There are several things to think about before you decide on a credit card processor. Sure, cost is a factor. But you don’t have to look into your options too much to see that the cheapest credit card processing company isn’t just about cost.

The one that provides the most value to your business is the one that will be most worthwhile in the long run.

The right payment processing solution will align with how you do business and provide value beyond just looking at dollar signs. Of course, you want to find an affordable solution. But more importantly, you want to find a credit card processor that gives you the best overall bang for your buck.

Even if you’ve been accepting credit card payments for years, it’s important to educate yourself on your options. It doesn’t hurt to be on the lookout for the best payment processing services on the market so you can tap into more value for your business.

In this article, we’ll help you determine the best value for choosing the right credit card processor for your company. We’ll go over what you should look out for and how you can find the best credit card processor for your business.

Questions to ask yourself

Before setting your sights on a particular credit card processing service, you’ll want to consider several factors.

Look at how your business operates. The goal is to find a customized payment processing solution that provides excellent value through its pricing structure, hardware options and customer support.

How do you conduct business?

The first question you should ask yourself is how do you conduct business? The way your business functions and where you sell your goods and services will have a huge impact on which processor is right for you.

Do you own a brick-and-mortar store and process most purchases in person? Or do you run an e-commerce store and most of your transactions are conducted online?

Some payment processors are more focused on brick-and-mortar companies. In-person stores will require more processing options like point of sale systems and credit card readers. Other companies that primarily deal with e-commerce will require less hardware and more online functionalities.

What is the pricing structure?

You should be on the lookout for different pricing models and credit card processing fees. Each company will have its own approach to charging business owners for payment processing services. Keep an eye out for monthly fees, transaction fees, different tiered pricing plans, and variable processing rates.

The pricing structure of your payment processor can greatly affect your bottom line. Finding the cheapest option is more nuanced than a single price tag.

For example, if your business has a low volume of sales, then you may want to avoid a hefty monthly fee and opt for a credit card processor that charges a flat-rate for each transaction. Low-volume sellers might not be able to justify paying for a high monthly subscription fee when the flat rate is more affordable.

However, if your business has a high volume of sales, it might not make sense for you to use a flat-rate pricing structure because it will likely cost you more. Instead, you could pay a monthly fee and a small percentage fee and several cent markup on each transaction. This structure could be more profitable for your business in the long run. 

Do you need hardware?

Every payment processor will have different types of hardware they offer. Some processors include hardware with no additional fee while others charge to use certain types of processing hardware.

Which hardware will your business require to ensure you accept your customers’ preferred method of payment? Will you need a credit card terminal, mobile card swipers or chip readers? Do you wish to scale your operations by offering modern payment methods like mobile contactless payment options? Do you require POS hardware to help manage your sales and business operations?

You should also think about what types of payment each processor accepts. Determine whether or not customers can swipe their Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express credit or debit card.

How much support will you receive?

Customer support is crucial to getting the best value from your payment processor. As any business owner who’s run into a problem knows, excellent customer support can make your life a heck of a lot easier.

If you have an issue, will you be able to reach out to customer support and get a timely response? This will also come in handy if you decide to switch your payment processor and have questions when first getting started with your new service.

Many credit card processors offer 24/7 support, but not all customer support service is the same. Some companies provide US-based customer service. Some don’t. Some reliably provide fast resolution. Some have longer wait times for responding or resolving issues.

Customer service may not matter day-to-day, but it will matter when you need it.

Popular credit card processing companies

Here are eight of the most popular credit card processing companies out there, including what types of businesses each company is best suited to serve.

1. PayPal

What it is: PayPal is a perfect entry point into the credit card processing world for very small businesses. PayPal is primarily used for e-commerce sales, but it also offers businesses in-store credit card processing. There are few barriers to entry making it incredibly easy to sign up and get started.

How it works: You don’t need to worry about monthly minimums or contracts. You’ll have a simple flat rate and percentage fee for each transaction made. It’s also more generous to businesses that have an average sales price of around $20.

Perfect for: Small businesses and startups that have fewer credit card transactions compared to cash and check. 

2. Square

What it is: Square is an in-store and mobile credit card processing service that also provides online credit card processing services. 

How it works: This credit card processor is easy to set up. You simply create an account, download the Square mobile app, receive a free mobile credit card reader in the mail, plug it into your phone, and start accepting payments. You can even plug the mobile card reader into an iPad and have a point of sales tablet at your disposal. You can also add on other features like a credit card chip reader or a tap card reader.

Perfect for: Due to recent changes in Square’s pricing structure, this service may not be as desirable for businesses dealing with many small transactions but could work well for big-ticket merchants.

3. Talus Pay

What it is: Talus Pay (yep, that’s us) gives you access to a wide range of the latest POS technology available. This includes features like gift card processing, inventory management, employee scheduling and advanced analytics, so you have everything you need all wrapped up into one tool.

How it works: Services are customizable to your business type, whether that’s e-commerce, automotive, restaurant, resale vendors or professional services. We’ll match any competitive rate. They’ll also stay with you every step of the way through setup and beyond with 24/7, US-based client support.

Perfect for: Businesses of all sizes that want full-service credit card processing at the lowest guaranteed price on the market.

4. Helcim

What it is: Founded in 2006, Helcim handles credit card processing and merchant account services for small businesses. They offer a rate-lock guarantee so you’ll never be charged more.

How it works: Payments are month-to-month, and you won’t need to worry about any early termination fees or cancellation fees. Also, you’ll only be charged one monthly fee that covers everything instead of many different fees. It tends to be a good fit as long as your monthly transactions are above $3,000. Otherwise, there are cheaper options out there.

Perfect for: Small businesses looking for transparent pricing, locked-in rates, and solid customer support.

5. Fattmerchant

What it is: Fattmerchant offers flat-fee processing and contract-free pricing transparency.

How it works: You’ll need to be able to hit a certain level of sales to make this option worth it. This is in the range of $7,000 or more in monthly sales. Fattmerchant also offers mobile card processing, online transaction processing, a point of sale system and business management features.

Perfect for: Established small businesses that have a high volume of monthly sales combined with high-ticket transactions.

6. Stripe

What it is: Stripe focuses on online businesses of all kinds. The service lets you customize your online checkout experience and has a wide variety of integrations for e-commerce. 

How it works: You get plenty of online customization options. You also have the ability to set up monthly subscriptions and recurring purchases with your customers. For all this, you pay a flat fee per online payment. If your business has a high volume of monthly transactions, they also have custom pricing solutions available.

Perfect for: Online small businesses that want to customize and have control of the checkout experience.

7. Payline

What it is: Payline helps high-risk businesses make transactions happen. It’s a great choice for businesses that deal in areas that many merchants shy away from.

How it works: You have access to all different types of payment solutions with Payline, including mobile payment options, a simple POS system and online transaction support. You’ll be required to pay a monthly fee, plus additional fees for every transaction made.

Perfect for: High-risk businesses that have been turned down by other credit card merchants.

8. Fiserv

What it is: Fiserv is one of the largest credit card processing companies out there today.

How it works: You can negotiate your monthly terms to determine what a favorable pricing structure will be. Just know beforehand that this solution is for high-volume businesses.

Perfect for: High-volume retail businesses that want to offer customers a wide range of payment options.

So what’s really the cheapest option?

The best credit card processing service is the one that provides small business owners with the most value. Period.

The right solution for your business should balance low monthly fees with superb customer service and affordable access to the most modern payment processing options on the market.

If you’re thinking about changing your credit card processor, make sure to keep an eye on what processing companies can offer your business. You should be looking for a service that matches the nature of your business and the level of monthly sales you bring in.

You should also consider other factors like the level of customer service a company provides and whether or not you’re able to accept your customers’ preferred method of payment.

Now that you have several payment processors to consider, which one provides the most value to your business? Try one on for size and don’t forget—you can always switch if you’re not happy with your service provider.

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