If you are a business or own an ecommerce shop, you need a payment processor. Your customers want to make digital purchases with e-transfers, debit, and credit cards, and processors facilitate those transactions between you and any financial institution. In our digitally savvy society, if you cannot offer online and easy payment methods, you are missing out on potential revenue opportunities.
With 2.8 billion credit cards in use worldwide, your business will grow by introducing digital transfers methods. Credit cards increase shopping cart size, make real-time transfers, reduce business liquidity requirements, and open your company to international markets. Plus, as fraudulent actions rise in volume and sophistication, you need to safeguard all payment transfers—especially as consumer demand for digital payments increases.
A payment processor provides your organization the benefits of digital payments, but picking the right solution from hundreds of available solutions is a tricky process. Selecting the wrong processor can lead to extra fees, improper security, and slow payments. To help you choose the ideal payment processor, we compiled a list of the best options on the market. Read on to discover the ten best payment processors.
Selection Criteria for Choosing the Best Payment Processor
Each payment process presents different services to its customer. In order to determine the best processor for your organization, we need to define the critical features that can affect your purchase. We will use the following selection criteria to evaluate the quality of our top ten payment processors:
Accepted Payment Methods
The purpose of your payment processor is to offer a multitude of payment options to your customers. For example, top-level processors can accept multiple kinds of digital transfers, physical card swipes, and international currencies from online portals. When choosing a payment processor, ensure that the accepted payment methods match the needs of your customers.
Different processors have different fees, rates, or contract prices. The most expensive solution is not always the best choice, and transaction fees can hurt your revenues. Comparing each payment processor and its fee structure is necessary.
Data and digital payments follow strict compliance laws, and customer trust will erode if your business falls victim to extensive security breaches. High-level security is an important factor in your purchase decision.
Payment processors need to transfer money at near-immediate speeds. Not only does this make accounting far easier (reduce wait times for customer money and track your incoming payments with ease), but it also improves your customer’s experience.
Customizations and Integrations
Every business is unique and may need customized software to create a seamless buying experience. Plus, your payment processor will most likely integrate with several other applications, such as ecommerce software, payment gateways, point of sale hardware, etc. Ensure that you select a payment processor that integrates with your current business infrastructure.
With our selection criteria set, let’s look into the ten best payment processors available in 2021:
Authorize.net is a popular name for ecommerce vendors because it routes credit card point-of-sale transactions to a third-party processor, a feature that is ideal for virtual and mobile terminals. Some users find the lack of merchant services and customer support a dealbreaker, but for many, this simple solution offers good value. Authorize.net has recently expanded its payment gateway services to include comprehensive payment processing options, but some customers note a few troubles with setting up a premium account.
- Accepted Payment Methods: Merchants can use a robust set of payment methods such as mobile card readers, electronic checks, and online, phone, and mobile payments. Authorize.net does limit the available payment types to transactions covered by credit cards or popular software payment applications, not necessarily digital wallets. Still, for many online shoppers, this is a wealth of options.
- Fees: There are three pricing plans: Payment Gateway Only, All-in, or an enterprise option (500k+ in sales per year). Payment Gateway starts at 25$ per month plus a per-transaction fee. The All-in plan includes the merchant account attached to the payment gateway, a better choice for vendors who have no existing accounts to integrate.
- Security: Authorize.net follows the standard requirements for Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security, as well as other compliance laws (e.g. Sarbanes-Oxley, SSAE-18). The processor also has an advanced fraud protection suite to safeguard any collected data.
- Speed: Since Authorize.net is a mobile and virtual payment gateway that relies on third-party sellers for processing, you do not need to worry about speed. Most website or card transactions occur immediately.
- Customizations and Integrations: While the service is not readily customizable, the platform offers numerous integrations that connect with third-party developers, hardware, or business services.
Square created an ingenious method for supplying small business owners with credit card processing by making digital payment methods accessible through a smartphone app and attachable hardware products. The company has since gone on to create enterprise payment processing functions with several other online services. It is now one of the most popular payment services and point-of-sale solutions available for small and big businesses alike.
- Accepted Payment Methods: Square accepts all major credit cards and offers payment types such as tap, chip reader, online, and through invoices. The processor is not best suited for fully mobile payments when compared to other digital-focussed options.
- Fees: Since square charges initial fees on any of its original hardware, there are no monthly costs for payment processing. Individual rates between 2.65% and 3.$% per transaction apply, depending on the payment type (manually entered transfers cost more). Transactions fees of this amount are low compared to most other payment processors.
- Security: Square uses an undisclosed algorithm to locate and inspect risky transactions, but the technology has led to unexpected account closures or money holds. Plus, due to its popularity, the application has fallen prey to several phishing scams.
- Speed: Square is all about speed, and it facilitates EMV transactions via chip cards within two seconds or less. If you want rapid and painless customer transactions, Square is best-in-class
- Customizations and Integrations: Square is highly customizable, offering different platforms, services, and sales hardware for different business types. If complete customization is unideal, you can select prebuilt interface templates by Square with set fee structures (e.g. Square Restaurant). As for integrations, Square can connect to hundreds of apps, but users are funneled to other square-owned properties first (e.g. Weebly).
Adyen is best known for its international payment options and its high-performing transfers. Its global payment solutions are provided primarily through online and mobile payment types, giving ecommerce merchants access to customer payments made from across the world. The solution settles transactions in any country or currency, and it has usurped Paypal as the chosen payment processor for eBay.
- Accepted Payment Methods: Adyen has one of the most extensive collections of accepted payment methods, offering far more than the standard credit card integrations. Worldwide payment methods through several online outlets are available for merchant use with foreign business names such as Alipay (Asia Pacific) and Boleto (Latin America), to name a few.
- Fees: Adyen has an extensive fee structure that involves different prices for the various credit cards and payment methods available, on top of a monthly usage charge. Still, due to the services provided, Adyen is ranked as industry average in regards to cost.
- Security: The company follows standard PCI DSS compliance laws but also offers its own proprietary End-to-End Encryption (an updated and holistic version of Point-to-Point encryption) for better security. Adyen does not state any additional anti-fraud measures.
- Speed: Adyen offers transactions that typically initiate in one second, and that includes risk and compliance checks. Slower times are often due to the card-issuing institution.
- Customizations and Integrations: Considered an all-in-one payment processor, Adyen still integrates with several technology and business partners such as Magento, Salesforce, and Netsuite. While its platform is excellent, the option for customization is quite limited in scope.
- PayPal is a unique player in the payment processing field because it does not offer merchant account services for credit cards. Instead, it gives individuals an entirely new form of online payment with its online wallet (even if the user only has a single email address; no business signage is required). Since PayPal began as the primary method for transferring money within eBay (before they split), it did not focus on payment processing. Still, it has grown into the most enduring way for consumers and businesses to accept and send electronic payments.
- Accepted Payment Methods: PayPal functions as an online wallet intermediary and settles transactions through its own online structures. As a result, credit card acceptance is harder to accomplish, but online payments and international transfers are quick and painless. You can use PayPal’s third-party Point-of-sale option (Zettle) if needed, and individuals can connect their credit card through a personal PayPal wallet.
- Fees: PayPal offers flat-rate online transaction fees with a base rate of 2.9%. Different charges are levied for in-person payments, and any payment made outside of the US incurs extra charges. There are tiered merchant accounts your company can select if you want additional service features.
- Security: Paypal encrypts all stored data and can even block out sensitive information visibility from in-platform and authorized users. Paypal Purchase Protection also offers financial security in the event of errors or chargeback claims
- Speed: As one of the biggest payment transfer companies, PayPal handles 10 million transactions a day with over 193 transactions per second. Still, in base terms, payment processing occurs slower than other, more agile competitors. You can opt for instant transfers if you or your client have the necessary liquid funds in a PayPal account.
- Customizations and Integrations: Paypal has customizable buttons that integrate with any shopping cart page, making payments for your clients easy. Plus, several third-party can edit items through Paypal’s developer function, as the software solution can alter most APIs your company uses.
Due is an online billing and payments solution, ideal for business-to-business transactions and digital-first companies (Case in point: Due markets its campaigns and services towards retirees and freelancers). The online software is easy to use, and its interface is designed to make each billing process straightforward. Features such as client tracking and templated invoices are ideal for freelancers or low-margin businesses, but Due’s focus on simplicity does mean that the offered services are minimal compared to other competitors.
- Accepted Payment Methods: Due accepts all major credit card institutions but offers few other payment methods or point-of-sale integrations.
- Fees: There are two available plans: Basic and Premium. The Basic plan is free but involves a 1% charge on your account balance. Premium presents the best services with the price of 10$ per month and a 3% interest on held cash.
- Security: Due has effective security protocols that protect your transaction data, utilizing tokenization methods based on encryption technology. A security feature that may attract those with high-level security needs is Due’s live monitoring program that tracks every transfer in real-time and evaluates for any inherent risk. Data transfers with cryptographic keys and restrictive firewalls complete Due’s high-level security adherence.
- Speed: Due earns a fast transaction rate with up-front billing function and electronic invoicing, but the direct transfer speed is unknown and likely slower than large, enterprise-based payment processors.
- Customizations and Integrations: You can customize invoices and electronic forms with Due, but most services are restricted to their original state to ensure simplicity. All major credit cards connect, but other expected integrations with software solutions are missing.
Stripe is the best-case scenario for vendors who desire complete creative control within a one-stop-shop. It is a developer-friendly option, giving you the ability to optimize your payment processing and checkout software as you would like. The processor solution has a wealth of services and application solutions that you can pick and choose from, making it a robust payment processing platform. For those who want large-scale, adjustable payment options, Stripe is a great choice. Anyone with simpler needs may not enjoy all the additional add-on elements.
- Accepted Payment Methods: Stripe connects with all the major credit institutions of North America. For those who need easy access to international credit, the application accepts payments from the primary card companies of foreign countries. Of note, Stripe can initiate payments made with cryptocurrencies, an option that may assist certain companies.
- Fees: To access all the features of Stripe, all users pay a flat transaction fee of 2.9% + $0.30. For those with a large volume of daily transfers, custom pricing plans are available upon request.
- Security: Stripe follows the standard PCI DSS compliance requirements along with encryption and firewall protection. Of interest, the company also runs a program called HackerOne, an invite-only event where auditors search for potential bugs or weak spots within Stripe’s IT infrastructure.
- Speed: Stripe does have an instant pay option, but that can still take up to a couple of minutes to initiate. Compared to competitors that have real-time transfers, Stripe does falter in regards to speed.
- Customizations and Integrations: Developers can use Stripe to integrate with any company’s APIs, making it one of the most integrated and customizable options on the market. With its own suite of payment solutions and integrations with major ecommerce platforms such as Amazon, Shopify, and Slack, enterprise companies that want control over their customer payment journey will benefit from Stripe.
Payline Data is known as one of the friendliest payment processor options on the market. Designed for mid-sized businesses and ecommerce ventures, the platform has the services you need, whether that involves physical point-of-sale hardware, online payment acceptance, or integrated gateways. Payline fits the age-old adage: “big enough for quality, but small enough for personal service,” as proven by the 10% of merchant transactions donated to charity each year. For those who want robust customer support, Payline Data is an excellent choice.
- Accepted Payment Methods: Payline Data accepts most credit and debit cards, but it also makes purchase exchanges of USD currencies via e-checks and ACH transfers. The service includes payment processing, a gateway, and a virtual terminal that can initiate most digital money transactions.
- Fees: Interchange plus pricing is available, so most fees associated with the credit card institution are levied onto you. A standard 0.2% + $0.10 for in-person card swipes applies, while a standard 0.4% + $0.20 is charged for card-not-present options. There are also monthly subscription fees of $10 or 20$ a month, though you can adjust to tiered pricing. Overall, you pay average costs for this payment processor.
- Security: Payline data has all the necessary compliance and regulatory requirements, but they also offer a few additional security features focussed on protecting personal information. The software utilizes level 3 data (the maximum amount possible), a customer vault (for remote transactions), and an automatic account updater to maintain high levels of data privacy.
- Speed: The average wait time for a merchant account transfer to your bank is about 1-2 days (which is decent), and most mobile payments are near-instant for any transaction.
- Customizations and Integrations: Payline Data has several helpful integrations for small businesses, such as its connections with QuickBooks, Wix, and Shopify. If required, you can hire a developer to make adjustments to Payline Data’s core APIs, giving you extensive customization abilities.
CardConnect is a comprehensive payment processor and payment acceptance solution. First Data bought CardConnect, so the attached merchant account is supplied by First Data. CardConnect itself focuses on ensuring simple business transactions and bill payments, and it is a powerful application with a wide variety of service options. While it does not have a dedicated Point-of-Sale service, you can integrate a third-party service at your discretion.
- Accepted Payment Methods: CardConnect accepts a multitude of card options or payment types, even including rewards or gift cards. Online or in-store transfers are available, and the entire platform has omnichannel acceptance solutions. You can make international transactions, but with extra fees.
- Fees: CardConnect has several platform models, each designed for your various software or enterprise requirements. While the options create good service, it has made the fee structure confusing (CardConnect had to deal with a class-action lawsuit delivered against regarding its ambiguous fees). Swipe rates are 2.3% + 0.25% + $0.7, while virtual terminals have transaction fees of 1.89% + $0.23. Hidden charges for PCI compliance, equipment rentals, Pro Plans, Statement fees, and yearly charges abound, so be sure to read your contract.
- Security: Security is a high priority for CardConnect, and it delivers first-rate, best-in-class protection. The platform has built-in tokenization protocols and point-to-point encryption, even helping protect other software solutions connected to the main payment processor. A dedicated portal called CardPointe manages all PCI compliance requirements for you.
- Speed: CardConnect has an average payment processing speed, though no direct data for payment holds or transaction rates are available.
- Customizations and Integrations: CardConnect is well-integrated, and its seamless connections with banks, credit cards, payment providers, and third-party technology solutions offer high-quality features. Data validation, payroll, accounting software, and First Data’s own services integrate with ease.
Brain Tree is a subsidiary of Paypal and includes the popular transactions application Venmo. With so many technology adoptions, online wallets, and other mobile payment solutions (such as Apple Pay) attached to its platform, Braintree is an integrated payment solution, making it one of the best mobile cash transfer systems. For companies that want an agile solution that can scale, Braintree is an ideal option.
- Accepted Payment Methods: All of the standard North American credit cards are accepted, but the real bonus of Braintree is its wide acceptance of most digital wallets. If you plan to make numerous online payments from digital-only sources, Braintree offers some lesser-known options. The app also accepts global transfers, but only in CAD or USD.
- Fees: Braintree offers a single flat fee per transaction along the same lines as its parent company PayPal, with rates of %2.9 + $0.30. Additional payment gateway and ACH transfer fees apply.
- Security: While Braintree piggybacks its security and fraud protection protocols from Paypal, the out-of-the-box approach to security feels lackluster and prone to error. The system filters transactions by rules sets and machine learning but comes with an additional fee and is less robust than other security options.
- Speed: The application itself is quick, but payments can take 3-5 days to settle in your account, which is slow compared to other payment processors available on the market.
- Customizations and Integrations: Braintree has almost complete customization abilities, making it a popular choice for companies that can leverage its technology while installing the payment processor directly onto company webpages. Braintree fully integrates with all the popular cash transfer services, and you can purchase add-ons for additional service needs. In many ways, Braintree functions more as a technology solution than a payment processor. For certain enterprise clients, that might be the exact payment flexibility and adaptability needed for business growth.
Trust Payments is a large-scale payment processor solution, ideal for businesses that need a complete point of sale infrastructure and fast payment options. Trust Payments is backed by multiple banks and financial institutions, reflecting the application’s more established presence compared to digital and mobile-first payment processors. Reliability and low customer support tickets prove the tenacity and strength of Trust Payments as a method for cash transactions. Use their singular systems to manage all your payment needs.
- Accepted Payment Methods: Trust Payments accepts over 180 different currencies and facilitates global transactions. It has over 20 accepted payment methods, with most major credit cards or worldwide payment solutions directly integrated. It also has a Cryptonet and Bitpay connection, making payments with cryptocurrencies easy for your customers.
- Fees: Trust Payments does not publicize its pricing tiers (most likely due to custom plans offered for enterprise businesses), but virtual terminal rates cost between 1- 4% of each transaction. There is a one-year contract requirement and dormancy fees are levied after a certain period of inactivity.
- Security: Security of the highest level is provided by Trust Payments, with Risk assessment, AI-powered protection, Anti-Money Laundering, and Fraud detection protocols. Technical solutions such as advanced identification, fraudulent checking software, Enhanced 3D Secure 2, and behavioral biometrics show Trust Payments’ investment into security.
- Speed: Trust Payments offers next-day settlement rates and an overall fast service speed that will keep most businesses happy. There is no mention of instant pay from digital wallets, which could deter users who want the near-immediate transactions of services such as Square or Paypal.
- Customizations and Integrations: Trust Payments is very well integrated, with partnerships between ecommerce providers such as WooCommerce, Opencert, and Magento. The app does offer customizable billing forms but is not necessarily developer-friendly. There are several platform templates that apply for different business types, but that is a limited amount of customization compared to other software solutions.
A payment processor ensures that your company can accept the various payment types that your customers desire. Acces entirely new markets and offer convenience to new sales opportunities, leading to increased conversions. Be sure to purchase a payment processor that fits your company profile, as the multitude of payment processors available all have distinct features. Use the information in this article and the provided selection criteria to choose the ideal payment processor for you and your organization.