Best All-Purpose Merchant Accounts (U.S.)

Overview

Finding the right merchant account provider for your business can be a real chore. The credit card processing industry is notorious for hidden fees, deceptive sales tactics, and unsavory contract terms that penalize business owners who do not take the time to educate themselves before shopping. Even if you are wise enough to read through your contract before signing, you might find that you’ve accidentally purchased the wrong equipment or that the rates you pay aren’t as competitive as you thought they were. Arming yourself with knowledge is the first step to getting a good deal, but it isn’t the only step. You’ll also want to find a provider that can identify your business’s needs and supply a solution that fits your sales environment, your budget, and your customers’ expectations.

That’s why we’ve compiled the following list of the best all-purpose merchant account providers in the United States (Related: Best Canadian). The companies in this list are able to supply industry-leading products and services for a wide range of business sizes and types. More importantly, though, these providers are some of the best processors that CPO has reviewed when it comes to transparent pricing, positive merchant feedback, and helpful customer service. In short, you can expect these providers to understand your business’s needs and provide the appropriate solution for a fair price. You don’t have to take our word for it, though. We encourage you to contact multiple companies on this list and compare their pricing and services in order to get the best deal for your business.

Why These Providers

Fattmerchant

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 offers free equipment for all accounts and is capable of serving all standard-risk retail, mobile, and e-commerce business types.

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.

For more information, visit the Fattmerchant website, or call (866) 397-9826.

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+.”

For more information, visit the Host Merchant Services website or call (888) 727-4538.

CDG Commerce

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 is ideal for businesses that require a simple, low-cost, integrated retail 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.

For more information, see the CDG Commerce website or call (888) 393-1079.

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 (Authorize.Net), QuickBooks integration, small business financing, and custom fundraising pages for non-profits. The company 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 for merchants who process over $10,000 per month.

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+.”

For more information, see the Dharma Merchant Services website or call (888) 404-1237.

Additional Options

Payline Data

Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, Payline Data has consistently rated as one of the best merchant account providers on CPO since we first reviewed the company. Payline is capable of serving merchants of all sizes and types, including some high risk business 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 almost any business size, from small, single-register merchants to large, enterprise-level organizations.

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+.”

For more information, see the Payline Data website or call (888) 506-7812.

Transparent Merchant Services

Transparent Merchant Services is a Scottsdale, Arizona-based merchant account provider that offers a unique, membership-style pricing model. Rather than charging a percentage of each transaction, Transparent charges a small, flat fee above interchange on all transactions in addition to a fixed monthly membership fee. This makes Transparent remarkably affordable for merchants that process a low number of large-ticket transactions. It also keeps the company’s pricing predictable and transparent from month to month. Transparent Merchant Services serves retail, mobile, and e-commerce business types.

Transparent has received exclusively positive public feedback since it opened in 2008 and offers month-to-month agreements with no early termination fees. Transparent provides its merchants with live phone support during business hours as well as chat support and email support. Our review of Transparent gives the company an “A” rating, while the BBB gives Transparent an “A+” rating.

For more information, see the Transparent website or call (888) 510-2937.


If your business offers quality merchant services at a fair, transparent price, please leave a comment in the comment section below or contact us through our contact page in order to get listed in this article.

Hi, I’m Phillip and I’m disgusted by the state of credit card processing in the U.S. and abroad. I believe that the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal money from hard working business owners. I’ve made it my mission to expose the companies and individuals who engage in predatory marketing, pricing, and contracts, or just provide terrible service. Along with uncovering the bad guys, I’ve also discovered the good guys who do stand out from the status quo. CPO is a website where you will find ratings and reviews of these companies along with advice on how to save money and which service providers consider. Together we can move the industry in a positive direction. If you would like to help support my work, please checkout “Fee Sweep” my eGuide to getting the lowest possible fees when accepting card payments. If you haven’t heard of “interchange” this advice will save you hundreds, even thousands, in processing fees.

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3 Reviews Leave Your Review Below

  1. We have signed with First Data services. We were promised that we could pay our machine off within 90 days if that is what we chose to do. NOT TRUE. If you don’t pay up front they automatically put you on a lease that is non cancelable. The same machine that was sold to us that is going to cost us $4,368.00 if bought outright somewhere else would have cost $459.99 plus approximately $400.00 for software. There is a lot of difference between $4368.00 and $1,000.00.

    We were also promised that if we did not like this program that we could get out of it. Guess what WRONG AGAIN. We cannot get out of our agreement.

    DO NOT believe them. If you choose to go through them purchase your own machine on your own. NOT THROUGH THE LEASING COMPANY..

    I would NOT go through this company again.

  2. Thanks! I am just starting to look for lower rates than our bank charges, and feel you saved me time I would have spent looking in the wrong directions!

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