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The Best (and Worst) Canadian Merchant Account Providers


Canadians are some nice people. I should know, as I have Canadian relatives who visit from time to time – and you’ll never hear them say a bad word about anything or anybody. However, I do have a bad word to say about Canada – well, not Canadians per se (and certainly not my Ontarian cousins!) but about Canadian credit card processors: Sorry, guys. You suck.

To be fair, it’s not so much that Canadian merchant account providers are terrible by definition; it’s just that there are not enough good ones. Whereas in the US we have a lot of decent credit card processing options, there aren’t many reputable processors to choose from in Canada. There are only a handful that I would recommend, and even out of those, there’s only one that I can confidently say is a great option (Commercial Merchant Services). The worst option, judging by all the negative reviews that we receive, is probably Pivotal Payments.

This article will cover all the Canadian credit card processors worth mentioning, giving a brief rundown of each option. We’ll also have a section dedicated to “alternative” payment methods for Canadian residents that process less than $5k

Best Canadian Processor: Commercial Merchant Services

If you’ve read our   glowing review of Atlanta-based Commercial Merchant Services, it should come as no surprise that we’re singling out this processor as Canada’s best. There is simply no better processor for Canadian businesses – and they provide the same kick-butt level of service in the US too.

Here are some of CMS’s highlights

Guaranteed low rates ( they will beat any rate provided on a legitimate contract)

  • Excellent customer support
  • Extensive fee disclosures
  • Amazing educational resources, including charts demonstrating different interchange rate scenarios
  • No termination fees
  • No monthly minimum
  • No setup/application fees
  • No PCI compliance fees
  • Free Equipment (including wireless terminals)

Something I really like about Helcim is the truly useful educational resources they provide, including articles on navigating the deceitful credit card processing industry in general, and an extensive knowledgebase detailing how Helcim works. Even if you don’t choose this processor, it’s not a bad idea to educate yourself by reading some of their articles, including The Top 6 Tricks Used by Credit Card Processors and Watch Out for Hidden Fees Charged by Most Processors.

With CMS, fairness is the name of the game. CMS charges affordable prices and has one of the most transparent sales policies of any processor out there, Canadian or otherwise. Everything is completely laid out on the table, with crystal-clear fee disclosures so you’re never again hit with a bill like a punch in the stomach. This type of fairness and transparency is what’s lacking in a lot of processors, and hopefully the industry takes a cue from these guys.

Worst Canadian Processor: Pivotal Payments

Pretty much, the only good thing I have to say about Pivotal Payments is that they offer merchant services in Canada. While they’re based in Melville, New York, they also have an office in Quebec, making them one of the few processors available to Canadian merchants. In case you’re wondering if there’s a difference between the (bad) service they provide in the US and the (bad) service they provide in Canada, there’s really not. As Tom DeSimone put it in his review:

Canadian and US-based merchants get the same sub-par service from Pivotal, regardless of locale.

Oh, and I guess one more good thing about them is they do offer low pricing, if you ask for it. Otherwise, it’s mostly bad news. Here are some of the lowlights of this processor.


  • Deceptive credit card terminal leases
  • Failure to disclose all terms involved with theirearly termination fee (ETF)
  • Bad customer service
  • Inconsistent sales experience

Hidden fees (including an early termination fee), deceptive terms (merchants complain of getting stuck in lengthy terminal lease fees), and poor customer service are just a few reasons why this Canadian credit card processor receives terrible customer reviews. For more details on why and just how much they suck, read our review of Pivotal Payments, or just skip down to the comments on that article to read about all the thoroughly unpleasant experiences people have had with this company.