2018 Best Retail Credit Card Processing

Updated on November 22, 2021

2018 Best Retail Credit Card Processing

Retail businesses are still doing well in the twenty-first century despite the fact that eCommerce is very popular. There is need for customers to go to shop to get their groceries, take their car to a mechanic to change the oil and also go out to a restaurant for a dinner. For any kind of business whereby customers come to you, there is need for you to accept credit card as a form of payment. The payment with credit or debit card has become very popular in the past two decade to the extent that customers find it very easy to pay with card rather than cash.

You need merchant account to accept credit cards

The unfortunate part is that merchant account provider is well known for their exorbitant fees, poor service after sale as well as long term contract. They also have the idea of hiding the high fees in the fine print of their contracts and employ cunny representative who will mount pressure on merchant so as to sign up for the account, and they won’t disclose the cost of such account while selling it.

It is not supposed to be like this. Whenever an industry have a bad reputation like the one mentioned, it will pave way for other companies to come around and disrupt that industry by providing a better value for its client. The fact is that there are some excellent companies who will provide a better service as well as treatment than those traditional merchant account providers. We have compiled some account providers who have a good product as well as services for brick and mortar retail businesses. The companies have been rated 5 out of 5 stars here at Dharma Merchant. Although, that does not imply that they are perfect because there is no account provider that is perfect due to the fact that some companies are better suited to various types of businesses than others. However, you will have a better service with the companies profile below.

Table of Contents

How We Chose:

Dharma Merchant Services

CDG commerce


How We Chose:

There are several things which you have to consider whenever you are selecting a merchant account provider, regardless of whether you are in eCommerce or retail sector (or both). Although retail business have their specific requirement when it comes to credit card processing. The essential part is the hardware. The eCommerce merchant may not hold the customer’s credit card physically and would be able to operate their business from the laptop but a retail business would need a minimum of one credit card terminal. In the case of large business, more than one would be needed. POS which is also known as a point of sale is also needed, regardless of whether it is a dedicated POS device or a tablet-based system. Based on the nature of business, mobile payment may also be essential.

The following criteria are what we have identified in evaluating the best retail merchant account providers. All these providers have an excellent score rating for each of these criteria and here are what we looked at:

Hardware: You’ll definitely need to have a credit card terminal and most of the traditional merchant account providers would lock you into a four year terminal lease which is expensive, the companies chosen would either sell you to a terminal or give you access to rent one at a reasonable fee. Some of them can also provide free terminal once your account is kept open. You will likewise want a terminal that has compliant with EMV as well as NFC capability so that contactless payment methods such as Apple Pay can be accepted. Based on the nature as well as size of your business, you may or may not need a POS system or a mobile payment capability. But if you do, the companies listed below will cover you.


Sales and advertising: Traditional processors mainly treat their websites as a means of advertisement so as to entice you into contacting one of their sales representatives. They have various promises on their sites about how great their service are, but did not include enough information regarding pricing. Whenever they talk about their processing rates, they would use the lowest possible rate as an example, without emphasizing that most of your transaction will be processed at higher rates. Account fees are not disclosed, although some companies would try to fool you by talking about fees which they will not charge you, but you will still have to pay other fees which are not mentioned. A good merchant account provider should be able to discuss the variables regarding the pricing. However, our entire service provider have excellent and informative website which will provide details about what you will be paying.


Pricing: The pricing comes in two ways with any merchant account, the fees and the rates. Rates is the processing rates which will be paid to process each transaction while fees are the amounts which will be paid either on monthly or annual basis so as to maintain your account. Although it is reasonable to expect some fees so as to keep your account updated, there are some processors who have gone overboard with nickel-and-diming merchants for every possible service they provide. Junk fees are charges where the merchant does not receive any benefit from the provider (i.e., PCI non-compliance fees). Our best merchant account providers offers processing rates which are based on either an interchange-plus pricing model or a subscription plan. The best provider in the industry also offers low and reasonable fees. You will not be charged for things like setting up your account or providing a paper statement each month. In addition, you won’t be penalized with an expensive early termination fee if you close your account before the expiration of your contract. You can also see our complete guide for a more in-depth look at rates and fees.


Contracts: For several years in the processing industry, the standard practice is to sign merchant up for a three year contract with a renewal clause which is automatic and extends the contract for additional one-year period. Contracts would also include an early termination fee which would be imposed if the account is closed by the merchant before the expiration of the contract term. This is put in place so that the merchant won’t be able to close your account and switch to a competing provider without incurring a meaningful penalty. Merchant are not happy with this agreement for many years, and the industry is finally starting to come around. Our best retail provider will provide a monthly contract for you and you will not be charged an early termination fee. In this case you will be free to close your account whenever you desire without any penalty but you won’t have to do so because unless you sell or close your business.


Customer support: Traditional merchant account providers do not have a good reputation in this area as well. Although they claim to have a 24/7 telephone line available for support but most merchant complains that the service is usually not available. The common complaint include long wait on hold and not being able to reach someone who can actually solve the problem. After-hours support is even worse, with calls usually being routed to an overseas call center staffed by representatives who do not have the right training or ability to solve the problem. However, our top providers would provide an outstanding service and you would not have these problems. All of them have a good reputation and ability to provide quality customer service and support. Rather than most traditional providers, they likewise offer a knowledgebase on their website so as to help you diagnose common problems on your own.

Having these criteria in mind, below is an in-depth look at our favorite merchant account providers for retail businesses:

Dharma Merchant Services

Although most of the merchant account providers would stick with fairly conservative, business-like names for their companies, Dharma Merchant Services goes in the opposite direction by adopting a Sanskrit term found in most Eastern religion that roughly translates to “right way of living.” This goes beyond a juicy name; it also describes Dharma’s unconventional approach to merchant accounts as well as credit card processing. Dharma would allow you to buy the equipment immediately and would charge a reasonable monthly fee after that. The contracts are monthly and interchange-plus pricing is used exclusively.

If you only need a basic credit card terminal, Dharma would sell you the popular Verifone Vx 520 terminal for $299. This wired terminal is rugged and accepts magstripe and EMV cards, as well as Apple Pay. You can find it for a lower fee online but Dharma’s terminal already comes with programmed software and is load to work with your Dharma merchant account. If you purchase elsewhere, you will have to pay a $100.00 reprogramming fee to install the software on your terminal. Dharma also offers more fully-featured terminals, some of which have wireless capability. If you also like the POS system, they have the Clover Mini which is one of the favorite POS systems for small businesses. Clover Go also support mobile payment and it comes along with an app as well as a choice of either a contactless reader or a plug-in.

The rate as well as fees of Dharma merchant is spelled clearly on the website. All their transactions are also processed with the aid of interchange-plus pricing model, and the card-present transaction being charged interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction. A flat fee of $10.00 per month is also paid for the basic account. Some features would cost extra, such as the Clover Go mobile payments service (another $10.00 monthly), and a wireless terminal data plan cost $20.00 monthly. Incidental fees like address verification fees and chargebacks are also listed on their website.

This sounds very good but there is one catch: Dharma is perfect for merchants who will process more than $10,000 per month in credit card transactions but is not cost effective if what you are processing is less than that. A more affordable alternative such as square is recommended for smaller retail businesses.


  • POS systems, full range of terminals, as well as mobile payments solutions for retail business
  • No additional fees or long-term contracts
  • Simple, transparent interchange-plus-only pricing
  • Excellent customer service as well as support


  • It is not the best for businesses processing which is less than $10,000 per month. You can also see our complete review for more information about Dharma.


CDGcommerce is also a great choice for retail businesses. Most of our favorite providers have been in business for about ten years because CDG started in 1998. Just like Dharma, they have a very simple pricing system with a transparent processing rate as well as minimal fees. They are the top choice for many retail businesses because of their monthly contracts and excellent customer service.

We would simply recommend that you purchase your own terminal rather than leasing them from your merchant account provider. This rule exempt CDGcommerce and what they offer is not a lease. Although they would not charge you for the terminal but you will have to pay $79 per year for the insurance of the terminal. This is very little to what most terminal leases cost and they would also update the software as well as features on the terminals. If you also want to buy your own terminals, it will be re-programmed to work with your CDGcommerce merchant account for free. There is also availability of wireless terminals but an additional $20.00 per month would be paid for the wireless data plan and an added $0.05 as processing fees for each transaction. CDG likewise offers POS as well as mobile payment solutions. Their Harbortouch Echo with the CDG POS+ app features POS system and is a great choice for retail merchants who need something which is more powerful than a credit card reader. You can also rent it for $49.00 monthly with $79.00 yearly fee for equipment insurance. For mobile payments, CDG has a smartphone app which is called “ProcessNow” as well as a free plug-in card reader. Although there is no added fee for this service but the current card reader is magstripe-only.

Just like Dharma, CDG only charge a sum of $10.00 monthly for a basic merchant account and there is no annual fees, PCI compliance fees, monthly minimum, etc. They also charge nothing for the address verification and if you desire, you can include the option cdg360 security package. With this service, you will have $100,000 in data breach or theft protection, customized security alerts, PCI-DSS vulnerability scans as well as some other features. It is an outstanding investment.

Interchange-price is exclusively offered by CDG. Mobile and retail payments are charged at interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction. If you are a non-profit, you will be given a 0.05% discount.

CDGcommerce also provides an outstanding customer service as well as support through live chat, email and telephone. They do not receive complaints regularly and they are the only company where the CEO has personally responded and also offered to make correction to a problem.



  • Excellent interchange-plus pricing
  • Affordable terminal and POS equipment rentals
  • Monthly billing with short term contracts and early termination fees
  • A great customer service


  • It is only available to merchant who are based in United States
  • The mobile card reader does not support NFC or EMV payments

You can check our reviews for a detailed look at CDGcommerce.


Retail businesses are in various shapes as well as sizes, and each and every business has their own unique needs. What works for a store may be inappropriate for another store. All the merchant account providers which we have profiled here provide a better service when compared with bank-owned or traditional providers.

With our retail top providers, you will be able to have an affordable access to the credit card terminals and POS system which you need to run your business. You will also benefit from transparent interchange-plus pricing. The account fees are very low and are stated clearly on each website of the providers. The best of all is that contracts are monthly with no early termination fee which gives you opportunity to switch service provider if you are opportune to have a better deal.

Our retail merchant account providers also cater for medium as well as large businesses, especially those that are processing more than $10,000 monthly. If your business is smaller than that, you can opt for a basic account with CDGcommerce. For seasonal or very small businesses, you may consider Square because of the low cost. Ensure you read reviews of Square first because there are some definite trades-offs between Square’s aggregated accounts as well as a full-service merchant account.

If you also have an experience with any of our top merchant account providers for retail, ensure you leave a comment below. You can also compare the top processors with the aid of our Merchant account comparison chart.

Square, Best Choice
for Low Volume
Credit Card Processing

Starting at 2.6% + 10¢ per swipe for Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.