Clearly Payments Logo

Best Payment Processing in USA

Our top picks not only offer merchant accounts, but also payment technology solutions like payment terminals, virtual terminals, mobile payments, and payment gateways. Choose one of these reliable and secure processors with competitive pricing and transparent fee structures, including interchange-plus pricing, to save money and stay in control of your processing costs. Whether you’re a small business or a larger enterprise, our top credit card processors can help you accept credit card payments and grow your business.

The way to use this USA payment processing guide

If you’re looking for a payment processor in USA, it can be overwhelming to sift through the many options available. However, with the right guidance and information, you can make an informed decision that will benefit your business in the long run. That’s where this guide comes in – we’ve done the research to help you choose the best payment processor for your needs.

First, we’ll go through the top things to consider when selecting a payment processor in the USA, such as pricing, contract terms, and customer support. Then, we’ll highlight the top payment processors in the USA and provide key details about each one. By using this guide, you can save time and energy in your search for a payment processor and feel confident that you’re making the right choice for your business.

The ways to rank a payment processor

  • Methods to accept credit card payments: online payments, counter terminals, etc.

    To accept payments for your business, you may need various methods such as eCommerce, terminals, mobile, virtual terminal, recurring billing, invoicing, and API integration. It's essential to select a payment processor that provides the payment methods you require.

  • Types of credit cards you can accept: Visa, MasterCard, etc

    To accept payments, you may desire to take various card types such as Debit, Visa, MasterCard, China UnionPay, JCB, Diners, American Express, and Discover. However, certain credit card processors only allow specific card types, and some don't accept international credit cards. Also, you may need to accept debit cards.

  • Pricing and contracts in payment processing

    Payment processing costs vary considerably based on business size, making pricing a significant consideration. Contract terms also differ, from simple acceptance of terms to lengthy multi-year contracts.

  • Customer service in payments

    Having accessible customer service through various channels such as phone, email, and social media is crucial, especially for larger businesses where it's more mission-critical.

Types of merchant accounts

In payment processing, there are two primary types of merchant accounts: dedicated and shared. To learn more, check out our Payment Processing Guide which covers essential topics for payment processing and merchant accounts in USA.

When assessing payment processors in USA, several factors should be considered, such as the need for a merchant account when accepting credit cards. A dedicated merchant account is tailored to your business, accounting for annual processing volume, average transaction size, and card types accepted. On the other hand, shared merchant accounts, known as payment aggregators, serve multiple businesses simultaneously.

Payment aggregators

Some payment processors may offer a shared merchant account, which is called a payment aggregator. This means you share an account with thousands of other businesses, and funds are deposited into a master merchant account, not your business account. Shared merchant accounts are generally for small businesses processing less than $100,000 per year, with higher transaction fees of 2.9% and $0.20 per transaction, but low monthly fees. It is actually most cost effective for small businesses to run on payment aggregators until they get above $100,000 per year.

These payment processors are called payment facilitators, aggregators, or 3rd party processors, such as Paypal, Square, and Stripe. When you don’t have your own merchant account, the processor’s name may appear with your business name on customer credit card statements, which can confuse some customers and impact branding. Therefore, shared merchant accounts are often recommended for small or micro-businesses. 

The products that payment processors offer

A payment processor typically offers a range of products and services related to facilitating credit card payment transactions. Here are some common products offered by payment processors:

  1. Credit Card machines and terminals: A credit card terminal, also known as a card reader or payment terminal, is a device used to process credit and debit card transactions. It serves as a physical point of interaction between the merchant and the customer during a payment transaction.

  2. Online Payment Gateways: Payment processors provide online payment gateways, which are software applications that enable businesses to accept payments through their websites or mobile apps. These gateways securely transmit payment data between the customer, merchant, and payment processor.

  3. Virtual Terminals: A virtual terminal allows merchants to process card payments manually, typically over the phone or by entering payment details into a computer. Payment processors offer virtual terminal solutions to facilitate such transactions.

  4. Mobile Payments: With the increasing use of smartphones, payment processors often provide mobile payment solutions. These solutions allow customers to make payments using their mobile devices, either through mobile apps or near-field communication (NFC) technology.

  5. Subscription Billing or Recurring Billing: Some payment processors offer subscription billing services, which enable businesses to set up recurring payments for subscription-based services or products. This is particularly useful for companies offering software-as-a-service (SaaS) or membership-based models.

  6. Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems: Payment processors may provide POS systems that integrate payment processing with other business operations. These systems often include hardware components like card readers and software interfaces for managing inventory, sales, and customer data.

  7. Fraud Prevention: Payment processors typically offer fraud detection and prevention tools to minimize the risk of fraudulent transactions. These tools employ various techniques such as real-time monitoring, data analytics, and machine learning algorithms to identify and prevent fraudulent activities.

  8. Payment Analytics and Reporting: Payment processors may provide reporting and analytics features that offer insights into transaction data, sales trends, and customer behavior. These tools help businesses optimize their payment processes and make informed decisions.

It’s important to note that the specific products and services offered by payment processors can vary. Different payment processors may have their own unique offerings or specialize in certain areas of payment processing.

List of the best payment processors in the USA

Clearly Payments Logo for Payment Processing

Clearly Payments

  • Operations in USA and Canada
  • Merchant account provider 
  • Best for lowest payment processing fees
  • Covers Canada and USA

Clearly Payments strives to be the premier payment processor in the USA and Canada, offering exceptional service and the lowest fees possible. They stand out with a transparent pricing model that aligns with the Canadian Code of Conduct for merchant services and no cancellation fees. Furthermore, they were the pioneers of the membership pricing option in Canada, enabling merchants to access wholesale payment processing rates for a flat monthly fee.

In addition, Clearly Payments provides friendly customer support via phone and email. Their services cater to Canadian, American, and cross-border businesses.

First Data Payments Logo

First Data

  • Founded in 1969 
  • Based in Atlanta, USA 
  • Merchant account provider 
  • Largest payment processor in the world
  • Best for multi-national merchants

First Data is primarily recognized for selling and reselling hardware terminals. However, their pricing is not publicly displayed on their website, meaning that your rates will be largely determined by the sales representative you’re working with.

It’s worth noting that First Data does have fluctuating cancellation fees and contract terms, so it’s important to carefully review the details before finalizing any agreements. Fortunately, they offer 24/7 customer service support. However, some customers have raised concerns regarding customer service, billing disputes, and the terms and conditions outlined in their contracts.

Square Logo

Square Payments

  • Founded in 2009 
  • Based in San Francisco, California
  • Shared merchant account (aggregator)
  • Best for small businesses processing below $50k per year

Square offers straightforward pricing with no sign-up fees, cancellation fees, or monthly fees, and the pricing depends on how you accept payments. Credit card rates range from 2.75% to 3.4%. This pricing model is ideal for small merchants who process less than $50k per year. However, if you exceed this amount, it’s recommended to consider obtaining a merchant account from another provider.

While Square’s pricing structure is simple and affordable, it’s worth noting that they have limited customer support. Some customers have reported poor customer service experiences, including account closures without prior notice. Despite this, Square remains an excellent choice for businesses processing less than $4,000 per month due to its flat-rate pricing model.

Global Payments Logo

Global Payments

  • Founded in 1967 
  • Based in Atlanta, USA 
  • Merchant account provider 

Global Payments is a major payment processor that primarily utilizes the tiered pricing model. It’s crucial to stay vigilant about your rates and be aware of any potential changes.

Typically, Global Payments requires a three-year contract with associated cancellation fees, so it’s important to thoroughly review the contract terms before committing. Fortunately, they offer round-the-clock customer service support. However, some customer complaints have centered on cancellation-related fees.

Stripe payments logo

Stripe Payments

  • Founded in 2011 
  • Based in San Francisco, California
  • Shared merchant account (aggregator)
  • Know for internet payment processing
  • Best for small software companies

Stripe offers a simple pricing structure with no sign-up or cancellation fees, and flat-rate pricing based on the payment method used. Their rates are 2.9%, with an additional $0.30 per transaction fee.

While they do provide customer support through email and Twitter, some customers have raised concerns about poor customer service and unanticipated account closures. Moreover, Stripe’s flat rate pricing is ideal for businesses that process less than $4,000 per month. For higher volumes, the pricing can become quite costly.

Chase Merchant Services

Chase Merchant Services

  • Founded in 1985 
  • Based in Dallas, Texas
  • Merchant account provider
  • For large businesses and enterprises
  • Best for large enterprises with custom deployments

Chase Merchant Services is the payment processing and merchant acquiring division of JPMorgan Chase that also offers payment fraud detection, data security solutions, and business analytics.

The company is well-regarded for its services tailored to larger businesses, but some smaller businesses have noted subpar support, potentially due to the enterprise-focused approach.


  • Founded in 2006
  • Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • For large businesses and enterprises
  • Good for custom deployments

They operate in over 70 countries, with a strong presence in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas. Adyen’s payment processing capabilities cover a broad range of payment methods and currencies, making it a popular choice for cross-border commerce. In addition, their platform provides features like risk management, data analytics, and reporting to help merchants optimize their payment processes.

Clearly Payments Logo

Join our mission to lower credit card processing fees today.

Clearly Payments offers a one-stop-shop for a merchant account, credit card processing, and all the payment technology. We’ll get you up and running in less than 24 hours.