Top 5 Credit Card Processors for Retail – Ratings & Reviews

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Credit card processors come in different shapes and sizes.

More so, they charge different fees– some are hidden and some are not.

As a retail store you require certain key operations such as the chip insert vs swipe technology.

Therefore, we set out to review the top 5 credit card processors best suited for a retail store.

We reviewed those based on pricing (tiered or not ) , features,  security , hardware and software options.

Best Top 5 Credit Card Processors For Retails

CompanyBest FeaturePrice
Complex, comprehensive services from a world-famous companyStarting at 0.39 to 1.89 percent + 15 cents per transaction
Customization point of sale systemStarting at 2.75% per transaction
Best for very small businesses2.7 percent flat rate per transaction
Credit card processing hardware won’t require extra technologyStarting at $60 for hardware, plus 2.69% + $0.05 per transaction
Host of security features2.75 percent flat rate per transaction

1. First Data - Best Sales Value

First Data Merchant Services serves six million business locations across the world, processing more than 33 billion transactions per year. They work directly with small businesses in nearly every industry despite being a huge company and provide a full range of payment processing services and equipment.

FD is an absolute leader in the payment industry. Experienced traders with relatively high sales volumes who know what they are looking for in a payment processor can negotiate competitive rates and month-to-month terms.


First Data customizes its pricing, basing rates on your industry, your average monthly sales volume, the products or services you sell, sales ticket sizes and payment acceptance methods. This is why the rates and fees you're quoted may vary from those we were quoted in our testing, and high-volume companies may be able to negotiate for a better deal.


There are two tiers for retail processing, where you're accepting payment cards at a physical location using a card reader: qualified and non-qualified, which apply to both credit and debit cards.

The rate for qualified, regular credit and debit cards is 1.89 percent plus 15 cents. Non-qualified credit and debit cards, such as rewards cards, cost 2.89 percent plus 15 cents. PIN debit transactions cost 39 cents per transaction. 

Industry-Specific Solutions

First Data offers industry-specific programs, data, and tools to merchants in education, corporate billing, financial analysis, healthcare, government, and gambling and gaming industries.


The company offers every payment acceptance method, so credit and debit cards can be accepted at physical stores, online, by phone, and on the go using your phone and a mobile app. You can also accept electronic checks using this processor.

If you're a North American merchant located near travel destinations popular with Chinese tourists, you can accept payments via Alipay, a popular Chinese payment app.


Two important factors that help limit liability and prevent fraud are PCI and EMV compliance. All of First Data's processing equipment is EMV compliant so chip cards are accepted properly, avoiding liability if counterfeit fraud occurs at your point of sale.

You're required to establish and maintain PCI compliance if you have a merchant account regardless of which processor you sign up with. You pay a monthly fee for FD’s TransArmor security software instead of an annual PCI compliance fee, which is used to achieve and maintain PCI compliance.

The company encrypts and tokenizes each transaction, so you don’t need to store any sensitive card data in your system. What is more, this company has a questionnaire wizard to simplify the compliance process. It also features monitoring software that can identify whether your POS software and hardware have been tampered with. If you suffer a data breach, the liability waiver can protect you from up to $100,000 in card association costs.

2. Square – More Than A Name

Square is a very recognizable credit card processing company. It is the perfect setup for credit card processing for small business. It’s a great choice to start with if you’re a new credit card merchant.


The price depends on several factors, as with most credit card payment processing options. First, it will depend on how much you spend on your credit card processing hardware. Square’s hardware ranges from zero to $999. Moreover, the price depends on how much you spend on your credit card processing software ($0 or $60 a month). The company also charges business credit card payment processing fees. The fee is usually 2.75% of the transaction value. If it’s entered manually, it will cost 3.5% of the transaction value plus $0.15.

Processing fees will be lower if you decide to invest in more costly Square credit card processing hardware. Any credit card payment processed through the Square Register will just cost your business 2.5%, plus $0.10.

Software Options

There are two options for Square credit card processing software. The paid one, Square for Retail, is $60 per month and comes with customizable credit card processing capabilities.

The default option, Square Point of Sale, is free of charge. Despite this, you can still avail yourself of some of the best credit card payment processing capabilities on the market.

Hardware Options

Square offers some of the best possible credit card processing hardware on the market. Your business can accept card payments via the magstripe reader through a smart device. It is completely free. You can upgrade to a Square chip reader for an extra $29 if you need chip credit card payment processing.

The intermediate option is Square Stand, which costs $169. It can execute every type of credit card payment process. The lowest-tier option is Square’s $49 chip and contactless credit card processor. Finally, you can access the Square Register for $999. This option also comes with lower credit card payment processing fees.

3. PayPal – Perfect for Small Businesses

PayPal is an excellent option for very small businesses that don't accept many credit card payments. Their owners don’t have enough money for a credit card processing service with monthly minimums and multiple account fees. However, they still want to be able to accept credit cards.

PayPal has very convenient pay-as-you-go terms and no monthly processing requirement. This makes it the best low-volume credit card processor. Small business owners appreciate the affordable and transparent prices. Below is a breakdown of the fees:

  • Online sales (invoice and e-commerce) cost 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction.
  • Cards that you accept using PayPal's virtual terminal cost 3.1 percent plus 30 cents.
  • In-person sales accepted using the PayPal Here app and a card reader cost 2.7 percent per transaction.
  • Cards that you manually key into the app cost 3.5 percent plus 15 cents per transaction.

PayPal doesn't charge any monthly fees, application and setup fees, or PCI compliance fees. There is a $20 chargeback fee if a customer disputes a charge. The company doesn't require any long-term contracts. If you decide the service no longer suits your business, there won’t be any early termination fee.

You don't need any technical skills to use the service if you want to get started with PayPal. It takes just a few minutes to register. Natural persons can use the service too, which isn’t true for many credit card processors. You don't need to wait for a credit check, apply for a merchant account, or complete any complicated paperwork to open an account. You don't need to set up complex checkout systems or learn any special software either.

You'll have a ready to use service that lets you get started in just a few steps regardless of which PayPal credit card processing method you choose.

Processing Types

There is a number of ways you can accept online payments using all major credit cards – on your site, by email, or using a virtual terminal.


You can place buy buttons to accept credit card and PayPal payments on your website, online store, or blog. You can use this option without having any programming skills although it requires some coding. Just set up your inventory by inputting information like description, product numbers, cost and other variations and the provider will automatically generate the buy-button code. Then, all you need to do is copy and paste it into your website.

Virtual Terminal

You can use PayPal's virtual terminal to key in your customers' credit card information if you take payments over the phone, via fax or mail.


To accept credit card payments for invoices by email, go to your PayPal dashboard, from where you can email an invoice to customers. The customer only needs to click on the link in the email to pay. If he already knows your email address and has a PayPal account, you can receive the funds after he enters your email address via the Send Money section in his dashboard.

Multichannel Processing

It is also possible to use more than one payment-acceptance method simultaneously. You won’t be charged extra for this, and all funds go into a single PayPal account.

In Person

Merchants can accept credit cards in-person anytime, anywhere via PayPal Here, PayPal's mobile credit card processing and point-of-sale (POS) system. All you need to do is download the PayPal Here mobile app to your phone or tablet, link a card reader and begin accepting credit cards at your physical store, at home, or on the go.

The app can send invoices and receipts, scan barcodes, and allows customers to enter debit card PINs and sign for credit cards. PayPal Here is available for Android and iOS mobile devices.

One of PayPal’s biggest advantages is that it offers small businesses several ways to accept credit cards.

4. Clover – Running a Business is a Piece of Cake

Clover makes running a small business a breeze. This user-friendly credit card processor’s credit card payment processing costs are determined by several factors. The hardware options range from $59 to $1,199 depending on what you choose.

Hardware Options

You can choose from four different pieces of software if you decide to go with Clover credit card payment processing:

  • Clover Station is the most powerful of all Clover credit card processing software. It offers top speed, security, and support, and costs $1,199.
  • Clover Mini is a small countertop POS that performs all the credit card processing essentials—like receipt printing and barcode scanning—quickly and efficiently. It costs $599.
  • Clover Flex can print receipts and scan barcodes within small-scale hardware and costs $449.
  • Clover Go, which costs $59, is the only Clover software that will require additional technology.

Software Options

Clover offers a number of plans for their credit card payment processing software. For the lowest price, you can get the Payments Plus option, which will allow you to accept all forms of payment. For the highest price, the Register plan will come with enhanced inventory management and full access to the Clover App market. For the medium price, you can get Register Lite, which features item-level taxes and inventory management among other extras.


5. Stripe – Most “Elitist” Yet Affordable Processor

You might feel out of your league when you first visit Stripe’s website because this online payment processing company is designed for developers. However, you'll find Stripe offers tools that make it easy for your small businesses to accept payments online once you know what to look for.

Hundreds of Applications

This provider works with hundreds of business software applications and services, such as accounting systems, e-commerce platforms and shopping carts, and invoicing software. Many of them make it possible to sign up for a Stripe account from right within the program. Existing Stripe accounts can be connected to these integrations with just a few clicks. No programming skills are required at all. Below are some e-commerce solutions that integrate with Stripe:

  • BigCommerce
  • 3dcart
  • PrestaShop
  • Ecwid
  • Squarespace
  • Shopify
  • Weebly
  • Volusion
  • WooCommerce
  • Wix
  • Checkout
  • X-Cart

To use Stripe's prebuilt Checkout form, just copy and paste a short code to instantly place payment forms and buy buttons anywhere in your online store. Another option is using plugins to add Stripe to your site.

If you employ a developer or have some coding experience yourself, you'll love the rich assortment of features and advanced tailored options Stripe provides. You can use Stripe.js to build a custom payment flow or Stripe Elements, a prebuilt UI, to customize the look of the checkout form for your website or mobile app.

Ease of Use

Stripe users are very happy with this feature. The checkout form is simple, making it easy for customers to complete their purchases quickly. This is very important because the online storefront needs to be as easy to use as possible. This includes an unimpeded checkout process to help complete a sale and prevent abandoned carts. Customers can check out quickly with Stripe Checkout by simply clicking on a buy button and entering their credit card information.

Stripe Checkout has a feature that lets buyers securely save their credit card information to make it even easier for them. This way, customers don't have to enter this data again for future purchases from your site - or any other websites using Stripe for that matter. This feature can help transform one-time buyers into returning customers.

Quick Setup

Signing up for a Stripe account is easy and takes several minutes regardless of whether you’re doing it directly or through a third party that integrates with the credit card processor. You fill out your business and bank details, activate your account, and choose a processing method. Merchant accounts are not provided, so you don't need to fill out an application and wait for the outcome of a credit check.

Newcomers to Stripe’s website are greeted with a collection of how-to guides that make navigating the service a breeze. Its user-friendly dashboard features a minimalistic design and a simple navigation menu along the left side of the screen. It is easy to access customer information, transactions, subscription plans and any other feature you want to use.

If you want to use Stripe to create a customized payment solution for your website, you might need to hire a developer, because this feature is more complex. That aside, it is relatively easy to add Stripe Checkout to an existing website and very easy to set up a Stripe account and use its integrations to connect to other business systems.

Flat-Rate Pricing

Stripe’s online credit card processing service is simple and transparent, without any hidden fees. You pay only the rate of 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction. You get full access to features, but are only charged when you make a sale. There is an extra fee of 1 percent if you accept international cards. Another 1 percent fee is applied to the transaction if the payment requires currency conversion.

Payout Schedule

It takes between a week and 10 days to receive funds when you start accepting payments. After that, the credit card processor transfers your funds on either a two- or seven-day rolling payout schedule. Businesses in higher-risk industries are on the seven-day schedule, but most businesses are on two-day rolling one.

Stripe may not be the best fit if you need the money from your transactions faster than this. Our number 2 and number 3 options, Square and PayPal offer instant transfer options for an additional fee. They are a better choice for merchants who need their funds instantly.


Whether you use the simple Checkout form, accept credit card payments through an integration, or implement a custom payment flow on your website, this provider is packed with features to help you run and grow your e-commerce business. Here are some of the advantages small businesses can avail themselves of when using Stripe to process credit cards online:

Accept Digital Wallets

You can accept digitally stored credit and debit cards from buyers who use Google Pay, Apple Pay, Alipay, Microsoft Pay, Amex Express Checkout, WeChat Pay, Masterpass by Mastercard and Visa Checkout.

Accept More Credit Cards

Stripe lets you accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover, JCB, Diners Club, and China UnionPay.

Access the Dashboard on the Go

It is possible to track sales and payments on the go using the Stripe Dashboard app. The iPhone version has more functions than the Android one. It allows you to quickly search for transactions, set alerts when a purchase or payment is made, issue refunds, and email your customers. In comparison, the Android version lets you view daily summaries, business reports, and historical comparisons.

Manage Payment Options

You can save time by automating payments with saved credit cards, recurring billing, flexible billing periods, and subscription plans. You can also offer benefits to customers such as free trials, coupons, and installment payments.


Stripe has one of the highest numbers of security protocols in place to keep customers' bank details secure. The provider encrypts card data and processes transactions on its own network. No sensitive data reaches your servers, so no one will have access to your business's or customers' credit card information.

Moreover, Stripe includes the Radar fraud-prevention tool with every account. This tool uses machine learning to identify and block fraudulent transactions. It categorizes each payment according to risk and automatically blocks those it considers high risk.

Stripe's mobile API and client libraries meet industry standards such as PCI DSS requirements, so your company remains compliant at all times. It is a certified PCI Service Provider Level 1, which is the supreme security certification level for the payment card industry.

Customer Support

Stripe offers several resources to help you find answers:

  • A searchable database of articles and FAQs
  • Email support for one-on-one help
  • Reference guides for developers, coding and third-party integrations
  • Documentation on a wide variety of features and functions
  • How-to guides, tutorials and demo videos

Our Final Say

We hope you’ve found our article helpful. Any of these credit card processing companies will make sure your business runs smoothly and efficiently. Let us know what you think in the comments below!