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(Pocket-lint) - The amount of services for credit card processing online is vast. The market has been flooded by companies looking to make a killing in this growing industry. You are probably looking to entrust your business to one of these services right now, too. 

As you may have noticed, it is not always clear-cut which is the best option. The list we are presenting today comes to fulfil that need: services you can trust.

List Of Best Credit Card Processing Companies

  • Helcim - Overall Best Credit Card Processing Company 
  • Surge - Premium Services For Merchant Account 
  • OpenSky - Best For High Risk Merchants 

#1. Helcim – Overall Best Credit Card Processing Company

Helcim payment company is the best overall company for processing client's payments basically because of their transparency. They do not hide credit card processing fees from you or tie you up with predatory contracts or monthly fees. Instead, with Helcim, what you see is what you get: a free service that offers all of their solutions for every account. 

Helcim offers you a clear understanding of their fees, which depend entirely on whether payments are in-person or keyed or online, as well as on the volume of transactions you process with them. 

This is a company that has worked hard to make their customers understand what each transaction fee means for them, for you, which speaks volumes of their trustworthiness.

Not only are rates low, but also the customer support is real, offering productive communication with real people, who help you effectively and rapidly. Customer and industry reviews display their customer service as the best you can find, bar none. 

On top of all of this, you have to consider the myriad of other solutions they offer. 

We are talking not only of accepting all methods of payment such as:

  • in-person 
  • online
  • keyed
  • over the phone

But also, customers will be able to pay with:

  • Visa 
  • MasterCard
  • American Express 
  • Discover 
  • Google Pay 
  • and Apple Pay

We are talking about many other solutions such as Customer Manager (CMR), Online Store, Virtual Terminal, Card Vault, Developer APIs, and Third-Party Integration to mention some. 

Security is a critical aspect of handling finances, and Helcim knows this very well. Helcim is a Level 1 PCI-DSS compliant service provider. This means that their site regularly goes through rigorous testing to ensure the safety of clients and their credit cards. 

Thanks to these, they comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards. On the other hand, they also follow security practices from the National Institute of Standards and Technology to ensure data security compliance.

Helcim is the overall best payment processing company you can find online.

Highlights

  • Low fees
  • Larger volume = better fees
  • Fees transparency
  • No contract needed
  • Work with all payment methods
  • Many additional solutions
  • Level 1 PCI-DSS

Pros

  • Great reviews
  • One account access for all services
  • Great media presence

Cons

  • No monthly service

=> Click here to visit the official website of Helcim

#2. Surge - Premium Services For Merchant Account

The Surge card by Continental Finance is a Mastercard that offers up to $1000 as initial credit, which can be doubled within the first six months of use. This is fantastic news if you are unable to get access to credit due to poor or non-existing credit. 

Surge offers a fantastic credit line, but it is also an authentic Mastercard card, with all the buying power that Mastercard holds. This means you can buy anywhere Mastercard is accepted – which is mostly everywhere these days, be it a physical store or an e-commerce store. 

The Surge Mastercard Credit Card is issued by Celtic Bank, a Utah-Chartered Industrial Bank, Member FDIC under license from Mastercard International.

Highlights

  • Low rates
  • BBB (Better Business Review) rating of A+
  • Five stars reviews on Trustpilot
  • MasterCard

Pros

  • Great customer services
  • No upfront payment

Cons

  • Requires a background credit check

=> Click here to visit the official website of Surge

#3. First Access Card – Best For Mobile Payments 

First Access Card offers a Visa credit card issued by The Bank of Missouri. This card is an authentic card which means you can use it anywhere they accept Visa, that is to say, this card is accepted nationwide and can be used to make online purchases. 

One of the best benefits of choosing a First Access Card is that you do not need a perfect score to get it; instead, once your application is accepted, you just need to pay a one-time Program Fee to demonstrate your ability to make monthly payments. 

With this, First Access Card becomes the very best option for you to start building or improving your credit.

Highlights 

  • Visa credit card
  • Easy to apply
  • No need for a perfect score

Pros

  • Can access credit with no history
  • Safe website
  • Straightforward registration

Cons

  • Not the best interest rate

=> Click here to visit the official website of First Access 

#4. OpenSky – Best For High Risk Merchants

OpenSky is a Secured Visa credit card issued by Capital Bank N.A., and it represents a fantastic choice for newcomers to the world of credit or those who are returning to climb the credit ladder. 

Besides offering all the benefits of a Visa credit card – wide acceptance in physical and digital stores, - OpenSky offers you the chance of accessing credit without checking your credit score. 

Instead, you make a one-time and refundable down-payment. Then, much like a security deposit, you pay that initial fee when applying, and once you close your account, you can get back your initial payment.

OpenSky gives you the reins to your own credit, that’s why you get to choose your initial credit line (up to a whopping $3000!) and then they give you the tools to stay on top of your payments. Not only that, but OpenSky will start to improve your credit score month after month to the three major credit bureaus.

Highlights

  • Build up your credit score
  • Initial payment is refundable

Pros

  • Initial credit can be quite large
  • Safe and secure
  • Lowest annual rates

Cons

  • Initial payment can be pretty steep

=> Click here to visit the official website of Open Sky

#5. National Processing – Best For Small Businesses 

National Processing is the best-rated merchant processor credit card processor service you can find online. They offer some of the lowest fees in the market. 

Also, their business model focuses on offering each industry separate options for what works best for them. Their goal is to simplify the complexities of receiving payments and make your life easier in the long run.

No matter what your industry is, you will get the best out of National Processing’s service. They offer tailored plans for retail, restaurants, and eCommerce, for example, and each plan includes very useful options, such as reusing previously owned hardware, or even new and free hardware for credit card processing!

National Processing offers integrations with the most widely used online services, such as:

  • Quickbooks
  • WooCommerce
  • BigCommerce
  • Ecwid
  • Shopify
  • And more!

They also offer a ton of solutions for added benefits to their customers, such as:

  • Fraud prevention
  • API integration
  • eCommerce gateways
  • Virtual terminals
  • And more!

National Processing services are also secure and PCI-DSS compliant. Of course, this means they implement access control measures, maintain secure networks and information security, and regular monitoring and testing of their networks.

Highlights

  • Some of the lowest fees
  • Plans tailored for specific industries
  • Free hardware option
  • Best review score
  • Discounts over their Business Alliance Partners

Pros

  • Great support
  • Offer monthly fee payment option
  • Many solutions and integrations

Cons

  • No transaction fee only option.

=> Click here to visit the official website of National Processing

How We Made This List

We scouted all over the internet to find only the best credit card processing services for you. Our criteria to select them has been pretty straightforward.

We narrowed our choices by choosing companies that offer:

  • Lots of integrations
  • A more reliable service
  • Extra solutions
  • Trustworthy policies

Integrated

Catering for every customer can be a pain for you. The lack of standards for handling money and purchases creates a complicated landscape for online services. There are hundreds of apps and services that customers may want to use to pay you. 

This includes credit and debit cards as well. All the best credit card processing companies must offer many different integrations with, at least, the most popular of services amongst users. 

Reliable

The service that handles the finances of your business is probably the most fundamental part of your business, and should, by no means, malfunction. 

However, uptime is critical because a customer who couldn't make a purchase on your website due to a failed purchase process is unlikely to return later to try again.

Range Of Solutions

Different credit card processing software may offer the same basic functionality – the ability to process credit card payments. 

However, only some can also offer additional business solutions, such as finance systems, inventory managers, and more. And very few of these can offer solutions that are actually worth the trouble for you.

Trustworthy

Some big names in this industry have trust built into their reputation. However, sometimes even the biggest and better-known names in tech can suffer from exploitation and leakage of data. 

This may be due to specific malevolent practices from cyber-intruders, but, more often than not, this can result from very unfriendly user policies that do not prioritize the protection of customers' data. 

Therefore, we have selected here only the companies that will put your satisfaction and protection first and foremost. 

Build Your Credit

Besides credit card processing services, we have compiled in this list some online service options that will offer you the chance to build your credit. 

How is that? Well, they are credit card companies that offer the option of accessing credit without the need to have very high credit scores from the start. 

In case you have found yourself with a bad credit score due to payment issues in the past, this allows you to build your score back up by using these credit options.

With regards to credit cards, we looked at a different set of criteria:

  • Budget
  • Reputation
  • Safety

These online issued credit cards were selected because they represent the cheapest options to get started building or improving your credit score. Access to these credit cards requires a one-time payment instead of them checking your credit score as a way to certify you are able to pay the bills later. 

The options presented in this list are the cheapest options available for you. At the same time, they represent the most reliable and best-reviewed options online, as well as the safest.

Beginner's Buying Guide 

Credit Card Processing Services Guide

If you are looking to get the very best merchant processing service you can get, then these are some of the aspects you need to look for.

First and foremost, you need to find a company you can trust. There are many credit card processing companies out there, yet there aren't nearly as many reliable ones. Filtering the ones that are can be a tiresome job, but one that is well worth the trouble. 

Trustworthy credit card processing services are those which have:

  • Positive reviews from previous users.
  • High-level PCI-DSS compliance.
  • Recommendations from reputable sources

Always look out for reviews to be real, by real users, and not fabricated by bots or other sources, always check for the services to demonstrate how they are PCI compliant, and always check for their sources to be reputable.

On the other hand, you must always pay attention to the different services they provide. Merchant processors are by no means simple software, but there are enough out there that a company offering just one solution to your business will always for short compared to others. 

Nowadays, most payment processor services offer a wide array of services alongside their main one. 

Some of these aspects to consider come in the form of:

  • Specific hardware, such as POS systems
  • Inventory and user handling
  • Anti-scam protection and firewall
  • Loyalty programs
  • Payroll services
  • E-Commerce web design
  • Appointment and scheduling software
  • And many more

Services usually offer useful solutions to many problems, and you may or may not have used them for many of them. 

It is obviously up to your better judgment to find the best option but guiding your decision only on the number of solutions is no good if you are only using a handful. 

Instead, we recommend you look hard and deep into each service offered and see what actually useful solutions for you are.

Credit Card Services

Building credit is a hard endeavour. One of the most straightforward methods of improving your credit is maintaining a credit card, making online payments, and proving you are reliable. Of course, it might be tempting to see all the offers of credit cards that exist online. However, you must watch your step and not fall into the trap of bad companies with predatory practices.

There are many ways of preventing you from getting handed a bad deal when dealing with credit card companies. In the first place, you must certify that these companies are legitimate. You can find out if they are to be trusted by looking at customer reviews and reading what previous clients have to say about the credit card company. 

Once you have read about the company and have been satisfied by their reputation, would be to research deeper by yourself. Of course, this means finding out which bank or financial company emits the credit card. The best way to proceed would be to follow up that research by calling the bank and certifying its legitimacy. 

Perhaps the most important aspect to take into account when browsing for a credit card is to check out the rates and fees. Credit cards may offer discounts and special offers on specific industries and businesses, but nothing will impact your budget more than what financial rates the cards use, and what type of fees they charge you. 

If you are trying to build up your credit, it is common practice that some credit cards will ask for an upfront fee, as a way of weaving your credit score from the equation. This might be a good thing if you have bad credit, but it really depends on how bad your credit is or not.

As for rates, these might make or break a deal for you. Generally speaking, higher rates usually come accompanied by laxer requirements and needs. On the other hand, it might be better to pay higher fees and try to meet stricter terms in order to get access to better rates. It really depends on your specific situation. 

Credit cards also have a specific characteristic you need to consider; which network does it belong to? The four major credit card networks are Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. Each of these networks has got different benefits that will suit your usage better than others. Therefore, it is important that you investigate which one will be best suited for you.

You can find any type of company out there for your access to credit. You may be riskier or try to play it safe; you may not like upfront costs, or you might really need to improve your credit. In the end, the choice is yours.

FAQs

  • What Are Credit Card Processors?

When you own a business and would like to be able to accept your customer’s different cards, like credit or debit, then you fall into the category of merchant. To be able to accept these cards, you have to hire a service called merchant service, also known as credit card processors, because they are the ones who administer that specific service.

These services provide both software and hardware. The software they provide allows you to have an insight into every transaction, chargeback, fee, and many other benefits, all in the same place. In regard to hardware, these are card terminals or mobile readers that you can purchase or lease from the service providers.

Usually, the card processing services integrate with POS (Point of Sale) systems, accounting software, and CMS (Customer Relationship Management) programs. Therefore, any business that intends to accept credit cards as payment has to use this type of service.

While nowadays credit card payments are almost instantaneous and seem to work like magic, there are actually a whole lot of complicated processes happening simultaneously and hidden from view, like authorization of transactions and authentication of users. 

There is a lot going on behind the scenes of each operation, and in order for these to go smoothly, there are many security protocols in place for the transfer of information between the network of both the credit card and the bank.

  • How Does It Work?

These companies create connections between the credit card networks, the banks, and banking services. Merchant providers are sort of the middleman. For this, they have to offer a great deal of cyber security and must also be PCI-compliant: to ensure the safety of your information and every transaction.

In a nutshell, the best credit card processing service for you will result from the analysis of your business, of the volume of credit card payments you receive, or project receiving, to compare and acknowledge which rates offer the best deals to you.

  • What Is the Necessary Equipment?

It really depends on the type of business you are handling. It is rare, for example, that e-commerce may need special devices since all purchases are made directly on a web page online. 

However, that is not the same for a physical store. Not all stores require a freestanding POS register, for example, as that seems to be a standard that is quickly going out of fashion. Nowadays, a small phone card reader is enough hardware to handle a regular shops’ volume of credit card sales. 

Many different options arise as payment methods diversify and users begin to open up to new ways of purchasing. For example, mobile payment devices, or kiosks, might be available in your shop in order for you to cater to more mobile-oriented users. 

On the other hand, you might want to continue working with a piece of more traditional shop equipment and work with Point-of-Sale systems at the check-out, or perhaps just a small card terminal.

This will all depend on the type of hardware you already own, and the type of hardware your volume, or your merchant provider, requires.

  • How Much Does It Cost to Hire Credit Card Processing Services?

Many merchant providers charge various amounts of fees and monthly subscriptions. In some cases, it will depend on the type of industry you work in what the costs will be. The same can be said about the volume of your sales. 

Usually, the higher the volume, the better the deal you will get, though some services are not suitable when it comes to any number of sales. That means some merchant providers handle a low number of transactions better than others, and vice versa.

The interchange rate is doubtlessly the most common of the costs. This is a fee that gets passed to you from the credit card network. It is common practice that credit card processors charge per interchange fee

, plus separate pricing, i.e., a small percentage of each sale gets paid to the merchant account providers, as well as a fixed rate. 

The average fees charged by processors are:

  • Monthly fees from $0 to $599 monthly.
  • Flat-rate fees from $0.05 to $0.30 for each transaction.
  • Transaction fees in percentages from 0% to 3% for every payment.
  • What Is PCI Compliance?

Companies considered to be PCI compliant follow and achieve the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). The one responsible for these standards is the PCI Security Standards Council.

These standards have 12 key requirements, 78 base requirements, and 400 test procedures that ensure organizations are PCI compliant.

Having the certification of being PCI compliant means a reduction in data breaches, protection of the data of cardholders, the avoidance of fines, and the improvement of brand reputation.

The law does not require PCI, but court precedence considers it mandatory. The most important of these standards are the Mastercard Site Data Protection Program and Visa Cardholder Information Security Program.

  • Is Bankruptcy A Deal-Breaker for You to Get a Credit Card?

Bankruptcy is a very bad situation for any person or business, and that extreme financial distress can make it seem like there is no way to recover from it. However, depending, of course, on your situation, there might be a silver lining. 

There are credit cards that accept and let you qualify for them after filing for bankruptcy. Some people might not recommend applying for a credit card after you have just filed for bankruptcy, but it can end up being a sound idea after all. 

The truth is that, after bankruptcy, one of the very best goals you can set yourself is to improve your credit once more. Secure credit cards are one of the best ways to do exactly that. 

Of course, improving your credit will not be possible if the practices that led you down the path of bankruptcy are not changed. If you are using your credit card to get yourself further into debt, you are creating only more problems. 

On the other hand, if you use your card for small purchases and do not miss your payments, there's no way for your credit score to go up!

  • Can I Do a Balance Transfer While I Have Bad Credit?

You will probably have a hard time qualifying to get a balance transfer credit card with a zero-APR introductory offer to avoid, temporarily, interest payments when you have poor or bad credit. On the other hand, given time you could be within the parameters to be offered a low-interest introductory balance transfer, or similar. 

You can execute a balance transfer with bad credit, but it is easier to do after you have kept up payments consistently until you can bet a better score on your credit and then qualify for a better balance transfer offer. If the interest rate gets too hard, you can always apply for a personal loan to improve your odds.

  • Can I Get a Guarantee I Will Get Credit Card Approval with Bad Credit?

Not even those with fantastic credit have got any guarantees they will get approval for a credit card, let alone someone with bad credit. The closest thing are cards that carry out no credit check beforehand – only then can you feel pre-approved. 

These are called secured credit cards, and they work by asking the customer for a refundable security deposit in order to get approval. That is really the most similar thing to getting instantaneous approval for a credit card.

In the case of students who may have poor or limited credit, there exist student credit cards that could offer better treatment than a secured credit card, though. These credit cards have different requirements, like Social Security Numbers and bank accounts.

Some lenders will carry out checks in order to see if you fit or not for their cards, so you can ask them to see if you pre-qualify or not, and in a matter of a few days, you can see if you are pre-approved.

  • Can I Get Blacklisted from A Credit Card Company?

Not really. What moves a credit card company towards or away from you is your creditworthiness and your personal credit history. This is what will determine whether you get approved or denied.

There is really not such a thing as getting blacklisted from a credit card company because it is not good business for them. If you are struggling financially right now, that doesn’t mean you always will, so a blacklist doesn’t really make sense in this case.

However, you might find that you are being denied time and again, so in that case, what's best to do is to conduct a personal audit on your credit which might show you what the problem is. 

Some aspects to consider while auditing your credit are seeing if you have a long history of skipping or missing payments, or if you have any outstanding balances, or even just plainly looking at the accumulated credit card debt that you have gathered over the years.

Conclusion

If you want more information about how merchant services work, start by learning about your different options for merchant accounts and credit card processing solutions.

Once you understand what type of provider fits best with your business’s needs, look at some of the most popular providers online to see which one is right for you.