Guide & Ranking: Finding Affordable and Beneficial Payment Processing Companies

One of the most damaging things a small business can do is limit itself by only accepting cash. Inhibiting payment means inhibiting customers, which can put a significant damper on sales.

Payment processing companies offer ways for businesses to offer credit card payments through credit card payment processing. Whether looking for credit card processing machines, online credit card processing, or both, having multiple payment options is crucial to ensuring long-term success and growth.

Ultimately, the key is to find the best credit card processing methods to suit individual business needs. Retail is rapidly changing, bringing new options for online, mobile, POS, or terminal credit card payment processing.

Best Credit Card Processing Companies Red Award Emblem

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Credit Card Processing Companies

With so many available processing methods, each credit card processing company will inevitably bring its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages for each method of credit card processing.

Our review will take an in-depth look at the best options for small business credit card processing, including various types of credit card processing machines and credit card processing reviews.

By looking at the top credit card processing companies, small businesses will be able to find the most efficient and cheapest credit card processing, expanding their customer base and ensuring long-term success.

See Also: Top Private Equity Firms | Ranking | Largest Private Equity Firms

AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Credit Card Processing Companies

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the credit card processing companies below to go directly to the detailed review section for that credit card processing company):

Top 6 Best Credit Card Processing Options | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Company Name

Online, Mobile, Terminal, or POS?

Transaction Fees

Monthly Account Fees

+ $0.25-$0.30
Dharma Merchant ServicesOnline & Terminal0.25%-0.35%
+ $0.10-$0.15
HelcimAll0.18%- 0.36%
+ $0.08- $0.25
Payline DataAll0.20% -0.35%
+ $0.10
PayPalAll 2.7%- 2.9%

+ $0.15- $0.30




SquareMobile & Terminal2.75%- 3.75%

+ $0.15


Table: Top 6 Best Payment Processing Companies | Above list is sorted alphabetically

Why Does Credit Card Processing Cost Money?

Payment processing companies need to make money too, which is why there are fees attached to credit card processing. Unfortunately, this is an unavoidable cost.

Online Credit Card Processing

Image Source: Pixabay

As consumers shift from cash to using credit or debit cards, small businesses need to include credit card payment processing to remain competitive.

Generally speaking, the fees associated with small business credit card processing are a combination of two different charges:

  • Rates for each transaction
    Terminal, mobile, and can all have varying rates. These rates are split into two different categories: a percentage that is allocated to, and an additional transaction fee.
     This transaction fee averages between $0.20-$0.30, though some of the best credit card processing companies fall far below this.
  • Monthly or yearly fees
    Payment processing companies will assign either monthly or yearly fees for using their services. On average, these fees add up to $10-$25 each month. With a variety of charges, finding the cheapest credit card processing methods is crucial for small business credit card processing. The best credit card processing systems, however, will not only be affordable; they will be valuable and efficient as well.  

Best Credit Card Payment Processing Methods Offered by Payment Processing Companies

With the integration of smartphones and the widespread influence of e-commerce, credit card payment processing is changing each day. Consumer demand for convenience and flexibility has created a few basic ways for payment processing companies to provide credit card payment processing services.

There are four best credit card processing methods that payment processing companies offer:

  • Point-of-sale (POS) systems
    This is perhaps the most traditional of. A
    POS system often includes a credit card reader, scanner, cash register, or other equipment.Most allow businesses to purchase their POS systems outright or rent them for a monthly or yearly fee.
  • Mobile credit card processing machines
    These additions — either an app or a
    dongle — enables smartphones and tablets to become miniature credit card processing machines. For merchants with changing retail locations, or who want to have easily transportable, mobile additions are key.
  • Credit card terminal
    Unlike a POS system, a credit card terminal is simply a piece of hardware that distribute to swipe or manually enter in credit card information.
  • Online credit card processing
    For businesses that want to allow consumers to purchase goods online, having is a must. The will offer this feature, either as an add-on or included in a contract deal.

All-in-One Change Management Tools

Top Rated Toolkit for Change Managers.

Get Your Change Management Tool Today...

AdvisoryHQ’s Selection Methodology

What methodology does AdvisoryHQ use in selecting and finalizing the credit cards, financial products, firms, services, and products that are ranked on its various top-rated lists?

Please click here “AdvisoryHQ’s Ranking Methodologies” for a detailed review of AdvisoryHQ’s selection methodologies for ranking top-rated credit cards, financial accounts, firms, products, and services.

Detailed Review – Top Ranking Best Credit Card Processing Companies

Below, please find a detailed review of each credit card on our list of top credit card processing companies. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these payment processing companies to score so highly in our selection ranking.

Don’t Miss: Wrike Review | Wrike Pricing, Alternatives, Cost, Pros & Cons

CDGcommerce Review

In business since 1998, CDGcommerce puts a strong focus on providing the most efficient, simplest, and cheapest credit card processing services for small businesses.

CEO Chris West describes the company mission by saying, “Nothing is more important than your success and that is the philosophy that has driven our business since day one.” 

CDGcommerce - Payment Processing Companies

Image source: CDGcommerce

Key Features

CDGcommerce stands out among other payment processing companies for their affordability and business-friendly offerings. This company provides some of the best credit card processing services through the following features:

  • Fewer fees
    Part of what makes CDGcommerce one of the is the elimination of additional fees. Businesses can enjoy zero setup fees, early termination fees, annual fees, and no monthly minimum requirements. 
    While the basic merchant account does require a $10 monthly payment, it’s worth noting that this also includes online credit card processing.
  • Flexible terminal options
    While many have expensive purchasing and leasing options for credit card processing, CDGcommerce is much more flexible. 
    Standard terminal insurance only costs $79 each year, while wireless terminals require a $20 data plan. Compared to other payment processing companies, this is one of the cheapest credit card processing options.
  • Live reporting
    As one of the CDGcommerce provides tools to thoroughly analyze credit card activity. This includes charts, graphs, and account management.

Additional Considerations

Credit card processing reviews for CDGcommerce have been overwhelmingly positive. Clients rave about their high levels of customer service, zero hidden fees, and reliable equipment.

All in all, CDGcommerce offers competitive rates for POS-based, mobile, swipe, and online credit card processing, making them one of the best credit card processing companies to consider using.

Related: LifeLock Reviews | Is It a Scam? What You Need to Know About Lifelock

Dharma Merchant Services Review

Founded in 2007, Dharma strives to not only benefit small businesses, but also to benefit surrounding communities and the environment.

Principles of fair pricing, honest practices, and good deeds all create what Dharma calls “a culture of commerce with compassion.”

Key Features

When looking through the best credit card processing providers, Dharma certainly stands out among the rest. Businesses that value fairness and clarity in payment processing companies should consider the following features that Dharma offers:

  • Detailed and transparent pricing
    Whether looking for storefront, restaurant, or , Dharma provides a
    full disclosure for every possible fee that may be incurred. Each chart is easy to read, making it simple for beginners to understand how assign charges.
  • Increased benefit for the service industry
    For restaurants, bars, and quick-serve merchants, Dharma is the service to use. These businesses can enjoy reduced rates of 0.20% and $0.07 per transaction.
  • No long-term contracts
    By avoiding long-term contracts, businesses can avoid feeling trapped or locked in with. Additionally, Dharma offers leasing for terminals rather than purchasing, making them one of the most affordable.

Additional Considerations

True to their values of integrity and transparency, Dharma admits that their services may not be beneficial for businesses who process less than $10,000 each month.

In those cases, the company suggests considering PayPal or Square, two of the competing best credit card processing companies on this list.

Helcim Review

Although founded in Calgary, Helcim provides full services to U.S.-based businesses. As one of the best credit card processing companies, Helcim strives to provide a wide range of retail and online platforms to support the growth of businesses across North America.

Helcim - online credit card processing

Image source: Helcim

Key Features

Helcim offers a few features that make them a competitive option for the best credit card processing services. A few of these features include:

  • Clear rate descriptions
    The providers offer detailed descriptions for each of their services, and Helcim certainly fits the bill. 
    Service fees for wired and wireless machines are $12 per month, mobile services are $12, and online credit card processing is $25.
  • Detailed interchange rates
    Payment processing companies rarely take the time to explain interchange rates, but Helcim offers thorough explanations for each charge. 
    Businesses that want to know exact service fees for each type of Visa, MasterCard, or American Express charge can easily reference current U.S. interchange rates through Helcim.
  • Affordable purchase options
    While many suggest renting equipment, Helcim makes it easy for businesses to purchase. Compared to renting or leasing, this is often a more affordable option for long-term use.

Additional Considerations

With the recent upsurge in EMV enabled cards, each unit from Helcim comes with full capability to read cards embedded with chips.

It is worth noting that, with recent adjustments in rates and pricing, Helcim is now a competitive credit card processing option for businesses that process at least $1,500 monthly.

Popular Article: The Great Courses Review – What You Should Know! (Financial Literacy, Great Courses Review)

Payline Data Review

For small and large businesses alike, Payline Data offers comprehensive services for in-store, mobile, and online credit card processing.

As a company, perhaps their most notable feature is their dedication to the Payline Giving Program, which provides grants and charitable services to surrounding communities. Their keen focus on social and financial value makes them one of the best credit card processing companies to consider.

Key Features

Payline ensures that smaller businesses aren’t left out of the benefits of accepting credit cards. Their enhanced features make credit payment options both affordable and beneficial, putting credit at reach for low-volume merchants.

A few notable features to consider include:

  • Payline Gateway
    Payline Gateway is an incredibly valuable tool.  This comes with a variety of features, including ACH services, online invoicing, fraud protection, automated billing, and the ability to recognize customer charge patterns.
  • Mobile processing
    At only a $10
    charge, a total of 5 devices can be equipped with mobile credit card processing. Additionally, transactions can occur regardless of cellphone signal, making this one of the best credit card processing applications for businesses that prefer to use smartphones.
  • Competitive pricing
    Although retail and online differ slightly in rate percentages, the charges are exactly the same. Both in-store and transactions incur a transaction fee of $0.10. This simple, affordable pricing makes Payline into one of the for small businesses.

Additional Considerations

Much of Payline’s services are catered to benefit small business credit card processing, though they do have alternative options.

If a business processes over $80,000 each month in credit cards, applying for the Enterprise program can provide a custom plan to suit the unique needs of a high-volume business.

Inclusivity for small and large businesses alike makes Payline a competitive choice for the best credit card processing companies.

PayPal Review

A tried-and-true favorite, PayPal is a dynamic choice for the best credit card processing services. With global outreach and free access, PayPal offers efficient and affordable online credit card processing.

PayPal - best credit card processing

Photo courtesy of: PayPal

Key Features

PayPal is widely recognized as an online credit card processing service, though they certainly have a wide range of services for in-store and mobile purchases as well. As one of the most versatile payment processing companies, PayPal provides the following features:

  • Quick transfer of funds
    Online credit card processing is a fluid process through PayPal. Funds are deposited instantaneously and can be easily transferred to a bank account. 
    As an additional benefit, linking a PayPal Business Debit MasterCard® to the account can incur 1% cash back savings.
  • Enhanced payment options for customers
    Using PayPal as an service means that customers can use their own PayPal accounts to make purchases.
  • POS and mobile card readers
    For stationary businesses, the PayPal POS system
    offers a full range of hardware and accessories to create the best credit card processing system possible. PayPal Here is compatible with iOS™, Android™, and Windows® devices, making it easy to complete purchases with tablets or smartphones.

Additional Considerations

Although PayPal is certainly one of the best credit card processing companies, its efficiency and value truly comes from online credit card processing. This is because fees depend upon sales numbers rather than volume.

Online credit card processing fees incur 2.9% for sales up to $3,000 each month. Once sales hit $10,000, the fees drop down to 2.5%. Businesses with higher sales will truly benefit, as $100,000 in monthly sales incurs only 2.2% and additional discounts.

Read More: Top Capital One Credit Cards | Ranking | Compare Best Capital One Credit Card Offers & Promotions (Reviews)

Free Wealth & Finance Software - Get Yours Now ►

Square Review

Introduced in 2009, Square was the very first service to offer credit card payments through smartphones. Since then, Square has expanded to offer a stand, chip reader, and magstripe reader to create a personalized point-of-sale system for small businesses everywhere.

Key Features

As one of the oldest and most widely recognized payment processing companies, Square provides a few crucial benefits for small business credit card processing. These benefits come from the following features:

  • Affordable card readers
    Mobile is both easy and affordable with the free magstripe reader
    from Square. For a more advanced option, NFC payments and chip cards can be processed through purchasing the contactless reader, priced at an extremely reasonable $49.
  • Downloadable Square register
    This free register can be downloaded to a smartphone or a tablet, making for one of the systems. 
    While Square does not offer its own POS terminal, businesses can easily create their own by connecting an iPad to a Square Stand.
  • No monthly fee
    Transaction fees and rates are the only charges associated with this system, making Square one of the most affordable and systems for small businesses.

Additional Considerations

While most credit card processing reviews for Square are overwhelmingly positive, it should be noted that customer service is not readily available.

Most payment processing customers have 24/7 customer service teams, but Square does not offer technical support on the weekends. Although it is still one of the best credit card processing companies to consider, the lack of constant customer service may be a strike against the company for some.

Conclusion – Top 6 Best Credit Card Processing Services

With so many available options, it can be difficult to find the best credit card processing companies.

As the rate of small businesses increases, small business credit card processing methods have expanded exponentially. Sorting through a host of options for credit card processing can quickly become overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve completed all the necessary research for you.

Although the expansion of payment options can certainly provide complications, the best credit card processing services will take this into account and make credit card processing into a fluid, financially feasible process.

Our comprehensive review of the best credit card processing companies provides valuable insight into the top payment processing companies, helping small businesses pinpoint the best credit card processing systems to fit individual needs.

AdvisoryHQ (AHQ) Disclaimer:

Reasonable efforts have been made by AdvisoryHQ to present accurate information, however all info is presented without warranty. Review AdvisoryHQ’s Terms for details. Also review each firm’s site for the most updated data, rates and info.

Note: Firms and products, including the one(s) reviewed above, may be AdvisoryHQ's affiliates. Click to view AdvisoryHQ's advertiser disclosures.