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Payment Processing

Comprehensive Payment Processing Guides

This is a collection of guides to help you navigate the world of payment processing for businesses, large or small. You’ll find links to resources on accepting debit and credit card payments, choosing a payment processor, setting up a merchant account, and more – all the details you’ll need to determine the services you want and the rates your business can afford.

What You'll Discover Below

What Is Payment Processing?

Any payment that doesn’t involve cash or paper checks is a form of payment processing. This includes debit and credit card payments, e-checks, electronic benefits transfer (EBT) and electronic money transfer (EMT) payments, and online money transfers. If you intend to accept any of these types of payments at your business, you’ll need to use a payment processing service of some kind.

What is a Payment Processor?

You may have noticed that although payments are approved or declined within seconds it can take several days to receive funds. That’s because payment processing involves approvals and communication between merchants, card networks, and the banks that issue payment cards to consumers. A payment processor assists with this communication and helps make the entire operation run smoothly—and, of course, they take their cut from the processing fees you’ll pay along the way.

Note that there are only a handful of true payment processors—big companies like Worldpay and Elavon. Most service providers you’ll encounter are smaller companies that resell the services of payment processors, often at discounted rates, which include payment service providers (PSPs) and independent sales organizations (ISOs). Popular payment service providers include Paypal, Stripe, and Square.


Our Payment Processing Guides

Payment processing is a complex topic, and we’re sure you have more questions about the ins and outs of accepting payments. Check out the payment processing resources below to learn more about how the card payment industry works.

Understanding Payment Types

Discover how the credit card payment process works, including the key players involved and the roles they play.

Discover how the debit card payment process works, including signature and PIN debit transactions.

Discover the ins and outs of becoming a SNAP authorized retailer and accepting EBT payments at your business.

Learn how to get an ACH account for processing eCheck payments at your business.

Understanding Payment Processing Fees

Learn about credit card processing fees, including interchange rates, assessments, and markups.

Learn about how signature debit, PIN debit, and the Durbin cap influence fees for processing debit card payments.

Take a deep dive into how interchange fees work, including common interchange rates for the major card brands.

Learn what card brand fees are, how they work, and how to distinguish them from your payment processor’s markups.

Discover credit card chargebacks (payment disputes)—what they are, how they work, and the best ways to prevent them.

Explore credit card surcharges, which states allow them, and how they work.

Learn about how some merchants use cash discounts to reduce their overall processing costs.

An effective rate is a simple calculation used to monitor processing costs. Learn the key details you need to know.

Understanding Pricing Structures

This page explains the 3 main credit card pricing structures: tiered, flat rate & interchange plus pricing models.

Learn about interchange plus pricing, the most transparent pricing model for accepting credit card payments.

Read about flat rate pricing, the card payment industry's simplest pricing model for merchants.

Getting Started

This guide overviews in-store, mobile, and online credit card processing and the types of equipment involved.

Learn what a merchant account is, when you need one, and how to apply for a merchant account.

Discover the benefits of accepting credit card payments at your restaurant or cafe.

Learn about online credit card processing, payment gateways, online processing fees & more!

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