Best Credit Card Processor for Small Businesses
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Best Credit Card Processor for Small Businesses

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Robert Luong | June 20, 2024

“Discover the best credit card processors for small businesses based on costs, features, and customer support.”
6 min read
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    One of the biggest challenges is selecting a credit card processor that meets your specific needs while staying within budget. High processing fees, hidden costs, and long-term contracts can significantly impact a small business's bottom line.

    Before discussing the best credit card processor for your business, answering the following questions will help you understand your needs and identify the ideal processor more quickly:

    • Cost: Are you looking for a processor with the lowest initial and ongoing costs?
    • Volume discount: Is your business processing high volumes and looking for a volume-discounted rate?
    • Contract Terms: Are you seeking processors that offer flexibility with no binding contracts?
    • Payment Tools: Do you need the payment tools to accept payment online?
    • Customer Support: Would you prefer a support team that helps you every step of the way?
    • Additional Features: Are you looking for value-added features such as inventory management, and customer relationship management tools?

    Credit card processors with the lowest cost to start

    Helcim Square Stripe Clover Moneris
    Monthly fees
    $0/month From $0/monthto
    $0/month From 14.95/monthto
    From $10/month
    No contract No contract No contract 3 to 4-year contract 3-year contract
    PCI compliance fee
    No No No Yes Yes
    Payment terminal CA: $399
    US: $329
    CA: $399
    US: $329
    CA: Not available
    US: $349
    From $599 From $30/month

    For small businesses or professionals needing a payment processor without contracts, monthly fees, or hidden fees, Helcim, Square, and Stripe are ideal options.

    Processors like Moneris and Clover require a monthly plan and contract to start processing payments. With a 3-year contract, you can not easily switch to other processors if you feel like the services are no longer the best fit.

    Contracts can also be costly if you're renting a payment terminal. For example, the total cost of renting a Moneris terminal is $1,260 over three years, compared to a one-time cost of $399 for a Helcim terminal.

    You should also be aware of the PCI compliance fees. PCI is a set of standards designed to ensure that credit card information is captured, retained, and transmitted securely. While credit card processors typically help you maintain PCI compliance, some, like Clover and Moneris, may charge a fee ranging from a few hundred to thousands of dollars annually. In contrast, Helcim, Square, and Stripe do not charge this fee.

    Clover or Square’s paid plan is suitable for retail and restaurants because their system includes advanced features such as ordering, floor plans, staff management, shift reports, etc.

    Credit card processors with the lowest processing fees

    If your business is looking for the lowest processing fees, then Helcim is the best choice because it offers:

    • The lowest processing fees compared to other processors.
    • A tool to pass processing fees to your customers.
    • Automatic fee reductions as you process more volume without the hassle of negotiating for better rates.

    Why are Helcim processing fees the lowest? The credit card processing fees are made of two main components:

    • Interchange fees: Paid to the card brand, these fees fluctuate based on the card brand, industry, and type of transaction (online or in-person).
    • Processor margin: Processor’s income for processing the transaction

    There are two common pricing structures that credit card processors use: interchange-plus and flat (fixed) rate.

    credit card processor's interchange plus vs flat rate pricing model

    Due to fluctuating interchange fees, Square, Stripe, Clover, and Moneris use a flat (fixed) rate pricing model for simplicity. However, to ensure profitability on each transaction, these flat rates are set high. As a result, you may end up overpaying for most transactions.

    Unlike other processors, Helcim uses an interchange-plus pricing model, providing you with access to the actual transaction costs charged by card brands and banks. While Helcim’s transaction fees fluctuate, the average processing fees remain significantly lower than those of other processors.

    If you are interested in how much you can save with Helcim, submit your merchant statement here for saving estimation.

    Discover saving with credit card processor's interchange plus model

    Credit card processors with payment tools

    Aside from processing credit cards, processors offer a suite of tools to help you take payments online and in-person.

    Businesses looking for a free all-in-one payment tool

    For small businesses looking for various payment tools in one account with no fees, Helcim is an ideal solution. You can get tools like invoicing, online POS, recurring payments, checkout pages, and an online store builder within one Helcim account.

    • Invoicing tool: Design, create, send (SMS, email, QR code), follow up, and manage your invoices.
    • Online POS: Charge customers through your browser, or over the phone without any hardware needed.
    • Recurring payments: Create automated subscription plans & recurring payments.
    • Checkout pages: Create a checkout page to embed on your website or send to your customers to collect payments.
    • Online store: Set up a full, end-to-end eCommerce store for your business and sell your products online.
    Helcim Square Stripe Clover Moneris
    CA: 1.76% (avg) + $0.08
    US: 1.93% (avg) + $0.08
    CA: 2.65%
    US: 2.6%
    CA: 2.9% + $0.30
    US: 2.9% + $0.30
    From 2.3% + $0.10 2.65% + $0.10
    Online fees
    CA: 2.39% (avg) + $0.25
    US: 2.49% (avg) + $0.25
    CA: 1.76% (avg) + $0.08
    US: 1.93% (avg) + $0.08
    CA: 2.9% + $0.30
    US: 2.9% + $0.30
    3.5% + $0.10 2.85% + $0.30
    Helcim's Fee Saver. No No Surcharge program. No
    Automatically lower fees
    as you process more
    Negotiate for lower processing fees.

    While Stripe, Clover, and Moneris also offer tools for accepting online payments, some tools require a monthly plan, coding expertise, or additional fees on top of processing fees for each transaction.

    Businesses looking to simplify invoicing & project management

    If your business requires advanced invoicing tools with project management features, Square’s invoicing is an ideal option. Square’s invoicing allows you to create milestone-based payment schedules, billing clients incrementally as the project progresses. This is suitable for businesses such as freelancers, contractors, and consultants who need to manage projects and payments seamlessly.

    Credit card processors with the best customer services

    Sometimes, things don’t go smoothly. While processing payments, lots of merchants face issues like:

    • Account Deactivation: Their accounts may be deactivated without clear reasons.
    • Fund Holds: Their funds are held for days or weeks for random investigations.
    • Technical Issues: System outages, software glitches, or connectivity problems cause delays and result in lost sales.
    • Fraudulent Transactions: Fraud transactions lead to information risk and chargeback.
    • Chargebacks and Disputes: Customers disputing charges can lead to chargebacks and held funds. The resolution processes are time-consuming and costly.

    You need a responsive customer service team to quickly resolve issues and keep your business running smoothly. At Helcim, we are well-known for our human-centric customer service. Whenever you face an issue, our team is here to assist you until it is fully resolved.

    Also, Helcim’s Fraud Defender evaluates the risk of each transaction, helping you prevent fraud and chargebacks. If a dispute or chargeback occurs, Helcim provides you with tools to submit evidence, counter the chargeback, and track the resolution progress. These features protect your business from financial losses.

    When you contact Helcim for support, rest assured that you won’t have to deal with bots, awkward hold times, or scripted responses. Here are Helcim’s ratings compared to other credit card processors according to Trustpilot:

    • Helcim: 4.2 stars
    • Square: 3.8 stars
    • Clover: 3.5 stars
    • Stripe: 2.4 starts
    • Moneris: 1.8 stars

    Best credit card processor for small businesses

    The best credit card processor for your business

    Helcim is the best credit card processor for small businesses because it offers no cost to accept payments, no contracts, no hidden fees, low processing fees, and a suite of free tools to collect payments both in-person and online.

    If you have tight margins, choosing Helcim can help you save up to 24% in processing fees. Also, with Helcim's fee saver, you can pass the fees to your customers with just a few clicks. As you process higher volumes, Helcim automatically decreases the fees, saving you the time and effort of negotiating for better rates.

    Helcim also offers free customer and inventory management tools for you to manage your customers and track your inventory. Helcim syncs your sales and customer data across all channels, both in-person and online, ensuring you have the most up-to-date data.

    Starting with Helcim is simple. Fill out a form that takes as little as 5 minutes. After signing up, our team will review your application and prepare your dashboard. We will notify you when your dashboard is ready, allowing you to start taking payments immediately.

    Helcim’s customer service team is ready to assist whenever you need help. We understand our system thoroughly and will walk you through step-by-step to resolve any issues you may encounter.

    Best credit card processor for small businesses

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