Top 5 best credit card processing companies and PayPal alternatives

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If your business relies on receiving debit and credit card payments from customers, then it's worth investing time and money on an effective card processing service.

We can't help you pay for it, but if time isn't on your side we can certainly make choosing the right solution for you very quick and easy. In this article, we've picked out five potential card processing services for your company.

To compile the list, we've looked for card processors that make life easier and safer for both you and your customers. So that means processing services that go to extra lengths on usability and security. It probably won't comes as a surprise to see PayPal included, but there are other services that include different features and and array of price points. By the time you finish reading, you'll be ready to commit to one of the providers. So let's get straight to it…

  • Head this way to find the best accounting service for your business

You must have been living under a rock for the last couple of decades if you haven't heard of PayPal. We don't think it's an over exaggeration to say that for 99% of people, PayPal will be the first card processor that comes to mind. It's used by multitudes upon multitudes of retailers and service providers around the world.

And if your business is small, it's absolutely free to sign up. That's for the standard package that includes fraud protection, one-click purchasing and an optimised experienced for mobile visitors. The focus is on fast, simple payments from anybody, regardless of whether they have a PayPal account or not.

As well as the free option, you can pay $30 (£20, around AU$38) a month to upgrade to PayPal Payments Pro. That allows you to customize your checkout and ensure that your customers stay on your website when they pay.

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Rather than a one size fits all approach to card processing, from the outset Square looks to mould its solution to suit your business. Whether your specialty is culinary, beauty, service provision or simply retail, Square will direct you appropriately.

The interface (whether on desktop or via Square's mobile app) is clean and simple to understand, and the commissions for each payment are a flat rate for all transactions instead of on a sliding scale. If you have a shopfront or office where you accept payments, you can also order its Square Reader hardware so that you can quickly take card payments in person, rather than faffing around with the online portal every time.

There are no monthly payments to get Square, unless your transactions are going to amount to more than $250,000, then you'll have to speak to Square to find out its rates.

Worldpay's online payment gateway is the one to go for if you're expecting payment from all corners of the globe. You can accept payments from more than 100 currencies worldwide – from Rand to Rupees, Pesos to Pound Sterling.

Worldpay takes the 'if you can't beat them, join them' approach to PayPal – it accepts payments from PayPal members, as well as the usual standalone card payments from non-PayPal users. We like that it includes reporting tools to keep track of your invoices and transactions and the company makes a lot of its advanced fraud protection. Clearly, Worldpay suits larger and growing businesses with greater needs.

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Sorry, but we can't give you specific details on pricing. You have to speak to a member of its sales team if you want to sign up to Worldpay.

If Intuit QuickBooks Payments sounds familiar, that's because Intuit makes some of the oldest and most respected accounting software out there.

The Payments strand of Intuit's service is focussed on the fast payment of invoices that you issue to customers, allowing you to add a 'Pay now' button to make it quick and easy for the payer. And because Intuit is so accounts inclined, it's no surprise to see that it makes a lot of the automatic invoicing and bookkeeping features you get access to. If you already use Intuit, it makes sense to sign up for Payments too.

Again, there are no monthly fees to pay. You can check out the Intuit QuickBooks Payments commission structure here.

Compared to some of the merchant services above, Stripe is a young pup – it only came into being in 2011. But what it lacks in years of experience, it makes up for in a slick, youthful design.

But Stripe isn't merely style without substance. It states that you can start accepting payments within 10 minutes of signing up. And that pretty much sums up Stripe's raison d'être – a stripped down and straightforward card processing service. It also goes to great lengths to make integration on your website as easy as possible, with lots of help and guidelines to developers. And there are easy-to-navigate reporting suites, too.

It's another free service to subscribe to Stripe, with commission payable on each transaction.

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