Helcim’s character is transparency in a credit card processing industry known for its opaqueness. Credit card processing vendors are infamous for their onerous fees and contracts, but the industry is slowly changing due to increased competition and better-informed consumers. Helcim is a good credit card processor for merchants that bring in at least $1,500-$2,000 per month. Smaller vendors that deal in smaller transactions and lower revenue are better off with flat-fee services such as Square Point of Sale. Vendors that take in more than $20,000 per month might consider a wholesaler such as Payment Depot. For those in the sweet spot though, Helcim offers stellar customer service and help with setup, and is honest and upfront about all associated fees. For these reasons, Helcim earns our Editors’ Choice in this credit card processing review roundup.
Startup Costs, Fees, and Setup Process
Helcim’s pricing is fully laid out on its website, which also offers a full overview of the industry, articles about its history, fee structures, and pitfalls (from which it promises relief). For retail and mobile payments, there’s a $12 per month fee, and then what’s called a cost-plus or interchange plus fee for each transaction. In a nutshell, Helcim, and others like it, pass on the fee levied by the payment processing companies to merchants, plus a small percentage increase to make a profit. Interchange fees vary by the card provider (MasterCard, Visa, etc.) as well as the type. For instance, high reward cards have a higher fee than basic credit cards. That often makes it difficult to know what your fees will be at the end of the month, since there are so many iterations of the same credit, and high reward credit cards are so popular.
If you sell online, then you can opt for the virtual terminal e-commerce plan, which costs $25 per month and is subject to the same set of fees as retail and mobile. Helcim includes its Fraud Defender software for online purchases, which rates transactions by using seven different factors and assigning a score. You can auto-decline transactions under a specified score. Virtual payments cost more due to the higher risk of “card not present” transactions.
Helcim sells equipment directly, including wired and wireless credit card scanners, and mobile card readers—all of which are compatible with other processors should you switch to a different one. Equipment pricing includes shipping, 24/7 tech support, and a one-year replacement warranty.
Transactions get settled once a day, and Helcim says funds are typically transferred within two business days. The daily deposit consists of the full amount of credit card sales, and it’s not until the end of each month that merchants get a bill for transaction fees. This makes it easier for bookkeepers to reconcile the records.
The only other fee merchants have to consider is the chargeback fee, for which Helcim charges $15. The reason it’s a flat fee is that the process of verifying fraudulent charges is a manual one that involves arbitrating between the credit card company and the vendor, who can provide a rebuttal (for instance proof a package receipt). A whole department is dedicated to this back and forth communication. This fee typically ranges between $10 and $20, putting Helcim right in the middle.
Third-Party Integrations and Other Features
Helcim accepts all major credit cards, and mobile payments including Android Pay and Apple Pay. All accounts offer international credit card processing; optionally merchants can enable multi-currency service, in which you can offer customers the option to pay in their home currency.
Helcim integrates with shopping carts from many third-party providers, including Shopify, Magento, and more. Merchants can export transactions to a CSV file or directly to Intuit QuickBooks for accounting purposes. Only Intuit Quickbooks Payments can actually be directly integrated with QuickBooks accounting software.
CardFellow, a service that offers free payment processing quotes as well as reviews and advice gives Helcim a positive write-up, though there are no customer reviews on the site. It praises the transparent pricing, equipment options, and its help with PCI Compliance. Helcim has an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and, as of this writing, has two 5-star reviews (5 stars out of 5). Both reviews praise Helcim’s customer service, upfront pricing information, and help getting set up. One reviewer, a recovering skeptic says they would recommend Helcim to anyone who needs to accept credit cards. As of this writing, Helcim had not logged any customer complaints.
Helcim is a great choice for merchants looking for interchange plus pricing. Customers rave about its friendly and always-available customer service, as well as its transparency about fees, which is rare in this industry. However, it’s worth considering a wholesale subscription such as Payment Depot if you process at least $20,000 per month, or a flat fee service such as Square if you conduct small transactions and have a low monthly volume of sales.