Best Merchant Services of May 2024

Merchant services encompass a wide range of features, but most importantly, they give your business the tools it needs to process card transactions. Credit card processing companies, for example, fulfill merchant services by facilitating payment processing both in-person and online, and sometimes even by providing point-of-sale (POS) hardware.

The best merchant services have competitive processing fees and accept a range of payment types. Some stand out for accommodating high-risk merchants, while others sell a variety of POS systems and card readers, or integrate with popular business apps.

Here’s our list of the best merchant services and what sets them apart.

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Our picks for the best merchant services

Helcim: Best for interchange-plus processing

Why we like it: It’s easy to sign up for a Helcim account online by providing some basic information about your business. Funds from your transactions are deposited within two business days. Customer support is available weekdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time and on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time. You can sync data with both QuickBooks Desktop and Online as well as WooCommerce. Read our full Helcim review.

Square: Best flat-rate option

Why we like it: Square can accommodate all types of credit card transactions. You receive your funds as fast as the next business day for free, or you can pay a fee to receive funds instantly. Square also offers free dispute management for chargebacks. Free phone support is available during the week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. Square integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, WooCommerce and other popular apps.

Dharma Merchant Services: Best for nonprofits

Why we like it: With Dharma Merchant Services, nonprofits benefit from reduced transaction rates and partnership with a provider that’s been committed to doing good from its inception. Additionally, businesses with monthly card sales over $100,000 or more than 5,000 transactions may qualify for volume discounts, as well as restaurants with average ticket amounts of less than $25. Funding is guaranteed in two business days. Customer support to process your card transactions is available 24 hours a day. Read our full Dharma Merchant Services review.

Stripe: Best flat rate for online sales

Why we like it: With Stripe, payments are typically processed in two to three business days. Stripe integrates with a large number of apps like Bench Accounting, Xero and Mailchimp. You can use the developer tools in Stripe Terminal and pre-certified card readers to build your own in-person checkout system. Read our full Stripe review.

Payment Depot: Best for tailored interchange-plus rates

Why we like it: Payment Depot, which is owned by Stax, is a good option for businesses that want to explore customized interchange-plus rates. Markups may vary from industry to industry, and savings get passed along to the business when customers use cards with lower interchange rates. Funds are automatically deposited within one to two days, and phone support is available 24/7. Payment Depot integrates with other business software apps, including QuickBooks, WooCommerce and Magento. Read our full Payment Depot review.

PaymentCloud: Best for high-risk businesses

Why we like it: PaymentCloud’s payment processing is available for in-person, online, mobile, keyed and cryptocurrency transactions. It has multiple banking relationships that can be used to secure a merchant account for high-risk businesses in industries including firearms, tobacco, credit repair, telemedicine and other industries. The platform integrates with QuickBooks and many shopping carts including BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify and Adobe Commerce (formerly Magento). Read our full PaymentCloud review.

National Processing: Best for free terminal

Why we like it: National Processing offers processing services for some high-risk businesses. You can expect to receive your funds in two days with an opportunity for next-day deposits. Phone support is available 24/7. Integrations are offered for popular business apps including QuickBooks, WooCommerce, Ecwid, Zendesk, BigCommerce and Shopify. Read our full National Processing review.

QuickBooks Payments: Best for QuickBooks loyalists

Why we like it: You’ll need a QuickBooks account to use QuickBooks Payments. Funds are typically deposited the next business day when the cutoff time of 6 p.m. ET is met. Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. QuickBooks Payments integrates with Shopify, Amazon, eBay, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Etsy shopping carts. Read our full QuickBooks Payments review.

U.S. Bank Merchant Services: Best for fast deposits

Why we like it: U.S. Bank offers business banking, payment processing and point-of-sale solutions for small businesses. With a variety of monthly plans, transaction rates that are on par with other merchant services providers, no long-term contract, no cancellation fees and no PCI fees, U.S. Bank Merchant Services may be an appealing option for businesses, especially if you’re looking for a single provider for payment processing, business banking and/or a POS solution. Free same-day funding is available if you have a U.S. Bank business checking account.

Merchants opening a new Payment Solutions account are eligible to earn back 2.5% on transaction fees each month through 2025. Terms and conditions apply.

Chase Payment Solutions: Best for built-in banking partner

Why we like it: Chase Payment Solutions is a direct processor, meaning it operates as both the payment processor and the acquiring bank that establishes the merchant’s bank account. You’ll get your money the next business day, which is faster than the two-day norm with many other processors, provided you use a Chase business checking account. Additionally, Chase offers 24/7 service and has no monthly fees. It has payment processing solutions for service-based businesses, health care companies, restaurants, retail stores and e-commerce shops. Read NerdWallet’s Chase Payment Solutions review.

What are merchant services?

Merchant services are offered by payment processors, as well as banks and POS system providers with payment processing services. They comprise a variety of products and services, like payment processing and merchant accounts, that help businesses accept payments either online, in store or both.
For online payments, they may include e-commerce platforms that allow businesses to sell goods online and payment gateways that provide a secure place for online customers to enter their card information. For in-person payments, merchant services involve credit card readers and other POS hardware devices that make it possible to accept different payment methods.

What do merchant services include?

To enable businesses to accept a variety of payment types, merchant services usually include some combination of the following:

POS hardware

POS hardware is crucial for accepting payments in person. Retail shops with a brick-and-mortar location, for example, may choose a countertop POS system setup with a cash register and receipt printer. Business owners that complete most of their sales at farmers markets or pop-up events, on the other hand, may only require a credit card reader that connects to their smartphone. There are also handheld POS terminals for taking payments on the go or tableside.

POS software

Paired with POS hardware, POS software collects in-depth sales data, runs reports, syncs information with your business’s accounting software and helps you manage employees. POS systems usually offer hardware and software in tandem.

Payment processing services

Payment processing services, which are often available through your POS system provider, work behind the scenes to facilitate the transfer of money from your customers’ accounts to your business’s account. They may include additional tools, like invoicing and reporting, too.

Merchant accounts

When you complete a credit card transaction, those funds go to a merchant account before getting deposited into your business bank account (where they’re actually accessible). Some companies, known as payment service providers (PSPs), pool multiple merchants’ funds into a single account and distribute them from there. Examples include Square and Stripe, and usually use non-negotiable flat-rate payment processing.

Alternatively, you can apply for your own merchant account that is tailored specifically to your business’s needs. Compared to a PSP, individual merchant account providers typically require a more involved application process, meaning you may need to wait longer to begin accepting payments. Though there could be some upfront setup costs, payment processing fees are sometimes negotiable.

Extra features

Merchant services also refers to tools and capabilities that are intertwined with the payments process, like gift cards, loyalty programs, fraud protection, integrations with the rest of your business software ecosystem, reporting and online website features that help you securely accept payments online.

Does your business need a merchant services provider?

If you’d like to accept credit and debit card payments — and not just cash — your business likely needs a merchant services provider. In addition to helping your business accept card payments, merchant services can also make the checkout process more efficient by offering user-friendly POS hardware, collecting sales data, syncing that data with your accounting software and providing customer support.

Merchant services vs. merchant accounts

Merchant services often include merchant accounts in some capacity, but the two terms aren’t synonymous. Merchant services are made up of a range of products and services — think merchant accounts, payment processing services and POS systems — that help your business accept payments. Some offer individual merchant accounts and others (PSPs) hold multiple businesses’ funds in a single account until they’re transferred to your business’s individual bank account.

How to choose the best merchant services provider

Before committing to a merchant services provider, consider the following factors:

Variety of payment types accepted

Make sure your merchant services provider supports all of the payment methods and types your business plans to accept. These may include online and in-person payments, contactless payments, digital wallets, QR codes and PayPal.


Consider the upfront costs associated with POS hardware as well as the ongoing subscription costs associated with POS software plans. Similarly, compare different provider’s per-transaction rates and fees. There could also be fees for PCI compliance, chargebacks, setup and merchant account maintenance.

POS system compatibility

It’s most convenient to use a merchant services provider that can offer POS systems and payment processing services under the same umbrella. If that’s not an option, make sure the processor integrates with your POS system and, preferably, your accounting software.

Customer service

Think about which days and times you accept the highest volume of transactions and check to see if live customer support is available then. Live chat and phone support are ideal so that you can reach a representative immediately. Some merchant services providers also assign businesses dedicated account managers for one-on-one support.

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