Best Credit Card Processors for Small Businesses

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Quick Hits: 
  • Small businesses should offer credit cards as a payment method, especially since it’s one of the most commonly used forms of payment.
  • There are numerous factors to consider when searching for a reputable credit card processor, including ease of use, pricing, customer support, and features.
  • This article will discuss a few processor options to help you discover the best choice for your business, including Square, Host Merchant Services, Stripe, and National Processing.
Small Business Payment Processing Needs 

No matter what type of small business you own, it’s imperative that you offer popular payment methods, including credit cards from the major card issuers. Remember that any company that accepts, handles, or processes cardholder data must be PCI DSS compliant. Whether you sell products and services in person or online (or both), you will need to work with a credit card processing company to accept credit cards. There are several factors to consider when looking for the best credit card processor, such as ease of use, pricing, customer support, and features. This article will categorize the best options: the best payment system, payment gateway, online payment method, and ACH payment processor.


Each small business is unique, so the best credit card processor will depend on:  

  • How do you sell products/services: in-person, online, or both 
  • Monthly transaction volume: less than 10,000 or more than 50,000 
  • Monthly sales volume: processing rates are reduced if you process over $25,000 per month 
  • What hardware do you need: card readers and POS systems for in-person sales 
  • What industry are you in  
  • What pricing style do you prefer: contract, no-contract, or monthly subscription 


Accepting Credit Card Payments for Small Businesses 
Square: Best Payment System for Small Businesses 

Square is a popular credit card processor for small businesses, especially those that receive low credit card transaction volumes. Originally designed as a basic, mobile-only processor, the platform has grown to offer a fully-featured payments ecosystem. Square includes the following key features:  

  • ACH processing for all accounts 
  • Aggregated account for both credit and debit card processing 
  • Analytics reports via the Square dashboard 
  • Basic Square invoices  
  • EMV and NFC-capable card readers  
  • Mobile card reader (magstripe) included with accounts 
  • Square Online Store for ecommerce businesses 
  • Square Register POS system 

Additionally, Square makes it easy for merchants to use their free card reader to plug into a smartphone, tablet, or app. The card reader uses simple pricing, which businesses can appreciate. The pay-as-you-go billing setup allows small business owners to accept credit and debit card payments that couldn’t usually afford a merchant account (which larger companies and enterprises need). 


Square can keep costs to a minimum by storing accounts together instead of giving each business user a unique merchant ID number. Thus, owners will likely be approved quickly for an account but will not receive a full-service merchant account. The downside of this expedited approval rate is that there is a greater likelihood of having their account frozen or shut down without notice if card fraud is suspected. 

Furthermore, Square uses flat-rate pricing and offers free POS software, making it one of the most affordable credit card processors. Merchants can use Square to accept various in-person and online payments. The paid retail or restaurant POS software plans can be used to unlock additional features as needed. API integrations ensure that users can accept credit card payments on their websites. 

Square Pricing: 

  • In-person payments: 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction 
  • Keyed-in payments: 3.5% + $0.15 per transaction 
  • Online payments: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction 

Square Pros: 

  • All-in-one payment system 
  • Fast set up 
  • Flat-rate pricing 
  • Free mobile card reader 
  • A good option for low-volume businesses 
  • Zero monthly fees 

Square Cons: 

  • Account stability issues 
  • Costly for high-volume companies 
  • It doesn’t work with high-risk merchants 
  • No free 24/7 customer support 
  • Limited hardware compatibility 
Host Merchant Services: Best Payment Gateway for Small Businesses 

Host Merchant Services offers a wide range of proprietary and third-party products and services that appeal to any business. This credit card processor uses transparent interchange-plus pricing, which can help high-volume companies save considerable money using a Clover system. Key third-party features include the Authorize.Net payment gateway, Clover terminals, and POS systems.

Like other credit card processors, small businesses that use Host Merchant Services don’t need to worry about long-term contracts or costly early termination fees to close their accounts. Indeed, companies have the freedom to move to a different provider without penalties. 

While this processor accepts high-risk merchants, it’s important to note that the pricing and contract terms may differ (e.g., more expensive) for high-risk businesses. Though, it’s still a solid option for high-risk small businesses that need to accept credit card payments and want to work with a processor that is honest about pricing and offers excellent customer service.

Host Merchant Services Pricing: 

  • Online payments: interchange + 0.35 + $0.10 per transaction 
  • Retail payments: interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction 
  • Restaurant payments: interchange + 0.20% + $0.09 per transaction 

Host Merchant Services Pros: 

  • Clear interchange-plus pricing 
  • Great customer support 
  • Monthly billing without early termination fees 
  • Zero monthly minimum requirements 

Host Merchant Services Cons: 

  • It can be pricey for low-volume merchants 
Stripe: Best Online Payment Method for Small Businesses 

While Stripe is known for being one of the leading payment processors for ecommerce, they have also started reaching retail businesses with services like the Stripe Terminal. This credit card processor offers a comprehensive list of features, which provides everything U.S. and international businesses require to accept nearly any payment method. Their la cart pricing approach is predictable and transparent, which means merchants shouldn’t receive any surprises regarding costs.  

Stripe uses a pay-as-you-go billing model with transparent, flat-rate fees and minimal account fees for basic services. Like other payment service providers (PSPs), merchants will not have a full-service merchant account. The downside of this is that it can potentially cause account stability issues. However, this credit card processor is still considered one of the most customizable yet cost-effective ecommerce solutions on the market today. 

Stripe Pricing: 

  • In-person payments: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction (additional 1% for international cards and another 1% if currency conversion is necessary) 
  • Online payments: 2.7% + $0.05 per transaction 

Stripe Pros: 

  • Accepts payments in over 135 currencies 
  • Offers invoicing, billing, business data, and tax calculation features 
  • Over 450 available platforms and extensions 
  • 24/7 phone, chat, and email support 
  • Zero monthly subscription or setup fees 

Stripe Cons: 

  • It doesn’t work with high-risk merchants 
National Processing: Best ACH Payment Processing for Small Businesses 

National Processing is a credit card process offering low-cost credit card and ACH payment processing to small businesses. Like other merchant account providers, National Processing has various plans to meet merchants’ unique payment requirements, from basic to premium subscription options. Each plan comes with free hardware like the SwipeSimple card reader, gateway setup, and reprogramming of existing equipment.  

National Processing Pricing: 

  • Ecommerce payments: 0.29% + $0.15 per transaction 
  • Restaurant payments: 0.14% + $0.07 per transaction 
  • Retail payments: 0.18% + $0.10 per transaction