What to Know Before Getting Started
Starting a New Business?
Selecting a credit card processor is often more complicated than most people expect. How much should you be paying in fees? Should you lease or buy equipment? Should you be locked into a service agreement for anything length of time? These considerations and several others are imporant to understand before signing up with any merchant account provider. Mistakes are easily made and can be very costly to your business. Along with seeing our top choices for payment services below, be sure to checkout this post to avoid common traps in the merchant services industry.
Considerations For Current Business Owners
Changing merchant accounts can be an expensive, complicated, and time consuming process. Are you really going to save as much as promised? Do you need to buy to new equipment or sign new lease agreements? Will there be other less accountable costs such as those associated with employee retraining? Before selecting one of our choices below, you may want to consider renegotiating your fees with your current payment processing vendors using the help of a contingency-compensated consultant. It can result in a dramatic decrease in costs without the pains of switching. In some cases business owner have also obtained substantial refunds of prior overcharges along with saving thousands in future processing costs. See this post to learn more about this little-known alternative to changing merchant account provider.
If you work as an independent contractor, then you’ve likely encountered some difficulty with finding reliable payment processing. Chasing down outstanding amounts owed can be a pain. An inconsistent income stream may increase your risk of fund withholding. And if you don’t pay attention to your credit card processing fees and terms, you can find yourself drastically overpaying for merchant services. Between negotiating your compensation, getting your work done, and soliciting new business, there’s very little time for you to focus on something like your merchant account.
To make the process easier for you, we’ve compiled the following list of the best merchant account providers for contractors. The companies on this list offer useful tools for contractors like mobile and online payment methods, sales tracking, client management, digital invoicing, and recurring billing. More importantly, though, they offer competitive per-transaction rates and low- or no-commitment contract terms, enabling you to keep more of your money and remain a competitive shopper. In order to find the best fit for you, be sure to compare multiple providers and contact the ones that look most promising.
Our unbiased articles are supported in part by helping you find highly reviewed merchant accounts. You can learn more here.
Why These Merchant Account Providers
Active since early 2014, Fattmerchant is a merchant account provider leading the industry’s move toward flat-rate, subscription-style pricing. The company’s products and services include EMV-compatible countertop terminals, a virtual terminal, an online payment gateway, an online shopping cart, mobile phone processing, QuickBooks integration, online invoicing, and recurring billing. Fattmerchant is capable of serving all standard-risk contractors and offers a comprehensive dashboard for tracking all payments and customers.
Fattmerchant offers multiple pricing plans with different rates. Merchants can select either a plan that charges a flat fee on all transactions or a plan that charges a fixed monthly fee plus a fixed per-transaction dollar amount above interchange. In other words, merchants can choose whether or not they are charged a percentage markup on each transaction. Fattmerchant currently has an “A” rating on CPO and an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau.
Host Merchant Services
Host Merchant Services is a Newark, Delaware-based merchant account provider that is well-suited for most general business types and some high risk merchants. The company’s products and services include point-of-sale solutions (with specific packages for the restaurant, salon, professional service, and contractor sectors), online marketing tools, an online payment gateway and virtual terminal, mobile credit card processing, gift and loyalty programs, merchant cash advance, and offshore merchant accounts. Host Merchant Services specializes in e-commerce businesses and provides a free website and email address to new merchants who require them.
Host Merchant Services has received only positive feedback on public forums, with most reviewers singling out the company’s customer service for praise. Host offers interchange-plus pricing with no early termination fees to all of its merchants, meaning that users will enjoy the most transparent pricing model and can cancel service without penalty. The BBB gives Host an “A+” rating, and CPO also gives the company an “A+.”
Located in Chesapeake, Virginia, CDG Commerce is a great option for contractors who need to collect payments via multiple channels. CDG has been privately owned since 1998 and offers a proprietary payment gateway (as well as a discount on Authorize.Net’s payment gateway), a virtual terminal, QuickBooks integration, mobile phone processing, sales reporting, security breach protection, and vulnerability scanning. CDG Commerce is ideal for businesses that require a simple, low-cost, integrated mobile or online processing solution.
CDG Commerce only charges a low, fixed fee per transaction and offers competitive contractual terms, including no annual fees, monthly minimums, or termination fees. CDG also offers next-day funding to most business types. CDG has earned an “A+” rating in our review as well as an “A+” rating with the BBB.
Other Merchant Account Options
The providers in this section may not have been researched as thoroughly or may lack a quality that prevented them from being listed above. We have listed them here to provide a broader view of potential merchant account options. Are you a decision maker with your company and believe that you should be listed below? Tell us here.
Shopify is primarily known as an e-commerce platform for online merchants, but the company recently launched a point-of-sale software solution for iPad and iPhone. The Shopify POS app can accept cards via a headphone jack card swiper or a $129 EMV reader and includes features like inventory syncing with a webstore, emailed receipts, automatic tax calculations, basic email marketing, and in-store refunds. The service can also be paired with a Shopify online store, which comes with numerous customization options. Shopify POS is a great fit for contractors who would like to accept payments on-site using their phones as well as through online billing.
Shopify offers month-to-month pricing plans with variable pricing and product tiers. The company is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, and has been in operation since 2005. The company provides phone, email, and live chat support to all of its merchant tiers and enjoys very few online complaints despite its massive user base. The BBB gives Shopify an “A+” rating at this time, while CardPaymentOptions.com awards the company an “A.”
For more information, see the Shopify website.
Inner Fence, a joint venture with the processor Merchant Focus, offers the widest platform compatibility among the other providers in this list. Inner Fence can be used with both iPhone and Android devices as well as Windows and Mac computers, making it a versatile virtual terminal that can take payments on nearly any internet-connected device. The service is available to both U.S. and Canadian contractors and offers support via email and telephone.
Unlike most other mobile processors, Inner Fence charges a monthly service fee ranging from $39 to $49 based on a merchant’s location and preferred payment schedule. It also charges 2.9% plus $0.30 for all transactions, which may be a drawback for low volume and micro-merchants. Additionally, the service requires an Authorize.net account that will likely result in additional monthly fees. For these reasons, Inner Fence is best suited for high-ticket contractors that can make use of its broad cross-platform compatibility.
Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Payline Data is a consistently top-rated provider across all merchant services review websites. Payline is capable of serving merchants of all sizes and types, including contractors in most industries. The company offers traditional retail credit card terminals, mobile phone credit card processing (via Flint), an online payment gateway and virtual terminal, QuickBooks integration, third-party shopping cart integration, API integration, and various point-of-sale solutions. Payline Data is a great option for contractors of all volumes, but it will be best for contractors who process over $5,000 per month.
In addition to its wide array of services, Payline Data offers interchange-plus pricing with month-to-month contracts and no early termination fees. As a result, the company enjoys a large number of positive testimonials from its clients on this website and in other consumer protection forums. The Better Business Bureau currently assigns Payline Data an “A+” rating, and CPO also gives Payline an “A+.”
Launched in April 2013, Spark Pay by Capital One is a mobile processing app offered as part of Capital One’s “Spark Business” suite of small business solutions. It can be acquired via a free download from the App Store or Google Play Store and comes with a free headphone jack card reader. Spark Pay offers two pricing plans for merchants. The first, the Go Plan, is intended for low-volume contractors who simply wish to accept credit cards via their iPhones. It charges 2.7% per swiped transaction, 2.95% per swiped American Express transaction, and 3.7% per keyed-in transaction. There are no other monthly fees associated with this plan.
The Pro Plan, which is intended for higher-volume contractors, charges 1.95% per swiped transaction, 2.95% per swiped American Express transaction, and 2.95% per keyed-in transaction. It includes a monthly fee of $9.95 and can be cancelled anytime without penalty. Spark Pay also includes other useful features for independent contractors like bar code scanning, tips, inventory management, and digital receipts. The service comes with live phone support and email support for all users.
If your business offers credit card processing for contractors, please leave a comment in the comment section below or contact us through our contact page in order to get listed in this article.