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Best Credit Card Processors of 2021

September 14, 2021

Whether you collect payments online or in person, you need instant credit card processing. Waiting weeks for credit card payments to be processed and drowning under various fees is no way to run a business — and unless you get control of your pipeline you could end up knee-deep in cash flow issues in short order. 

But the wrong credit card processor can also be a significant problem if it means that you can’t access your payments in short order or if your fees spiral out of control. While most can help you process Visa and MasterCard payments, other types of payments may prove challenging and costly.

You could always decide to simply accept the easier payments and force your customers to fall in line, but that could significantly reduce your business. In fact, with the ascendance of alternative payment methods, as well as the increasing usage of cards that don’t say Visa or MasterCard on the front, you may be losing out on up to a quarter to a third of your business.

Furthermore, the monthly fees you may end up paying to your credit card processor can be significant, which makes selecting the right credit card processor vitally important. After all, one may offer instant credit card processing and instant bank verification along with ACH processing while another could take days or weeks to clear those or stick you with exorbitant fees.


As one of the oldest names in quick credit card processing, PayPal is used by many individuals and businesses that need a way to accept transactions online and in person. However, while setup is easy and there are no monthly fees or contracts, be prepared to pay high fees for each transaction (a flat rate plus a percentage).

Furthermore, you also won’t be able to get instant credit card processing with PayPal because they tend to hold on to funds for days, if not weeks, especially with high-risk merchants or so-called “suspicious” transactions. And if you ever have a problem with your PayPal account, you may even get locked out completely. 

National Processing

A budget-friendly option for merchants that want low fees and transparent pricing, National Processing is a lesser-known credit card processing service that requires no monthly volume and offers a variety of plans to fit the needs of your business.

But their equipment can be expensive (they have a partnership with Clover) and you’ll have to sign up in advance with a monthly plan. If it ends up not working for you and your business, you may also face steep cancellation fees. And for those businesses that are interested in accepting eChecks and ACH processing, the fees are not listed, so be prepared to pay a bit more.

Fees are also structured based on your business type, not your volume, so you may have no choice but to go with a plan that may not work for your business. 


As a large and reputable company in the credit card processing space, Square is ideal for businesses that want to setup an account and start accepting payments in short order. Not only do they have many equipment options, but they’ll also provide free POS software to help you manage your online transactions.

Unfortunately, their phone support is only limited to business hours and they’re well known to avoid instant credit card processing by often holding suspicious transactions for days or weeks. That said, their 5-minute setup is one of the quickest in the business, and you’ll also get the same PCI compliance and security that you would expect from any credit card processor.

For those that have their own systems and want to keep things in place, you won’t be able to get started with Square without purchasing a Square reader, terminal or register. The good news is that Square features a flat fee across all payment types, though the fee can often be higher overall than other payment processors.


Highly integrated with leading business software platforms, Stripe is a flexible online payment provider. It accepts all mobile wallet payments, giving you the ability to offer your goods and services to an increasingly tech-savvy audience, and their custom pricing means that you can tailor the service to your unique need.

However, they don’t provide anything close to instant credit card processing since for high-risk businesses they will hold funds for seven days. To make matters worse, phone support is only available upon request, meaning that any issue could take days to resolve. 

But if you have existing software solutions that simply must work with your payment processor, Stripe can be a good option due to their numerous agreements and integrations with poplar software platforms.


Owned by Fattmerchant, Stax is a subscription-based credit card processing service that gives you access to low interchange rates without any markup. You’ll also get Stax’s invoicing and billing tools, as well as a virtual POS for accepting payments via mobile devices and computers, even if you’re far from a terminal. 

But for companies that don’t have a high volume of transactions each month, the high monthly fees could be a non-starter and easily exceed what you would pay with another credit card processor. You’ll also need to use their equipment and wait for it to be delivered, which can take up to two or three weeks after account approval, though the company may be able to reprogram your existing EMV terminals.

Transcend Pay

For high-risk businesses, the best instant credit card processing partner is Transcend Pay. We’re more than just another payment processor — we’re a financial partner that is committed to your success. Helping you process customer card payments quickly and easily without any hidden fees, we can take a lot of the burden off your shoulders while also protecting your transactions against holdups and other issues that can have a real impact on your cash flow.

Instead of making drastic decisions like only accepting cash or limiting the types of payments you can manage, let us do all the complicated work for you while you focus on growing your business. We won’t institute restrictive processing terms and excessive fees just because you run a certain type of business, and that can help you maximize your transaction revenue. 

Get started with Transcend Pay today!