Updated June 6, 2022

Best Credit Card Processing for Restaurants

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Every penny matters to restaurants. The right credit card processing provider will help you save on fees and have features to help run your restaurant.

The Best Credit Card Processing for Restaurants
  1. Square: Best for small, mobile eateries
  2. National Processing: Lowest rates
  3. Dharma Merchant Services: Best for high-volume restaurants
  4. Payment Depot: Best for $25k+ monthly processing
  5. Clover: High-quality equipment
  6. Toast: Made specifically for restuarants
  7. CDG Commerce: Flexible pricing
  8. PayPal: In-person PayPal + Venmo

Running a restaurant is hard work.

With already tight margins, you don't need high processing fees eating into your profits.

There are many great credit card processors for small businesses. Here, we'll take a closer look at those which offer great rates for restaurants.

Whether you have a food truck, quick service, or fine dining restaurant, you'll find the right fit below.

Plus, learn what to look for in a processor.

Best Credit Card Processing for Restaurants

Here are the best credit card processors for restaurants. We picked our top list based on:

  • Low restaurant processing rates
  • A large range of equipment options
  • Different ways to accept payments
  • Transparency
  • No contract
  • Setup and ease of use
  • PCI compliance

1. Square: Best for Small, Mobile Eateries

  • Simple flat-rate pricing
  • No contract; no monthly fees
  • Fast and easy to get started
  • Free mobile swipe reader
  • Powerful restaurant POS
  • Account holds and freezes
  • Not the lowest rates for larger restaurants

Square provides an all-in-one restaurant management and processing solution for restaurants. The POS is fully integrated into its sleek equipment.

It even has a free restaurant-specific POS, which includes:

  • Menu and table management
  • Real-time menu updates across devices
  • Add on customer items and modifiers
  • Set discounts and specials
  • Free online site for delivery and pickup
  • Integrations with restaurant management software
  • A variety of reports
  • Supports unlimited locations

Larger operations can choose the paid Plus plan. The paid plan has more features like shared settings, seat management, auto-gratuity, reopening closed checks, and live sales and advanced reports.

The Plus plan costs $60 per month per location + $40/month per added POS device. There is a 30-day free trial. Large restaurants that process over $250,000 annually and have more than 10 active employees can talk to Square about custom pricing.

Square's restaurant processing rates are:[1]

  • In-person & invoice: 2.6% + $0.10
  • Online: 2.9% + $0.30
  • Over the phone/key-in: 3.5% + $0.15

There are no monthly fees. If you don't process anything in a month, you don't pay. This also makes Square ideal for market vendors, food trucks, and event sellers.

Square makes it easy to open an account and take payments right away. You don't need to go through an approval process. All users can get a free mobile reader.

The downside is that the processing costs can be high. But the great POS is worth it for many smaller eateries. If you have a steady sales volume, the next few companies can help you save more on processing fees.

2. National Processing: Lowest Processing Rates

  • Special restaurant rates
  • No long-term contract
  • Free equipment offers
  • Conditions to waive termination fee
  • Equipment cancellation fee
  • May have other software fees

National Processing is already one of our favorite processors for their low rates. Plus, they offer a special restaurant rate. Compared to competitors, this is the lowest rate we have found.

National's rate for restaurants is:[2]

  • Interchange + 0.14% + $0.07 per transaction
  • $9.95 monthly fee

As your restaurant grows, you have the option to change to a subscription-based plan. The price is $59/mo plus $0.09 per transaction.

All users can get a free SwipeSimple mobile card reader. However, if you leave National, there is a cancellation fee for the cost of the equipment. If you have your own equipment already, National can reprogram it for free.

National is a reseller of Clover. So you also have the option to purchase the sleek Clover machines.

National Processing doesn't have a contract, but there are some conditions to waive the termination fee. You must have a lower competitor quote in writing. If National cannot match or beat the offer, then they won't charge you a termination fee.

For restaurants processing at least $10,000 per month, National Processing has a promise that if they can't beat your current processing rates, they'll give you a $500 Visa gift card.

3. Dharma Merchant Services: Best for High-Volume Restaurants

Also good for: Restaurants with low average ticket size

  • High volume or low average ticket rates
  • No contract or early termination fees
  • $25 monthly fee
  • Not ideal for very small operations
  • $49 closure fee

Dharma is another interchange-plus provider with an excellent reputation and competitive rates. Plus, they offer a discount for very high-volume or low average ticket restaurants.

The restaurant rates are:[3]

  • Visa/MC/Disc: Interchange + 0.10% + $0.08
  • Amex: Interchange + 0.25% + $0.08
  • High volume/low average ticket: Interchange + 0.10% + $0.08
  • $20 monthly fee

High-volume pricing is available to merchants processing $100,000 or more a month OR having over 5,000 transactions per month. You can also qualify for the discount rate if you have a low average ticket size ($25 or less).

The $25 monthly fee gets you access to mobile processing, a virtual terminal, easy payment links, and online reporting tools. But it could be tough for smaller eateries.

Dharma offers a wide range of equipment, including Clover POS. It can also integrate with a POS you're already using.

Dharma will first run a free cost analysis against your current provider to ensure that you're getting the lowest processing rate possible.

4. Payment Depot: Best for Processing $25,000+ Monthly

  • Discount rate for restaurants
  • No contract or early termination fees
  • Next-day funding
  • 20% restocking fee for returned equipment
  • Only for larger businesses

If your restaurant processes over $25,000 a month, a subscription-based service like Payment Depot can help you save more. You pay a monthly membership fee, but get lower processing markups.

Payment Depot offers three subscription tiers with different processing limits. Restaurants and bars get a special discount processing rate regardless of which tier you choose.

The restaurant rates are:[4]

  • Interchange + $0.05 per transaction
  • Starter: $79/month; process up to $50k monthly
  • Most Popular: $99/month; process up to $150k monthly
  • Enterprise: $199/month; no processing limit

You can choose month-to-month billing or an annual subscription. Both choices allow you to cancel at any time. Annual memberships offer a discount and 90-day money-back guarantee.

Payment Depot offers a wide range of equipment from Clover, Ingenico, Dejavoo, and more. You may be able to qualify for free equipment. If you already have your own, Payment Depot can also reprogram it for free.

Other Processing Options for Restaurants

Here are some companies that didn't make it into our main list because the processing rates or terms are not as favorable.

But they are still very solid companies that lots of restaurants use. So we want to mention them in case one of these fits you better.

Clover: High-Quality Equipment

Clover is known for their sleek equipment. Just like Square, the POS features are fully integrated into the equipment.

You can purchase a processing plan directly from Clover or get Clover through a reseller (like Dharma or National). We already have some of our favorite Clover resellers in our main list.

If you purchase through Clover, the processing rate starts at 2.6% + $0.10 per swipe, dip, or tap transaction. By going through a reseller, you can get a cheaper rate.

Clover offers two POS plans specifically for restaurants:

  • Table Service plan for $69.95/mo. Ideal for dine-in restaurants. You can manage your entire staff, build floor plans, fire orders to the kitchen, take online orders, and pre-authorize bar tabs.

  • Counter Service plan for $39.95/mo. Ideal for quick-serve eateries and food trucks. The main difference is that this doesn't include floor plan management.

All plans cost an extra $9.95 per month for each additional device.

Not sure where to start when it comes to processing equipment? Be sure to review our guides on the best credit card readers for small businesses, iPhones, and Android devices.

Toast: Tailored to Restaurants' Needs

Toast is a processing and POS solution specially for restaurants. Like Square, it's a proprietary system, meaning you can only use Toast POS and Toast equipment together.

It offers two pricing structures (larger restaurants can get a custom quote):[5]

  1. Pay as you go ($0/mo): 2.99% + $0.15, $0 for Starter Kit
  2. Standard ($69/mo): 2.49% + $0.15; $799 for Starter Kit

Toast's Starter Kit includes a Toast Flex POS terminal, tap payment device, router, and POS software. Additional equipment can be purchased.

Both plans have a 2-year contract term.

Toast has an excellent all-in-one restaurant POS. It has built-in features like menu and inventory management, digital ordering, guest database, loyalty program, email marketing, and more. But a lot of these features require an additional fee.

Since Toast is made for restaurants, it really understands their unique needs and offers personalized support. It even offers events and workshops for restaurant owners.

However, the processing rate can be high and there's a hefty upfront cost too. In comparison, Square's restaurant POS is free and there's no contract.

CDG Commerce: Flexible Pricing

CDG Commerce offers different pricing structures depending on how much you process a month.

Small eateries processing $1,000 to $10,000 a month can start with a simple flat-rate plan. For mid-size restaurants, it offers interchange-plus pricing. Very large restaurants can save more with a subscription plan.

  • Flat Rate (for $1,000-$10,000/month)
    Swipe or chip: 2.75% + $0.30
    Online: 2.90% + $0.30
    Amex surcharge: 0.25%
  • Interchange-Plus (for $10,000+/month)
    Swipe or chip: Interchange + 0.25% + $0.10
    Online: Interchange + 0.30% + $0.15
  • Membership (for $200,000+/month)
    Starts at $49/month; Interchange + $0.10

CDG's POS has restaurant-specific features, including table reservations, inventory control, tip adjustments, and more.

You can get a credit card terminal for free, but you must purchase insurance for $79/year. This can be a more affordable option than buying your own equipment outright.

PayPal: Accept PayPal + Venmo In-Person

PayPal may not be the first thing you think about for restaurants. But one big advantage is that it allows customers to pay in-person via PayPal or Venmo.

This makes PayPal a great choice for event vendors and market stalls. At these kinds of venues, customers may not carry a wallet and they can just use their phone to pay.

PayPal's transaction fees are:

  • Swipe, chip, and tap: 2.29% + $0.09
  • QR code transactions ($10.01 or more): 1.90% + $0.10
  • QR code transactions ($10 or less): 2.40% + $0.05

There is no contract and no monthly fee. If you only occasionally sell at events, PayPal is worth looking into.

What to Look for in a Restaurant POS

Here are some things to consider when choosing the best processing provider for your restaurant.

Equipment:
You'll need equipment options that fits your needs. This could include:

  • Mobile processing for food trucks, market vendors, etc.
  • Contactless payment machines
  • Handheld terminals to process orders tableside or in line
  • Tabletop stations that customers can use themselves
  • Sturdy countertop terminals and/or full registers
  • Website for online ordering

You may prefer how certain equipment brands look. For example, if you really want the modern Clover machines for your restaurant, you can work with a merchant account provider that sells Clover.

POS system:
The POS isn't just for accepting cards. It's also essential to have features to keep your restaurant running smoothly. Just some features include:

  • Menu management
  • Inventory management
  • Reservations
  • Tip reporting
  • Loyalty program
  • Online ordering
  • Staff scheduling and timekeeping

If the POS doesn't come built-in with certain features, see if it offers integrations with restaurant management software.

Contract:
Beware of long-term commitment and early termination fees. We prefer no contract so you can leave if you're not happy with the service.

Customer service:
Not all companies provide quality customer support. You want to be able to get help when you need it.

As you shop for providers, get a sense of how responsive and helpful their support staff is.

Some providers may mostly rely on self-troubleshooting or email support. But some full-service merchant account providers will even assign you a dedicated account agent.

Bottom Line

It's important to work with a credit card processing provider that understands the needs of restaurants, especially in today's unique times.

The best one for you doesn't necessarily need to be the cheapest one. What's more important is that it offers the equipment, features, and support you need to confidently run your restaurant.

References

  1. ^ Square, Restaurant POS System - Pricing, Retrieved 11/4/21
  2. ^ National Processing Pricing, Retrieved 11/4/21
  3. ^ Dharma Merchant Services, Nonprofit Rates, Retrieved 10/20/21
  4. ^ Payment Depot, Restaurants and Bars, Retrieved 11/4/21
  5. ^ Toast POS Pricing Plans, Retrieved 11/4/2021

Anna G is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card processing comparison and reviews website. Write to Anna G at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.


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