Last editedMar 20233 min read
Are you ready to take your business to the next level? You’ll need an efficient payment processor to help. Here’s what to look for when comparing the best payment processing companies, along with our pick of the top payment processors.
What is a payment processor?
A payment processor refers to the company or system that manages a transaction on a business’s behalf. It serves as the middleman between the parties involved in that transaction – typically the merchant and customer.
When a customer wishes to make a card payment, their financial details usually follow this process:
Card details are submitted to merchant
Merchant’s payment processor takes the details
Details are passed to payment gateway (if not integrated with processor)
Details are passed to customer’s bank for authorisation
Payment is submitted to the merchant’s bank account
Although dominant for a long time, card payments are not the only way to accept payments from customers. Bank payments offer an often cheaper, more simple, and more reliable way of collecting both one-off and recurring payments.
The payment processing service you choose is important not only to facilitate these transactions, but also as part of the wider customer experience.
Features of the best payment processing companies
As you start comparing various options, you may note that there are a few features that the best payment processing systems will have in common.
Multiple layers of security
Integration with payment gateway
The 8 best payment processing systems
Now that we’ve outlined a few of the features to look for, here’s our pick of the top payment processors out there.
We are a payments platform helping you collect payments directly from your customer's bank account, taking away the stress, frustration, and costs of card payment collection.
Through GoCardless, businesses can combine the power of bank debit with open banking technology to access an ultra-secure, easy, and reliable payment method, perfect for taking both one-off and recurring payments.
Stripe offers a more general solution sure to suit any online retailer. It’s highly customisable, meaning you can choose from a variety of APIs to best match its service to your own website. You’ll be able to accept credit and debit card payments in over 100 currencies as well as cryptocurrency. To start using Stripe, you'd benefit from having some developer time at your disposable, as it's on the technical side.
You’re probably already familiar with PayPal, but this popular service deserves to be on the list of best payment processing companies for its ease of use and ubiquity. It’s a good choice for small businesses dealing with low volumes of transactions, but you do pay higher fees as a premium for the familiar name. That said, it’s also widely accepted abroad with easy website integration.
If your business needs to process payments in person, Square comes with a bevy of handy point of sale features like a contactless chip reader, magstripe reader, and convertible stand. All these components let you take payments directly from your own smartphone. The system connects with your online business presence as well for seamless transactions. Card payments will always be more expensive, but for in-person transactions, going with the status quo may be a good option.
Based in Amsterdam, Adyen is an international payment processing company available in multiple countries so you can accept money anywhere. It’s a good option for any small business that needs to transfer money in real-time, with multiple payment methods available from credit card payments to bank transfers.
6. Flagship Merchant Services
As your small business starts to grow, you may need to think about scaling up to a processor that can handle higher volumes of credit card transactions. Flagship Merchant Services is an all-in-one processor that charges a flexible monthly rate to businesses. It enables both in-person and online credit card payments, as well as mobile payments.
7. Apple Pay
If your client base includes a high percentage of Apple product fans, you’ll want to give them the choice of Apple Pay. They’ll be able to pay you directly from their iPhone or iPad with contactless technology. Apple Pay also enables credit and debit card payments, bank transfers, and cryptocurrency all from its digital wallet.
Wise is a payments system specifically geared at cross-border payments. You can benefit from transparent pricing and its wide reach. It does focus on international payments, so if you're looking for recurring payments or integration capabilities, other options could be a good bet.
How to choose the best payment processing company
There’s no single answer to this question for small businesses, as the best solution will depend on whether you operate solely online or have a brick-and-mortar presence as well. The best credit card payment processing companies blend convenience with user-friendly features and low fees, keeping your customers’ card details safe.
We can help
GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments.