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According to a 2023 Forbes Advisor Survey, 90% of Americans primarily use credit and debit cards to pay for purchases. It’s safe to say that card payments aren’t going anywhere anytime soon!

Whether you conduct business online or offline, you’ll likely need a credit card processor to accept card payments, especially if you’re a retail or restaurant business. Accepting credit card payments can benefit your business in three key ways:

  • Increase revenue: By accepting more forms of payment, you can serve more customers.
  • Establish an online presence: You can process sales online.
  • Capture more sales: By streamlining checkout for customers, you ensure more people move through your sales funnel.

But how do you know which credit card processing company is right for you? This article will examine the pros and cons of our top 10 credit card processor picks for small businesses and the fees for each.

Credit card processing pricing plans

When you are considering card processors, your primary concern will be pricing. While some processing companies charge a flat rate per transaction, some apply a pricing model called interchange-plus. Interchange-plus means you pay a transaction fee plus a markup; both the fees and markup can fluctuate depending on the card issuer, whether the transaction is online or in-person, and the volume of transactions. We’ve included transaction processing fees for each credit card processor below to help you compare the various providers.

Merchant One: Best for Seamless Setup

Merchant One is one of the highest-rated credit card processing companies in the industry and has been around for more than two decades. With their $0 setup fee, 98% approval rate, and same-day approvals, they are our choice for the easiest approval and setup.

  • Monthly fee: $13.95
  • Pricing structure: Flat rate
  • Average processing fees: 0.29% - 1.55% for in-person swiped transactions
  • Pros: They have 24-hour customer support and offer various types of credit card readers.
  • Cons: Requires a three-year contract and has an early termination fee.

Helcim: Best for High Volume Sales

If your business consistently sees a high volume of sales and you want unlimited access to an all-in-one merchant platform at no extra cost, then Helcim may be your best bet. 

  • Monthly fee: $0.00
  • Pricing structure: Interchange-plus
  • Average processing fees: 1.86% + $0.08 (in-person average);  2.40% + $0.25 (keyed and online average). Fees will differ depending on what card your customer is using.
  • Pros: Volume discounts (the more you process, the more you can save overall).
  • Cons: Not as cost-effective for low-volume businesses since bulk discounts won’t apply. 

Stripe: Best for Integrating Online Stores

Stripe got its start as an online payment processor for small businesses and is now used by some of the world’s biggest companies, including Amazon and Google. It’s especially useful for online businesses that sell internationally since Stripe can process payments in more than 135 currencies.

  • Monthly fee: $0.00
  • Pricing structure: Flat rate
  • Average processing fees: 2.9% + $0.30 per successful card charge
  • Pros: Tons of included features like comprehensive security compliance, real-time financial reporting, and 24/7 customer support. 
  • Cons: Software is optimized for online businesses, so without software development expertise, it may be difficult for the average person to use. 

Check out Novo's Stripe Integration, which includes free, faster payouts through Novo Boost

Clover: Best for Restaurant and Retail Small Businesses

Clover offers a Point of Sale (POS) system designed for full-service restaurants, quick-service restaurants, and retail stores. Clover allows you to process credit card payments, accept gift cards, and run loyalty programs all in one place.

  • Monthly fee: Starts at $14.95 and goes up to $94.85
  • Pricing structure: Flat rate
  • Average processing fees: Dependent on the plan, but most tiers are 2.3% + $0.10 for in–person transactions.
  • Pros: Multiple payment options, including chips, swipe, or tap cards, as well as check and cash options.
  • Cons: With several pricing tiers that vary based on industry, pricing can be difficult to figure out.

Payment Depot: Best for the Lowest Processing Fees

Payment Depot offers a monthly subscription for its service, potentially saving your business money on processing costs.

  • Monthly fee: Starting at $79.00
  • Pricing structure: Flat rate
  • Average processing fees: Instead of marking up interchange rates, they add a per-transaction fee, ranging from $0.07 to $0.15.
  • Pros: On average, Payment Depot promises to save its members $400 per month on payment processing fees! Plus, no markups on the interchange rates.
  • Cons: Approval can take longer than other payment processing companies.

Stax: Best for Companies Processing over $5,000 Monthly

Similar to Payment Depot, Stax also offers a flat subscription price and promises to save small businesses up to 40% off of processing costs with its all-in-one platform.

  • Monthly fee: Starts at $99.00
  • Pricing structure: Flat rate
  • Average processing fees: $0.08 per transaction plus interchange
  • Pros: Subscriptions include unlimited access to all their platform features, including analytics dashboards, ACH processing, digital invoicing, and syncing with accounting software.
  • Cons: May not be worth the price if you process less than $5,000 per month in credit card payments.

Square: Best for In-Person Payments

Square provides small business owners with a simple POS system for accepting credit card payments. It’s a popular choice for brick-and-mortar businesses that need to accept in-person payments.

  • Monthly fee: $0 - $79
  • Pricing structure: Flat rate
  • Average processing fees: 2.6% + $0.10 per in-person transaction
  • Pros: Square’s POS software is available at no cost per month, so you can get up and running with no installation delays. The magstripe card reader is free for eligible merchants.
  • Cons: Limited customer support hours. Does not run on Windows software. While Square’s magstripe reader is free, more advanced hardware costs extra.  

Check out Novo's Square Integration

PayPal for Business: Best for Ease of Use

PayPal is one of the most well-known processing companies, not only for small businesses but also for personal use. The tool is straightforward and easy to use, making it a popular choice for all types of businesses.

  • Monthly fee: $0.00
  • Pricing structure: Flat rate
  • Average processing fees: 2.29% + $0.09 in-person transactions
  • Pros: Paypal can be integrated with major eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce. Customers don’t need to have PayPal to complete payments. 
  • Cons: Higher transaction fees on each purchase than its competitors. 

National Processing: Best for Businesses on a Budget

National Processing is known for its low interchange rates, making it a great option if you have a particularly tight budget.

  • Monthly fee: Starts at $9.95
  • Pricing structure: Flat rate
  • Average Processing fees: Restaurants: 0.14% + $0.07; Retail: 0.18% +$0.10; eCommerce: 0.29% + $0.15
  • Pros: Offers some of the lowest interchange-plus rates and a rate-lock guarantee. 
  • Cons: Unlike many of its competitors, National Processing does have a termination fee. 

QuickBooks Payments: Best for Existing QuickBooks Users

What’s better than having all of your financial records in one place? If you’re already using QuickBooks for accounting, then utilizing their payments software keeps everything in one system for extra convenience.

  • Monthly fee: Starts at $15.00 for the first three months, then $30.00
  • Pricing structure: Flat rate
  • Average Processing fees: 2.4% + $0.25 for in-person transactions
  • Pros: Has integrations with over 750 business apps like BILL, Mailchimp, and Expensify.
  • Cons: Mainly geared towards existing QuickBooks users.

Check out Novo's Quickbooks Integration


When it comes to accepting card payments, small business owners should research providers to find the best fit for their needs.

According to Forbes, nearly half of U.S. consumers opened at least one new credit card account in the last year. Make sure you can do business with these consumers by setting up card processing.

Novo Platform Inc. strives to provide accurate information but cannot guarantee that this content is correct, complete, or up-to-date. This page is for informational purposes only and is not financial or legal advice nor an endorsement of any third-party products or services. All products and services are presented without warranty. Novo Platform Inc. does not provide any financial or legal advice, and you should consult your own financial, legal, or tax advisors.

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