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Merchant services

Learn how different providers and services can help your business grow.

Name Product Products Solutions Monthly fees start at
Square Online
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
Online
None
Create an online store with beautiful layouts to help drive business.
Chase Merchant Services
Payment processing, POS software, Inventory tracking
In-store, Mobile, Online
None
Accept, process and deposit customer payments in your store, online or on-the-go.
Stax
Payment processing, POS software, Inventory tracking
In-store, Mobile, Online
$99/month
Businesses that process more than $10,000 monthly can save with Stax's interchange+ pricing.
Helcim
Payment processing, POS software, POS hardware, Website builder, Inventory tracking
In-store, Mobile, Online
$20/month
Conveniently packaged into three service tiers for in-person and online sales.
BigCommerce
Payment processing, Website builder, Inventory tracking, Shopping cart software, Shipping software
In-store, Mobile, Online
$29.95/month
BigCommerce is an all-in-one e-commerce platform created to help you sell more.
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Compare up to 4 providers

What are merchant services?

Merchant services are financial services that help your business run. This can include:

  • Payment processing. A payment processor allows your business to accept credit card payments.
  • POS systems. A point-of-sale (POS) system tracks payments and works with your payment processor to accept credit cards.
  • E-commerce systems. For businesses that operate online or need to accept online card payments, specialized online solutions can include apps and payment gateways. Many e-commerce companies help build an online store from the ground up.
  • Hybrid payment solutions. If you have both an online store and a brick-and-mortar location, the easiest way to manage your finances is with a company that offers both e-commerce and physical POS solutions. This allows you to keep track of all of your orders in one place.
  • Management software. This can include payroll management, tools to keep track of employee hours, inventory management, project management and any other software or tools that help you keep track of how your business runs.

How does each service work?

Payment processors, POS providers and e-commerce platforms are all unique, and you'll want to choose a provider that works with your business. Read our guides to learn more about what to expect from different providers.

A Shopping Cart On A Laptop

E-commerce
Learn what you need to open an online store and compare platforms.

Man making a credit card purchase

Payment processing
Learn how to accept credit cards in your store and compare payment processors.

Saleswoman Accepting Card Payment At POS

POS systems
Learn how point-of-sale systems work and how to find the right solution.

Man paying using a credit card

Merchant accounts
Learn how dedicated merchant accounts work and whether you need one.

Digital Marketing Businessman Using His Tablet

Marketing
Learn what tools are available to help you grow your business.

How much will I pay for merchant services?

How much you'll pay depends on your provider and the size of your store. Costs can include:

  • Startup costs. These can include buying any hardware and establishment fees charged by the provider.
  • Monthly fees. Depending on the provider, you may have to pay one flat monthly fee that includes a certain number of transactions or a small monthly fee on top of card processing fees — or no monthly fees at all.
  • Card processing fees. Depending on the provider, you may have to pay a flat or percentage-based fee each time you process a card payment. Fees can vary for credit and debit cards.
  • Chargeback fees. You're generally charged a fee if the cardholder disputes a credit card transaction.

How do I decide what solutions my business needs?

To decide what type of card payment terminal to get and whether you need a separate POS system, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where will I accept card payments? The type of system you need depends on whether you accept card payments online, in-store or in a number of different locations.
  • Will I accept cash? Not all POS systems accept both cash and cards. If you're planning on accepting cash, you'll want to look for a POS system that can keep track of it seamlessly.
  • Do I have a business bank account? Merchant services run by banks may require you to have a linked checking account for your business.
  • Is my POS system compatible? If you already have a POS system and are looking for a credit card terminal or a bank or provider to process card payments, all the pieces of your system need to be compatible to work together seamlessly.

POS systems vs. credit card terminals

A POS system not only processes credit cards, but it can help your business in a lot of other ways. Depending on the system, it could print and email receipts, keep track of inventory, keep track of cash, scan barcodes, store product prices, analyze profits and sales, accept gift cards and apply discounts.

A credit card terminal can process credit cards — and that's it. Some credit card terminals are connected to POS systems, but on their own, they can't apply discounts, store product prices or do any of the other tasks that a POS system does.

Will I need multiple merchant services providers?

Generally yes, but how many services you'll need and how complicated it is depends on the size and structure of your business.

For example, a large business with an in-person and online presence may have a checking and savings account, a payment processor with a dedicated merchant account, a specialized POS system, a self-hosted website and customized shipping and inventory software. But a small online startup may just have a subscription with a payment service provider like Square and a business checking account.

The best solution is one that's customized to your business, and it may evolve and change as your company grows.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to open a business bank account to sign up for merchant services with a bank?

Some banks require you to open a business bank account to use all of the features of its merchant services. If you want to stick with your existing bank, check if they offer merchant services or find a merchant services provider that lets you stay with your current bank account.

Do I have to sign a minimum period contract to get a POS system?

It depends on the provider. While some providers and banks require you to sign a contract, others allow you to end your service at any time.

What happens if I don't know how many card transactions I'll process monthly?

Not all plans are structured with a cap limit on transactions. Find a merchant services provider that has no transaction limit or one that will let you move to a plan with a higher transaction limit if you find the cap isn’t high enough.

Can I customize my receipts?

Most merchant services providers let you customize your receipts by adding your business logo at the top, but the information on the receipt and the layout will be a standard format.

Can I pass on the cost of processing cards to my customers?

It depends on where you live. Certain states prohibit merchants from charging credit card surcharges. Because those laws are constantly changing, it’s best to check your state’s laws before charging anything, and regularly check the laws for changes.If you live in a state that allows credit card surcharges, you’re required to make it clear to the customer ahead of time. The surcharge needs to be on the receipt and you can’t charge more than what you pay to process the transaction.

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