For anyone starting a business or optimizing operations, remaining solvent is the biggest concern. Yes, you’ve saved money to make it happen—you might even have investors—because you know some level of financial investment is a prerequisite to reaping a profit. As an entrepreneur, you can’t avoid incurring expenses. But there’s one choice that will majorly impact your confidence, your cash flow, and your credibility: choosing the most reliable, efficient credit card processor for your unique business needs. So, to help you make that call, we’ve outlined the pros and cons (and comparable competition) of some of the top credit card processing choices available in 2018.1. SquarePros:One of Square’s most attractive qualities is the ease and speed of actually getting set up. You could be delayed up to ten days if you wait for them to mail you the free magstripe reader, but if you need it and you need it now, you can snag one at any number of retail stores (it’s still free when you use the redemption code you’ll receive upon signup). You can connect the reader to an iPhone or Android—meaning you don’t need any additional hardware to start accepting payments.In addition to being an incredibly immediate option, Square aims to be simple and accessible—you don’t need a finance background to understand the parameters. You pay a flat, per-transaction percentage (there are two different price points, depending on transaction type) and there are no commitments or monthly fees to worry about (unless you elect to use any of their software).Square’s biggest selling point (get it?) is set pricing, visual appeal, and how quickly you see your money. Funds from any transaction made via Square are guaranteed to show up (minus the processing fees, of course) within two business days.Cons:On the flip side, simplicity and speed come at a premium. The price per swipe for Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express is 2.75%. For manually entered and card-on-file transactions, you’ll pay 3.5% + 15 cents a swipe. That adds up and is often much more expensive than the actual cost to process that transaction. For example, the cost of a Visa Debit transaction can be as low as .05% + .22c. As soon as you start taking payments in any significant volume, you’ll begin to question whether those rates are the best you can do. (They aren’t.)There’s no ceiling on per-transaction fees. That means if your business balloons in a short period of time, you could get stuck paying Square’s high per-transaction percentage in order to avoid losing business. Consider your average ticket size and the sales volume at which you’d like to be operating in the long-term before you choose a payment processor.Comparable to Square: Intuit QuickBooks GoPayment, PayAnywhere, Dwolla.2. StripePros:Stripe was built for companies running an internet business, whether it be e-commerce or software that need to implement a payment plugin quick and with ease. Simplicity and a grab-and-go solution have made Stripe a multi-billion dollar company. Their relatively simple API allows merchants and developers to set up customized billing plans for memberships, subscriptions, etc. Assign customers to plans (flat weekly or monthly rates, usage-based or “metered” billing), and Stripe’s software will do the rest.Stripe’s two-day rolling bank transfers can provide a sense of stability that is hard to come by as a small business owner. You can shift the payments to a weekly or monthly schedule depending on what suits you best, but you always know when you’re going to get paid.Cons:With Stripe, you definitely pay for convenience. Transactions cost 2.9% plus 30 cents per swipe. It’s hardly cheap and with a little research, you can save a large percentage of your revenue. You’ll also be charged for any disputed transactions ($15 per chargeback). That fee is only refunded if the dispute is resolved in your favor. If you’re looking for chargeback protection at a reasonable cost, look elsewhere.While Stripe does cater to a wide variety of business models, word has it they’re not quite as API-friendly as they are marketed to be. Ask the tough questions about how Stripe will interact with your platform and pre-existing APIs before signing on the dotted line.Comparable to Stripe: Braintree, PayPal Here, Authorize.Net3. WorldpayPros:Worldpay and Vantiv recently merged (now Worldpay), the two have been around longer than most any other credit card processor. Over 25 years ago, Worldpay became the first to offer multi-currency, cross-border service. In 2018, they’re licensed to handle payments from leading card providers in 130 countries. If your business is inherently international, Worldpay might be a worthwhile investment.Worldpay works with a huge variety of companies and platforms and offers solutions for API management under its own umbrella. In fact, there’s a whole website dedicated to partner integrations that clients can choose from. You can check out workswith.worldpay.com to acquaint yourself with the possibilities. Pricing and products options vary but will cater to any business with enough conversation and negotiation time.Cons:Worldpay salespeople are exactly that: People who sell. And Worldpay’s comprehensive catalog of services and integrations, while attractive and convenient for unique business models, can also be overwhelming. The preponderance of options makes it difficult to parse what you really need from what the seller wants you to believe you need. If you go with Worldpay, make sure to do independent research and have a sense of what you need (and can afford) before talking to their internal sales team, as you will end up paying a premium. Switching from Square or Stripe to Worldpay could save you thousands, but the savings could be minimal is the salesperson wins the negotiation.Another drawback of this payment processing giant? Their complex infrastructure and massive cache of resources come at a premium. There are multiple payment plans and structures: pay-as-you-go, interchange-plus, tiered pricing or a monthly rate—the published rates are some of the highest rates you’ll see in the payment processing landscape. If you pay as you go, you’ll be charged 2.75% plus 28 cents per transaction for all credit and debit payments. If you commit to a monthly plan, you’ll pay $28.04 per months plus 2.75% on credit transactions, and a lower 0.27% rate for debit card transactions.Comparable to Worldpay: TSYS, First Data, Elavon, Paymentech4. Sonder PaymentsPros:Many payment processing companies won’t share Interchange rates with you, which makes figuring out the markup they’re charging for their services an uphill battle. In contrast, Sonder believes in total transparency between processor and client. With Sonder, you won’t face confusing surcharges or be left in the dark about Interchange rates. It's probably the most transparent pricing structure available.Sonder doesn’t have a per-transaction percentage markup, members simply pay $.08 per transaction; your membership gives you access to Interchange-plus-0% rates on unlimited transactions. With other payment processors, the more transactions processed, the more you’ll pay in overhead. With Sonder's membership model, no matter how many transactions processed or card types used, you’ll pay a flat, monthly fee—no more.Founded by a team of entrepreneurs, Sonder is underscored by a deep understanding of the challenges of the small-business owner. Sonder takes pride in supporting its clients in all aspects of payment processing. A subscription to Sonder includes peace of mind where PCI compliance is concerned, free tech support, no batch fees or annual fees, no contracts, access to analytics and technology, and next-day funding.Cons:If you’re only processing a few transactions a month, even Sonder’s reasonable monthly fee could end up costing you more than the pay-as-you-go model some processors offer. Do the math based on your projected transaction volume to find out if the flat rate will save you money.Comparable to Sonder: Payment Depot, PaySimple, FattmerchantIn summation, this is really just an overview of the potential benefits and drawbacks of some industry leaders in payment processing. If you’d like someone to help you navigate this decision, providing feedback and support tailored you to your unique needs, someone at SwipeSum is always there to chat. Currently we are saving businesses $973 per month on average. Reach out directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.