What to Know Before Getting Started
Seasonal businesses are a unique case in the credit card processing industry. Most merchant account providers aren’t able to turn their accounts on or off with the click of a button, and they tend to regard seasonal merchants as an unreliable source of revenue. As a result, your seasonal business may face hefty account maintenance fees during your off months, or worse, the need to close and reopen a new merchant account every year. This problem is complicated further when it comes to obtaining processing equipment for busy seasonal locations or yearly fundraising events. How can you find a merchant account provider that can get you the processing tools you need during your active months without charging an arm and a leg for the convenience?
To help you find the right fit for your business, we’ve put together the following list of the best merchant accounts for seasonal businesses. The providers on this list offer easy account setup and closure, credit card processing software, accounting software integration, and other useful services for growing and maintaining your seasonal business. They are also known to provide low-commitment contracts with transparent pricing and quality customer service. To find the right provider for your seasonal business, be sure to research each processor’s products and features and compare pricing and terms.
Advertising Disclosure: Our unbiased articles are supported in part by helping you find highly reviewed merchant accounts. You can learn more here.
Why We Chose 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 seasonal merchants 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.
Located in Chesapeake, Virginia, CDG Commerce is a great option for standard-risk merchants of all sizes and types. 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’s simple, low-cost, integrated retail and online processing solutions can be tailored to meet the needs of seasonal businesses.
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.
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 seasonal merchants who would like to accept payments on-site using their phones as well as through an online store.
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.
Secondary Merchant Account Options
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 also comes with live phone support and email support for all users. Spark Pay is a great option for seasonal businesses that would like to accept credit cards without any dedicated hardware or unnecessary costs.
Spark Pay offers two pricing plans for merchants. The first, the Go Plan, is intended for low-volume merchants who simply wish to accept credit cards via their mobile devices. 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 merchants, 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.
You can learn more by visiting the Spark Pay website.
Dharma Merchant Services
Based in San Francisco, California, Dharma Merchant Services is a highly rated merchant account provider that places a corporate emphasis on social consciousness and community outreach. The company’s products and services include countertop terminals, a tablet-based POS system (via a partnership with ShopKeep), mobile device payment processing, an online payment gateway and virtual terminal (Authorize.Net), QuickBooks integration, small business financing, and custom fundraising pages for non-profits. The company also extends special pricing to non-profit organizations and donates a percentage of its profits to non-profits of its choosing every year. Dharma is best suited to provide savings for businesses that process over $10,000 per month and non-profit organizations.
Dharma scores highly in our review and elsewhere due to its positively reviewed customer service, transparent marketing practices, competitive interchange-plus rates, and fair service agreements. The BBB currently assigns a rating of “A+” for Dharma Merchant Services, while CardPaymentOptions.com also gives the company an “A+.”
PayPal is one of the largest payment processors in the world and is a very commonly used solution for seasonal businesses. PayPal’s features include emailed invoices with “Pay Now” buttons, mobile processing via PayPal Here, online shopping cart integration, and a virtual terminal that can be paired with a USB card swiper. PayPal is generally an excellent option for seasonal businesses that don’t mind transferring funds to and from their PayPal accounts.
PayPal is an easy-to-use service with a high profile and widespread acceptance. This recognition has enabled the company to grow and develop its product and service offerings, but it has also resulted in PayPal receiving a very large number of complaints related to customer service issues and fund holds. Our review of PayPal gives the company a “B” rating overall at this time, while the BBB gives PayPal an “A+.”
For more information, visit the PayPal website.
If your business offers seasonal merchant accounts, please leave a comment in the comment section below or contact us through our contact page in order to get listed in this article.