional Security Features

Helcim uses the voluntary security guidelines outlined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to keep your information and finances safe. Your data is protected by end-to-end AES-256 encryption, which is the strongest Advanced Encryption Standard currently available.

You’ll also get additional protection with Helcim’s Fraud Defender feature. Fraud Defender identifies potentially suspicious transactions by scanning incoming orders for discrepancies between the shipping location, issuing bank, billing address, and more. It even checks each transaction against the average order for your business and uses all of this information to generate a risk score.

You can set up Fraud Defender to automatically decline transactions with high risk scores or to non-verified addresses. You’ll have to set this up manually, though, and you don’t get real-time notifications if a suspicious transaction is detected.

4.5

Customer Support

Friendly Support With a No-Pressure Sales Approach

Helcim has three customer service channels – email, phone, and ticket. Support is available Monday through Friday, between 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. EST, and 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. EST on Saturday and Sunday. Ticket support is only available via a Helcim merchant account.

Talking to Helcim’s customer support was a genuine pleasure, which isn’t something I get to say very often in the world of credit card processors. I sent an email query and got a helpful response within 5 hours, which isn’t bad for a non-urgent request.

kkk
Helcim is one of the few card processors that accepts brand-new businesses

Over the phone, Helcim’s customer service was just as friendly and helpful. As I expected, I had to answer a few questions about my business during the conversation, but this seems to be because the customer service agent truly wanted to help, rather than try to sell me the service.

All in all, I was on the phone for just under 10 minutes, and at no point did I feel like the agent was pressuring me into making an immediate decision.

If you need support outside of business hours, you can count on Helcim’s knowledge base to have the answer you need. The knowledge base has comprehensive guides covering all aspects of Helcim’s hardware and software. You’ll also find guides covering fraud detection and prevention.

Each article is clear and concise, with helpful screenshots to illustrate the steps you need to take. Some guides even feature high-definition video tutorials. The knowledge base is clearly updated regularly as there’s a separate section for legacy software that was discontinued in 2020.

While Helcim offers an impressive level of support, the lack of a direct 24/7 support channel is slightly disappointing.

Comparison

How does Helcim match up to the competition?

StaxCompare4.8Compare
Payment DepotCompare4.7Compare
HelcimCompare4.4Compare
Square PaymentsCompare4.2Compare

Helcim REVIEW: BOTTOM LINE

Helcim is brilliant for new businesses. With transparent pricing, friendly customer support, and great e-commerce software, Helcim offers a good level of support for fledgling businesses.

With that being said, Helcim’s lack of third-party card reader integrations is extremely limiting for established businesses. If you already have POS hardware, then Stax offers a lot more POS integrations. Plus, its subscription-style pricing might be more economical than Helcim’s interchange-plus pricing if you process a high volume of transactions.

FAQ

How much is the Helcim card reader?The Helcim card reader is $109 plus tax, making it one of the cheapest card readers on the market. It’s wireless, lightweight, and connects to your smartphone, tablet, or computer via Bluetooth.How long does Helcim take to process payments?Helcim processes all of your payments in batches, with each batch taking up to 2 business days to process. ACH/EFT payments take longer to process – the initial set up and authorization take up to 3 business days per customer, then you’ll need to wait up to 4 business days for the payment to clear.How does interchange-plus pricing work?An interchange-plus pricing model means that for each transaction, you’ll pay the wholesale interchange rate, plus a percentage markup and flat transaction fee on top. Interchange rates vary because they are set by each card provider and bank. However, markup percentages and transaction fees are typically the same for each payment method.Which is the best merchant services provider?It depends on your business needs. Helcim is a great merchant services provider for new and small businesses, which is why it’s one of our top credit card processors in 2022. However, for established, high-volume businesses, I recommend Stax. You’ll get a lot more features and Stax’s flat-fee pricing model can save you money if you’re processing lots of payments each month.

Emma Ayres Emma Ayres
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.

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Reliable processing at industry-low rates

Plus, get a FREE terminal for your business