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Updated Apr 02, 2024

The Best Credit Card Processors of 2024

Mike Berner
Mike Berner, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
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Best for POS
  • Industry-specific POS tools
  • Sleek POS hardware
  • No early termination fee

866-342-4017

Visit Site
Links to Clover Credit Card Processing
  • Industry-specific POS tools
  • Sleek POS hardware
  • No early termination fee
Best for Flexible Pricing
  • Flat-rate pricing
  • 98% approval rate
  • Dedicated account manager

855-794-1134

Visit Site
Links to Merchant One
  • Flat-rate pricing
  • 98% approval rate
  • Dedicated account manager
Best for Personalization
  • Free hardware
  • Custom plans
  • Onboarding bonuses

844-540-1386

Visit Site
Links to Sekure
  • Free hardware
  • Custom plans
  • Onboarding bonuses
Best for Integration
  • Choice of plans and features
  • Platform-agnostic
  • No percentage markup or interchange

 

  • Choice of plans and features
  • Platform-agnostic
  • No percentage markup or interchange

 

Best for High-Volume Transactions 
  • Subscription-based pricing
  • Wholesale processing rates
  • Variety of hardware options

(877) 755-3812

Visit Site
Links to Payment Depot
  • Subscription-based pricing
  • Wholesale processing rates
  • Variety of hardware options

Table of Contents

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We researched the top processors to help you find the best credit card processing company for your small business. The best processors have low fees, make it simple to get paid and provide customer support when you need it. When choosing our top processors, we looked for providers with transparent pricing, low rates, few fees, month-to-month or pay-as-you-go contracts and multiple support channels. Read on to learn more about these payment processors and why we chose them, along with information on pricing, features and contracts for credit card processing.

Why You Should Trust Us

At business.com, we’ve independently evaluated hundreds of business software and services to determine the best products for small businesses. Our expert editorial staff identified the best credit card processors based on firsthand experience, comprehensive research and rigorous testing. Each product was analyzed and rated on a number of factors, including rates, contracts, ease of use and features. The business.com team prioritizes accuracy and fairness in all of our assessments. Learn more about our methodology.

What is Credit Card Processing?

Credit card processing is the process of transferring money from a cardholder’s account to a merchant’s account when the cardholder pays for a purchase with a credit or debit card. Though the process is simple and takes just a few seconds on the front end, the back end of the process is intricate, with data traveling between the merchant, processor, credit card network and multiple banks.

Tip Bulb

How We Decided

Our team spends weeks evaluating dozens of business solutions to identify the best options. To stay current, our research is regularly updated.
101

Considered

35

Researched

12

Selected

Compare Our Best Picks

BDC Ribbon
Our Top Picks for 2024
Clover Credit Card Processing
Merchant One
Payment Depot
Chase Payment Solutions
Square
National Processing
Flagship Merchant Services
North American Bancard
PayPal Credit Card Processing
Rating (Out of 10)9.28.98.99.08.58.39.18.98.87.88.17.7
Best for

POS

Flexible pricing

Personalization

Integration

High-volume businesses

Data Analytics

Startups

All-in-one platform

Low processing rates

Flexible contracts

Fast setup

E-Commerce

Pricing model

Subscription plus flat rate

Subscription plus flat rate

Custom

Subscription, wholesale interchange-plus

Subscription, wholesale interchange-plus

Flat rate

Flat rate

Interchange-plus

Subscription, interchange-plus

Flat rate and interchange-plus

Interchange-plus, flat rate

Interchange-plus, flat rate

Monthly fees

Yes

Yes

Varies

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Undisclosed

No

Contract term

Month to month

3 years

Varies

Month to month

Month to month

Month to month (unless you get free equipment)

Month to month

Month to month

Variable

Month to month

3 years

None

24/7 support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes (by email or chat but not phone)

No

No

No

PCI compliance fee

Yes

No

Varies

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Variety of payment types

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Reporting tools

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes, but varies by plan

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Payout

1-3 days

Next business day

N/A

Next business day

N/A

Same day

2-3 business days

2 business days

Delay at first, but then 1-3 business days

N/A

Next business day

2-5 business days

Early termination fee

No

Sometimes

Varies

No

No

Sometimes

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Review Link
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Our Reviews

Clover Credit Card Processing: Best Credit Card Processor for POS

  • Clover has a full-featured POS system, with POS hardware resold by many other processors.
  • The POS capabilities are also available on its mobile app and virtual terminal.
  • Clover has some added costs, such as a monthly platform fee and an application fee.
Editor's Rating: 9.2/10

866-342-4017

Visit Site

Clover offers a full-featured point-of-sale (POS) and credit card processing solution, along with a mobile app and browser-based software. The company’s POS software and hardware are standard in the industry and are resold by many other payment processors. Clover can help you run your entire business, including sales and payments, inventory management and staffing. It also integrates with more than 500 third-party apps, so there is no time-consuming downloading and uploading of data between your various software programs. For these reasons, we’ve chosen Clover as the best credit card processor for POS integration.

Some of our favorite Clover features are its customer and marketing tools. You can use the platform to ask for customer feedback, create customer profiles and email your customers personalized offers based on their purchase histories. Customers who opt to get their receipts by text are automatically enrolled in your short message service marketing, which they can opt out of, and rewards program. Clover also enables you to offer your customers physical and digital gift cards and a “buy now pay later” option through Synchrony SetPay.

Many of Clover’s merchants are restaurants and it offers a variety of restaurant-specific tools, such as online ordering capabilities, takeout, curbside pickup and integration with DoorDash. Clover also sells POS hardware, including the handheld Flex terminal and Go contactless device. The Go can be paired with a smartphone for contactless payments, and recent versions include invoicing capabilities.

Clover offers a variety of pricing plans depending on your type of business. These cost as low as $14.95 for some Starter plans and up to $290 for certain Advanced dining plans. Processing rates vary from 2.3% to 3.5% plus 10 cents per transaction.

Merchant One: Best Credit Card Processor for Flexible Pricing

  • Merchant One has a 98% approval rate and a quick application process.
  • It can work with businesses of all sizes and various credit scores.
  • You must speak to a sales representative to get the exact transaction rates.
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10

855-794-1134

Visit Site

Merchant One provides credit card processing solutions for businesses of all sizes and adjusts its pricing based on factors, such as business size, industry and credit. It offers a wide range of services, including entire POS systems with terminals and credit card readers that attach wirelessly to iOS or Android devices. It also boasts a high approval rate and a quick turnaround of funds. With these benefits, Merchant One is our best pick for flexible pricing.

Merchant One looks at more than an applicant’s credit score ― it tallies a 98% approval rate.

Merchant One, a reseller of Clover POS hardware, provides high-speed processing, supports gift and loyalty card programs and offers the ability to launch text message marketing campaigns. Its e-commerce offering has many more features, including a free shopping cart and remote access. Merchant One has 24/7 customer support and provides you with a dedicated account manager to help you throughout the setup process.

Merchant One’s rates range from 0.29% to 1.99% per keyed-in transaction and 0.29% to 1.55% per card-present transaction. It also charges a monthly fee starting at $6.95, plus an annual $99 fee.

Sekure: Best for Personalization

  • Sekure is a flexible service that supports multiple payment processing methods.
  • When signing up for Sekure, they will reimburse any cancellation fees you’re charged by other credit card processing services.
  • Sekure is a credit card processing broker, which means they aren’t responsible for the pricing and fees you’re charged.
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10

844-540-1386

Visit Site

Sekure is a credit card processing broker that gives businesses the options they need when choosing a payment processing provider. With Sekure, you can choose from multiple payment methods and craft a plan that suits your budget and transaction volume. We liked how Sekure can help you navigate the credit card processing space to find a reliable provider that offers the personalized service your business needs.

Whether you need interchange plus pricing, flat rate pricing or a custom package, Sekure can find a plan for you. We also liked that the company works closely with point-of-sale (POS) system providers, including Clover, Chargezoom, Payanywhere and Cluster POS, offering hardware and software packages.

Standout features with Sekure included integrations with Quickbooks and same-day deposits, availing you to cash quickly and easily. Additionally, the fact that Sekure will cover your early termination fees when you switch from another credit card processing services is helpful for entrepreneurs looking to find a better payment processor than their current service provider.

Stax: Best Credit Card Processor for Integration

  • Stax offers a choice of membership-based wholesale pricing or a flat-rate plan.
  • With e-commerce transactions, the payment type that is least expensive to the merchant is displayed first.
  • The monthly subscription rates can make processing expensive for lower-volume businesses.
Editor's Rating: 9/10

(855) 725-0852

Visit Site

Stax stands out from other processors for its platform-agnostic approach. The company’s credit card processing platform is compatible with a wide variety of POS hardware and boasts easy integration with third-party apps. Stax offers several subscription tiers and doesn’t try to lock customers into a specific solution, which makes it our pick for the credit card processor for integration.

The Stax software allows small and midsize businesses to manage their income and expenses, from sales and payments to inventory and staffing levels. Detailed reports can help you allocate resources and repurchase inventory for maximum efficiency and the lowest cost. One of the features we liked is the ability to see how many new vs. returning customers you have and the calculation of a customer’s lifetime value.

On e-commerce payment pages, the system displays the payment method with the lowest merchant fees first, encouraging customers to choose that method. We like this function because it helps minimize your processing fees.

Stax offers three straightforward monthly plans ranging from $99 to $199. Each plan includes different features for analytics, POS, integrations and more. Processing rates for all plans are 0% plus 8 cents above interchange for cards accepted in person and 0% plus 15 cents above interchange for mobile card reader, virtual terminal and online transactions.

In October 2023, Stax acquired payments company APPS. Due to the acquisitions, a large slate of new features, including expanded payment processing and chargeback management capabilities, are expected to roll out later this year. 

Payment Depot: Best Credit Card Processor for High-Volume Transactions 

  • Payment Depot offers membership-based pricing, which can reduce processing fees for high-volume businesses.
  • Payment Depot has month-to-month contracts with no early termination fee.
  • Because of the monthly fee, seasonal businesses could pay more when volume is down.
Editor's Rating: 8.5/10

(877) 755-3812

Visit Site

Payment Depot is a good choice for businesses with high transaction volume because it uses a subscription-based model. Many credit card processors take a cut of your business’ revenue, but Payment Depot only charges a flat monthly fee plus a small, fixed fee per transaction. This generates substantial savings for companies with lots of monthly transactions, which is why we chose Payment Depot as our best pick for high-volume transactions.

We like Payment Depot’s wide selection of card readers and POS hardware. It sells Clover and Vital Select POS equipment and Clover, First Data, Dejavoo, Poynt and SwipeSimple credit card terminals. It also offers a virtual terminal. Transactions settled by 8:30 p.m. Eastern time are paid the following day, which is faster than most other credit card processors.

Payment Depot offers three subscription plans. Each includes various software features, such as recurring payments, third-party integrations, analytics and more. These plans range in cost from $59 to $99 per month, with low per-transaction fees from 7 cents to 15 cents. We like that Payment Depot doesn’t charge a separate setup fee or other common fees, such as those for Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance.

Chase Payment Solutions: Best Credit Card Processor for Data Analytics

  • Since it is an acquiring bank, Chase has the fastest payouts in the industry.
  • Chase caters to the healthcare field with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant payment solutions and integration with practice management software.
  • Chase’s rates are higher than many other credit card processors.
Editor's Rating: 8.3/10
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Chase is one of the largest banks in the United States and a major credit card issuer, which gives it unparalleled insight into consumer spending. Businesses that sign up for credit card processing with Chase Payment Solutions can access the bank’s vast trove of data. Leveraging big data effectively allows small businesses to target potential customers. This feature differentiates Chase Payment Solutions from other processors, which is why we chose it as our best pick for data analytics.

Chase Payment Solutions also provides fast payouts if you maintain a bank account at Chase. In some circumstances, transactions processed by 5 p.m. Pacific time can be credited to your account the same day, which we find appealing. Most credit card processors charge extra for this benefit but Chase offers it for free.

Chase offers two hardware options: the smart terminal wireless unit with an LED screen and the QuickAccept mobile reader. Chase also features a mobile tool called Chase QuickAccept, which can be connected to a mobile app to accept payments on the go. Because of its size, Chase also offers 24/7 customer service.

Chase charges relatively high credit card processing rates compared to many other processors we reviewed: 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions, 2.9% plus 25 cents for online transactions and 3.5% plus 10 cents for keyed-in transactions.

Square: Best Credit Card Processor for Startups

Square
Square logo
  • For the basic service, all you pay are processing rates. There are no monthly or annual maintenance fees.
  • The app includes a full suite of POS features.
  • It charges a per-transaction fee as part of its in-person processing rate, making small tickets more expensive to process.
Editor's Rating: 9.1/10

Square is widely used among small businesses for its easy-to-use software and POS hardware. The company offers a full POS solution at an affordable price point and nearly any business can apply and receive approval for credit card processing. With Square, you can receive payments in a wide variety of ways and reach customers however they prefer to pay. This makes Square our pick for the best credit card processor for startups.

With Square, customers receive a free Square POS app and free digital gift cards. Square has excellent integration with e-commerce platforms and hundreds of other third-party apps. For brick-and-mortar businesses, it offers attractive and highly functional POS hardware.

Square also has robust POS software with various features, including employee management, customer management and specialized functions for restaurants. In its latest hardware release, Square unveiled its second-generation reader. This device enables the acceptance of chip cards and contactless payments such as Tap to Pay using a smartphone. More recently, Square has introduced some particularly cool AI-powered features. These include a menu generator, image creator, and content generator for emails and communications.

Square’s software services are free to use on the most basic level. The company also offers several subscription plans with more advanced features, ranging from $29 to $69 per month. Additionally, Square charges flat processing rates of 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person payments, 2.9% plus 30 cents for online payments and 3.5% plus 15 cents for keyed-in transactions.

Helcim: Best Credit Card Processor All-in-One Platform

  • Helcim gives merchants free software that includes inventory, customer and employee management and acts as a POS system.
  • Helcim has interchange-plus pricing with no monthly fees.
  • The hardware offerings are limited, so you may need additional equipment from a third party.
Editor's Rating: 8.9/10
Visit Site

Helcim goes beyond most credit card processors in the tools that it offers to support your business. Its software has advanced capabilities, such as POS services, customer management, inventory management and employee tracking and management ― functions that some other processors only include in their more expensive plans. This versatile platform earns Helcim our pick for the best all-in-one credit card processor.

Helcim only provides one hardware option, but its software can be installed on computers, tablets or laptops for an inexpensive full-featured POS system. In addition to the handheld reader, a second standalone terminal is under development. Helcim does not require contracts for its hardware. Helcim also gives new merchants a free hosted online store, the ability to set up online food ordering and custom quick response (QR) codes. It supports recurring billing, invoicing and subscription payments. All of these offerings from one vendor can be a huge boon for businesses looking for an all-in-one processing service.

Helcim boasts low and transparent interchange-plus rates with no monthly fees. The few fees it charges, such as the chargeback fee (a standard fee in the industry), are lower than average. But it’s not a “no-frills” service ― it offers more functionality than many other credit card processors, all at no additional charge. The application process only takes a few minutes and many get approved by the next day. Helcim does not accept high-risk businesses, though. There is no long-term contract; so you can cancel at any time with no early termination fee.

National Processing: Best Credit Card Processor for Low Processing Rates

National Processing
National Processing logo
  • National Processing has low interchange-plus rates.
  • Customers receive a rate-lock guarantee that ensures their rates don’t increase.
  • National Processing charges a PCI compliance fee.

 

Editor's Rating: 8.8/10

We chose National Processing as the best credit card processor for low transaction rates because its interchange-plus rates are low compared to other processors. It also boasts a rate-lock guarantee, which means your rates won’t increase during your contract. National Processing is also willing to match or beat competitors’ rates, which we found to be a unique benefit among the processors that we examined. National Processing will pay you $500 if it can’t beat your current rate.

Another great aspect of National Processing is its customer support. The company provides a dedicated account executive, as well as live chat options and 24/7 tech support. We found that customers praised National Processing for its high level of customer service.

National Processing offers different monthly subscription plans and processing rates depending on your type of business, ranging in cost from $9.95 to $199 per month. Process rates vary for restaurants, retailers, nonprofits and e-commerce businesses. There are also no long-term contracts.

Flagship Merchant Services: Best Credit Card Processor for Flexible Contracts

Flagship Merchant Services
  • Flagship offers month-to-month service to all of its customers and doesn’t charge a cancellation fee, so long as the merchant did not get any free equipment.
  • Merchants have a choice of interchange-plus or tiered processing rates.
  • The contract has a vague “additional services” clause that you must opt out of within 30 days to avoid a monthly fee for services you don’t want.
Editor's Rating: 7.8/10

Flagship Merchant Services is a full-service payment processing company that allows merchants to take payments online, in person, by mail and over the phone. While many processors lock merchants into multiyear agreements with cancellation fees, Flagship offers merchant account services to all of its customers on a month-to-month basis and doesn’t charge a cancellation fee. That’s why Flagship is our best pick for flexible contracts.

New merchants can choose a free Clover Mini POS unit or EMV-certified terminal. All Flagship terminals accept chip (EMV) and tap (NFC) payments from near-field communication (NFC)-enabled credit cards and digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay.

Every Flagship merchant account has iAccess, an online portal where you can see your transactions and e-statements. You can also use iAccess to find how-to videos and other self-service tools. Another benefit Flagship offers merchants is its programs for branded gift cards and customer loyalty rewards.

Flagship does not publish its rates online. Instead, it tailors the pricing to each merchant’s needs. However, Flagship will hand out $200 American Express gift cards if it cannot meet or beat competing offers.

North American Bancard: Best Credit Card Processor for Fast Setup

North American Bancard
North American Bancard
  • North American Bancard accepts high-risk businesses.
  • The EDGE cash discounting program is a great tool for cash-only businesses.
  • North American Bancard does not disclose its full range of processing rates.
Editor's Rating: 8.1/10

North American Bancard differentiates itself from other processors by promising an easy application process, quick approval and free equipment. Moreover, the company is willing to work with businesses in high-risk industries and it offers next-day funding. For these reasons, we chose North American Bancard as the best credit card processor for fast setup.

North American Bancard’s merchant portal, Payments Hub, lets you view key statistics, such as gross sales, transactions, refunds, disputes and other recent activities. Payments Hub also features a virtual terminal, invoicing and other tools. North American Bancard also offers numerous third-party POS devices, including several Payanywhere products. One advantageous offering is North American Bancard’s cash discount program called EDGE, which is designed to reward customers for paying in cash.

North American Bancard’s pricing model consists of interchange-plus and tiered pricing. Although the company doesn’t disclose its rates, factors, such as your business’ size and transaction volume, will determine your final cost. You will need to contact North American Bancard directly for a customized quote.

PayPal Credit Card Processing: Best Credit Card Processor for E-Commerce Businesses

  • The PayPal brand is well-known and trusted by customers.
  • PayPal’s processing is plug-and-play for e-commerce businesses.
  • PayPal is mostly limited to online and internet-based businesses.
Editor's Rating: 7.7/10
Visit Site

PayPal has long provided secure payment services for e-commerce businesses. Many online merchant platforms support the ability to add a PayPal-connected “Pay Now” button, which eliminates the need to set up more complex solutions. The PayPal brand is well-known and trusted by customers around the world, making it our choice as the best credit card processor for e-commerce.

PayPal offers several different tools for e-commerce, including the flagship PayPal Checkout portal. Many e-commerce platforms include hassle-free integrations with PayPal Checkout, allowing customers to pay securely using their credit cards. Other options include QR code transactions and sending and receiving money via email.

PayPal’s rates vary by country as well as transaction type. For example, PayPal Checkout costs 3.49% plus a small, fixed fee while QR code transactions cost 1.90% plus a fixed fee. Sending/receiving money for goods and services via email costs 2.99%.

Credit Card Processing Rates

Credit card processing rates are typically expressed as a percentage of the sale plus a small per-transaction fee. Most rates average 2% to 4% of each transaction. The processor considers several factors to determine the processing fees it charges you, including your monthly processing volume, your average ticket size, your business’ industry and your processing history. It may also consider your business and personal credit.

The credit card processing industry is very competitive. Companies want to work with you, especially if you’ve been in business for a few years and process a high volume of payments each month. Many are open to negotiating a deal with you and advertise that they’re willing to meet or beat your current rates. But first, you need to understand what costs go into credit card processing rates and which are negotiable. All rates have three parts:

  • Interchange fees: This is a nonnegotiable rate set by the card networks and every processor pays the same amount. There are hundreds of rates, arranged by industry, card type, sales ticket amount and acceptance method. You can view interchange rate tables on the card networks’ websites.
  • Assessment fees: Like interchange rates, these are nonnegotiable and every processor pays the same amount. These rates vary by card brand.
  • Processor’s markup: This is the only negotiable part of the processing rate.

Here’s why you need to know this information:

  • If a company says it has lower interchange rates than other processors, it’s not true. All processors pay the same amount.
  • If a company posts links to interchange rate tables, indicating that this is what you’ll pay, you need to know that this is only a portion of the rates you’ll pay the processor.

Second, you need to identify which pricing model is best for your business. For most businesses, industry experts recommend interchange-plus pricing, but credit card processing companies prefer tiered pricing because they make more money with it. Some processors give you a choice of pricing models and may allow you to switch so that you can evaluate for yourself which one provides the best savings for your business. Here are the three most common:

Credit Card Processing Pricing Models

Tiered pricingInterchange-plus pricingFlat-rate pricing
Most plans include the following tiers, with different rates for debit and credit cards at each tier:
  • Qualified rate: Regular cards, swiped
  • Midqualified rate: Rewards, swiped
  • Nonqualified rate: Premium rewards, swiped rewards, keyed
Interchange-plus pricing has two parts:
  • Wholesale rate (interchange and assessment). These are not negotiable.
  • Processor’s markup (the percentage and per-transaction fee). You may be able to negotiate this part of the rate.
Flat-rate pricing is expressed as one of the following:
  • Flat percentage of the transaction
  • Flat percentage plus a per-transaction fee
It’s hard to know how much you’re paying the processor – or if you’re overpaying – because each processor decides which rates go into each tier.You can see the processor’s markup, which makes it easier to determine if you’re getting a good deal. This is usually the most cost-effective pricing model.Flat rates are higher than the prices in the other models but may save you money, because most have no additional fees and no contract.
This pricing model is a good choice if your customers prefer paying with debit cards.This is the pricing model most experts recommend for small businesses.  This is the best pricing model for businesses with small tickets or low monthly volume.

Tiered Pricing

This is the most common pricing model, but it’s widely criticized by industry experts because it’s not as transparent as interchange-plus pricing. It attempts to simplify the interchange table by combining interchange rates, assessment fees and markups and then sorting them into tiers. Tiered pricing is also referred to as “bundled pricing” or “bucket pricing.”

Most processors categorize these tiers as qualified, midqualified and nonqualified transactions, although some plans may have only two or up to six tiers, with separate rates for credit and debit cards. The factors that determine the transaction category include the type of card ― whether it’s debit or credit and if it’s a regular, rewards, corporate, government-issued or international card ― and how the transaction is processed, whether you accept the card in person using a card reader, accept it online or key it in manually.

Did You Know?Did you know

Some processors have a special lower rate for PIN debit transactions.

Critics note a variance between processors as to which interchange rates fall into each tier, which makes it difficult to compare pricing between services. We found this to be true in our research as some processors categorize rewards cards as midqualified and others define them as nonqualified. This variance in tier categorization, sometimes referred to as “inconsistent buckets,” makes it difficult to determine how much you can expect to pay above the set costs for your processing:

  • Low rates advertised on processor websites are usually qualified debit rates. These only apply to nonrewards debit cards accepted in person with a card reader.
  • Qualified debit and qualified credit may be the only rates the sales rep quotes you, so it’s important to ask about the number of tiers, what they cost, which types of cards and acceptance methods each tier includes and what actions may cause a transaction to be downgraded to a lower tier.
  • The tiered pricing model is best for businesses whose customers prefer paying by debit card.

Interchange-Plus Pricing

Most industry experts prefer this model because it promotes pricing transparency. The interchange-plus pricing model may also be called “pass-through pricing” or “cost-plus pricing,” because the processor passes the interchange rates and assessment fees to you at cost and adds a markup.

The processor’s markup stays the same no matter what card type your customers pay with, so you can see how much you’re paying the processor. This makes it easier to spot savings when you’re comparing services. Also, many of the companies that offer interchange-plus pricing post their rates on their websites, which saves you time in gathering rates from the companies you’re interested in learning more about:

  • Many companies will quote you interchange-plus rates if you specifically request it, but some only offer this type of pricing to established customers, requiring you to process with them for a certain amount of time before you qualify. The best companies offer this pricing to all their customers.
  • The rate you’re quoted is only the markup. You’ll pay this amount in addition to the actual interchange rate and assessment fee.
  • Interchange-plus pricing is best for most businesses, and it’s the pricing model recommended by industry experts.

Flat-Rate Pricing

This is the simplest pricing model. Most processors that use this model charge a fixed percentage rate for each sale, regardless of card type. Alternatively, some processors charge a fixed percentage rate and a per-transaction fee. There are usually different rates for cards accepted in person and online.

Mobile credit card processing companies commonly use this pricing model. There are typically no monthly or annual fees, making it a good option for small businesses that don’t process enough transactions to cover these costs. Most of the time, the only other fee is a chargeback fee, which is only triggered when a customer disputes a transaction.

  • If your business processes less than $2,500 per month, some credit card processors will refer you to a processor with flat-rate pricing.
  • Most companies that offer this pricing structure set you up as a submerchant under their master merchant accounts, allowing for fast setup.
  • Flat-rate pricing is best for businesses that have small sales tickets or process a low volume of credit card transactions each month.

Credit Card Processing Fees

In addition to processing rates, you’ll pay various fees to whichever credit card processor you choose. Some of these are one-time or per-occurrence fees and others are charged monthly or annually.

TipBottom line

For a complete list and explanation of fees, including nonstandard fees that you should never pay, see our small business guide to credit card processing fees.

Common Credit Card Processing Fees

Most credit card processing companies charge these recurring fees:

  • The monthly fee (sometimes called a statement fee) usually ranges from $5 to $15. It may be higher if it includes PCI compliance and gateway fees.
  • The monthly minimum fee is normally $25, although this usually means the amount you pay in processing costs, not the minimum dollar amount of sales you must process per month.
  • PCI compliance is $100 per year on average, although some companies may prorate it and charge it monthly, sometimes including it into the monthly fee.
  • The payment gateway fee varies by the payment gateway you use. Most are charged monthly, although some companies also charge a small per-transaction fee.
  • Various network fees, such as Mastercard’s Merchant Location Fee and Visa’s Fixed Acquirer Network Fee, may be passed on to you as either monthly or annual fees.

These fees are also common but only charged per occurrence:

  • Batch fees are nominal daily fees that you pay when you close out the day’s sales, costing 10 to 30 cents and usually the same amount as your per-transaction fee.
  • Address verification service (AVS) fees are usually a few cents per transaction when you use this anti-fraud tool to verify the address and ZIP code of the cardholder.
  • Voice authorization is another antifraud tool with a small per-use fee. It’s rarely required, but you’re charged for each occurrence.
  • Chargeback fees are usually $15 or $20 per incident but may be as much as $45.
  • PCI noncompliance is a high monthly fee that you must pay if you fail to establish and maintain your PCI compliance. [Learn about other payment processing laws and regulations.]
  • A nonsufficient funds (NSF) fee is charged if you don’t have enough money in your business bank account to pay the fees you owe the processor.

Fees to Avoid

Some processors charge a variety of miscellaneous fees in addition to the standard fees listed above. Some of the worst are cancellation fees, club or membership fees and fees for what the contract vaguely defines as “additional services.”

Hidden Fees

Again, it’s important to read the entire contract before you sign anything to make sure no fees are tucked away in the fine print. As you read the contract, note every fee it lists. Then, before you sign the contract, ask your sales rep what each fee is for, how much it costs, how frequently it’s charged and if it can be waived. If the sales rep agrees to waive a fee, be sure to get this in writing, either in the contract or as an addendum.

What Credit Card Processing Features Do You Need?

No matter which credit card processing service you select, you should expect it to provide the basic services that you need to accept payments. The processor should:

  • Allow you to accept all major cards, including Discover and American Express, so you don’t lose sales from users of certain cards.
  • Comply fully with the PCI Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and help you attain PCI compliance.
  • Offer EMV-compliant card readers to reduce your vulnerability to fraud and to ensure that, in the event of a security breach, you aren’t held liable for using outdated equipment.
  • Provide readily accessible customer support that you can reach by phone 24/7 so that, no matter what hours your business keeps, you can get the assistance you need immediately.

In addition to these criteria, we considered the following factors to evaluate each processing company.

  • Pricing: We looked at processing rates and account fees to find out how much it costs to accept credit card payments with each company. We also considered the pricing model the company uses and how transparent it is about its pricing.
  • Contracts and service terms: Standard processing contracts have lengthy terms and hefty early termination fees that make it difficult to switch providers. We looked for processors that offer month-to-month service with no cancellation fees, rather than locking you into a service.
  • Selection of processing types: Many small businesses want to accept payments wherever their customers are, so we considered whether the processor offers multiple processing methods. We looked for those that allow you to accept PayPal and automated clearing house payments in addition to all major credit cards.
  • Processing equipment options: This industry is notorious for bad leasing contracts, so we looked for processors that allow you to purchase credit card terminals and other processing equipment upfront. Also, whether you need a countertop credit card terminal or a mobile card reader, the processing equipment should allow you to accept chip cards, contactless cards and mobile wallets.
  • Third-party integrations: Because the ability to integrate with POS systems, accounting software and other commonly used business software saves you valuable time, it was one of the features we looked for in a processor.
  • Tap-to-pay capabilities: The pandemic changed the way people pay for things. Cash and credit card transactions are declining in favor of contactless payment methods. With this payment method, customers tap their credit or debit card, wearable device or mobile phone on a contactless payment terminal to complete the transaction. This can speed up the checkout process and keep customers feeling safe. Most newer POS terminals have built-in tap-to-pay capabilities.
  • Funds: We also considered how long it takes the processor to clear the account and deposit the transaction money in your business bank account and whether it offers additional funding options.

Benefits of Using Credit Card Processing

The main benefit of credit card processing is that it allows you to accept credit and debit cards and, in many instances, mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Acceptance of these payment types is increasingly important for nearly every type of business as many customers don’t carry cash anymore.

How Does Credit Card Processing Help With Business Finances?

In addition to preventing loss of business from customers who prefer to pay with cards, credit card processing helps you analyze your sales. Most services either connect with a POS system or provide an online dashboard that lets you run detailed reports on your sales. Many also integrate with accounting software, which saves you the effort of manually entering transaction data and reduces the risk of error due to manually entered data.

What Is Offline Credit Card Process and Why Does It Matter?

Online and contactless payment adoption rates are rising, but what happens if your internet goes down? Knowing that is a very real possibility, you should make sure your credit card processor can support you when you lose internet connectivity. That’s where offline credit card processing comes in. With offline processing, a customer still provides their payment card to the terminal, which encrypts and saves the card data. When your business is back online, the terminal sends the information to the merchant’s bank and card network. From the customer’s point of view, the transaction happened like normal.

Offline card processing isn’t only beneficial when the internet is down. It also enables you to accept payments outside your store. Most credit card processors, including the ones we reviewed, support offline card processing.

What Are the Other Benefits of Credit Card Processing?

Another important benefit is that credit card processors make it easy to accept payments across multiple sales channels:

  • In person: You can accept payments at your brick-and-mortar location with a payment terminal, card reader or POS system. You can also accept payments offsite with an app and mobile card reader.
  • Over the phone: Using a virtual terminal, you can record card details on your computer manually.
  • Online: You can accept online payments in various ways. On your website, you can embed a payment form or hosted payment page. On social media channels and in your text messages, invoices and emails, you can post payment links.
  • Cryptocurrency: Crypto is gaining popularity as more payment companies roll out services to support this method. Mastercard is a great example. The credit card company has teamed up with Bakkt, a company that makes digital crypto wallets, to make it easy for merchants in the U.S. to offer support for bitcoin payments. Merchants will also be able to offer customers cryptocurrency for rewards and loyalty programs.

Contracts

When you ask a processor to send you the contract to look over, the rep usually sends a “merchant application,” “merchant agreement,” or even a “pre-application form” for you to fill out. The term “application” is misleading, because it’s part of the contract and signing the application is signing the contract.

Although some applications include the terms and conditions and act as a full contract, most don’t. Some applications include links in the fine print to the terms and conditions and the program guide but, in most cases, you’ll have to ask your rep specifically for these additional documents.

You should read the full contract so you know exactly what you’re agreeing to and can verify the rates, fees and terms you were quoted:

  • Don’t enter your bank account information on an application until you’re ready to sign up with a company.
  • Don’t sign the application until you’ve thoroughly read the full contract and verified that the rates and fees are correct, waivers are noted and you understand the term length and cancellation policy.
  • Contracts usually have three parts: the merchant application, terms and conditions (or terms of service) and the program guide (or merchant operating guide). Make sure you get the full contract to review.

Here are some factors to look for as you review contracts.

Term Length

The industry is shifting away from three-year contracts in favor of month-to-month agreements and all the best processors offer this as an option. A processor should be confident enough in the quality of its service and the competitive value of its pricing that it doesn’t require its customers to sign lengthy contracts.

The only exception that justifies a contract is if you accept free equipment, in which case it’s reasonable for a company to expect you to remain a customer long enough for it to recoup its costs. We recommend purchasing your equipment instead, to avoid long-term contracts, but if you decide to sign a contract for this reason, the contract term length shouldn’t be excessive and the contract shouldn’t renew automatically for additional lengthy terms.

FYIDid you know

An excessive contract would span three years or longer and renew for additional two-year terms.

Even if the sales rep tells you that the service is a month-to-month plan with no cancellation fees, it’s still important for you to read the contract and make sure this information is consistent with what the contract says:

  • If the contract says the term is for three years or there’s an early termination fee (ETF), ask for a waiver or amendment that stipulates the service is provided on a month-to-month basis and waives all ETFs.
  • If the processor you want to work with has a lengthy contract, it’s worth trying to negotiate for better terms. Ask the rep if they can give you an amendment that puts you on a month-to-month plan and waives all ETFs.

Automatic Renewals

If you do choose a company with a traditional three-year contract, be aware that these contracts typically renew automatically for additional one- or two-year terms. It’s worth your time to ask for a waiver that puts you on a month-to-month plan after the initial term ends.

Early Termination Fees

There’s usually a very short window before a term expires in which you can cancel your account without incurring an ETF. Most early cancellation fees are a few hundred dollars but some are very expensive.

Scour any contract you sign for “liquidated damages,” which is either a percentage or the full amount of the projected revenue the processor expected to make on your account. This is a very punitive fee that can be exorbitant. The ETF may be disguised as an “early deconversion fee” (EDF), so look for this term in the contract text as well.

Personal Guarantees

Most application forms include personal guarantee clauses that grant the processor the right to perform credit checks. This guarantee also gives the processor the right to collect money from you personally if your business is unable to meet its obligations for any reason.

Did You Know?Did you know

In addition to holding you personally responsible for all expenses, some of these clauses hold your successors and heirs responsible for your debt if you pass away.

Additional Service Clauses

These indicate that the processor may sign you up for various additional services that cost extra and you have a very short period (typically 30 days) to cancel or opt out. Again, you may be automatically enrolled in additional services and you must figure out what they are and how to cancel them or you will be charged for them.

Frequently Asked Questions About Credit Card Processing

When a customer inserts a credit card into a merchant’s card reader, it initiates a complex series of data transfers that results in money being debited from the cardholder’s account and credited to the merchant’s bank account. The data passes through the terminal via secure connection to the processor, the credit card network, the bank that issued the customer’s credit card and the merchant’s bank.

Businesses should use credit card processing because it allows them to accept credit card payments, which is the increasingly preferred payment method for consumers. Although it costs you money to accept credit card payments, consumers tend to spend more money with credit and debit cards than with cash, potentially increasing your sales.

If you currently use a certain processor and want better rates, it may be worth asking your account manager if they can help you reduce your costs. Also, by reviewing your statement on a regular basis, you may be able to identify costs or fees that you’re overpaying.

Take these five steps to make sure you’re getting the best pricing on your credit card processing service:

  1. Review your statement every month: Credit card processing contracts rarely include pricing guarantees, so monitor your statements closely so you know what’s going on with your account. Review your rates and fees regularly to get a sense of what you’ll pay for processing on average each month. Watch for notifications and reminders of rate increases, new fees and PCI compliance requirements, such as the annual questionnaire you must take to avoid costly noncompliance fees. If you notice a change in your pricing, don’t understand certain fees or receive notification of a lapse in your compliance status, call your rep to discuss your account.
  2. Request a pricing review: If you are an established merchant and want lower fees, you may be able to get a pricing review or audit to see if you qualify for lower prices. Requesting an account analysis could be particularly worthwhile if your business has grown since you signed up with the processor and your transaction volume exceeds your initial estimates, as you may be eligible for lower rates.
  3. Request interchange-plus pricing. If you’re currently on a tiered pricing plan, ask your processor if it can switch your account to interchange-plus pricing. Many processors allow you to switch to a different pricing model so that you see for yourself which model works best for your business. If you do this, be sure to ask if the new plan triggers any different fees or requirements. For example, ask about the new plan’s monthly minimum and how much you need to process to meet that requirement.
  4. Ask if fees can be waived. Some fees are negotiable and your rep may be able to waive or lower them for you. For example, if your business is seasonal and having trouble meeting the monthly minimum in the offseason, your rep might waive or reduce it for you. They might also waive the PCI compliance fee after you complete the annual questionnaire.
  5. Shop around and renegotiate your rates. If you’ve been with your current processor for a year or longer, consider shopping around to see if its rates are still competitive. As with car insurance, it’s beneficial to take the time to look for better deals every year or two. This is particularly important if your rates have increased over time or if you have been with your processor for several years and don’t know what pricing is available elsewhere.

If you do find better pricing from another processor, don’t be afraid to contact your current processor to see if you can renegotiate your rates. You have more negotiating power if your service is provided on a month-to-month basis and you own your equipment, since you can switch to a new service without penalty. If you’re under contract, the rep may be less willing to renegotiate, but it’s still worth a try.

If you’re overpaying for your processing and the rep won’t renegotiate your rates, read your contract to find out the procedure you need to follow to switch processors when your contract finally expires. Be aware that most contracts renew automatically, that you have a very short window in which you may cancel without penalty and that you may need to begin the cancellation process well in advance of the contract’s expiration date.

You have several options for the processing hardware you use to accept credit cards at your business. Which one is the best credit card reader for your business depends on how and where you plan to accept cards and whether you want something basic and inexpensive or a solution built into a larger system.

You should be able to accept magstripe cards, chip cards, contactless cards and mobile wallets. No matter which style of card reader you choose, it should be EMV compliant, letting you accept chip cards and avoid liability for fraud occurring at the POS. This also allows you to skip signature authorization, speeding up checkout.

If you’re purchasing new equipment, you also want it to include NFC technology so that you can accept mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay as well as contactless cards, saving you the expense of updating your equipment later as these payment methods grow in popularity.

Consider choosing a device with a built-in keypad or a connected PIN pad if your customers prefer paying with debit cards as many full-service processors offer special low rates for debit PIN transactions.

Before buying processing equipment from a third-party vendor, check with your credit card processing company to make sure it will be compatible. Here are three types of equipment, along with some of the top brands for each:

  1. Mobile credit card readers are the most affordable option, typically ranging from free to $100. These card readers connect to your phone or tablet through the headphone jack or Bluetooth and work using a credit card payment app that you’ve installed on your device. Many processors offer free magstripe card readers to their new customers, with no strings attached. However, in most cases, you’ll want to upgrade to one that accepts chip cards or splurge on a model that supports all three acceptance methods ― magstripe, EMV chip and NFC contactless payments. Mobile card readers are available from both full-service and mobile credit card processing companies. See our mobile credit card processing reviews to learn more.
  2. Stand-alone and wireless terminals are the next cheapest options, usually costing $150 to $600. These countertop credit card readers have built-in receipt printers and keypads. Most connect through either dial-up or Ethernet and wireless models connect with 3G, GPRS or Wi-Fi via Bluetooth. All new terminals are EMV compliant and allow you to accept both magstripe and chip cards. Many also accept NFC payments. Top terminal brands include Dejavoo, Ingenico, PAX and Verifone.
  3. POS systems are usually the most expensive option, though there’s a wide range of prices, depending on the type you choose. If you plan to use a specific POS system, ask the company which processors the system is compatible with as some only integrate with a few. Others are proprietary and require you to use that POS company as your payment processor. Tablet-based systems are the cheapest and work with mobile card readers. POS systems with built-in card readers cost $1,000 to $1,500. Top brands include Clover, Square and NCR Silver. See our choices for the best POS systems to learn more.

The easiest way for a small business to set up credit card processing is to start an account with a mobile credit card processor that offers an app and a mobile credit card reader. Then, all you have to do to start accepting credit cards is download the app to your phone or tablet and connect the card reader.

If your small business processes less than $5,000 per month, you’ll save money with a processor that has a flat-rate pricing structure and doesn’t charge any account fees (no monthly fee, annual fee or PCI compliance fee). The rates are higher but preferable to other pricing models as you aren’t processing enough to offset account fees.

If you process more than $5,000 per month, the cheapest credit card processing service will be one that has an interchange-plus pricing structure with a low margin. Fees can be problematic for this type of service as well, so pay attention to the fees different processors charge. For instance, some might have a very low monthly fee but charge a handful of extra fees that add up to high overall costs. Look for a service that is transparent about both its rates and fees as these companies tend to have the lowest credit card processing fees.

Nearly every credit card processing company has some sort of free equipment offer. Some processors give you a terminal if you sign a contract while others have a free placement program in which you borrow the equipment.

Accepting free equipment sounds like a great way to save money but as a perceptive businessperson, you know that “free” often isn’t really free and you need to do the math to determine whether the free offer is the best option for your small business.

Purchasing Credit Card Processing Equipment

Buying processing hardware outright is nearly always your best bet. Although it may be a big upfront cost, it’s less expensive and less restrictive over time than other equipment options. You can keep your purchasing costs low by shopping around for the best price, choosing a basic terminal instead of a fancy POS system and asking if used equipment is available for purchase.

As you shop around for equipment, find out if the equipment is proprietary or “locked.” This is an important consideration because you don’t want your purchased equipment to be unusable if you switch processors. If you already own unlocked equipment or decide to shop for new or used equipment online, ask your new processor how much it charges to reprogram the equipment, including shipping and handling costs and how long the process takes. Many processors offer this as a free service.

Free Credit Card Terminals

Although “free” sounds fantastic, even the best processors may require you to sign a contract in return for free equipment. The best contract terms for free equipment are one year and then go forward on a month-to-month basis. Most free equipment contracts last for three years and many renew automatically for two-year terms. Some companies require you to sign up for a different pricing plan if you accept free equipment.

Also, some processors may charge you the full price of the terminal in addition to an early termination fee if you end your relationship with the company before your contract expires. Before accepting free equipment, consider whether being tied to a contract or paying higher processing costs is worth cutting out the purchase price of the equipment.

Free Placement Programs

These may sound like a good deal and many processors offer this option but, as with free equipment offers, you might be required to sign a long-term contract. When your contract expires or you switch processors, you have to return the equipment.

Many free placement programs charge monthly fees and some have additional monthly minimums that you must meet to avoid penalty fees. Be sure to request the contract and a list of all the fees associated with the program, such as insurance or maintenance fees, to read over before you agree to such an arrangement.

Leasing Equipment

Many processors encourage you to accept a lease on equipment because it’s a very lucrative arrangement for them. Some reps give persuasive reasons for leasing equipment, such as “it’s like a cell phone plan” or “many customers choose to lease for tax reasons.” However, consider every other option carefully before you lease equipment as this is generally one of the worst decisions a small business can make when setting up credit card processing.

Consider these leasing myths and truths:

Leasing myth No. 1: It’s like getting a cell phone because if the equipment breaks, the processor will replace it.

Truth: While this is technically true, most equipment comes with a manufacturer’s warranty and you might be able to purchase an extended warranty or insurance. If your purchased equipment breaks while under warranty or insured, the manufacturer replaces the equipment anyway, according to the terms of the warranty or insurance.

Leasing myth No. 2: It’s easier to update to the newest model if you lease your equipment.

Truth: This myth assumes that if you purchase equipment, you probably keep it longer than the four-year term of your lease. The processor expects that when your lease expires, instead of purchasing your existing equipment, you’ll take out a new lease on new equipment. However, the money you save by purchasing the equipment outright puts you in a better position to buy new equipment when it becomes available.

Leasing myth No. 3: Leasing is better for tax write-offs since you’ll have an expense that you can write off yearly instead of a one-time purchase.

Truth: The long-term expense of leasing is still higher than the cost of purchasing equipment outright, even if you factor in the tax write-offs you expect to receive. If you’re considering leasing for these tax reasons, do the math to verify that the costs and savings are what they’re purported to be.

Remember, leasing is short-term cheap and long-term expensive. You’ll often find that you could have purchased the equipment several times over with what you paid over the life of the lease. Additionally, most equipment leasing contracts are noncancelable, which means that you can’t return the equipment ― and you pay a fee to get out of it. Even if your business fails, you return the equipment and you get out of your processing contract, you’ll still be held personally responsible for the remaining time on your equipment lease.

Data and overall payment security is a huge issue in the credit card processing industry. Although the large breaches that you read about in the news, such as those sustained by Home Depot and Target, may lead you to believe that your business is too small for criminals to be interested in, that isn’t the case. Small businesses are often the preferred targets of security attacks.

You can take two important steps to increase your security, protect your data and reduce fraud. First, comply with PCI DSS. Second, if you haven’t done so already, upgrade to EMV-compliant processing equipment.

Credit card processing fees are how credit card companies make their money. With that in mind, there’s no real way to avoid those fees. What you can do, however, is negotiate those rates before signing up with a processor. By taking certain steps during the application process and beyond, you can potentially cut your fees down to a more manageable level.

Your customers can also help you offset these fees in a couple of ways. One of the more common ways is for merchants to set transaction thresholds for credit card purchases. By disallowing credit cards for any purchase below $5 or $10, for example, you come out ahead of the fees.

Authorization holds are based on the banking practice of holding electronic transactions in limbo until the merchant marks the payment as settled. If it hasn’t been settled within the time determined by the cardholder’s bank, it “falls off” the account.

An authorization hold can last as long as 30 days, but American Express cards have a limit of seven days and Discover cards have a 10-day limit. Merchants who don’t complete a transaction hold within the allotted time could be charged a misuse fee by the credit card processor.

The time it takes to settle a credit card sale varies by credit card processor. Merchant accounts are used to complete the credit card payment process efficiently, and the type of merchant account will determine if it takes only 24 hours or as long as three days.

You know how consumers swipe their credit cards at checkout in a store? They do the same online ― digitally. When a consumer makes a purchase online, they input their credit card information, such as number, expiration date and card verification value. The payment is then processed just like an in-person transaction.

Whether you sell baseball hats or cars, when you accept a credit card as payment, it goes through the same process:

  1. The consumer uses a credit card to make a purchase.
  2. The transaction is entered into the terminal.
  3. Data is transmitted for approval.
  4. The transaction goes through authorization to ensure there are enough funds to cover the purchase.
  5. The transaction is authorized and completed.
  6. The merchant closes out the transactions for the day in what’s known as a batch closure. The credit card processor’s acquiring bank collects the money from the credit card companies.
  7. The processor’s acquiring bank deposits the cash into the merchant’s bank account.

Payment processors consider a variety of industries high-risk, but these are some of the most common:

  • Alcohol
  • Firearms
  • Gambling
  • Pawn shops
  • Payday lenders
  • Ticket sellers
  • Tobacco

What to Expect in 2024

In 2024, several familiar trends will continue to develop in the payments industry.

Better customer experience

The overarching theme of payment processing in 2024 ― and one that multiple industry experts talk about ― is improving the customer experience. Consumer expectations surrounding payments are exceptionally high. A Vanson Bourne and Ekata study of over 7,000 consumers in North America and Europe found that:

  • 92% of respondents expect a “fast, frictionless experience” that is also secure.
  • More than 70% say account creation for online shopping should be instantaneous.

Mobile and contactless payments

One of the most obvious ways to take customer payments is on mobile devices. Mobile continues to gain importance in the payments industry. Contactless payments is another payment technology growing in usage. Since the beginning of the 2020s, contactless payments have jumped considerably. Expect this trend to continue growing.

Stricter fraud prevention and data security

Security remains a hot topic in the payments industry and the stakes are high. Although EMV adoption has been highly successful at reducing card-present fraud, card-not-present fraud continues to rise. Consumers are worried about fraud ― 90% of them, according to the Ekata report ― and over 60% of them feel that the businesses accessing their personal data are responsible for fraud prevention. When that doesn’t happen, 91% of consumers who experience fraud will not do business with that company again and 86% of them will warn others about their experiences.

Your business’ PCI compliance status should also be on your mind in 2024. Research has shown that merchants’ PCI compliance rates are falling. That’s not good for you or your customers since non-compliant businesses are more vulnerable to hackers. You might also pay a high noncompliance fee (more than $50 in some cases) each month.

Fortunately, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are helping small businesses to enhance security. Credit card processors have deployed AI algorithms to analyze transaction data, detect patterns and identify potentially fraudulent activities in real time.

Reduced interchange rates

Visa and Mastercard, the two largest payment processors in the U.S., have been engaged in a long-running legal dispute with merchants over swipe fees. This year, after two decades of litigation, the two companies agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by a group of mostly small businesses. Benefits for merchants over the coming years will include reduced interchange rates, a five-year freeze on new rate increases and more flexibility to direct customers to preferred payment methods.

Mike Berner
Mike Berner, Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Mike Berner is a staff writer at business.com and Business News Daily, where he specializes in finance topics including business loans, accounting, and credit card processing. Mike has a deep background in the financial world, having written hundreds of articles and blog posts on financial markets, business and investing. He holds a B.A. in economics and a B.B.A. in finance, both from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to his writing career, he performed financial analysis and research as an economic analyst.
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