Credit Card Processing for Small Business

Everything a small business owner needs to know about credit card processing.


Most small business owners look at credit card processing, or merchant services, as just another business-related expense. Far too many business owners take the path of least resistance, and use their bank’s credit card processing service. With consumers increasing their reliance on payment services, like credit cards, it is important to discuss some key topics surrounding credit card payment processing. Learn what you need to know as a small business owner to accept credit cards and select the right merchant service provider.

What Is the Cheapest Credit Card Processing for Small Business?

Not enough money. Not enough time. Not enough sales. Not enough employees. The list of problems small business owners could face at any point in time seems endless. As if that’s not enough, they may encounter another obstacle — merchant service credit card processing. It’s the reason why some business owners shy away from transactions that involve anything beyond cash or checks.

However, credit card processing is not as complicated as it may seem. Besides, credit cards have become the preferred payment method among customers, with online credit card payment and mobile payments gaining steam quickly. They are not only faster and more secure, but also cheaper. Here are four ways to determine what is the cheapest credit card processing for small business:

Work With a Merchant Service Provider

It may be convenient to just let your bank take care of all your payment processing needs. After all, why look for something else if you can instead rely on a financial institution you already trust with your money? Turns out banks don’t specialize in merchant credit card processing. Instead, they often outsource it to one of the large payment processors and charge you additional fees.

There’s definitely an advantage to working with a merchant services provider, like TransNational. For example, you get a secure merchant account and generally improve your cash flow. But wouldn’t you want to have a say in who and what you pay? By selecting to work with a merchant services provider outright you get more flexibility in terms of making sure the costs and benefits match your expectations.

Go With the Interchange Plus Pricing Model

Another benefit of working with a merchant service provider is the ability to shop around for the best rate. Not all pricing structures were created equal, but you often have to cut through the clutter of obscured terms to understand that.

Traditionally, the most common pricing models are: flat, interchange plus and tiered. The easy part is that most businesses are usually placed on the latter. The hard part is figuring out if your business is among them, because tiered tends to be the most expensive structure. Interchange plus, on the other hand, is much more fair, especially because it limits surcharges and keeps margin above cost constant.

Become PCI Compliant and EMV Enabled

Security should be the top priority for small business, and it shouldn’t be limited just to spotting fake and stolen credit cards or paying attention to unusual purchasing behavior. Over the years, the industry has put certain standards into practice to prevent fraud on a much larger scale, one that can have disastrous financial consequences for small business owners.

One of them is Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard that includes a set of core requirements for handling customer’s card data. A good credit card processor will not only help your small business become PCI compliant, but will also bring up this topic first. If you have questions or are not sure whether your business is already compliant, this PCI Compliance Guide is a good place to start.

In a similar vein, Europay, MasterCard and Visa (EMV) standard is another rule that became prevalent after the liability shift in 2015. This one deals primarily with equipment and software upgrade that allows merchants to accept chip cards securely. Although not required legally, it’s highly recommended, since your business will otherwise be responsible for any fraudulent transactions made with a chip card.

Avoid Leasing Equipment and Paying Hidden Fees

What is the cheapest credit card processing for small business? It’s the one that doesn’t make you overpay by forcing you into a lease. No matter how strongly your payment service provider may recommend it, leasing equipment is never a good idea. In fact, anyone who tries to persuade you to follow down that path doesn’t do it based on honesty and integrity, but simply wants to make extra money at your expense. Don’t get lured into promises of no startup costs or low monthly payments, and search for another merchant account service provider instead.

Credit card processing is also riddled with hidden fees that can make even the most fair pricing structure break the merchant’s bank after all the additional costs are added. You work hard for your money and deserve transparency, so always make sure your merchant services provider operates on full-disclosure basis.

Make the Move Today to a Better Merchant Service Provider

Our merchant account services make it easy to accept credit cards.

What’s the Best Credit Card Processor for Small Businesses?

1. Flexible pricing and transparent cost structures

Look for cost transparency when you’re choosing a small business merchant services provider. Some processors may use complex industry language, skip underwriting and risk assessment or distract merchants with suspiciously low rates. There’s no confusion, however, about one of the most favorable pricing plans for businesses: Interchange Plus. With Interchange Plus, your small business receives the actual interchange rates (which is cost). This model is competitive, transparent and the credit card processor’s profit margin remains the same regardless of a merchant’s volume. While Interchange Plus pricing may not be the best fit for your small business, an established merchant services provider will offer a variety of pricing structures so you get the solution you need.

2. Affordable mobile payment solutions

Mobile payments are an inexpensive way to give your small business the ability to accept payments anywhere, anytime. Same-day and next-day funding means you don’t have to wait on payments to start a new project. For those reasons, the best credit card processor for small businesses should offer a mobile payments app for iPhone and Android devices, EMV/NFC card readers and traditional card swipers. The card reader should be compatible with Bluetooth or allow you to simply plug it into your device’s audio jack. Finally, the best merchant services provider should offer mobile POS (mPOS) solutions if your business has specific needs in addition to accepting payments.

3. Innovative small business merchant services

Don’t get left behind by the payments technology industry; the number of ways that you can pay your employees; that your customers can pay you; and that you can pay your suppliers is only expanding. Choose a merchant services provider that offers industry-leading products and services like payment gateways, POS systems, small business payroll and gift cards and loyalty programs in addition to the standard credit card and debit card processing.

4. Effective fraud and chargeback prevention tools

One successful fraud scheme, data breach or chargeback can, at best, cause your clients to doubt the trustworthiness of your business and hesitate to make another purchase. At worst, fraud cyber attacks or chargeback abuse can bankrupt a small business before they can appropriately respond. A reputable small business credit card processor will have a variety of protections, helpful resources and screening tools to guide you through fraud prevention and chargeback disputes.

5. Helpful tech support and customer service

Here’s the polite version of something all small business owners already know: Stuff happens. The best credit card processor for small businesses has a highly rated customer service team that’s dedicated to providing innovative solutions for their merchants. Whether it’s a technical error, questions about customization or adding a new service or product, you deserve installation, billing and service specialists that are ready to help when you need them most. Look for a merchant services provider with great customer service and live tech support during business hours, and online or printed resources for when you just need quick answers.

Make the Move Today to a Better Merchant Service Provider

Our merchant account services make it easy to accept credit cards.

Small Business Credit Card Processing Options

The ever-evolving payments industry offers plenty of small business credit card processing options. Whether you want to accept payments at one location, run transactions on-the-go or streamline cash flow from your online store, there’s a solution that can help you do that. See which one is right for your business needs:

Point-of-Sale System

A point of sale system (POS system)  is a heavy hitter of payment processing that includes important features like inventory tracking, employee management, reports and analytics, cash drawer access and receipt printing.

Most POS systems have traditionally been not as portable as other solutions on this list, which is why they are commonly found at more permanent retail locations, like large supermarkets. However, the rise of mobile devices has paved the way to mobile POS (mPOS) systems that blend together the benefits of functionality and portability. In addition, many POS systems are tailored to specific industries, like this iPad-based one designed for bars and restaurants.

Credit Card Terminal

While credit card terminals are capable of processing credit and debit cards in the same fashion as POS systems, they require additional devices to do more, like printing a receipt. It’s a popular option for those who just want to accept credit cards without the need for additional features. Plus, it can be easily connected with a POS system, making it one of the most attractive small business credit card processing options.

If you choose to go with this option for your credit card processing, make sure your terminal is EMV-enabled. It will allow you to comply with the liability shift and help protect your business from potential fraud and chargebacks moving forward.

Mobile Payments

Depending on the industry you operate in, your small business can benefit from the flexibility of mobile payments. This portable solution requires just a mobile device, a mobile app and a card reader. It’s used by a variety of merchants that want it all when it comes to small business credit card processing: simplicity, speed and security without sacrificing portability.

Just like a good credit card terminal, a quality mobile payment processing option should also be EMV-ready. Looking for one right now? Consider this turnkey mPOS solution from TransNational Payments.

Online Payment Processing Services

E-commerce continues to enjoy a strong growth trend. According to BigCommerce, it has already become the preferred shopping method in the U.S., where 80% of Americans with Internet access have made an online purchase in the past month. This means that your small business could be missing out by not selling online.

Small business credit card processing options include a virtual terminal required to process online payments. Not only does it let you securely run transactions from any web browser in the world, it also integrates with a virtual shopping cart. The latter allows your customers to buy an item with a click of a button or save it for another time. It also collects and securely stores their information, making future checkouts simple and convenient.

Make the Move Today to a Better Merchant Service Provider

Our merchant account services make it easy to accept credit cards.

Best Credit Card Processing Companies for Small Business

What makes a company the best at what it does? Is it its size, profit, notability, longevity, product quality or employee happiness? We believe all of those are important components of success, but they can’t be achieved without trust. Trust takes time to build and it’s something that best credit card processing companies for small business all have in common.

TransNational Payments has been taking our merchants’ trust seriously for nearly two decades that we have been in business. No matter whether you decide to partner with us or another payment processor, we want you to be in the best position possible. Here are some things to keep in mind when narrowing down your list of best credit card processing companies for small business:

Merchant Service Google Reviews

There are a lot of websites that provide reviews on various credit card processors. But how do you know you are getting the most accurate insight? First of all, anyone running a business knows that people rarely go online to leave positive comments, unless their experience was truly above and beyond. This is just how it works — good service is often taken for granted, while anything that doesn’t meet common expectations results in a negative feedback.

Some payment processors, especially those that provide subpar service, try to remedy bad rep by paying review websites to showcase them in a positive light. Needless to say, you can’t expect unbiased information when pay-for-play is involved. Plus, wouldn’t you rather work with a processor who invests in helping your business, instead of simply making themselves look better?

That’s why you should look for credible sources of reviews. A great example is Google Reviews. Unlike Yelp, where virtually anyone, even a competitor, can create a page for a business, Google Reviews is integrated into Google’s search engine. Don’t sell your merchant services needs short — go with a payment processor that has at least 4.5 out of 5 stars and several hundred reviews. Check out our merchant service Google reviews.


You’ve done your research and found a few credit card processors that you truly like. What’s next? Consider the structure of the company’s sales department. Since sales staff will likely be not only your first point of contact but also your source of payment processing expertise, make sure they are part of direct sales department, rather than a third-party contractor or a freelance agent. This will help ensure that you won’t become just another number in their sales quota and then never hear from them again, but instead someone who will be supported well after the sale is complete.

Customer Service

Speaking of support, keep in mind that best credit card processing companies for small business operate their own customer service. While outsourced customer service should not necessarily be a deal breaker, know that you may receive limited help down the road. A payment processor that has an in-house support team shows that they understand the crucial importance of payment processing for your small business and are prepared to assist you in a timely manner.

Diverse Merchant Service Offering

Customer service is certainly an important factor that should play into your decision regarding which payment processor to work with. However, you have to pay attention to not only how they support, but also what they actually support. A broad portfolio of products and services will future-proof your business if you ever decide to venture into new ways of accepting payments, for example through a mobile device or an online store. Plus, as the payment processing industry advances, the best processors will be the ones that remain on the forefront of technology.

Social Responsibility

This may not be the first item on everyone’s list, but social responsibility is a great indicator of how well the company is run. Best credit card processing companies for small business have compelling mission and vision. Strong company culture and supportive work environment translate into happy employees. And do you know who benefits from the higher service quality of these employees? You!

Make the Move Today to a Better Merchant Service Provider

Our merchant account services make it easy to accept credit cards.

What Makes a Merchant Choose TransNational Payments over Square?

Merchants choose TransNational Payments over Square because they know they’re getting:

A full suite of necessary merchant services

As an established merchant account provider, TransNational Payments has two decades of experience and offers a wide variety of helpful services designed for small businesses. Our products and services include: credit card processing, small business payroll services, payment gateways (e-commerce), mobile payments, gift cards and loyalty programs, check services and more. We help you to achieve PCI compliance and offer fraud prevention tools and chargeback protections, plus our payment gateway offers 175+ secure integrations.

Just because third-party payment processors like Square are ubiquitous doesn’t mean they’re a safe or comprehensive solution for your small business. Your customers’ payments are not truly secure with Square because your business has not gone through the underwriting process, which assess your risk level and offers you protection from fraud liability. Reliable payment processing isn’t only about taking payments — merchants need access to a full set of tools to stay safe (and stay ahead of the competition). Whether you’re a low- or high-volume business, you need secure services!

Interchange Plus pricing that’s more advantageous than Flat Rate pricing

What makes a merchant choose TransNational Payments over Square? It’s definitely our low-cost pricing structure. In most cases, Interchange Plus pricing is the most transparent plan and advantageous plan that merchants can choose. With Interchange Plus, you receive the actual Interchange rates (at cost). We offer Interchange Plus pricing, in addition to other pricing structures, because TransNational Payments wants what’s best for your business.  

Why is Interchange Plus more favorable than Flat Rate pricing? Because:

#1: Flat Rate pricing erases your savings on lower-risk transactions

Flat Rate pricing includes Interchange costs, or the wholesale cost to run a transaction, plus a combination of other fees to produce one regular rate. That seems simple, but this model means you’re often not getting the discount for lower cost cards that you deserve.

For example, debit cards often have lower Interchange costs because they’re consider a lower risk payment option. When you use a third-party payment processor like Square that offers a flat rate structure, you’re going to end up paying more for lower cost cards, losing out on the benefit of handling low-risk transactions.

#2: High-volume businesses get an even worse deal per transaction

Flat Rate pricing is just not cost-effective for established businesses with a high processing volume. A 2.75% rate quickly becomes much more expensive than a competitive Interchange Plus or Interchange Pass-through pricing plan once you’re processing thousands of dollars in transactions every month. The major benefit of Interchange Plus is that whether the merchant does $1,000/month or $100,000/month in purchases, the margin above cost always remains the same.

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TransNational Payments has the expertise, support and price plan you're looking for.

An established track record, helpful customer service and live tech support

TransNational Payments has an A+ BBB rating and an average 4.7 stars on Google Reviews, but we also have two decades of providing thousands of small businesses the merchant services they need!

While a startup like Square may seem appealing because of the quick signup process, the company has received thousands of merchant complaints for their approve-first, cancel-later style of processing merchant applications. On top of that, Square does not provide much in the way of live tech support options, so if you like to talk to a real person when you’re having technical issues or questions, this may not be the service for you.

Inexpensive small business mobile payments solutions

With TransNational Payments, your small business can:

  • Accept all major credit cards
  • Use card readers for iOS or Android
  • Connect card readers via audio jack or Bluetooth
  • Accept EMV and NFC payments seamlessly
  • Instantly download our user-friendly mobile app to accept payments
  • Take advantage of free mobile equipment and other regular offers
  • Get flexible pricing on mobile payments
  • Integrate your mobile payment processing with Quickbooks
  • Get 24/7 access to simple video tutorials on mobile payments
  • Accept mobile payments with card readers for iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones and tablets
  • Get same-day or next-day funding

A straightforward merchant account application handled by industry experts

TransNational Payments’ merchant account application is carefully processed from start to finish by real people — our payment experts — and your business is thoroughly vetted. That way, you can start accepting payments now and don’t need to worry about any hiccups later.

On the other hand, Square does not check the credit history of its customers prior to approving their accounts, so it’s set a number of hard-to-find limitations to avoid potential fraud losses. Unfortunately for merchants, that means that when a transaction is flagged for fraud, Square often withholds funds and freezes accounts, putting merchants and their small businesses in jeopardy with no prior warning.

Square’s risk mitigation practices have caused serious problems and financial losses for business owners. Users can run transactions that could trigger automatic account cancellation without any warning. Square’s lack of transparency about freezing funds and the missing underwriting step in its signup process could be a risky gamble for your small business.

We're committed to transparent pricing for small businesses.

Square and other third-party payment processors may seem simple, but their fees and fine print aren't!

What Are the Biggest Differences Between TransNational Payments and Paypal?

As a small business owner, third-party payment processors might seem like a more cost effective option in the short-term. But, like many third-party payment processors, Paypal lacks the merchant services and other industry-standard features, integrations, payment securities and fraud protections that small businesses need to survive.

You know that making a decision on a credit card processor isn’t just about cost, it’s about the best value for the cost. So what are the biggest differences between TransNational Payments and Paypal, and which you should choose for your small business credit card processing?

A: TransNational Payments is a merchant services provider.
B: Paypal is a third-party payment processor.

A merchant services provider like TransNational Payments gives you a merchant account that is unique to you and your business(es). You’re provided a dedicated account manager, and have access to a range of merchant services, like small business payroll, mobile point-of-sale solutions, check services, ACH payments and more. When you apply for a merchant account, the provider’s underwriting department looks at your industry and risk level, your personal and business credit history, your processing history (if any) and more. Yes, it’s more intensive than third-party processors, but this process gives you added assurance that your merchant account won’t run into issues — like unexpected cancellations, frozen funds and more — down the road.

A third-party payment processor, like Paypal, doesn’t spend as much time vetting applicants as a merchant account provider like TransNational Payments does. Paypal aggregates all of its merchant accounts into one single account, a common practice for third-party providers, to limit its overall risk (among other cost-effective reasons). This might give merchants some added stability — but it also means that Paypal is more likely to cancel your account when its AI or risk department either flags something as high-risk or observes a suspicious transaction. Even if that’s not always the case, it’s this documented practice that leaves a lot of users of third-party processors (many small business owners) unhappy, misled by the promise of a quick and easy signup.

None of this means that your account will certainly be terminated at any point, but there’s a higher chance that it could be. Red flags include an unusually high-volume month, a very large transaction, or a string of chargebacks, all of which might cause Paypal to place a hold. Remember that third-party processors are not a good choice for high-risk businesses.

A: TransNational Payments offers Interchange Plus pricing.
B: Paypal offers Flat Rate pricing.

Interchange Plus pricing is the gold standard within the payments industry because it’s the clearest cost plan and generally more favorable for the merchant. That’s why TransNational Payments offers Interchange Plus as the standard, while also being able to adapt to whichever pricing structure is most advantageous for the small business merchant. In addition to that cost savings, when you choose a merchant services provider, you’ll likely to experience better reliability thanks to your dedicated account manager.

Generally, you’ll also have more access to a wider selection of POS systems and services, giving your small business the flexibility to grow or shrink your sales tools as you go. Some services a merchant account provider offers that a third-party processor may not include: online employee time clock software; gift cards and loyalty programs; small business payroll services (the provider handles your tax filing); multi-location functionality and more.

A: TransNational Payments is tailored to small businesses!
B: Paypal aggregates small businesses.

Whether your small business is lower volume, high risk, has credit card processing history or none at all, TransNational Payments was created to help you accept payments — whatever method best serves your small business! We ensure that you get connected to the merchant services you need by providing:

  • A free quote on the payment solutions that interest you
  • A cost savings analysis compared with ANY of your current providers
  • Helpful small business consultation on the best products for you
  • Industry-standard merchant verification
  • 30- or 45-day free trial of our products and services
  • A dedicated account manager for your small business(es)
  • Expert installation for local merchants or live installation by phone
  • Free quote and 1 free month of Full Service Payroll for Small Businesses

At the end of the day, when deciding who you’ll partner with to process payments at your small business, make sure that you factor in the benefits and features — not just cost and start time— in your comparison!

Try cost-effective merchant services for small businesses.

TransNational Payments has two decades of experience providing top-quality credit card processing for businesses like yours.

Advantages of Accepting Credit Cards

You’ll Speed Up Checkout Time

Authorizing a credit card takes only a few seconds, giving you more time to focus on the rest of your business, on the daily and long-term. TransNational Payments built its payment solutions for small and mid-sized businesses so that you can seamlessly accept payments (mobile, in-store or online) and keep the line moving.

You’ll Get Your Funding Faster

More customers will settle up sooner when they can use their credit card (or smartphone, smartwatch or a tablet). You’ll also spend less time waiting around for funding thanks to recurring billing and even same- and next-day payment solutions.

Your Customers Will Spend More

Customers are more comfortable making larger purchases using their credit and debit cards, especially knowing that they are protected by their bank’s fraud protection tools. With the security of credit cards and the ease of mobile payments, your customers also don’t have to feel nervous carrying around cash to make purchases at your business.

You’ll Automatically Increase Your Market Share

Visa and MasterCard are international brands — by accepting these credit and debit cards, you gain potential new customers from over 170 countries, who are now able to pay you with a few clicks (or a dip, a swipe or a tap).

Make the move today to a better merchant services provider

Our small business merchant account services make it easy to accept credit cards.

Making Sense of Payment Gateways for Small Businesses

What are Payment Gateway Services for Small Businesses?

If you’re a small business owner, a payment gateway is a crucial part of the payments process — a form of payments technology you’ll be glad you learned about. Without payments gateways, today’s fast, safe and efficient commerce (especially e-commerce) just wouldn’t be possible, and you’d miss out on more business and happier customers. For small businesses, payment gateways open up a world of in-store and online sales possibilities. Read on to answer your questions about payment gateways for small businesses!

What Is a Payment Gateway?

A payment gateway is just a connection point within the payment process. When you use a payment gateway at your small business, you’re able to connect online shopping carts, a point-of-sale (POS) system or a virtual terminal to the next step, payment authorization. Payment gateways can be used for both in-store payments and e-commerce transactions (simply know as online shopping). A payment gateway from TransNational Payments can do a lot for your small business — you just need to know what you want to accomplish!

Does My Small Business Need a Payment Gateway?

Like many other payments solutions, what you need depends on the structure and goals of your small business. For card-present transactions, small businesses can definitely benefit from a payment gateway. For example, you can quickly get your customers signed up for a gym membership plan on the spot using easy recurring billing via your payment gateway. You can also accept mobile payments on the go.

Small business owners are increasingly recognizing the freedom, accessibility and convenience of starting an online store. Modern customers (and other businesses) expect the businesses to offer online payment options, recurring billing and invoicing. With a customer vault, you can even save a client’s payment information for repeat customers, saving them (and your staff) valuable time. A payment gateway can do it all! If your small business is thinking of jumping into e-commerce, your first stop is a payment gateway. Learn more about TransNational Payments’ payment gateway.

How Do You Use a Payment Gateway?

The technology that powers payment gateways might be invisible, but you’d miss it if it were gone! Payment gateways allow payment authorization to happen seamlessly. Let’s walk through a few common payments scenarios and see how you’d use a payment gateway at your small business.

  • A client has placed an order and you’re ready to send an invoice and collect payment in a timely manner. With a payment gateway, you can generate and send an invoice, email your customer a secure link to pay online or even accept payment via mobile card reader when you deliver the order.
  • You’re setting up an online store and working with a dedicated merchant services provider like TransNational Payments. Our payment gateway has over 175 integrations, so your customers can browse using an online shopping cart, safely store their credit card information in the gateway (making your business’ website less vulnerable) and more.
  • You’re processing a mail order/telephone order (MOTO) transaction and also want to process orders on the web using a virtual terminal provided by your credit card processor. TransNational Payments’ payment gateway includes a user-friendly virtual terminal that allows you to handle card-not-present (CNP) transactions, like MOTO payments, easily.

Do I Need a Payment Gateway If I Already Have a POS System?

Maybe you’re already using a point-of-sale (POS) system or industry-specific POS software at your small business, and you’re wondering if you need payment gateway services too. The good news is that TransNational Payments has solutions whether you are or aren’t already using a POS! While some POS systems offer basic gateway services, our payment gateway has a comprehensive set of features that most small businesses could benefit from.

What Are the Benefits of Using a Payment Gateway at My Small Business?

Payment gateways offer a variety of benefits, all making your small business well-rounded, better positioned to gain and retain customers and keeping you ahead of the competition!

Inexpensive, wide-reaching payment solution 

A payment gateway is one cost-effective system that unlocks a world of convenient features and services for small business merchants. If you’re seeking a simple payment solution for a variety of channels and transaction types at your small business, consider a payment gateway.

Ease of use

Payment gateways are built to eliminate the headache most small business owners get when it comes time to collect payment. Accept swipe cards, chip cards or key-in payments with a payment gateway, or simplify e-commerce with easy shopping carts, payment plugins and other integrations. 

Secure way to accept payments

The best payment gateways include fraud prevention tools and security features like credit card encryption and tokenization in-store and online. They also facilitate payments on a website separate from your business’ e-commerce store so you’re protected from certain fraud and chargeback liabilities. Protect your business and keep customers’ sensitive payment information safe with a payment gateway for your small business.

Flexibility and accessibility

Small businesses depend on a constant influx of customers, whether they’re longtime clients, loyal neighborhood locals or one-off online shoppers. A small business payment gateway offers cardholders a variety of easy ways to pay for your products or services. When you accept major credit cards at your business, you automatically increase your market share and expand your horizons.

Unlock online shopping, MOTO payments and more with a payment gateway

Boost sales at your small business with a payment gateway from TransNational Payments.

Enjoy better credit card processing for small business!