Updated: February 16, 2021
In today’s plastic heavy market, having a credit card machine is one of the first things a small business owner needs to consider. With the liability shift that started in October of 2015, almost all credit card machine for small business owners available are EMV-compliant. Or in other words, accept chip-enabled credit cards, as well as NFC payments which are contactless forms such as Apple Pay. However, there is no magic solution to finding the perfect credit card service to fit your business. Examining your business model can help you decide which service provider and credit card machine are right for your small business.
Square for Versatility
If versatility is important to you, then Square may be one of the top payment solutions to explore. Charging a flat fee of 2.75% per swipe, no contracts, and the ability to accept payments virtually anywhere. Should you need a cash register, the Square Stand can provide that when connected to an iPad. Choosing to use Square and the square app does lock you into using only their software. Additional apps like Square Dashboard can help you manage employees hours, provide sales reporting, and track inventory.
With a lot of attractive features, there are still some less than glamorous sides of using Square. As a new business owner, having a real customer service representative assigned to your business can be extremely helpful. Square does not offer extensive customer service and merchants can be left to problem solve issues on their own. Plus, if you are a high volume business, for example, a coffee shop, the rates offered by Square lose their appeal compared to a more traditional merchant service provider.
Shopify for eCommerce First Merchants
Some small businesses models have both an online and brick-and-mortar store where payments can be accepted. If your business offers these options then Shopify might be a good tool to use. They offer three pricing levels varying from 2.2-2.7% per transaction. As well as a free magstripe reader (for in-person transactions) that plugs into your iPhone or iPad with the Shopify iOS app. Building and customizing your online store is user-friendly with pre-made templates allowing you to accept orders and payments. Plus the sales you make from the online or in-person store will be synced and tracked with Shopify for easy analysis and inventory. Similar to that of the Square, choosing Shopify may leave you high and dry in the customer service department
Standard brick-and-mortar stores such as small business restaurants and retailers might find the options available with ShopKeep enticing. ShopKeep has a free app that works with iPads but you can also purchase additional devices such as a credit card machine and a cash drawer. The rates with ShopKeep are variable and can be used with a third-party processor. With cloud-based software managing the logistics of running your small business is made simple. Purchasing each device separately can add up and possibly not integrate with one another. Hardware issues and extra expenditures can be disastrous for a new business.
Payanywhere is Customizable
If your small business wants to customize their POS system, then payanywhere is the all-in-one package for you. This device is EMV compliant and fully customizable. Offering an App Market with loads of free or paid apps to create the type of POS system that best fits your business plan. The payanywhere runs on its own hardware, offering a solution for pretty much all of your business needs.
Choosing the payanywhere system (while potentially pricey at first) may mean that you never have to worry about payment processing solution for your business again. Automatic updates and upgrades will keep your business outfitted with the latest in payment processing technology.
Why Flagship Merchant Services?
Month-to-Month Terms and Choice of Pricing Model
Flagship Merchant Services is our pick for the credit card processor with the best flexible terms because it offers all of its customers month-to-month service with no early termination fee. By offering monthly terms to its merchants, Flagship Merchant Services shows its confidence in the quality of its services and in the value of its pricing.
The service also allows you to choose between tiered or interchange-plus pricing. Industry experts prefer interchange-plus pricing because of its transparency, but businesses that run a high volume of PIN debit transactions may save money with tiered pricing, particularly if the payment processor offers a special rate for this type of transaction.
Flagship has a proven track record in the payment processing industry. It’s been in business for more than 15 years and is used by brands such as Subway, Verizon and Avon. It works with businesses of all sizes, including smaller merchants and startups. Its parent company, iPayment, was recently acquired by Paysafe, so you’ll see Paysafe branding on your email communications with the company.
As mentioned above, Flagship Merchant Services offers credit card machine for small business owners , and there’s no early termination fee. Standard credit card processing contracts have three-year terms that automatically renew for additional two-year terms with only a 30- to 90-day cancellation window, making them difficult to exit. They can also have early cancellation fees, sometimes with liquidated damages clauses, which can be very expensive.
However, if you accept free equipment instead of purchasing it, you’ll be subject to a longer contract. For example, if you accept a Clover Mini POS system, you’ll be under contract for the standard three-year term. Even though it’s hard to turn down a freebie, it’s better to purchase the equipment from the provider upfront and keep the month-to-month terms.
credit card machine for small business owners are based on several factors, such as your type of business, the ways you wish to accept credit cards, your average monthly sales volume and more.
Flagship Merchant Services only posts the qualified debit card rate for its tiered pricing structure on its website as a teaser. It doesn’t advertise its full tiered pricing schedule or its interchange-plus plan on its website as the rates it offers you may vary.
Depending on your monthly sales volume, you may be able to negotiate lower processing rates and fees than those we were quoted in our testing – typically, the higher your sales volume, the lower your rate. To get pricing specific to your business, you can contact a Flagship sales representative for a custom quote.
In searching for the best online credit card processing service, we looked for a payment processor that can easily connect to existing e-commerce stores and websites, as well as one that offers customization options. It was also important that the service is scalable and allows you to add additional features as your business grows. The best option should also integrate with other business management systems and have competitive processing rates and fees.
Connects With Websites, E-Commerce Platforms and Apps
Stripe is an online payment processing company designed for developers, so the first time you visit its website, you may feel out of your depth. However, once you know what to look for, you’ll discover that Stripe’s tools make it easy for your small businesses to accept payments online.
Integrations and Extensions
One of the best things about Stripe is that it works with hundreds of business software applications and services, such as e-commerce platforms and shopping carts, accounting and invoicing systems, and CRM software. Many of these allow you to sign up for a Stripe account from within the program. If you already have a Stripe account, you can connect it to these integrations with just a few clicks. That’s it – no programming skills needed. Here’s a small sampling of the e-commerce solutions that integrate with Stripe:
- Big Cartel
If you already have a website, you can use Stripe’s prebuilt Checkout form. You only have to copy and paste a short code to instantly place buy buttons and payment forms anywhere in your e-commerce store. Alternatively, you can use plugins to add Stripe to your site.
If you have some coding experience or a developer on staff, you’ll enjoy the rich assortment of developer tools, features and advanced customization options Stripe provides. You can use Stripe Elements, a prebuilt UI, to customize the look of the checkout form for your website or mobile app, or use Stripe.js to build a custom payment flow.
provides credit card processing the way small businesses need it: with complete transparency. All of its pricing is clearly spelled out on its website and if anything confuses you, the company provides a host of online tutorials and how-to guides.
Helcim sells equipment directly, including wired and wireless credit card scanners, and mobile card readers—all of which are compatible with other processors should you switch to a different one. Equipment pricing includes shipping, 24/7 tech support, and a one-year replacement warranty.
Transactions get settled once a day, and Helcim says funds are typically transferred within two business days. The daily deposit consists of the full amount of credit card sales, and it’s not until the end of each month that merchants get a bill for transaction fees. This makes it easier for bookkeepers to reconcile the records.
The only other fee merchants have to consider is the chargeback fee, for which Helcim charges $15. The reason it’s a flat fee is that the process of verifying fraudulent charges is a manual one that involves arbitrating between the credit card company and the vendor, who can provide a rebuttal (for instance proof a package receipt). A whole department is dedicated to this back and forth communication. This fee typically ranges between $10 and $20, putting Helcim right in the middle.
Third-Party Integrations and Other Features
Helcim accepts all major credit cards, and mobile payments including Android Pay and Apple Pay. All accounts offer international credit card processing; optionally merchants can enable multi-currency service, in which you can offer customers the option to pay in their home currency.
Helcim integrates with shopping carts from many third-party providers, including Shopify, Magento, and more. Merchants can export transactions to a CSV file or directly to Intuit QuickBooks for accounting purposes. Only Intuit Quickbooks Payments can actually be directly integrated with QuickBooks accounting software.
CardFellow, a service that offers free payment processing quotes as well as reviews and advice gives Helcim a positive write-up, though there are no customer reviews on the site. It praises the transparent pricing, equipment options, and its help with PCI Compliance. Helcim has an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and, as of this writing, has two 5-star reviews (5 stars out of 5). Both reviews praise Helcim’s customer service, upfront pricing information, and help getting set up. One reviewer, a recovering skeptic says they would recommend Helcim to anyone who needs to accept credit cards. As of this writing, Helcim had not logged any customer complaints.
Helcim is a great choice for merchants looking for interchange plus pricing. Customers rave about its friendly and always-available customer service, as well as its transparency about fees, which is rare in this industry. However, it’s worth considering a wholesale subscription such as Payment Depot if you process at least $20,000 per month, or a flat fee service such as Square if you conduct small transactions and have a low monthly volume of sales.