In the market for a new credit card payment processor? The devil is in the details — specifically the fees.

Hidden fees are some of the biggest concerns for small business owners, and credit card processing is one of the biggest offenders. If you’re considering signing up for a new payment processor or making the switch from your current one, you’re probably curious about whether you’ve found the best deal. 

That’s why we’re breaking down some of the most common payment processors along with some of the lesser-known options (many of which offer as good or even better rates — like our own payment processor Schedulicity Pay!), so you can make the decision with a clear head and conscience. 

How This Comparison Chart Works

(Or just skip straight to the chart)

The Payment Processors We Looked At

  • Square
  • Stripe
  • Schedulicity Pay
  • Quickbooks Payment Processing
  • Mindbody
  • Vagaro 
  • Shopify
  • PayPal

How We Organized

For the sake of your sanity, we’ve summarized the payment processors with the best and worst option(s) at the start of each section, then broken down the details in a chart below. Beyond standard processing fees, we’ve also compared:

  • Whether processing equipment is complimentary
  • Contract requirements
  • Hidden fees / costs
  • Easy access to customer support
  • Next-day funding

Acknowledgment of Bias

This article was written by the team at Schedulicity, which owns Schedulicity Pay. We are absolutely biased towards our own payment processor because we’re so dang proud of it. That said, we love and respect small business owners, so we believe in honest reporting, transparency, and helping you make the right decision for you by giving you all the facts. This payment processor comparison chart is meant to do just that.

One Final Caveat

We updated these comparisons in May 2021 and check and revise them every few months. That said, some data may become outdated between revisions (we’re only human!).

For the most accurate details, check the pricing pages of each payment processor. You can find links to all of the pricing and fees pages for each of the payment processors (i.e. the sources of the data we’ve shared here) at the end of this article.

Credit Card Payment Processors: Comparison Chart

1. Processing Fees

The cost for credit card transactions (i.e. “swipe, dip, tap”). Note that some processors have separate fees for in-person transactions. We’ve included those details in our full table breakdown.

Lowest: Schedulicity with One Rate. $2.5% + $0.15 for all transactions. No additional fees for card-not-present transactions, which is most of what you’re likely doing anyway.

Highest: Shopify, Stripe, and PayPal. Too close to call. 2.9% + $29 a month for Shopify (lower rates if you pay a higher monthly premium), 2.9% + $0.30 for Stripe or 2.9% + a fixed fee for PayPal.

Stripe 2.9% + $0.30 (additional fees / rates apply for other processing, including terminal and recurring billing)
PayPal Online transactions: 2.9%, plus a fixed fee based on currency (for the U.S., it’s + $0.30). In-store transactions: 2.7%.
Shopify Tiers: 2.4% + 30¢ + $299 per month, 2.6% + 30¢ + $79 per month, 2.9% + 30¢ + $29 per month.
Mindbody 2.75% (qualified), 3.5% + $0.15 (non-qualified) and a $15 monthly minimum fee applies if you process less than $550/month.
Vagaro 2.75% for “small businesses”, i.e. any business processing less than $4,000 per month.
Square Flat rate of 2.75% to 2.6% + $0.10
QuickBooks 2.4% swiped, 2.9% invoiced, 3.4% keyed-in + 25¢ per transaction.
Schedulicity Pay $2.5% + $0.15 for every type of transaction.

2. Additional Costs for Card Readers

Some companies either sell businesses their card readers or POS systems or charge a rental fee.

Lowest: Schedulicity and Vagaro. With Schedulicity, you don’t need a card reader. Norm, our newest payment solution, lets clients pay and tip straight from their phones. That means no more buggy devices ever. Vagaro, meanwhile, offers free card readers.

Highest: Paypal and Stripe. PayPal’s reader will set you back almost $100. Stripe offers a more affordable $49 option but some of its highest-priced reader costs $299.

Stripe $59-$299 for readers (to use them you’ll pay the increased terminal rate of 2.7 + $0.15).
PayPal $99.99 for the PayPal payment chip reader.
Shopify Buy a “retail kit” for $280 or a tap and dip card reader for $49.
Mindbody $40-$119 for card readers.
Vagaro Free card reader provided, POS systems starting at $74.
Square Free magstripe reader, $49 for a contactless & chip reader.
QuickBooks $19-49 for card readers.
Schedulicity Pay No charge and no devices! Use Norm to allow clients to pay and tip from their own phones.

3. Hidden Fees / Costs

Some credit card processors add fees behind the scenes, which you don’t always catch unless you read the small (small!) print. While this isn’t as quantitative as other details, we’ve broken down some possible pricing gray zones below.

Transparent fees: Schedulicity Pay. With the introduction of our new One Rate, clients can pay however they like for 2.5% + 15¢ per transaction every time. That comes with universal next-day funding.

Harder to figure out: Shopify, PayPal, Stripe.

Stripe Additional fees for international cards.
PayPal Additional fees for international cards.
Shopify You’ll need to do some careful calculations to determine which plan is the most cost-effective for you.
Mindbody No.
Vagaro No.
Square No.
QuickBooks No.
Schedulicity Pay None.

4. Contract / Subscription Requirements

Are you require to commit to a set period of time using this payment processor? What happens if you decide to leave before that period is over? Breaking a contract, or getting stuck paying higher rates than you’d like for longer than you expect, can affect your bottom line.

No contract: Every platform but Mindbody allows businesses to cancel at their convenience.

Contract required: Mindbody has “subscription terms”. While it’s unclear from Mindbody’s site how long these subscriptions last, in its terms and conditions, Mindbody includes the following:  YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL SUBSCRIPTION FEES FOR THE ENTIRE SUBSCRIPTION TERM.

Stripe No.
PayPal No.
Shopify No.
Mindbody Subscription terms.
Vagaro No.
Square No.
QuickBooks No.
Schedulicity Pay Nope.

5. Live Customer Support

Let’s face it: Whether it’s faulty WiFi or human error, lots can go wrong with payment processing. That’s why it’s essential that there’s a great Support team behind your credit card payment processor.

Best customer support: Schedulicity Pay. Not only are we known for our fantastic human support (read the reviews here), our dedicated Schedulicity Pay will work with you any time you receive a chargeback notification — hugely important when you’re a small business. Here are some additional notes about the little-known perks of Schedulicity Pay.

Worst customer support: Subjective. That said, Stripe charges $1,800 per month for “Premium Support” while Shopify limits live support to only its higher tier monthly plans. Other platforms make it difficult to reach a person, pushing you to their documentation and support articles first.

Stripe 24/7 phone, chat, and email support.
PayPal Phone support available.
Shopify Only for the higher tier monthly plans.
Mindbody Yes.
Vagaro Yes.
Square Yes.
QuickBooks Some phone support.
Schedulicity Pay Yes, our full-time customer support team is available to you via phone and email.

6. Next-Day Funding

You want your payment F-A-S-T. Here’s how various credit card payment processors stack up.

Stripe Offers an “instant payout” option for an additional fee.
PayPal Offers an instant transfer option for an additional fee.
Shopify Yes.
Mindbody No.
Vagaro No, but Vagaro promises payments within 24-48 hours.
Square Yes.
QuickBooks Yes.
Schedulicity Pay Yep! Next-day funding is included for every type of transaction.

7. Independent Payment Processor?

Is this payment processor a separate account you can sync with other business platforms, or are you required to sign up for an account with, say, an online scheduler? (Note: This is how we do it at Schedulicity.) Both of these approaches have their pros and cons, but it’s good to know before you pick.

Just a payment processor: Stripe, PayPal, Shopify, Square, Quickbooks.

Connected to another platform (such as online scheduling): Mindbody, Schedulicity, Vagaro.

Stripe Yes.
PayPal Yes.
Shopify Yes.
Mindbody No, you’ll need a Mindbody account.
Vagaro No, you’ll sign up for a Vagaro account, which includes appointment booking.
Square Yes.
QuickBooks Yes.
Schedulicity Pay You’ll need a Schedulicity business account, which also gives you access to appointment and class booking!

8. Conclusion

Best-of-All-Worlds Option: Us (Schedulicity Pay!)

If you’re a service-based business and interested in seamless payment processing, Schedulicity Pay really is the most affordable in your industry.

We did this intentionally because we know how quickly fees can affect a small business’ budget. As a Schedulicity user, you’ll have instant access to all our booking and marketing tools. Adding Schedulicity Pay is the cherry on top — it means that you can run the entire process from a new client first booking to checkout (including selling products) from one account.

Curious to learn more? Here’s an article breaking down why we’re the cheapest credit card payment processor in the biz, plus additional details about Schedulicity Pay features.

Comparison Chart Sources and Additional Information