If you want to run a successful business in Canada, then you need to take card payments. According to the Bank of Canada, both the value and volume of cash transactions have decreased significantly over the past decade.
That means that Canadians are not only using less cash but they’re mostly using it to purchase cheaper items.
Thankfully, accepting cards at your business isn’t hard. There are plenty of payment processors available in Canada.
Below, I’ll show you the best payment processing companies in Canada, so you can tap into the ever-increasing stream of virtual payments.
Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or you’re just getting started, deciding on a credit card processing company is an important decision.
It’s a highly competitive market and the top card processors in Canada are constantly trying to out-price each other and offer lower fees, better products, and better customer service to their clients.
Because of this, it’s also common for Canadian business owners to switch payment processors in order to find better rates.
Here’s a quick chart outlining some of the key differences between payment processing companies, and what these terms mean for you:
|Difference Between Payment Processing Companies||What It Means For You|
|Processing Fees||Card processing companies make money by taking a small percentage of your total sale. Higher processing fees mean that you’ll pay more to use the company’s service.|
|Transaction Cost||In addition to processing fees, some payment processors charge a set transaction cost for every transaction.|
|PoS Systems & Financing||Some payment processors provide their own Point-of-Sale (PoS) register systems, while others require you to find your own separate PoS system.|
|Online Payments||If you run a hybrid online-offline business or a 100% online business, then you’ll need to work with a payment processor that integrates with your online store.|
|Cards Accepted||Most major card processors in Canada take Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. However, certain processors may provide more options when it comes to the types of cards their system can process.|
As a business owner, you’ll need to weigh the features of each payment processing company against what your business needs from a payment processing company.
In short, the best payment processing company for a brick-and-mortar retail business may not be the best payment processor for an eCommerce business.
Now that you have a better idea of what metrics to look for when comparing service providers, here’s a quick overview of some of the best payment processing companies in Canada, along with which business models each is best suited to.
- Learn More: Squareup.com
- Standard Payment Processing Fee: 2.6% for swiped cards + 10 cents for contactless
- Best For: Retail businesses, restaurants
Square is, by far, one of the best payment processing companies in Canada for retail businesses.
Square was the first company to simplify payments with its revolutionary square-shaped credit card readers that could be plugged into any mobile phone, allowing mobile businesses and pop-ups to flourish. These were dubbed mPoS systems (mobile point-of-sale).
Today, the company has expanded and offers full retail and restaurant point-of-sale systems that pair smart technology with an easy-to-use interface that even those who aren’t so tech-savvy can use.
Square has a variety of PoS systems available, depending on your business needs. If you’re a small mobile artisan, for example, you’ll probably be fine with one of the company’s mobile card readers.
Larger stores will probably prefer the larger systems that come standard with the latest iPad, an integrated cash register, and receipt printer.
Another nice feature of Square is that the company lets you finance or lease all of the PoS hardware you need. Some of the larger systems can cost up to $1,000 or more, so the ability to make payments is huge for startups and small retail businesses.
Once you process enough payments with Square, you’ll also be eligible for small no-credit-check business loans through Square Capital. This is great for small business owners who are still building their credit.
The main drawback with Square is that the company has higher-than-average payment processing fees and transaction costs.
For example, manually-entered credit card numbers are subject to a 3.5% processing fee and a 30-cent transaction cost, which is rather costly.
All-in-all, though, Square has a lot of perks and customized features to offer to its clients, which many view as a fair trade-off in terms of the processing fees.
- Learn More: Stripe.com
- Standard Payment Processing Fee: 2.9% + 30 cents for each successful charge
- Best For: Online stores
Stripe is one of the top payment processing companies that you’ll find used by eCommerce professionals and online stores.
Some of the top web-based eCommerce platforms offer direct integration with Stripe, which makes for a seamless online shopping experience.
When it comes to online sales, the more seamless of an experience you can create for the customer, the better.
One of the biggest issues that online stores face today is customers who leave unpurchased items in their carts after making a last-second decision to abort their order.
Some of the main benefits of Stripe are:
- Ability to accept international currencies (135+ currencies accepted)
- Real-time sales reporting data
- Directly integrates with Quickbooks accounting software
- Direct integration with eCommerce platforms like Shopify
The main drawback, as you may be able to tell, is the high payment processing fee charged by Stripe. All payments are subject to a 2.9% processing fee as well as a set 30-cent transaction fee.
That being said, at least Stripe’s processing and transaction fees are the same across the board. With Square, it can be easy to get lost in all the different fees you’re required to pay in different situations (different fees for keyed-in vs. tapped vs. swiped).
- Learn More: Moneris.com
- Payment Processing Fees: 2.65% per transaction
- Best For: Retail and eCommerce platforms
Moneris is one of the biggest payment processing companies in Canada and is headquartered in Toronto. The company offers solutions for businesses of all types, including retail, food and beverage, and even online stores.
Moneris has a lower processing fee than Stripe (2.65% compared to 2.9%). The fee is slightly higher than Square’s (which is 2.6%). However, Moneris has a more steady payment model and also doesn’t charge a separate transaction fee.
While Moneris is compatible with eCommerce platforms, I generally recommend it more for retail businesses. Unlike Square, which offers upfront financing and payment plans, the initial setup for Moneris can be a bit costly.
You’ll have to pay for your register, PoS, and any other hardware you may need separately.
That being said, Moneris does offer solid Canada-based customer service, so you probably won’t have to wait on hold as long as you would with larger international processors like Square.
4. Global Payments
- Learn More: GlobalPayments.com
- Payment Processing Fees: 2.9% + 29 cents per transaction
- Best For: Large retail businesses and enterprise commerce
Global Payments is one of the largest commercial payment processing companies in North America, and even works with multinational brands across the globe. Some of the company’s top-ranking clients include:
- Taco Bell
That being said, Global Payments is best suited to larger businesses. If you’re a retail business with multiple locations, operate a large service-based business, or operate a logistics business, then this is a good payment processor to consider.
However, if you’re a small business and you’re just getting started, then Global Payments may be a bit out of your league. The high start-up costs and three-year minimum contracts can be a bit restrictive for young businesses.
- Learn More: PayPal.com
- Payment Processing Fees: 2.9% + 30 cents
- Best For: eCommerce
PayPal is one of the world’s largest payment processors, and the network processed over 5.5 billion global transactions in the second quarter of 2022. The platform is popularly associated with eBay, which purchased the company in 2002 and uses the processor as its primary payment processor.
Although PayPal has its roots in eCommerce, it has since expanded to incorporate mobile and fixed point-of-sale systems. PayPal’s PoS system is very similar to Square’s and there’s very little difference between the two (other than a slightly different user interface).
PayPal does have a pretty solid invoicing system, which is why it’s used by online entrepreneurs and freelancers. Plus, it easily accepts global payments, which makes it a good processor for businesses with international clients and customers.
6. KIS Payments
- Learn More: KisPayments.com
- Payment Processing Fees: Not specified
- Best For: Small retail businesses, restaurants
Merchant Maverick recently named KIS Payments as the best payment processing company in Canada.
Overall, KIS is known for its reliability as a payment processor, combined with the fact that it’s based out of British Columbia, making it another Canadian-owned business.
KIS Payments offers a variety of PoS solutions as well as invoicing, mobile PoS, and eCommerce. The main benefit of KIS is that the company will work directly with you to tailor their product and service to best meet your business needs.
The only drawback is that KIS isn’t exactly forthcoming about its pricing model. The website has little to no information on pricing, and it seems like the company offers different fees and rates for different clients.
That being said, KIS is a very reliable company with high ratings. You’ll just need to call and receive a quote in person if you want to use them as your company’s payment processor.
- Learn More: Helcim.com
- Payment Processing Fees: 1.86% + 8 cents
- Best For: Small retail businesses, eCommerce stores
Helcim is a Canadian-owned business that offers payment processing solutions across North America. Compared to some of the other top payment processors, Helcim has some of the lowest transaction and processing fees.
Unlike other processors, which feature fix-rate fees, Helcim offers pricing tiers, depending on the volume of sales that your business has.
The more sales you process, the cheaper your processing fees will be. According to the site, Helcim charges an average of 1.86% plus an 8-cent transaction fee.
Wondering how to pick the best payment processing company for your small business? Here are some of the key criteria that you need to vet each competitor for.
Although all of the companies I mentioned above are reliable, professional, and offer a variety of payment processing solutions, they’re all different. The best payment processor for one business may not be the best processor for the next business.
Here are some of the key factors that you should research before making a final decision.
Today, consumers are paying with a wide variety of cards and other virtual payment methods, including:
- QR code payments
Processing companies often impose additional merchant charges when certain forms of payment are used. I suggest using a payment processor that offers the best rates on the forms of payment that your business takes most often.
All payment processing companies in Canada charge payment processing fees. That’s how the companies earn money and stay in business. Some companies have a fixed rate when it comes to processing fees (such as Square), while others offer variable rates depending on the merchant’s sales volume (such as Helcim).
Additionally, certain payment processors charge different rates depending on the transaction itself. For example, most processors charge more for online card processing compared to in-person processing.
In addition to payment processing fees, some card processors charge an extra transaction cost (anywhere from 5 to 30 cents). This allows the company to profit more and can cut into your profits over the long term.
If you’re just getting started, then you can avoid the headache of sourcing your own hardware by working with a company like Square, Moneris, or KIS Payments that offer custom point-of-sale systems. This way, you’ll be ready to start receiving payments as soon as you get your account set up.
If you’re a hybrid store or an online-only store, then you’ll obviously need a payment processor that integrates with your existing eCommerce sales platform. Do some research on the online platform that you’re using and try to find a list of compatible processors.
From time to time, you may run into problems when processing a transaction. Perhaps the system has a glitch, or maybe you’re having trouble refunding a customer’s card. Either way, you’ll want quick access to customer service. Reddit is usually the best place to find reliable reviews of customer service.
If you’re running a business on all fronts, then you’ll want to work with a payment processing company that can handle all of your needs, whether you’re taking online sales, in-person sales, or accepting mobile payments at a pop-up event.
The only drawback is that do-it-all processors often come with higher processing fees.
If you’re a small retail business that’s just getting started, I’d recommend going with Square. It’s simple and easy to use, and the company offers financing on all of its point-of-sale hardware.
However, if you’re operating an online-only store, then I’d encourage you to go with either PayPal or Stripe due to their ease of integration with online eCommerce platforms.
Looking to start an online business and get into online sales? Dropshipping and creating an online store is one way. However, another business model that’s relatively easy to adopt is Amazon FBA, where Amazon handles your warehousing and distribution.
To learn more about how to get started selling on Amazon, read my 4-step guide to get started on Amazon.