A woman seated at a table in a restaurant extends a credit card toward a handheld card processing device held by someone standing mostly offscreen. The woman has dark hair pulled back into a ponytail and she wears a pink collared shirt patterned with dark red palm trees. She looks up at the person holding the processing device with a smile. In the background, out of focus, are more square tables, some empty and some with people sitting around them.
Credit card processing services offer various hardware options, including point-of-sale terminals, handheld card-reading devices, and mobile phone payment processors. — Getty Images/10'000 Hours

The best restaurant credit card processors integrate with your point-of-sale (POS) system and support your customers’ preferred payment methods. However, rates and features differ between merchant services. While some only accept established or high-volume restaurants, others offer multiple plans for startups, mobile food trucks, or delivery-only business models.

Additionally, merchant account approval times and processes vary among credit card processing companies. We looked at top-rated restaurant merchant service providers and found nine solutions suitable for food and beverage businesses.

CDGcommerce: scalable restaurant merchant services

With three subscription options, CDGcommerce is an excellent choice for all-sized food businesses, from mom-and-pop diners to high-volume restaurants. It integrates with many dedicated hardware and tablet-based POS systems, including Lightspeed, TouchBistro, and Revel. CDGcommerce provides 24/7 U.S.-based technical support.

If you run a food cart or sell items at a concession stand or farmer’s market, you can use CDGcommerce’s mobile to accept payments on your phone or tablet. The credit card processor also has extensive chargeback protection support.

[Read more: Restaurant Execs Share Top Trends to Drive Growth]

Leaders Merchant Services: for restaurants needing custom solutions

With a 98% merchant application approval rate, Leaders Merchant Services works with restaurant owners with less-than-stellar credit. It develops accounts tailored to your business needs with options for loyalty programs, gift cards, and online menus. Aside from processing major credit and debit cards, LMS accepts Samsung, Google, and Apple Pay. The company is a Clover reseller, and these devices let you process Venmo and Paypal payments.

National Processing: low rates for food and beverage services

National Processing offers some of the lowest credit card processing rates and a special plan for restaurants. It’s a Clover POS reseller, but you can add a standalone terminal to complement your existing service. National Processing will reprogram your current equipment for free and gives restaurant owners a free mobile reader.

Subscriptions start at $9.95 monthly for restaurants, with qualified merchants paying the interchange rate plus 0.14% plus $0.07 per transaction. If your company processes $120,000 in credit card purchases annually, National Processing guarantees to beat your current rates, or it’ll give you $500.

Square Payments: simple setup for restaurant startups

Whether you’re opening a restaurant or food truck, Square’s flexible pricing plans, free restaurant website, and hardware options got you covered. Square Payments has free plans with no monthly subscription fees. You pay a flat rate of 2.6% + $0.10 for in-person payments. Best of all, the free version includes the Square for Restaurants POS system.

As your startup grows, you can add a kitchen display system or integrate Square Payments with popular third-party services like Homebase or BentoBox. Your free website accepts online delivery or curbside orders. In addition, Square Payments works with Android or iOS smartphones and tablets, or you can choose from various hardware options.

Luminous Payments: ideal for offering cash discounts

Luminous Payments caters to small businesses. The most popular payment processing package is the cash discount program. This subscription lets restaurants keep more money in their accounts legally by passing processing fees to guests.

Other options include flat rate, interchange plus, tiered pricing, or custom plans. Aside from accepting all major credit cards (VISA, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express), Luminous Payments supports digital payment methods like Apple and Google Pay.

[Read more: How 3 Restaurant Businesses Are UnCorking Surprising Revenue Streams]

Dharma Merchant Services integrates with several POS platforms and is one of the industry's most transparent merchant service providers.

Payment Depot: an affordable solution for established eateries

For $79 a month and only $0.05 per transaction for restaurants and bars (plus interchange fees), Payment Depot helps established businesses keep more money in their accounts. It doesn’t charge a percentage markup on interchange rates; you can process up to $250,000 annually. Along with Clover POS systems, Payment Depot offers extensive POS integrations and several card reader terminals.

Stripe: best merchant services for online payment processing

Food delivery services, ghost kitchens, and catering companies can use Stripe to process payments online. Its versatility makes it a popular option, as Stripe accepts over a dozen different payment methods and integrates with more than 1,000 third-party applications. Indeed, ChowNow, Deliveroo, and SkipTheDishes improved operations by incorporating Stripe into their payment processing tech stack.

You can even add Stripe Payment Links to sell on Facebook or by text. The complete payments platform includes over 100 features and has pay-as-you-go flat rate pricing (2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction). Alternatively, you can request a custom plan for volume discounts or interchange rates.

Dharma Merchant Services: for high-volume quick-service restaurants

Restaurants with an average ticket of $25 or less get rock-bottom rates from Dharma Merchant Services. The credit card processor reduces your costs per transaction and the monthly fee (regularly $25). Dharma Merchant Services doesn’t require a long-term agreement and supports online payment links.

Also, you can accept debit or credit cards through Apple or Android devices, a virtual terminal, card readers, or a Clover POS system. Dharma Merchant Services integrates with several POS platforms and is one of the industry's most transparent merchant service providers.

[Read more: Delivery-Only Model Drives Newfound Business for Restaurant Brands]

Stax: credit card processing for mid-size restaurant businesses

Stax (formerly Fattmerchant) based subscription prices on credit card processing volume and doesn’t charge a markup on direct-cost interchange rates. For instance, restaurants processing up to $250,000 yearly pay $99 monthly. The Stax platform is flexible, supporting in-person, contactless (for curbside pickups), phone, and online payments. If your internet goes down, you can switch to a mobile or tablet device and process payments through the Stax mobile app.

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