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Last Updated: Dec 2023

The Best Merchant Services of 2023
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Top 3 Merchant Services
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Leaders Merchant Services
Leaders Merchant Services
Save or get $200 guarantee
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very good
Trusted global payments provider
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very good
Accept payments anywhere
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Our Top Picks for December 2023
Leaders Merchant Services
Leaders Merchant Services
Rates as low as 0.15%
Rates from 0.03% + $0.10
Quick and simple setup

We find the 10 best options, so you can make informed decisions on tons of products and services.

Have you ever wondered what's involved in credit card processing? Every credit card transaction involves four parties: The customer making the purchase, the merchant receiving payment for the purchase, the bank the merchant processor uses for credit card processing services (acquiring bank), and the bank that issued the customer's credit card (issuing bank).

How Does Credit Card Processing Work?

Acquiring banks (also called merchant banks) contract with merchants to operate accounts that allow the merchants to accept credit card payments. Acquiring banks deposit funds for credit card purchases into merchants' accounts. They also provide merchants with:

  • Credit card processing software
  • Merchant processors
  • Credit card readers and terminals
  • Customer service
  • Promotional materials
  • Other credit card processing services

Any merchant who wishes to accept credit card payments must have a merchant processor account. A merchant account is an unsecured line of credit that pays a merchant for customer purchases. The payment is actually a loan to the merchant's account from that merchant's acquiring bank. In other words, the acquiring bank loans money to the merchant to cover the cost of customers' credit card transactions.

After a credit card transaction is complete, the merchant will have less money than the original transaction amount because both the issuing bank and the acquiring bank will charge the merchant fees for their services. These fees include a percentage of each transaction, and the higher the transaction amount, the higher the fee. The merchant may also be charged fixed fees for each transaction by the issuing bank and the acquiring bank.

What You Need to Know About Credit Card Processing

If you want to set up a merchant account for credit card processing, you probably wonder about the credit card fees you will be charged. The most important determinant of how high your fees will be is the type of business you are in. Certain businesses are more likely than others to suffer payment disputes and chargebacks, so their transactions are considered riskier by issuing and acquiring banks. Businesses with these riskier transactions are therefore charged higher fees to offset the risk of chargebacks.

Chargebacks are what happens when a customer successfully disputes a credit card fees transaction with your business. The safest transactions, as far as the issuing and acquiring banks are concerned, take place when the cardholder swipes his or her own card in the credit card reader and signs the receipt to pay for goods that are inexpensive and not likely to generate complaints. Restaurants, gas stations, and car rental agencies all fall into this category. Plus, since their chargeback risk is low, they pay less in fees for credit card processing transactions.

The risk of a chargeback is highest when transactions are completed via the Internet or by phone. The risk is even higher if the transactions are expensive, involve shipping, and the business is one that is subject to complaints. The bottom line is that when a merchant applies for credit card processing services, the business the merchant is engaged in figures significantly into the fees that the merchant will be charged.

Who Needs Credit Card Processing Companies?

Any merchant, whether doing business in a physical location like a retail store, a virtual location like an online website, or by phone or mail order needs credit card processing services if they wish to serve all potential customers and remain competitive.

Although you, as a merchant, will pay a certain price for credit card processing services, the bottom line is that you can't really be successful in your business without it. However, due to the variability in pricing for credit card processing services, you can shop around for the best deal. Just be sure that any quotes you receive include all the rates and fees you will be charged.

Our Top 3 Picks

    Leaders Merchant Services
    Industry-leading CCP with value-added servicesVisit Site
    • Best for - Additional value-added services, low rates
    • Rates - Starts at 0.15%
    • Contract Length - 3 years
    Industry-leading CCP with value-added services
    Visit Site

    Leaders is one of the best credit card processing services in the industry. It’s been around for 20 years, and its parent company is the reputable Paysafe Group Subsidiary. Leaders gives businesses a lot of reasons to love it, including some of the best credit card processing rates in the industry. We’re talking about rates that start at just 0.15%. Plus, Leaders has a 98% approval rating. So, businesses having a hard time getting the green flag will find Leaders’ process refreshing.

    What's more, Leaders offers a solid $500 Assurance guarantee. This states that if the company can't save you money within the first 6 months of your contract, you'll be awarded $500 in compensation. Leaders works with the reliable Clover point of sale system, and it also integrates with QuickBooks. New SMBs will appreciate the helpful glossary of terms and 24/7/365 customer service for troubleshooting any issues. Additionally, Leaders offers value-added services such as business cash advances, loyalty programs, gift cards, check guarantee services, and point of sale systems.

    Read Leaders Merchant Services Review


    $500 Assurance Program
    Integrates with QuickBooks
    Rates starting at 0.15%


    Long contract terms
    Pricey early termination fee
    leaders-merchant-services logo
    Leaders Merchant Services
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    Offers seamless global payments in 17 different ...Visit Site
    • Best for - Businesses and corporations looking to scale u