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.
Your New Business Needs a Merchant Account
There’s no getting around it: your new business will need to accept credit cards. Credit card processing can be a complicated issue for first-time business owners, so many new merchants simply choose the first merchant account they read about. Unfortunately, that approach can land you with a terrible payment processor for your small business. Some credit card processors will not even accept newly formed businesses due to low sales volume or no processing history, and even if you do get approved for a new business merchant account, you may be subject to so many fees that you end up losing money on credit card payments.
Find The Best Payment Processors for Brand-New Businesses
We’ve compiled the following list to help you find the top merchant accounts for new businesses. These merchant services providers are experts at serving merchants with little or no processing history. Some offer simple solutions for single-register or seasonal locations, while others can help you hit the ground running with a full suite of payment features. Most importantly, all of them have competitive contract terms and quality customer service according to their users. Each provider has different policies and specialty areas, so be sure to contact multiple companies on this list to find an option that works best for your recently started business.
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
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+.”
PaymentCloud is our top recommended option for new business types that might be considered high risk by conventional processors. In addition to serving conventional high risk industries like travel, adult, gun, offshore, and nutraceutical businesses, PaymentCloud is also at the forefront of approving hemp merchant accounts, kratom merchant accounts, and CBD merchant accounts for credit card processing. Besides the ability to approve high risk businesses with no previous payment history, PaymentCloud is one of the best rated processors in the merchant services industry.
Based in Woodland Hills, California, PaymentCloud is a merchant account provider that specializes in serving high risk business types. The company’s products and services include point-of-sale solutions, mobile phone swipers, an online payment gateway and virtual terminal, EMV-compatible terminals, and merchant cash advances.
PaymentCloud provides a dedicated account rep to all new merchants for the life of the account. The company has not received any negative complaints on consumer forums, and it customizes its pricing according to each merchant’s business type and processing history. The BBB does not maintain a profile for PaymentCloud at this time, but CPO gives the company an “A.”
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 a great option for new businesses that expect to process more than $10,000 per month from the start.
Fattmerchant offers multiple pricing plans with different rates, but all of its plans charge a fixed monthly fee and a fixed per-transaction dollar amount above interchange. In other words, none of Fattmerchant’s plans charge a percentage-based fee on each transaction, meaning that merchants will not pay more to process a large transaction than they will a small transaction. Fattmerchant currently has an “A” rating on CPO and an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau.
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.
Best Low-Volume Option
Based in Calgary, Alberta, Helcim has been providing traditional credit card processing, mobile payment solutions, virtual terminals, and online payment gateways since 2009. The company is rare among merchant services providers in that it fully discloses its pricing on its website for anyone to view. Helcim uses interchange-plus pricing, which adds a fixed markup on top of wholesale rates for optimum transparency. Helcim is an optimal merchant account provider for new merchants processing less than $10,000 per month.
Helcim does not charge monthly minimum fees, statement fees, application fees, or PCI compliance fees. The company offers month-to-month contracts and does not charge early termination fees. Helcim offers 24/7 support for merchants and has numerous positive testimonials across the internet, including in the comment section of its “A” review on CPO. Helcim also maintains an “A+” rating with the BBB.
For more information, see the Helcim Website.
Best Online Store Option
Shopify is a well-known e-commerce platform based in Ottawa, Ontario. The company’s payment processing platform, Shopify Payments, is powered by Stripe and functions as the preferred payment option provided by the company. In addition to online credit card acceptance, Shopify provides completely customizable store templates, a secure, on-site shopping cart, integration with over 70 different payment gateways, unlimited hosting and bandwidth, online marketing tools, and email support. Shopify also provides point-of-sale (POS) equipment for merchants with physical locations.
Shopify offers different service packages at the following pricing tiers: $14/month (Starter), $29/month (Basic), $79/month (Professional), $179/month (Unlimited), and a custom Plus plan for merchants who sell over a million dollars in merchandise per year. Shopify’s online per-transaction fees decrease with each upgraded package, starting at 2.9% plus $0.30 for the Starter package and ending with a low custom rate for the Plus plan. Merchants can integrate their existing merchant accounts with Shopify, but they will pay an additional 2% per transaction on the Basic plan and an additional 1% per transaction on the Professional plan.
For more information, visit the Shopify website.
What is Square?
Square is a mobile and countertop credit card processing service created by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey. The service offers flat-rate pricing of 2.75% per transaction with month-to-month contracts and no other monthly or annual fees.
Square Support Concerns
Square is a very popular payment app for new businesses, but it has also received widespread backlash from merchants due to its customer support system. Square offers limited phone support to active users and no phone support to deactivated users. It also has developed a reputation for holding large transactions without warning. Merchants who only occasionally process small credit card transactions will not run into these problems, but busier merchants may find this frustrating. You can contact Square here.
Square Market is not recommended for medium-sized merchants, large merchants, or merchants who expect rapid growth. It is a cheap, useful tool, though, for merchants who simply want to accept small transactions every so often. We currently give Square as a whole company a “D” rating, and the BBB gives Square an “A+” overall.
If your company supplies merchant accounts for first-time merchants, please let us know in the comment section below or get in touch via our contact page.