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Shippo Review: Pricing, Features, Top Alternatives

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Running an ecommerce business involves so many moving parts it takes top-notch organization skills to keep up. You’ve figured out how to sell online, and if you sell tangible goods that need to be shipped, you’re no stranger to frequent trips to the post office or shipment center—and the price of shipping too.

There are some shipping services out there to help you manage all of your shipments, but choosing one can be difficult. Shippo is one service that you can use to make your shipping and returns practices easier and less expensive than working directly with shipping providers.

Shippo is a shipping software provider that offers discounted shipping rates and the ability to track packages, schedule pickups, and print shipping labels. Below we’ll go over all of the services that Shippo has to offer and what you can get from them as a business if you’re looking to improve your shipping processes.

When choosing a shipping service—whether Shippo or another provider—you’ll want to consider how fast you need your packages delivered, whether you want them picked up from your office or home, tracking preferences, customer communication, and price, of course. Once you know which of those factors is most important to you, it’ll be easier to decide whether Shippo might be right for your business needs. Plus, this Shippo review will also provide some top alternatives so you can get a more complete picture of your options. Let’s get started.

What is Shippo?

Shippo is a platform that offers shipping solutions for small businesses that need to streamline their shipping processes. They even integrate with a number of popular ecommerce platforms like Shopify and Etsy to help shop owners more easily manage their shipping needs—from printing shipping labels to tracking shipments to managing the customer experience. San Francisco-based Shippo was founded in 2013 and boasts a client base of over 35,000 brands and over 100 million annual shipments.

Shippo features

The features Shippo offers can make your day-to-day business tasks easier, saving you some significant time and money. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly you can expect if you use Shippo.

Shipping

A shipping software provider should, first and foremost, offer shipping services. With Shippo, you can create and print labels for your shipments from wherever you work and ship at your own convenience. If you’re shipping using USPS or DHL Express you can also schedule to have packages picked up, so you don’t have to waste time driving to one of their centers. You can also print other items via Shippo, like return labels and branded packing slips.

The Shippo platform allows you to compare the rates of different carriers to find the best deal for your shipments. Plus, Shippo offers discounted rates of up to 90% off, according to their website. Shippo also provides address validation so you can reduce the risk of returned or undelivered packages.

Shippo works most major carriers, so you can likely find your preferred shipping solution working with Shippo. For national delivery Shippo works with:

  • United States Postal Service

  • FedEx SmartPost

  • UPS Mail Innovations

  • Canada Post

  • Australia Post

  • CouriersPlease

  • Deutsche Post

  • DHL Germany

  • DHL Ecommerce

  • GLS France

  • GLS Germany

  • Mondial Relay

  • Newgistics

  • Parcel Force Worldwide

  • RR Donnelley

Additionally, Shippo partners with several carriers for international shipping, as well as tracking-specific companies. If any documentation is required by a carrier or customs, Shippo will identify and pre-fill all the necessary information. You also have the option to pre-fill package weight and insurance amount, when applicable.

Tracking

For your own peace of mind, as well as your customers’, Shippo offers robust shipment tracking capabilities, including real-time updates and an estimated time of arrival (ETA) so your customers can prepare for delivery. No matter which carriers you choose, you can implement standardized tracking to keep the shipping process consistent. And if you send any packages outside of Shippo, you can still track them through Shippo.

You can also create branded tracking pages through Shippo to stay consistent with your customers, and create customized email notifications.

Returns

While you hope your customers will keep every item they purchase from you, that likely won’t be the case. But by offering quick and easy returns, you can still create a positive experience with those customers and increase the likelihood of them shopping with you again.

Shippo allows you to create return labels for all of your orders, as well as purchase labels for any shipments you create outside of Shippo. Plus, you’ll only pay for labels once a customer uses them.

Platform integration

Shippo works with a host of other companies, including ecommerce platforms, marketplaces, inventory management apps, finance software, and more, so you can streamline your operations.

Some of Shippo’s most popular partners are Shopify and Weebly (now Square Online). But their other ecommerce platform partners are Wix, BigCommerce, Squarespace, WooCommerce, GoDaddy, ChannelAdvisor, Commerce7, Virid, CubeCart, ePages, Selz, Craft Commerce, Magento, Spree Commerce, Arcadier, Reaction Commerce, Volusion, and Stripe. When you use one of these platforms you can automatically import orders, compare shipping rates, and print labels. The same process goes for the marketplaces Mercari, Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Vinted.

You also have the option to import orders to Shippo via a CSV file or orders endpoint (API).

Analytics and reporting

Keep track of your shipment operations with Shippo’s analytics and reporting features, which include tracking how much you’ve spent on shipments, either since you started using Shippo or for a specific time period; average price per package; and the number of labels purchased daily, weekly, monthly, or another specific time period.

You’ll also have access to your complete shipping history so you can dig into the data and uncover any trends or pain points you want to work on in the future.

Customer service

Shippo offers several channels through which customers or inquiring parties can receive support. In fact, while writing this Shippo review, we used their online chat function twice and were able to chat live with a real person both times. The responses were quick and in-depth and the customer service representatives were friendly and knowledgeable.

Shippo also offers a help center, resource center, developer resources, and a Shippo blog to answer frequently asked questions and provide educational resources. If you prefer, though, you can also contact them directly with any questions. If you’re not a customer, you’ll be put in contact with Shippo’s sales team. Once you are a customer, you can contact the support team via email.

Shippo pricing

Shippo offers three plan options for their services, and a significant pro is that their pay-as-you-go plan is a commitment-free option with no monthly subscription fee. With this option, you pay $0.05 per label plus the cost of postage. You will also have access to email support, USPS discounts, and unlimited label volume.

Shippo’s next option is their Professional plan, which can be customized depending on your shipment volume. All of the Professional plans come with no per-label fee, the option to create a branded customer experience, five user accounts, USPS discounts, and email and live-chat support. Each Professional plan has a monthly fee, which increases depending on how many labels you’ll need each month. The least expensive option is $10 a month for 75 or fewer labels, the next plan up is $25 a month followed by $35, $50, $75, $100, and $125 for nearly 5,000 labels a month. Beyond that, you have the option to create a custom plan that includes more labels. You also have the option to start a 30-day free trial of the Professional plan before you commit.

The last plan option is Shippo’s Premier account, which comes with 15 user accounts, technical implementation assistance, dedicated customer support, plus the features of the Professional plans. Pricing for this option is quote-based, and you will need to contact Shippo’s sales team to learn more.

Source: Shippo

Shippo reviews: What customers are saying

Shippo has fairly good ratings online from review sites and users highlight that the software is easy to use. On G2 Crowd they have a 4.3 out of 5-star rating, and on Capterra they have a 5 out of 5-star rating.

Positive Shippo reviews highlight the fact that users can compare the shipping prices right on the Shippo platform so they know where they’ll get the best deal. Some users also say that they find Shippo is better for shipping small products and boxes than some other shipment services. They also like that Shippo automatically gives their customers tracking and delivery estimates, removing the need for customers to directly contact the sellers themselves. This can be a big time saver and help you prioritize the most important emails from customers.

While negative Shippo reviews are few and far between, some users find the ease of use on mobile to be lacking, while others would prefer if customer support could be accessed via phone, instead of email or live chat.

Shippo alternatives

Depending on what you’re looking for in shipping software, Shippo may not be the best solution for you. If that’s the case, a Shippo alternative may be more ideal. Let’s look at some other options that may satisfy your needs better than Shippo.

Easypost

Our first Shippo alternative, Easypost, is a flexible API that allows you to add shipping and tracking capabilities to your ecommerce platform. They work with more than 100 different carriers and also offer a pay-as-you-go plan that offers shipping labels and delivery estimates as well as tracking and reporting. This plan costs $0.01 per package, plus a 1% insurance fee, with a $1 minimum.

Besides these costs, Easypost doesn’t charge any setup, support, or cancellation fees. However, you do have the option to pay an additional fee for domestic and international address verification, the cost of which will depend on how many lookups you plan to use each month.

Easypost also has good reviews from users who highlight the API’s ease of use.

ShipStation

Another Shippo alternative is ShipStation. They offer many of the same options; however, their Enterprise plan, which lets you send unlimited shipments, is just $159 per month.

ShipStation integrates with just about any ecommerce platform, like Squarespace, Shopify, Etsy, Square, and more, so you can start shipping in minutes. And you can automate your shipping processes, while also allowing you to customize when you need to. Like Shippo, ShipStation offers a 30-day free trial so you can try it out before committing.

USPS Small Business

There is, of course, the option to go directly with the carrier instead of using a middle man. If you ship most of your packages via USPS, you might want to just work directly with them instead of opting for a third-party service like Shippo.

With USPS Small Business you can pay for and print all the shipping labels you need online and have the packages picked up right from your door. You can also use them for marketing purposes with direct-mail advertising. They offer some of the best prices for smaller packages—generally anything that weighs less than five pounds—but they also offer flat-rate shipping that can also be a cost-effective solution.

Whatever method you choose, USPS Small Business offers several options when it comes to shipping time, package size, and package type. And while they’ll pick up your packages, if you ever need to visit a location in person, you’ll find one in your area.

The bottom line

If you’re looking for a company to help you streamline your shipping processes and free up your time for other things, Shippo is a great option. Printing labels, tracking packages, communicating with your customers, facilitating returns, analyzing the data, and more are all possible with Shippo.

Every business’s needs are different, though, so if you’re not sure whether Shippo is the best choice for you, it’s a good idea to sign up for their free trial to test-drive their product before you commit. It’s also worth checking out their competitors, like Easypost, ShipStation, and USPS Small Business to see if one of these solutions better fits your needs.

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13 Best Credit Card Readers for Small Businesses

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A credit card reader is essential to many small businesses, and choosing the right card reader can help your company operate more smoothly.

The best choice depends on your budget, features needed and whether you’re accepting payments at a counter or on the go. Some card readers — such as those that work with iPhones — are portable, while others are attached to a countertop register. A basic card reader without a screen is the cheapest option, and sometimes free. A comprehensive POS system, on the other hand, comes with sophisticated features and can cost over a thousand dollars.

Below is a list of the best credit card readers for small businesses and what they can do for your business.

Quick comparison: Take a quick side-by-side look at our top picks in this table.

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Square Contactless and Chip reader

Best free option with basic functions

A man holds the contactless and chip reader by Square while running a credit card

Image courtesy of Square

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $49 for reader and $29 for optional dock.
Fees: 2.6% plus 10 cents for most in-person transactions; no monthly fees.

Square’s contactless and chip card reader enables you to accept credit cards with chips and digital wallets, such as tap-and-pay credit cards and smartphone apps, including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay. It uses Bluetooth technology instead of connecting directly to a device, which means you don’t have to keep your cell phone or tablet out with you all the time.

The reader must be charged, but the charging dock can double as a support for the reader for a counter or table. You can also charge it with a USB charger.

   

Has a compact design.

Doesn’t swipe credit cards.

Reads chip cards, digital wallets and contactless cards.

Takes up to two hours to charge.

 

Best for on-the-go payments for all card types

A white square Clover Go card reader

Courtesy of Clover

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $99 for reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents depending on method.

This credit card reader by Clover works with phones and tablets via Bluetooth. It also processes every type of credit card payment your customers could want: magstripe-only cards, chip cards and contactless payments. It costs $99 and requires users to purchase a monthly plan.

Features depend on the plan you choose. The Essentials Plan for $9.95 per month provides basic payment processing, inventory management, taxes, reporting and employee management with 24/7 support.

   

Includes interest-free installment plans.

Takes about 2 hours and 20 minutes to charge.

Charges via standard USB charger.

Requires a monthly fee for advanced POS features.

Uses passcodes for employees.

 

PayPal Zettle

The PayPal Zettle card reader sits on a coffee shop counter

Image courtesy of PayPal

Best for PayPal and Venmo payment options

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $79 for reader; new customers can get their first one for $29.
Fees: Varies by method, starting at 1.9% plus 10 cents for PayPal and Venmo QR code transactions over $10.

PayPal’s Zettle accepts chip and contactless payments, but it doesn’t read magstripes. It does, however, let customers pay with QR codes on PayPal and Venmo platforms. Its POS software offers invoice creation, inventory management, tracking sales performance and more.

Transaction fees generally fall in line with competitors with lower rates available for transactions made by QR code. All funds go into your PayPal account rather than a bank account. You’ll need to request a transfer to move the funds to your business bank account before you can use them outside of PayPal.

   

Has lower rates for PayPal and Venmo platforms.

Deposits funds into your PayPal account, not a bank account.

Includes new customer discount for first reader purchase.

 

Has a screen to show transaction details.

 
 

SumUp Plus

A customer holds a credit card up to the SumUp Plus reader

Image courtesy of SumUp

Best for a low-cost do-it-all reader 

Style: Connects to compatible phone or tablet via Bluetooth.
Price: $19 for reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.75% and up depending on method.

Powerful and compact, the SumUp Plus credit card reader works through Bluetooth with Apple and Android devices and promises more than 500 transactions on one charge. In addition to having a screen to show transaction details, the reader comes with a few helpful POS software features, like inventory management and permissions for employee access, as well as customizable invoicing. However, you might find that the overall POS is lacking when compared with the more robust options on the market.

SumUp charges only for transactions and doesn’t require a monthly fee. You can order the reader for $19 and start accepting card transactions in a matter of minutes once it’s connected to the SumUp app.

   

Accepts swiped, inserted and contactless payments.

Has less robust POS software features.

Has a screen that displays transaction details.

 
 

Clover Flex

A hand holds a white Clover Flex credit card reader

Image courtesy of Clover

Best for an all-in-one handheld system

Style: Standalone handheld reader.
Price: $499 for reader; monthly contract required.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Flex is a small but powerful handheld credit card reader. It can process all three credit card payment types, scan bar codes and even print receipts. It’s one of the few options in this category that has its own screen, removing your personal device from the equation and allowing customers a bit more of a professional experience when checking out on the spot.

Depending on your monthly plan, the Clover Flex can help you manage inventory, view sales data and set up individual logins for employees. It costs $499, but the company offers payment plans to break up the cost. Payment processing rates depend on your pricing plan.

   

Works without connecting to a personal device.

Requires an initial investment.

Has payment plans available.

Requires monthly plan for advanced features.

Has a free monthly plan for basic features.

 
 

Helcim Card Reader

Best for low-cost transaction fees with volume-based discounts

Style: Connects via Bluetooth.
Price: $109 for the reader.
Fees: Varies by card type and monthly average transaction total.

Helcim’s card reader processes all three types of payments and connects via Bluetooth, meaning it needs to be charged. It also provides POS software with well-developed features, including customer management and inventory tracking that notifies you when your supply gets low. A standout feature is its self-service portal, which allows customers to log in to see their payment information and purchase history.

Helcim’s processing fees can be difficult to calculate because it bases its fees on the type of card and interchange fees, which are set by card networks. It also offers volume-based discounts based on transaction tiers. The more you average in transactions per month, the higher your discount. The processor doesn’t require you to sign a contract, choose a monthly fee or pay to cancel your service.

   

Has volume discounts available.

Might change processing rate if monthly transaction average drops.

Has robust POS software features.

Might be difficult to calculate monthly cost in advance.

 

Toast Go 2

The handheld Toast Go 2 swiping a credit card.

Image courtesy of Toast

Best for tableside payments at restaurants

Style: Standalone handheld reader.
Price: $389 plus $50 per month.
Fees: Typically quote-based; lowest listed price is 2.49% plus 15 cents per in-person transaction in Standard Starter plan.

The Toast Go 2 allows you to submit orders at tables and accept all three styles of payment. It’s also spill proof, will hold a charge for 24 hours and has a 6.4-inch touchscreen for quick checkout. The free version of Toast’s POS software comes with basic features, including point-of-sale and payment processing, but advanced features are available with paid plans.

The free pay-as-you-go monthly plan with basic features has a processing rate of 2.99% plus 15 cents for every in-person transaction. That rate drops to 2.49% plus 15 cents if you pay for your hardware upfront. Other plans come with quote-based pricing. One downside: The company requires contracts with a standard term of two years.

   

Is designed specifically for restaurants.

Requires quotes for advanced monthly plans.

Offers 24/7 customer support.

Requires a contract.

Is versatile and durable.

 
 

Square Terminal

A woman inserts a credit card into the Square terminal

Image courtesy of Square

Best compact countertop reader

Style: Standalone countertop reader.
Price: $299 for the reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.6% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 15 cents depending on method; no monthly fees.

Square Terminal allows you to accept all three methods of credit card payments: chip, contactless and magstripe. And priced at $299, it comes in on the lower end of the all-inclusive card readers.

The company’s standard flat-rate processing fees apply and depend on whether you run the card in person or enter it manually. There’s no monthly contract.

   

Doesn’t require a separate device.

Can take over four hours to charge.

Shows transaction details.

 

Is compact and easy to use.

 
 

Square Stand

A customer signs on a Square Stand card reader in a bike shop

Image courtesy of Square

Best iPad-compatible register

Style: Register that connects to compatible iPad.
Price: $169 for the reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.6% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 15 cents depending on method; no monthly fees.

The Square Stand is designed specifically for a single smart device: the iPad. Snap an iPad into the Square Stand, and use it as a desktop point-of-sale. The configuration allows you to provide a larger screen for transaction details, and the swivel feature allows customers to sign on the iPad without having to pass the device around. It can process magstripe, chip and contactless payments and connect with a receipt printer. However, it works only with certain iPad models.

The company’s standard fees of 2.6% plus 10 cents apply for credit cards and can raise up to 3.5% plus 15 cents for methods outside a swipe, chip or contactless payment.

   

Swivels for customers to use.

Only works with certain iPad models.

Can be mounted to a countertop.

 
 

Clover Mini

A Clover Mini card reader

Image courtesy of Clover

Best all-in-one register

Style: Standalone countertop register.
Price: $749.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents, depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Mini is a countertop setup that doesn’t require a tablet. It allows your business to accept all types of payments, print receipts and scan barcodes. You also get some nifty POS features, including inventory, customer and employee management functions with paid monthly plans.

This product is $749. Payment processing rates depend on your Clover pricing plan.

   

Can be mounted to a countertop.

Requires paid monthly plan for advanced features.

Works without an iPad.

 

Has free monthly plan available.

 

Has payment plans available.

 

Clover Station Solo

A Clover Station with a screen faces the reader with a chip reader beside it

Image courtesy of Clover

Best full register with a single screen

Style: Standalone countertop register.
Price: $1,349.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents, depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Station Solo is a register-style system that offers merchants a 14-inch high-definition screen and a receipt printer for the full checkout experience. The system works with Clover’s POS for retail, offering payment processing, inventory and staff management, reporting and more. For restaurants, the Station Solo fits nicely with customizing and tracking orders, managing table mapping and much more for streamlined service.

   

Has fingerprint login.

Requires one of the larger upfront investments.

Uses fast processing speeds.

Doesn’t have a free monthly plan option.

Has robust POS software options.

 
 

Square Register

A customer pays with their cell phone on the Square Register in a bakery

Image courtesy of Square

Best full register setup with a customer-facing screen

Style: Standalone countertop register.
Price: $799 for reader.
Fees: Varies from 2.6% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 15 cents depending on method; no monthly fees.

The Square Register is the first fully integrated credit card scanner system from Square and is a complete countertop POS system that can accept magstripe, chip card and contactless forms of payment. It boasts two screens — one for the employee and one for the customer to show transaction details — for a seamless experience. It also offers an extra-long cable that allows businesses to separate the Register and customer’s screen to encourage social distancing. Its software provides merchants inventory, employee and customer relationship management functions, plus a reporting suite where you can view sales data.

This small-business credit card reader option will cost your business $799, but there are payment plan options available. It processes transactions at the standard Square rates.

   

Has two screens.

Must be plugged in at all times.

Can be mounted to a countertop.

 

Has advanced apps and software options.

 

Clover Station Duo

Clover's Station Duo with a screen on top of a cash drawer, a receipt printer beside it and a customer screen facing the reader.

Image courtesy of Clover

Best system for full checkout experience

Style: Standalone countertop register with dual screens.
Price: $1,649.
Fees: Varies from 2.3% plus 10 cents up to 3.5% plus 10 cents, depending on monthly plan.

The Clover Station Duo ups the game with a combination of a 14-inch screen for you and a 7-inch screen for your customers. This makes it easier for customers to confirm orders and pay however they want — credit card, debit card, and contactless payment methods. Designed for retail and restaurant environments, the Station Duo offers the same features of the Station Solo with more power.

While this option tops the list for the most expensive system, the Station Duo is currently sold with a cash drawer and a receipt printer, giving you the gamut of checkout features.

   

Has fingerprint login.

Requires one of the larger upfront investments.

Uses fast processing speeds.

Doesn’t have a free monthly plan option.

Has robust POS software options.

 

Has two screens.

 
 

Make payments make sense

Find the right payment provider to meet your unique business needs.

Credit card readers comparison table

     

Payments accepted

 

Additional device required

Square Contactless & Chip Reader

Bluetooth.

$49 (reader); $29 (dock).

Chip and contactless.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

 

Bluetooth.

 

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

PayPal Zettle

Bluetooth.

 

Chip and contactless.

1.9% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

SumUp Plus

Bluetooth.

 

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.75% and up.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

Clover Flex

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Helcim Card Reader

Bluetooth.

 

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

Varies by card type and monthly transaction average.

Compatible smartphone or tablet.

Toast Go 2

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.49% plus 15 cents and up.

 

Square Terminal

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Square Stand

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

Compatible iPad.

Clover Mini

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Clover Station Solo

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Square Register

   

Chip, contactless and magstripe.

2.6% plus 10 cents and up.

 

Clover Station Duo

   

Chip, contactless and mapstripe.

2.3% plus 10 cents and up.

 
 

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Your Payment Processor Froze Your Account — Now What?

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It’s a small business’s worst nightmare: You’ve been notified by your payment processor that your transactions are being investigated for potentially fraudulent activities. Your account has been frozen, you’re not allowed to process any transactions until further notice and what funds were being processed aren’t going to be deposited. Your entire revenue stream is stalled.

But there are a few things you can do to work with your payment processor to try to speed up the release of funds and reinstatement of your account. Here’s what you need to know about processing account freezes and how to respond.

Account freeze vs. account hold

An account freeze differs from an account hold. When a payment processor puts a hold on a merchant account, usually only certain transactions are held by the processor. It doesn’t stop all transactions, so you still have access to some funds. If a payment processor puts a hold on certain transactions because it requires a minimum reserve to cover the potential costs of chargebacks and fraudulent transactions, it will keep these funds indefinitely while allowing you to continue to process payments from customers. Think of it as a deposit that you’ll get back if you ever close your account in good standing.

When a payment processor freezes a merchant account, however, it halts all activity and holds funds until it can investigate suspected fraud or agreement violations. During an account freeze, a merchant is unable to process any transactions and cannot have any pending funds transferred to their bank account. Essentially, a business’s ability to accept cards can be stalled until an investigation proves the transactions are legitimate.

How long will your account be frozen?

Payment processors generally stipulate in their contracts that they can freeze accounts and investigate merchant activity for up to 120 days. But that doesn’t mean that your account will be frozen for that long. If you work with the payment processor to resolve the issue quickly, the freeze might be lifted sooner. Two businesses can raise the same red flag and have different results: The one that provides the right information immediately can have its account unfrozen within a week, while the business that drags its feet could wait a month or more to have access to funds.

Regardless of how cooperative you are, it’s smart to think about what you’ll do financially if your account is frozen for the full 120 days.

Most payment processors outline in their terms of use what actions they can take in certain situations, like suspected fraud, and what they are legally allowed to do to combat potential payment fraud. While it is frustrating to have your account frozen without warning, learning why it happened can help you avoid similar situations in the future.

What to do next

Talk with your processor

You need to understand what caused the account freeze and what you can do to resolve the issue quickly. The processor might not be able to give you a full explanation of what it’s looking at to ensure it can carry out an investigation, but it should be able to tell you why your account has been frozen and what you can do to assist the investigation.

Provide information

If your processor requests information or documentation relating to specific transactions, provide it as quickly and transparently as possible. The more quickly you offer up details, the more quickly your payment processor is likely to resolve the issue.

How to accept other payment methods

To keep up some revenue while your account is being reviewed, you can accept other payment methods. Consider how the following payment methods might work for your business:

  • Cash. This is a great option for in-person transactions because there are no processing fees attached to the payment. Be sure to alert customers in advance so they know to stop by the ATM.

  • Checks. With customers you know well and trust, checks can be a credit card alternative. But be wary of accepting checks from everyone: Having several bad checks bounce won’t help your situation.

  • Peer-to-peer apps. Apps like PayPal, Venmo, Zelle and Cash App offer business accounts that allow customers to send you money directly, which is deposited into your app account. This can be a good backup for accepting card payments — but note that these transactions are still subject to terms and conditions and, as with other processors, your account could be frozen for suspicious activity.

  • Backup payment processor. This is an option if you absolutely have to process credit cards while your account is being investigated, although don’t rush into a new contract that could put you on the hook for more fees. However, this is not an option for businesses that are labeled high risk because of consistent fraudulent behavior and that have been added to the Member Alert to Control High-Risk Merchants — or MATCH — list, which is shared among payment processors while reviewing new merchant applications.

Prioritize your business-critical expenses

After speaking with the processor and providing its team with information, your next step is to make a plan for how to mitigate any harm to your business finances. You’ll need to think about how you’re going to handle:

  • Paying employees.

  • Pausing subscriptions that you won’t be able to afford, such as automatic inventory purchase.

  • Paying for overhead that can’t be paused, like rent.

  • Alerting customers about changes in payment processing.

  • Disabling e-commerce payment options on your website.

If you don’t have a savings fund to fall back on, consider looking for someone to help you address financial concerns and research how to find assistance in the meantime. 

 

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Best Merchant Services of 2022

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Merchant services allow a business to accept credit and debit card transactions by transmitting the customer information to the card network and issuing bank and giving businesses access to the payments received.

The companies that offer merchant services vary in the related products and services they offer, and in their pricing models (flat rate, interchange-plus, membership). Here’s our list of the best merchant services and what sets them apart.

Helcim: Best overall option

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate — which is set by the card issuer and generally ranges from 1% to 3% — you also pay a processing fee (hence the term “interchange plus”). For a monthly card processing volume of up to $25,000, the markup is 0.3% plus 8 cents per in-person transaction and 0.5% plus 25 cents per keyed and online transactions. Lower rates are available for higher volume levels.

Software: Free.

Hardware: Card reader is $109. Stands, printers and other equipment available through Helcim Shop.

  • Low processing fees.

  • Transparent pricing.

  • Volume discounts.

  • No contracts.

  • No monthly fees.

  • No cancellation fees.

  • Free virtual terminal.

  • Fully hosted online store options.

  • Customer support isn’t available 24/7.

  • No free card reader.

Why we like it: Helcim’s transparent pricing, lack of monthly fees and volume discounts are what pushes it to the top of the list. It’s easy to sign up for an account online by providing some basic information. And without a contract or cancellation fees, there’s no penalty to close your account. Funds from your transactions are deposited within one to two business days. Customer support is available weekdays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time and on the weekends from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time. You can sync data with both QuickBooks Desktop and Online. Other integrations include WooCommerce, Magento and Zone 4.

Square: Best flat-rate option

Payment processing: Flat-rate pricing model that charges 2.6% plus 10 cents per in-person transaction, 3.5% plus 15 cents per keyed transaction and 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction.

Software: Free option.

Hardware: Free card reader. A register costs $799 or $39 a month for 24 months.

  • No monthly fee.

  • Low transaction rates.

  • No long-term contracts.

  • Quick setup.

  • Free card reader.

  • Free virtual terminal.

  • Free dispute management services for chargebacks.

  • No processing fees on customer refunds.

  • 24/7 live phone support is not available for payments.

  • Readers are not compatible with Windows devices.

Why we like it: Square is our top pick for flat-rate pricing with no monthly fees, low transaction rates and free virtual terminal. It can accommodate all types of credit card transactions. You receive your funds as fast as the next business day for free, or you can pay a fee to receive funds instantly. Square offers free dispute management for chargebacks and doesn’t charge processing fees for customer refunds. Free phone support is available during the week from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. Square integrates with QuickBooks, Xero, Stitch Labs and other popular apps.

Accept payments without worry

See our payment provider recommendations that fit your business.

Dharma: Best for e-commerce

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate, a processing fee is charged. For Visa, Mastercard and Discover, that’s 0.15% plus 8 cents per in-person transaction. Rates for American Express in-person transactions are 0.30% plus 11 cents. And you’ll pay 0.2% plus 11 cents for keyed and online transactions.

Software: $25 monthly fee.

Hardware: Terminals start at $229 and a Clover Mini standalone device can be purchased for $749.

  • Low processing rates.

  • Pricing transparency.

  • Specializes in e-commerce.

  • Reduced rates for large monthly processing volume.

  • 24-hour help lines.

  • Virtual terminal included.

  • Monthly fee.

  • Account closure fee of $49.

Why we like it: Dharma specializes in helping e-commerce businesses and has one of the lowest rates for card-not-present transactions. Businesses with monthly card sales over $100,000 or more than 5,000 transactions may qualify for volume discounts, as well as restaurants with average ticket amounts of less than $25. Funding is guaranteed in two business days. Customer support to process your card transactions is available 24 hours a day. You can export data into an Excel file to import into QuickBooks.

Stripe: Best flat rate for online sales

Payment processing: Flat-rate pricing model that charges 2.7% plus 5 cents per in-person transaction and 2.9% plus 30 cents per online transaction.

Software: Free option.

Hardware: Card readers cost $59 and up. A POS register is $249.

  • No monthly fees.

  • Low transaction rates.

  • Supports over 135 currencies.

  • Your account can be terminated at any time.

  • Developer platform.

  • Support is available 24/7 by phone request, chat and email.

  • Tools to customize payment flows on your website.

  • No free reader.

  • Virtual terminal allows the customer to enter card information, but not the merchant.

Why we like it: Stripe is best for online sales because it supports processing payments in multiple currencies, allowing customers to charge in their native currency and businesses to receive funds in theirs. Payments are typically processed in two business days. Stripe integrates with a large number of apps and automatically syncs with QuickBooks and NetSuite. You can use the developer tools in Stripe Terminal and pre-certified card readers to build your own in-person checkout system.

Payment Depot: Best for large transaction amounts

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate, 15 cents per transaction is charged. This could be less depending on the plan selected.

Software: Plans starting at $79 per month.

Hardware: Free and up. Terminals and POS systems from Clover, Ingenico and other brands available for purchase.

  • Simple and transparent pricing model.

  • Custom plans are available.

  • Free virtual terminal.

  • Satisfaction guarantee with option for refund of membership fee.

  • Customer support is available 24/7.

  • Monthly membership fees.

  • A 20% restocking fee for returned terminals.

Why we like it: Payment Depot offers membership plans that give businesses access to wholesale interchange rates at a set fee per transaction. It’s an independent sales organization that handles merchant accounts for Wells Fargo Bank. You can get access to next-day deposits based on the membership plan you select. Support is available 24/7 through the bank. Payment Depot integrates with Shopify, OpenCart, QuickBooks, PrestaShop, Shift4Shop, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Magento, Zen Cart, Revel, NCR and Authorize.net.

PaymentCloud: Best for high-risk businesses

Payment processing: Rates determined on a case-by-case basis.

Software: $10 and up monthly.

Hardware: A card reader and terminal included with the account. Mobile POS systems, terminals, POS registers, kitchen printers, kiosks and other devices can be purchased.

  • Specializes in high-risk merchant accounts.

  • Card reader and terminal included with account.

  • Cancellation fees are waived.

  • Free rate review and analysis.

  • 24/7 customer support.

  • Chargeback prevention tools.

  • Processing rates and hardware costs not available on the website.

  • Monthly volume limit may apply.

Why we like it: PaymentCloud specializes in services for high risk industries, although they also offer services to low and medium risk businesses. Payment processing is available for in-person, online, mobile, keyed and cryptocurrency transactions. It has over 10 banking relationships that can be used to secure a merchant account for your business. Next-day payment processing is offered as part of retail POS services. The platform integrates with QuickBooks and most shopping carts including BigCommerce, WooCommerce, Shopify and Magento.

National Processing: Best for customized rates

Payment processing: In addition to the interchange rate, fees based on business type are charged. For example, 0.14% plus 7 cents per transaction for restaurants, 0.18% plus 10 cents per transaction for retail businesses and 0.29% plus 15 cents per transaction for e-commerce business are applied.

Software: $9.95 per month or more based on industry.

Hardware: A mobile reader is included with most plans at no additional cost. Based on the plan you select, a terminal and PIN pad may also be included. A large number of POS devices are available including Clover hardware.

  • Customized rates based on industry.

  • No monthly minimum fees.

  • High-risk payment processor.

  • 24/7 phone support.

  • Offers a virtual terminal.

  • Monthly fees.

  • Contract with possible early termination and restocking fees.

Why we like it: National Processing customizes its fees based on industry and risk. For example, the rate a restaurant pays is less than that of a retail organization. Also, processing services are offered for some high-risk businesses. You can expect to receive your funds in two days with an opportunity for next-day deposits. Phone support is available 24/7. Integrations are offered for popular business apps including QuickBooks, WooCommerce, Ecwid, Zendesk, BigCommerce, OpenCart and Shopify.

QuickBooks Payments: Best for QuickBooks loyalists

Payment processing: Pricing varies. QuickBooks Online users pay 2.4% plus 25 cents per in-person transactions; 3.4% plus 25 cents per keyed transactions; and 2.9% plus 25 cents for invoiced transactions.

Software: Free and up.

Hardware: A PIN pad costs $389 and a hardware bundle that includes a cash drawer, receipt printer, wired barcode and PIN pad is $900. Additional devices available.

  • No contract.

  • No cancellation fees.

  • Competitive pricing.

  • Instant deposits are available for an extra 1% fee.

  • Invoice formatting lets customers pay online.

  • QuickBooks Desktop users and new customers may pay higher fees.

  • 24/7 phone support is not available.

Why we like it: For loyal QuickBooks users, QuickBooks Payments can process online, in-person and invoiced transactions. Payment for the next business day is typically available when the cutoff time of 3 p.m. Pacific time is met. Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. QuickBooks Payments integrates with Shopify, Amazon, eBay, WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, Walmart and Etsy shopping carts.

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