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Last Updated: Jul 2024

Top 10 Best Credit Card Processing Companies

  • 1) Compare
  • 2) Sign-up
  • 3) Accept Payments
Top 3 Merchant Services
Special Deal
Leaders Merchant Services
Leaders Merchant Services
exceptional
9.7
Save or get $200 guarantee
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Paysafe
Paysafe
excellent
9.1
Worldwide payment solutions
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Clover
Clover
excellent
9.0
Accept payments anywhere
Visit Site

Our Best Overall Provider

Our Top Picks for July 2024
Leaders Merchant Services
favicon-LEADERS MERCHANT SERVICES
Leaders Merchant Services
Rates as low as 0.15%
Paysafe
favicon-PAYSAFE
Paysafe
Rates from 0.03% + $0.10
Clover
favicon-CLOVER
Clover
Quick and simple setup

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), 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 furnish merchants with credit card processing software and equipment such as a merchant processor, credit card reader and terminal, as well as providing customer service, promotional materials and 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, and because 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 in 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

  • 1
    Leaders Merchant Services

    Leaders Merchant Services

    • Best forAdditional value-added services, low rates
    • RatesStarts at 0.15%
    • Contract Length3 years

    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.

    Pros
    • $500 Assurance Program
    • Integrates with QuickBooks
    • Rates starting at 0.15%
    Cons
    • Long contract terms
    • Pricey early termination fee
  • 2
    Paysafe

    Paysafe

    • Best forBusinesses and corporations looking to scale up
    • RatesQuote-based
    • Contract LengthFrom month-to-month to three years

    Paysafe is a comprehensive payment solution that is transforming how businesses handle transactions. It accepts global payments in 17 currencies, including credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, POS systems, cash cards, and installment payments. The scale-based pricing starts at 15% for low volume, 3.9% per volume, and 9.5% for higher volume. There's also a fixed fee of 1.5 euros per transaction. Paysafe offers various services, including online, digital wallet, and in-person payments, and additional benefits like POS systems, receipt management, and currency conversion. This makes it a versatile choice for businesses of all sizes and types.

    Paysafe offers several tools to assist businesses with their in-store payment processing. One of the notable equipment offerings is Paysafe's Android tablet POS (Point of Sale) system, which facilitates on-the-spot payment acceptance. This POS system, combined with Paysafe's sophisticated in-store payment structure, allows businesses to provide their customers with various payment options, including installment payments and mobile purchasing. For detailed pricing, contact Paysafe directly for a tailored quote.

    Pros
    • Flexible pricing
    • Integrates with major Ecommerce platforms like Shopify
    • Advanced security measures including tokenization
    Cons
    • Customer support response can take up to 24 business hours
    • No clear application process mentioned for setup
  • 3
    Clover

    Clover

    • Best forRestaurants, retailers
    • Rates2.3% - 2.7% + $0.10
    • Contract LengthStarts from 1 year

    Many top credit card processing companies sell Clover’s point-of-sale systems. But did you know that Clover itself offers credit card processing through parent company Fiserv? That’s right. While Clover is primarily known for its POS hardware, it also offers a range of other services including payment processing, gift cards, invoicing and payroll solution, and working capital financing.

    That said, if you’re looking for a payment processor that offers Clover devices, you should compare Clover to the many other payment processing companies that are authorized to resell Clover products. Clover’s flat-rate processing may seem convenient, but it looks less attractive when you consider the hundreds of poor reviews it has received from small business owners that have used its service.

    Pros
    • Predictable, flat-rate processing
    • Access to all Clover hardware
    • Large app store
    Cons
    • Poor customer service reputation
    • Monthly fees