Credit Card Merchant Services: What It Is & How It Works

Online Mobile Credit Card Merchant Services Provider
Photo Credit: National Merchants Association

Discovering online mobile credit card merchant services provider that suit your needs is crucial if you run a small business. In today’s world, accepting credit cards is practically a requirement for doing business. However, you will require the services of a credit card processing business to accept payments made by credit card.

Credit cards, debit cards, and mobile payment systems are just a few of the increasingly popular digital payment options that have had a big impact on consumer payment behavior. Because of this, companies are actively adjusting to the new payment trends and using cashless techniques to boost operational effectiveness and foster a safer workplace.

A benefit of becoming a merchant services provider is that as more new payment methods are introduced and as consumer demands and preferences change, you can offer customers a convenient payment experience. Selecting a merchant services provider can have an impact on your cash flow, business operations, and ultimately how you treat customers. 

Credit Card Merchant Services 

Providers of merchant services assist both established and startup companies in processing credit and debit card transactions. Although payment processing is the main service offered by merchant service providers, many businesses now provide inventory tracking, POS services, CRMs, and other high-end tools. You can create a payment processing platform that meets the needs of your company by becoming familiar with the ins and outs of merchant services. It is becoming more crucial to have a merchant service provider handle credit card processing if you run a physical or online storefront.  

Several financial services are provided to business owners as merchant services, including payment processing, payment gateways, loyalty programs, gift card programs, and others. You will require access to merchant services if you wish to accept payments made by credit card, online, or in any other way other than cash.

In the past, businesses have processed credit card payments using merchant account providers and a variety of other services. Payment service providers (PSPs) are now available, though, and they are making the procedure for accepting payments simpler. While PSPs provide quick, easy signup procedures and transparent costs, their fees are frequently higher than those associated with conventional merchant accounts.

How Do Merchant Services Work?

The merchant services provided by various providers vary. Whatever the case, the main goal of a merchant services provider is to make it simple for your company to accept payments. Customers who wish to pay with a credit card for goods or services from your company will either use a card reader (if they are purchasing in person) or a payment gateway (if they are making the purchase online). The payment processor receives the transaction and checks the payment information and the availability of the funds. The payment processor gathers the funds after the transaction is approved and deposits them in your account.

Credit card merchant services offer each payment element a business may require to accept non-cash payments both online and offline. They provide POS infrastructure, merchant services, and check support offline. 

An all-encompassing phrase is “merchant services.” It outlines the tools, programs, and financial services required for a company to accept and process credit cards.

A financial institution known as a merchant service provider gives businesses the ability to process electronic payments. They make it possible for companies to accept payments from customers using credit cards, debit cards, and mobile devices. Merchant service providers serve as a bridge between a company’s clientele and the payment networks, facilitating safe and effective payment processing.

Types of Merchant Services

#1. Merchant Service Providers

An organization that offers its customers any kind of merchant service is known as a merchant service provider. This typically entails merchant accounts, payment gateways, card readers, point-of-sale systems, and other merchant-related solutions.

“Merchandise account providers” are a particular kind of merchant service provider. A provider of merchant accounts grants its customers exclusive access to those accounts. With a merchant account, a business has complete control over payments and enjoys low transaction costs, quick access to funds, and these benefits. Even though this is the option that many business owners prefer, obtaining merchant accounts for high-risk enterprises can be difficult. The underwriting procedure may take weeks or months as well.

#2. Payment Service Providers

Payment service providers (PSPs) offer assistance to merchants in the payment processing process but do not have exclusive access to any particular merchant account. Instead, PSPs combine several clients into a single merchant account (also referred to as an aggregate merchant account) and then distribute money to their client’s business bank account after the money has cleared.

Payment service providers frequently impose flat-rate processing fees. Although flat-rate fees are simple to comprehend and make it easy to predict processing costs, they frequently cost more. Typical fees for traditional merchant accounts are lower but can vary. 

Although PSPs have longer processing times and higher overall costs, they are simple to use and help small business owners with payment processing. Many companies are prepared to pay higher rates to avoid the underwriting process involved with conventional merchant accounts.

#3. Payment Gateway Providers

Last but not least, businesses that provide payment gateways to retailers are known as payment gateway providers. Online terminals called payment gateways allow companies to accept credit card payments. It is critical to realize that payment gateways are merely instruments that make it possible to process payments electronically; they are unable to carry out payment processing on their own. As a result, it is common for traditional merchant service providers to include payment gateways in their services or for payment gateway providers to also provide merchant services.

However, the choice to purchase these services separately gives businesses more latitude and control over the configuration of their payment processing system. If you already have a preferred payment gateway, you can frequently connect to it through merchant service providers.

Understanding Merchant Services Fees

The bottom line of your company will suffer if you choose a merchant service provider with high fees because they quickly add up. Your merchant services provider will determine the kind of fees your company will pay.

#1. Flat-Rate Pricing

Regardless of the brand of credit card a customer uses, flat-rate pricing only levies one fee. For example, prices for card-present and card-not-present transactions may still vary depending on the chosen payment method.

Despite being a popular choice for companies to anticipate payment costs, it is costly over time. The markup included in the flat rate that retailers pay to their merchant service provider is hidden from view by the retailers.

#2. Tiered Rate Pricing

The category or “tier” that the transaction belongs to determines the rate structure. For instance, a processing business might have some requirements for a transaction that would incur a lower processing fee and other requirements for a transaction that would incur a higher processing fee. 

Tiered rate pricing can be less transparent and complex than other pricing models because retailers may be unaware of the standards that their payment processor uses. The interchange fees that card companies charge depend on the kind of card being used, how a transaction is handled, and the kind of business involved.

#3. Interchange-Plus Pricing

Interchange-plus pricing, which is paid to merchant service providers in addition to interchange fees, is a fixed markup. Merchants will always be aware of the interchange-plus fee, even though interchange fees may vary depending on what card brands charge.

When selecting a merchant service provider, keep the following costs in mind as well:

  • Refund fees
  • Chargeback fees
  • Account initiation fees
  • NSF fees
  • Minimum processing fees
  • Statement fees
  • Various other fees

Be sure to review the fee schedule provided by your merchant service provider before committing to a merchant agreement.

Benefits Of Merchant Services

Your business’s ability to accept payments is made simpler by credit card merchant services. They assist you in maintaining secure information as well as streamlining and simplifying the process for customers. Along with a variety of payment methods, your credit card merchant might occasionally also provide flexible options for payments through mobile and POS systems.

The majority of companies that process credit cards for businesses also provide complete point-of-sale (POS) systems. These have tools for mobile and in-store payments, enabling you to keep track of inventory and sales over time.

And finally, collaborating with a credit card merchant can help you safeguard customer data. This is crucial for maintaining your company’s reputation given the rise in identity theft and data breaches.

Online Mobile Credit Card Merchant Services Provider

A financial software partner that enables payment processing and acceptance is a merchant services provider. With the provision of debit and credit card transactions, it acts as a go-between for banks, clients, and retailers. A business that provides merchants with payment services is known as a merchant service provider.

These services might include payment gateways, merchant accounts, and other tools for accepting payments. These payment options may be combined with CRMs, timesheet programs, accounting software, and other business management tools offered by merchant service providers that offer more “full-scale” solutions.

Accepting payments for your company can be made much simpler by partnering with a merchant service provider that offers a full range of solutions. For instance, if you manage a physical store and want to sell your goods online as well, you will need a merchant service provider with eCommerce capabilities.

A merchant service provider, also known as a payment processor, acts as a go-between for businesses and the various parties engaged in the payment transaction. They enable businesses to control the authorization, processing, and financing of transactions as well as the acceptance of electronic payments. POS systems, payment card readers, and websites can all be used by businesses to accept credit, debit, and other payment types.

This is made possible by merchant services providers. The ability to offer merchant services is granted to numerous organizations. Typically, they can be divided into three groups: banks, independent sales organizations, and fintech businesses. 

Businesses then need to understand the total cost of the project. Depending on the provider and the services you select, the cost varies. Even the pricing structures used by merchant service providers vary, including flat rates, monthly fees, processing costs, and tiered pricing plans.

How To Find The Best Online Mobile Credit Card Merchant Services Provider

Take into account your company’s size and the volume of sales you handle each month. Calculate the costs and rates that each provider is associated with. To protect your customers’ information, be sure to choose a provider who follows PCI compliance standards at all times. Additionally, you need a team that can react quickly to any questions or problems that may come up.

When choosing a customer service team, try to find one that is made up of actual people rather than computerized robots. Consider both your present needs and potential future needs as you evaluate different service providers. Make a list of features that are crucial to you and your company, from price to dependability.  

Customer service is always important, but it is also critical to have your merchant services and a support system available. Check out online reviews for each vendor, and make sure to find out what kind of ongoing support you will get after buying the hardware or software. Your merchant services should ideally integrate without a hitch with other pieces of hardware or software, such as accounting or transaction processing programs. 

To choose the best credit card processing company for your small business, you must balance your requirements with the expense of accepting payments. Each credit card processor has a different range of costs and services. The best ones provide clear and affordable pricing, few or no fees, flexible terms, and the capacity to grow with your company. 

Best Online Mobile Credit Card Merchant Services 

#1. Stax 

Stax is a provider of complete merchant services. Integrated payments, bill-paying software, inexpensive ACH processing, and other services are available. The reasons Stax is so well-known are its open pricing structure, subscription-based pricing structure, and 0% markup on interchange rates. It also accepts all forms of payment.

Stax is a fantastic choice for well-established small businesses with significant annual revenues. The company bills a monthly subscription fee rather than requiring a contract. The exact cost varies by plan, but it is important to note that all of them are targeted at higher-revenue processing businesses.

Stax offers several features, including add-on features for each plan and options to brand invoices and receipts. In addition, it integrates with many different applications, such as QuickBooks and HubSpot, as well as payment processors like Magento and WooCommerce. 

If your company processes less than $250,000 annually, the subscription price is $99 per month. If you process up to $500,000. the price is $199 per month. A custom quote is available to businesses that process more than $500,000 annually. High-volume sellers who want flexible sales and business management add-ons and affordable interchange-plus credit card processing costs.

#2. Square

Square is notable for its affordable flat-rate pricing structure. When paying in person, the business charges 2.6% plus 10 cents, and when paying online or over the phone, they charge 3.5% plus 15 cents. Payment is 2.9% plus 30 cents whether you use your Square online store, Square online checkout, an e-commerce API, or an invoice. For iPhone users in the United States, Square also provides the Tap to Pay feature.

The Square app allows businesses to accept contactless payments from Apple Pay, credit cards, and other digital wallets. Due to the popularity of contactless payments, businesses can now adapt to changing customer preferences. Small companies seeking quick setup, simple configuration, and predictable credit card processing costs.

And Square gives you everything you require for credit card processing success. In addition to end-to-end encryption and PCI compliance, they actively prevent fraud, protect against account takeovers, and manage disputes. Square’s only significant flaw is that its customer service is not always open.

#3. Helcim 

Helcim is a complete payment processing solution for brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers. Your rates will vary depending on your industry, the volume of transactions processed each month, and the typical transaction size. Helcim contracts are month-to-month agreements, and there are no cancellation fees.

One of the few businesses with a rate lock that ensures its margin will not increase throughout your account, Helcim offers low rates in addition to automatic volume-based discounts. The sum that a company must pay varies according to transaction types and sales volume. The cost margin declines with rising sales.

The credit card processor Helcim offers a wide range of services. In addition to more complicated options like virtual terminals, recurring payments, hosted online stores, offline, online, and mobile processing, it also offers these options. 

Companies seeking an interchange-plus credit card processor with integrated sales, customer, and inventory management software Cost: Keyed and online transactions begin at 0.20% + $0.10; there are no monthly fees; in-person payments begin at 0.10% + $0.05.

#4. PayPal

Customers have long trusted PayPal as a secure means of sending money to friends, family, and businesses because it is a well-known name in the industry. PayPal offers businesses an easy-to-use solution that can help them start accepting payments right away. One standout feature of PayPal is the “pay now” button, which streamlines the transactional process for users. For card-not-present purchases, the platform also provides QR codes and email transactions. Online credit and debit card transactions start at 2.49% plus $0.49.

Payments made online using PayPal Payments start at 3.49% plus $0.49 per transaction. Also, in-person transactions begin at 2.29% plus $0.09 per transaction. Lastly, in-person QR codes: 1.9% plus $0.1 for each transaction.

#5. Stripe

If you are looking for a quick way to accept payments online, Stripe should be one of your top choices. Stripe is a top contender on our list of the top payment options for e-commerce sites. No matter what platform you are using, integrating Stripe with your e-commerce store is simple. Digital wallets such as Apple Pay, Microsoft Pay, Google Pay, and Visa Checkout are among the many payment methods that Stripe accepts.

Stripe began as a provider of payment gateways, and it is still very good at this. You have the option of adding features to your package, such as extra security measures and local payment options, and selecting between Stripe’s integrated payment gateway or a hosted payment gateway. Stripe facilitates checkout process simplification. Even if you are just starting, it is a cost-effective payment processor.


  • Card terminal costs equal 1.4%, 2.9%, and 20p.
  • Payment gateway charges are 1.4%, 2.9%, and 10p.
  • Virtual terminal charges are 1.4%, 2.9%, and 10p 

#6. Clover

One of the top and most reputable point-of-sale (POS) system suppliers in the payments sector is Clover. Looking for a POS, register system, and credit card processing company that can serve small businesses in the retail, service, and food industries According to the kind of business you run, Clover offers several subscription pricing plans (Starter, Standard, and Advanced).

Starter plans start at just $14.95, while some Advanced plans can cost up to $290. For purchases made online or with a card not present, you will pay a minimum of 3.5% plus 10 cents and a minimum of 2.3% plus 10 cents. Clover provides point-of-sale software and hardware (card readers, portable electronics, and terminals) with access to customer management, marketing, and reporting tools.

#7. Payment Depot

Because it employs a subscription-based business model, Payment Depot is a good option for companies with high transaction volumes. Payment Depot only charges a flat monthly fee along with a small, fixed fee per transaction, unlike many credit card processors who take a percentage of your company’s sales.

There is no transaction fee charged by Payment Depot. In addition to the interchange fee, they merely add a fixed fee per transaction. Three subscription packages are available from Payment Depot. Each one comes with a variety of software features, including analytics, recurring payments, and third-party integrations. Low transaction fees of 7 cents to 15 cents per transaction are included in this plan’s monthly price range of $59 to $99 per month. We appreciate that Payment Depot does not impose any additional setup fees or other typical costs, such as those associated with Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance.

For companies processing up to $250,000 a year, plans start at $79 a month. You can get a custom price quote from Payment Depot if you conduct more than $250,000 worth of transactions annually.

Businesses with high volumes that want low interchange-plus credit card processing rates but do not require an integrated point-of-sale system or sales management software 

Online Credit Card Merchant Services 

#1. PaymentCloud Inc.

PaymentCloud Inc. offers merchant services to companies with low, medium, and high levels of risk. The business specializes in offering merchant accounts to medium-risk and high-risk enterprises. The majority of PaymentCloud’s clients are US-based businesses. Despite not disclosing specific prices, PaymentCloud offers tiered pricing models and interchange-plus pricing.

Payment Depot differs from other providers of credit card processing services in large part because it uses a wholesale subscription model rather than the “interchange plus” pricing structure approach that most of its rivals employ. The term “interchange plus” refers to a profit that the service provider makes by raising the typically fixed fee that is imposed by the credit card company.

Its compatibility with numerous third-party software providers, including payment gateways like or USAePay, makes integration with other well-liked small business software simpler.

#2. Dharma Merchant Services

This a long-time favorite of Merchant Maverick, is an excellent merchant account supplier for the majority of businesses (especially those processing over $10,000/month). Dharma may also be the best processor available for nonprofits. Dharma Merchant Services is also well known for being trustworthy and open, which is a breath of fresh air in the payment processing sector.

Working with small businesses and nonprofits is the company’s area of expertise. It also provides some of the most affordable interchange-plus rates out there. One more processor that serves different industries is Dharma Merchant Services. When possible, they work with local and environmentally friendly suppliers and vendors.

The price varies by industry, and complete information is available on their website. Usually, plans begin at $25 per month plus transaction costs. With a monthly fee of $20, nonprofits pay the least. This all-inclusive service creates a single product that combines the functions of a virtual terminal and a payment gateway.

#3. CDGcommerce

The best option for online credit card processing is CDGcommerce because of its transparent pricing, services that adapt to your business’s changing needs, and reputation for trustworthy service. Additionally, high-risk merchants might be welcomed. With the help of CDG Commerce, companies can accept credit and debit card payments in a variety of ways, including in-person, online, and through mobile devices. 

Under the flat-rate plan, online transactions will cost 2.9% + $0.30; interchange + 0.3% + $0.15; and interchange + $0.05 to interchange + $0.10 under membership plans. Monthly fees range from $0 for the flat-rate plan to $49 for the interchange-plus plan and from $49 to 199 for membership plans.

Whether or not your business is regarded as high-risk and the volume of sales you generate will determine your pricing strategy with CDGcommerce. Merchants processing between $1,000 and $10,000 per month can use flat-rate pricing. Those processing between $10,000 and $200,000 per month pay the exchange-plus rate.

Merchants processing more than $200,000 per month pay a membership fee. They may accept high-risk businesses, but they will have to pay more than low-risk businesses

Mobile Credit Card Merchant Services

Without the need for a wired connection, businesses can also accept debit and credit cards thanks to mobile payment processing systems. However, there are also older, more conventional credit card machines that operate on cell service. The majority of systems integrate with smartphones and tablets. In general, mobile processing is excellent for mobile businesses. There are numerous mobile credit card processing platforms available, and they can meet each need.

With the help of a smartphone or tablet, merchants can sell goods and take credit card payments almost anywhere. The top mobile credit card processor ought to be dependable, have reasonable transaction costs, include a free business management app, and work without an internet connection.

#1. The PayPal Zettle

The PayPal Zettle POS and mobile credit card reader stands out for its ability to accept payments through PayPal and Venmo. Customers can pay you online by scanning a QR-coded invoice you have created for them on the PayPal Zettle app for their phones. This is an online mobile card merchant services provider. Some of the most affordable flat-rate fees are transaction fees. The free POS features of PayPal Zettle let you keep track of your stock, sales, and employees. Numerous merchant fees, including those associated with American Express payments, rise to 3.5%. 

  • Fee for in-person transactions: 2.29% + 9 cents
  • Keyed-in transaction fee: 3.49% plus 9 cents per transaction
  • Transaction fee for QR codes: 2.9% plus a 9-cent rate

#2. Shopify

This is a well-liked all-in-one e-commerce solution that enables you to create a website, an online store, and POS software to run your business. Additionally, it provides a mobile card reader so that online merchants can accept payments in person. Each card reader costs $49, and your mobile app sales will sync with your Shopify POS app.

Both of the mobile card readers cost the same, but only one supports swipe and chip payments, while the other supports swipe, chip, and tap. You must join a Shopify plan, which has monthly prices that start at $29, to use one of their readers. Depending on the plan you select, a transaction fee may apply to each charge.

  • Typical Shopify fee for in-person transactions: 2.7%
  • Shopify charges 2.5% for in-person transactions.
  • Fee for in-person transactions on Shopify in advance: 2.4%

#3. Payanywhere 

They charges $59.95 for a mobile card reader with three functions that supports contactless payments, including Apple Pay and Google Pay. 

You can track sales, and manage inventory, employees, and customers by utilizing Payanywhere’s mobile card reader along with the app. Additionally, Payanywhere provides customer support around-the-clock. Even though the low flat transaction fee is only 2.69%, which is higher than some of its rivals, there are no cents-per-transaction costs that associates with in-person charges. The free mobile card reader from Payanywhere is a good choice for those who only plan to accept credit cards in person. The flat transaction fee and lack of cents-per-transaction fees make it a cost-effective choice, but you will not receive your money until tomorrow (unless you pay an additional fee). 

  • Fee for in-person transactions: 2.69 %
  • Keyed-in transaction fee: 3.49% plus 19-cent rate. 

What Is Credit Card Merchant Services?

Merchant services accounts enable companies to accept payments from clients using credit and debit cards as well as other forms of electronic payment with the aid of a payment gateway. You can accept payments from clients who use credit cards, debit cards, or NFC/RFID-enabled gadgets thanks to merchant processing services. 

Merchant services are provided to business owners and include a variety of financial services like payment processing, payment gateways, loyalty programs, gift card programs, and others. You need access to merchant services to accept payments made with credit cards, online, or with any other form of non-cash payment.

What Does a Merchant Service Do?

Making accepting payments for your company simple is the main goal of a merchant services provider. Customers who wish to pay with a credit card for goods or services from your company will either use a card reader (if they are purchasing in person) or a payment gateway (if they are making the purchase online). The payment processor also receives the transaction and checks the payment information and the availability of the funds. The payment processor gathers the funds after the transaction and deposits them in your account after approving it.

Who Pays the Merchant in a Credit Card Transaction? 

The cardholder’s account is charged by the issuing bank with the transaction’s total. The merchant bank receives the funds necessary for the transactions from the issuing bank after any interchange fees have been deducted. Funds are added to the merchant account by the merchant bank. In essence, vendors, not customers, are responsible for covering the cost of credit card processing. 

What Is a Credit Card Merchant Account? 

An electronic payment processing system called a merchant account enables businesses to accept debit and credit cards as well as other types of electronic payments. The merchant account also serves as a go-between for the card swipe and the money deposit into the business account.

How to Create a Credit Card Merchant Account? 

  • Obtain a business permit.
  • Open a business bank account.
  • Consider your needs.
  • Compare service providers.
  • Fill out the application.
  • Submit to underwriting.
  • Receive approval and begin the process

How Long Does It Take for a Merchant to Receive Funds? 

Companies that process credit cards usually deposit transaction proceeds into the merchant’s bank account within a few business days. Even though the precise time frame for receiving funds can differ, it typically takes between one and three business days for the merchant account provider to process the transaction.

What Documents Are Required for Merchant Account? 

  • The company’s license and business number.
  • TIN, or Taxpayer Identification Number.
  • Value-Added Tax Number.
  • EORI Number.
  • Certification of Incorporation.
  • Proof of Your Company Address.
  • Business Bank Account Information.
  • Financial Statements.


The middlemen who link everything in the background are known as merchant providers. Your banking services are linked to the credit card network, which connects thousands of issuing banks. Even though accepting a credit card payment only takes a few seconds, a credit card processing business performs a quick and challenging process called authorization and authentication in the background.

You should also not make a hasty decision when selecting a merchant service provider. Before choosing one provider over another, there are many factors to investigate and consider. The main points to be on the lookout for are ongoing or hidden costs, the speed at which payments are processed, and the level of ongoing support you can anticipate receiving should something go wrong.

No matter whether you are managing a startup or an established company, selecting the best merchant service provider is essential to your success. You can increase your company’s payment capability by locating a merchant account with reasonable fees, strong integration capabilities, and top-notch hardware options. Therefore, never undervalue the impact of partnering with a trustworthy and reasonable payment processing company.

  1. Merchant Services: Top Best Merchant Services 2023
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