Credit card processing companies allow all types and sizes of businesses to boost their sales by accepting both credit and debit card payments. For an online business, subscribing to a credit card processing company is an essential step to ensure smooth transactions on your site.

Freelancers, startups and independent contractors also need the ability to accept debit or credit card payments. You can even accept payments outside of your office with the right mobile devices and mobile card readers.

Top 10 Best Rated Credit Card Processing Companies

iPayment is a credit card processing system used by more than 153,000 small businesses throughout the U.S. Services include next-day funding and dedicated account representatives. It also accepts all major credit cards.
Total Merchant Services is a company that offers credit card processing and payment solutions to merchants in the U.S. and Canada, with no contract. Total Merchant Services has helped over 500,000 customers grow their business.
Flagship Merchant Services offers credit card processing to businesses ranging from retail stores and restaurants to e-commerce sites and mail-order businesses. Solutions include POS systems and a digital loyalty program.
Aliant is a Florida-based company with 14 years of experience in credit card processing. Their approval/boarding process is quick and easy, and services range from electronic payments, eCommerce, merchant funding and more.
Payline Data offers complete credit card processing for businesses of all sizes. They process credit cards for thousands of US based merchants. Services include fraud protection, electronic invoicing, customer insights and more.
From PayPal, Braintree is a credit card processing system that lets merchants sign up easily and start accepting payments within minutes. Merchants can expect to receive funds within two to four business days.
Square is a mobile payment service allowing vendors to accept payments via the app, a physical card reader attached to a smart phone, a checkout stand connected wirelessly with Apple Pay or a tablet-based terminal stand.

Beverly Harzog is a nationally-recognized credit card expert, consumer advocate and author. She’s appeared on Fox News, CNN Newsource, NBC New York and more. Her advice has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Money Magazine, CNNMoney.com, The New York Times, Kiplinger, Real Simple, Time.com, Family Circle and much more.

Want your company to be on this guide?

What features matter most?

Total fees

Some payment processing companies share their rates and fees on their websites. But most credit card processing companies break down their costs into several main categories, so you might not get an all-inclusive quote upfront. When you contact a sales rep, ask about their initial fees. Also, get a comprehensive list of recurring fees before signing up so you can avoid any surprise charges in the future.

  • Software: Some smaller processors offer free apps to get you started. But companies who work with high-volume credit card processing companies might face an initial cost to purchase the payment processing software. Due to security enhancements, payment processing software often needs regular upgrades, which may or may not be free.
  • Equipment: Some processors offer free terminals or mobile card readers, but this might not be comprehensive enough for your needs. Sometimes the equipment has to be upgraded, and this usually involves a fee for new equipment. A recent example is the need for businesses to begin accepting credit cards with computer chips.
  • Miscellaneous fees: While the top companies minimize hidden fees to remain competitive, it's still important to ask first about additional charges for installation, new contracts and any early cancellation penalties. If the processing company is not transparent about fees on their website, ask a lot of questions and get quotes in writing.
  • PCI compliance costs: Every merchant must meet the requirements of the Payment Card Industry (PCI). These requirements ensure that companies who process, store or transmit credit card data sustain a secure environment. If the requirements are not met, merchants may be fined. Some processors charge a PCI-compliance fee so be sure to ask if this is applicable to your situation.
  • Chargeback fees: Merchants must pay this additional charge to credit card processors every time the business cancels a transaction and refunds money to a client.
  • Online transactions: Processors often consolidate online transaction fees into one monthly payment, but sometimes they offer smaller costs per transaction for smaller businesses.
  • Monthly maintenance: Many credit card processing companies require a monthly fee to cover customer support, account management, technical support and the general operating costs of the merchant's system.
  • Interest and flat fees per transaction: Each time the seller accepts a card payment, they typically pay a standard flat rate per sale. Plus, a fixed percentage of the total value of their sale also goes to the credit card processing company.

Monthly sales-processing limits

Not every credit card payment handler can efficiently accommodate more than $10,000 in sales in one month, so always check the standard sales volume that each processor is equipped to manage. Small businesses often save money working with processors that have lower-volume transaction limits or specialize in small businesses or startups.  You also need to consider how fast your company is growing and if the credit card processing company can handle your current growth rate.

    Retail store service vs. online service

    Many credit card processing companies specialize in certain industries or businesses of specific sizes. Target processors that match your needs and then ask specific questions that relate to your business.

    Most processing companies can handle a brick-and-mortar store that also has an online presence. If you have other needs, such as mobile services, phone orders, mail orders (or a combination of any of these or other options), talk to a sales rep and convey your business needs. Some payment processors offer month-to-month options with no cancellation fees.

      Equipment types

      Most credit card processing companies offer various types of card readers and customizable accessories needed to help businesses accept payments. Some also help you upgrade when there are new payment options.

      • "EMV-enabled" terminals: "EMV" is an acronym for Europay, MasterCard and Visa, and it refers to all card readers that accept chip cards for greater fraud protection. As of October 1, 2015, all merchants are now liable for counterfeit-card transactions. Having an EMV card reader provides an essential safeguard against this additional financial risk. While traditional machines that only accept cards with a magnetic stripe on the back are still in use, it's best to look for a company that offers an affordable, upgraded EMV terminal. Most terminals still provide swiping capabilities.
      • NFC payments: Near-field communication (NFC) technology lets customers pay with various types of digital wallets using their smart phone or other mobile devices. They require a contactless POS reader that emits a special radio signal for wireless devices, so buyers can check out with a few taps on their touch screen smart phone or tablet while they're in close range of the digital-payment terminal. Google Wallet, Android Pay and Apple Pay are examples of NFC payments.
      • Contactless smart cards: These payments involve waving or tapping a contactless credit card with the appropriate payment device or NFC-enabled mobile device. Contactless chip cards and NFC-enabled mobile devices use the same industry-standard technology that has been approved by the payment networks. The industry is moving away from magstripe cards to EMV cards, but there are still many contactless smart cards that have been issued by major credit card companies.
      • POS systems: Point-of-sale systems are especially important for brick-and-mortar retail outlets since they come with cash registers, specialized touch-screen monitors, barcode scanners, printers, receipt printers and card readers. Fees vary widely depending on the specific functions needed for each store. Talk to a sales rep to get a quote.
      • Mobile card readers: These light, portable attachments plug into smart phones and tablets to enable payments at more informal settings or on-the-go processing. There are also models that accept EMV, NFC, and contactless cards.

      Customer support

      Even with a great credit card payment system in place, something can always go wrong. Working with a company that has several different means of communication available is ideal so that business owners can get help promptly. Top processors may sometimes offer customer support up to 24 hours a day via phone, email or online chat sessions.

        What are different types of credit card processing companies?

        All-inclusive companies for multi-platform businesses

        These payment processors coordinate simultaneous card payments in-person at retail stores through custom-designed POS terminals as well as online, over the phone and by mail order. Since this service is more complex, they typically offer 24/7 phone support. Rates and fees vary widely.

        Online purchases only companies

        This type of payment service is perfect for businesses that operate entirely from their online store. Some of these companies offer the ability to analyze customer data, customize the virtual checkout experience, and much more. They also have systems that are well optimized for online shopping via mobile devices.

        Companies serving low-volume or mobile businesses

        Most suitable for small businesses working at variable locations, these payment processing companies offer fully optimized card payments online across all mobile devices. Additionally, they allow POS card purchases in-person with portable card readers that attach to most smartphones and tablets.

        Who's it for?

        Any brick-and-mortar business

        Restaurants, salons, spas, retail stores and just about any business with a physical address that welcomes customers needs to use a credit card payment processing company. All businesses should also continue updating their systems to accept the latest forms of payments, such as digital wallets and EMV chip cards. By accepting the greatest variety of payment options possible, businesses stand to gain a wider appeal with many more customers. Using the latest technology also provides the best security for your customers.

        All online-shop owners

        Credit card processing companies are absolutely vital to any online business because these cards provides the easiest and most secure way to shop online.

        Mobile vendors

        Sellers at farmers' markets or local carnival-style merchants on the road can use credit card processing companies to more easily accept payments anywhere by using smartphones or tablets. Some require a mobile card reader, and some systems allow users to manually enter credit card numbers to make payments without a reader. The latest terminal technology incorporates the ability to process EMV cards and NFC payments as well.

        What does the expert have to say?

        • iPayment

          iPayment, Inc. provides payment processing solutions for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB). The company has been around for over 17 years and serves 150,000 SMB customers.

          • Best for Small- and medium-sized businesses, including brick-and-mortar retailers, restaurants, gas stations and online merchants.
        • Flagship Merchant Services

          Since its beginning in 2001, this company is an established leader in the transaction processing industry. The company welcomes small and medium-sized businesses, but caters to big companies. Their top clients include Subway, Verizon, Mac Tools and Avon.

          • Best for Businesses of all sizes since they have flexible and customized plans for more personalized service.
        • Aliant Payment Systems

          Established in 2003, this company is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They provide credit card processing and payment processing for accounts around the world.

          • Best for Small businesses, eCommerce merchants, retail store owners, petroleum/convenience stores, community banks, service providers, restaurant owners and much more. Merchant funding is available.
        • Payline Data

          Payline Data works with merchants and businesses to provide solutions for their credit card processing needs. Payline Data integrates with your existing platform and can also allow for mobile payments using a mobile reader or on your business’s app.

          • Best for Payline Data is best for brick-and-mortar businesses, online retailers and mobile merchants.
        • Total Merchant Services

          Total Merchant Services was founded in 1996 and provides merchant services for businesses across the United States and Canada. Their services allow businesses to accept all major credit and debit cards, including EBT, without signing a contract.

          • Best for Total Merchant Services is best for brick and mortar, mobile and online businesses and vendors.
        • Mercury Payment Systems

          Founded in 2001, the company handles payments for all types of small to medium-sized businesses, especially local businesses. They've received an award for the "Best Channel Vendor" from "Business Solutions" magazine every year from 2009 to 2016.

          • Best for It is a good option for local retailers, such as restaurants, golf clubs and salons. Also, for most small or medium-sized retailers who'd like to control their costs and increase profits.

        • Square

          Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter, is Square's CEO and co-founder. The company offers a credit card reader that attaches to your smart phone or tablet as well as wireless equipment for other types of payments. 

          • Best for Professional service providers, online shop owners, mobile vendors and retailers seeking simple, secure, and easy credit card processing.
        • Chase Credit Card Processing

          This service is highly reputable because it has the backing of the multinational J.P. Morgan Chase Bank corporation, an organization founded in New York in 1799.

          • Best for Retailers, online merchants, new startups, large companies and any business looking for a comprehensive solution to payment processing.

        • BluePay

          A company processing about $11 billion dollars annually, BluePay has integrated with more than 320 different software platforms and has been trusted by more than 42,000 businesses since 2002. Blue Pay was the winner of CNP Award 2016 for Customer Choice for Best E-Commerce Platform/Gateway. Clients include Toshiba and Southwest.com, Clif Bar and Izuno.

          • Best for Merchants, nonprofits, online sellers and suppliers of any size in the U.S. and in Canada.

        • PaySimple

          This Denver, Colorado company began in 2005. PaySimple offers payment solutions to small business merchants, especially focusing on the service industries. This credit card processing company appeared in "TechCrunch" magazine in a 2015 article titled "Coaxing US Banking And Payments Into The 21st Century."

          • Best for Small service-oriented businesses, mobile vendors and online retailers.

        • Braintree

          This is a PayPal company that offers an online and mobile payments platform. BrainTree has a simple integration that gives your online business access to not only PayPal, but also to credit cards and debit cards, Bitcoin, Apple Pay, Venmo and Android Pay.

          • Best for Those who need a mobile payments solution and want a simple and easy-to-implement system, all online retailers and even large enterprises. Also, businesses who want to stay up-to-date with new and exciting payment options.
        • Cayan

          Cayan was started in 1998 and offers affordable credit card payment solutions to successful small businesses. Cayan's payment products are designed to help business owners streamline their in-house processing and offer top-quality customer service.

          • Best for Small- to medium-sized successful businesses. Cayan can provide simple, streamlined payment processing services or a more robust option if that suits your business needs.

        • National Bankcard

          National Bankcard provides a wide variety of credit card and debit card payment processing solutions for a variety of businesses. Prominent clients include Subway, BMW, Comfort Inn, KFC and Shell.

          • Best for Medium and large businesses from a wide range of industries, because they provide all-encompassing payment solutions.

        • CreditCardProcessing.com

          In business since 1998, CreditCardProcessing.com supports over 153,000 merchants. They pride themselves on offering great customer service and believes that—and competitive rates—sets them apart from the competition. This company is a reseller of iPayment.

          • Best for Small- to larger-sized companies as the system can handle a high number of payments each day.

        • Payment Depot

          Payment Depot is a payment processing company based in Orange, California. The company cuts out the middlemen and can offer its clients wholesale rates on credit card processing.

          • Best for Small, medium and large companies who want to pay wholesale rates. Also, you can change memberships plans as your business grows, and your number of transactions increases.

        • Dharma Merchant Services

          Dharma Merchant Services provides payment solutions for retail locations, virtual stores and nonprofit organizations. The company uses a transparent pricing model, and the fees and rates are disclosed on their website.

          • Best for Medium and large companies both online and brick-and-mortar. Also, those who are socially responsible and/or community-minded.

        • TransFirst

          TransFirst is a payment processing company founded in 1995. They provide a wide range of end-to-end payment solutions for businesses. They are owned by Vista Equity Partners and serve about 200,000 merchants, financial institutions, associations and more.

          • Best for Highly suited for medium and large companies, but it also works for small professional services. When you apply, you’ll get recommendations that pertain to your specific industry.

        • Helcim

          Helcim is a credit card payment processing company founded in Calgary in 2006. The company provides payment processing services in Canada and the United States. Clients include Unicef Canada, Children’s Wish, YMCA and British Columbia School Districts.

          • Best for Small, medium and large businesses, the low fees and flexible merchant accounts are great options for all types of businesses.

        11 – 19 Best Rated Credit Card Processing Companies