The Best Merchant Account — Reviews

Florence Carpenter

As with any modern business, offering cashless services can often be the difference between a competitive venture and a lackluster one. But what makes these cashless services work? This is where the best merchant services enter. 

Most of the uninitiated often take that card swipe for granted. These days, even mobile phones can be used to make a payment. A lot of these practices are so convenient that people forget that these take professional attention to get right. 

You might be asking yourself, "Aren't merchant accounts just a direct connection to a bank? What does this have to do with my credit and debit card? "

If you'd like to read more, read more at Processing Card today! Read our review of the top merchant account providers in the market and what makes them special.

What is a merchant account?

A merchant account is simply an account with a service provider. These merchant account providers then become the ones to accept credit card payments. That means they’ll be the middle-men between the store and the card issuers. 

You’ll find that each merchant account provider has a specialty. For example, the best merchant services for e-commerce will have benefits that work well with the e-commerce model. Likewise, it’ll be easy to a suitable company that does credit card processing for small business owners.

But that’s not to say that any payment gateway in charge of credit card processing andpayments is made equal. No—the problem begins when business owners don’t read the fine print of these merchant account providers.  Each merchant account provider will have different rates for the particular merchant account.

Basically, with processing rates, you will have an interchange plus pricing model. This will change whether the service provider sees your business as a high risk business. The credit card processing service will want to make sure that they're making money as well, right?

Even the best merchant service can't deny that. Merchant account services exist to make a profit as well.

So what does that mean for you? How do you choose a merchant account to accept credit card payments? Fortunately, there are a couple of factors that we can use to rank all these different credit card processors

The factors you should look for are:

  • Features
  • Integration
  • Monthly fees
  • Hardware/Software
  • Processing fees

Let’s make this easy by looking at the best credit card processing services.

Best Merchant Services in 2021

PayPal

Most of you might already know PayPal as one of the most popular credit card processors. That’s thanks to their well-established background as a merchant account provider for card payments

Unfortunately, they still aren’t the best merchant when it comes to in-person payments. What they lack in that aspect, they make up for with the easy user interface. Add to that their PayPal Wallet which makes transactions much faster and you get a pretty respectable merchant account. 

PayPal transaction fees

In-store processing = 2.7% + $0.3

Online payment = 2.9% + $0.3

Mobile payment = 2.7% + $0.3

Reasons to choose PayPal

  • Reliable 
  • Easy UI for customers
  • PayPal Wallet for faster transactions
  • First of the card readers is free

Square

Square is like that cool new kid on the block. With middle-of-the-pack associated fees, this merchant account provider is also able to hand out free readers for the small business owner. This makes them the best merchant service for anyone from startup businesses to big businesses. 

The service merchant account provider also provides a card reader that simply plugs into the smartphone and stores can then process cashless payments. It’s an easy, simple, yet effective fix to a common problem for small business owners.

Square transaction fees

In-store processing = 2.6% + $0.1

Online payment = 2.9% + $0.1

Mobile payment  = 2.6% + $0.1

Reasons to choose Square

  • Easily integrated credit card processing software 
  • Service provider has the option to provide rewards programs
  • Free card reader for new accounts
  • No monthly fees

Fiserv

If Square is the new kid, Fiserv is that kid that knows the right people. The merchant account provider works with Clover for their hardware to accept payments which at least tells you what kind of equipment to expect working with. 

Unfortunately, Fiserv does not publish its processing rates for all to see. What we’ve written below is more of an estimate. With that, you can be assured that Fiserv rates are best when talking directly with the company. 

Fiserv transaction fees

In-store processing = 2.69% + $0.19

Keyed-in = 3.69% + $0.19

Reasons to choose Fiserv

  • Diverse integration options 
  • Offers a variety of banking solutions for more established businesses
  • Worldwide network for international solutions

Helcim

Helcim is one of the best merchant services for e-commerce. With forgiving rates, this service provider lends itself to businesses just starting to dip their feet in e-commerce waters. The average small business owner would do well to consider this option.

Thanks to their categorization of sales volume, you’ll find that the credit card processing fees given by this merchant account get better as your business develops. The non-negotiable here is the $20/month fee for their SaaS platform used to manage credit card payments.

Helcim transaction fees (for those processing at the most $25,000/month)

In-store processing = .3% + $0.08

Online payment = .5% + $0.25

Mobile payment = .5% + $0.25

Reasons to choose Helcim

  • Dedicated SaaS platform 
  • 24/7 customer support
  • Decreasing processing costs with growth of business
  • No monthly fees

Stripe

Stripe is one of the most famous merchant account providers, and with good reason. Credit card processing for small business often means having to find a workaround. For example, the best merchant services usually offer their own line of card processors.

Instead of following that, Stripe modeled themselves to work with other certified card readers in order to accept payments.Unfortunately, this scenario also means that Stripe does not work well for physical transactions.

Stripe transaction fees

In-store processing = 2.7% + $0.05

Online payment = 2.9% + $0.3

Mobile payment = 2.9% + $0.3

Reasons to choose Stripe

  • Credit card processing is easily integrated to present point of sale system
  • Customer service includes payment plans and pay-later options
  • Easy-to-use mobile app as a payment gateway

Payment Depot

Establishing a merchant account preferring a more traditional model means looking at Payment Depot. While a monthly fee isn't what we normally associate with small businesses, the flat rate of Payment Depot itself is pretty low.

That means that despite the monthly, the processing rates of Payment Depot will be some of the lowest among the best merchant services.

Payment Depot transaction fees

Monthly fee = $49 - $199

In-store processing = $0.05 - $0.15

Online payment = $0.05 - $0.15

Mobile payment = $0.05 - $0.15

Reasons to choose Payment Depot

  • Integrates well with most accepted Point of Sale systems (POS)
  • Not restricted to one mobile app in order to accept payments
  • Payment Depot has low transaction costs

Fattmerchant

Fattmerchant is a service provider that's similar to Payment Depot in that it offers its merchant account with a monthly fee. This monthly fee means that you can also expect lower transaction costs.

Fattmerchant lets the merchant make use of any card reader they wish to accept payments. This, combined with their irresistibly low rates makes this one of the best merchant services.

Fattmerchant transaction fees

Monthly fee = $49 - $199

In-store processing = $0.06 - $0.08

Online payment = $0.06 - $0.08

Mobile payment = $0.06 - $0.08

Reasons to choose Fattmerchant

  • Hefty point of sale system in the form of a comprehensive app
  • Integrates well with most major platforms with room for more
  • Low transaction costs

PaymentCloud

PaymentCloud is a merchant service provider that specializes in high risk businesses.. They do not publish their exact rates so what we have below is an estimate of the total cost.

Like Fattmerchant though, they are able to lower the flat rate through a monthly fee.

PaymentCloud transaction fees

Monthly fee = $15

In-store processing = (Interchange fee) + (0.05%-0.30%) + ($0.08-$0.10) per transaction

Online payment = (Interchange fee) + (0.10%-0.50%) + ($0.15-$0.25) per transaction

Mobile payment = (Interchange fee) + (0.10%-0.50%) + ($0.15-$0.25) per transaction

Reasons to choose PaymentCloud

  • Specializes in high risk merchant account
  • Low flat rate
  • Low transaction costs

Flagship Merchant Services

Flagship Merchant Services is unique in that it does not process credit card payments itself. Instead, credit card payments are done through the acquiring company, iPayment. In some cases, First Data processes these credit card payments.

Another thing that adds to their quirkiness is that they can re-program your current point of sale system for you. That means any business with an existing system can have their pos system adapted to their software.

Unfortunately, there is no published rate for their services as well. The numbers printed below will reflect an estimate of their debit card processing fees.

Flagship Merchant transaction fees

In store = 0.38% + $0.19 per transaction

Reasons to choose Flagship Merchant Services

  • Specializes in high risk merchant accounts
  • Low flat rate
  • Low transaction costs

Merchant One

Merchant One reviews are probably some of the most diverse review selections you might find. Another high risk specialist, Merchant One tends to be a stricter version of these merchant services.

One advantage this company has is its support for Apple products. That's another thing that Merchant One reviews tend to point out since this means that e-commerce business owners with iPhones can make use of their devices as their point of sale system.

Merchant One transaction fees

In-store processing = 1.00% - 4.99%

Online payment = 1.00% - 4.99%

Mobile payment = 1.00% - 4.99%

Reasons to choose Payment Depot

  • Specializes in high risk merchant account
  • 24/7 Customer support

Additional Resources

PCI Standards Security Council

The Payment Card Industry Standards Security Council is in charge of establishing the industry standard. For any concerns regarding transactions with your credit and debit card, it would be advisable to give them a ring. Even the best merchant service can make mistakes.

If you'd like to read more, check out the rest of Processing Card today!

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