Merchant Maverick's Rating: (5 out of 5)
Last Updated: December 18th, 2013.
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We don’t give out perfect scores lightly. Only truly exceptional providers can hope to get a five-star review, and even those who make it to that elite level have to keep up the good work, since we constantly reevaluate our ratings to make sure last year’s perfect providers are still the best of the best today. As a reviewer, I’m always looking for things to complain about and will downgrade ratings without any hesitation when I can no longer stand behind an earlier rating (lest they make me look bad!). So let me tell you, CDGcommerce is the real deal. They’ve been among our favorite payment processors for a while now, and have never faltered.
Formed in 1998, CDGcommerce has had plenty of time to cultivate a reputation - and they have. Across the board, independent reviewers have praised this company for years. Customer complaints are nearly non-existent, and absolutely never habitual. The internet has a very good memory, so even good companies tend to rack up a bunch of reviews on popular complaint sites. CDGcommerce, on the other hand, has a fairly spotless reputation, with absolutely no damning complaints to be found in 15 years!
This is no accident. CDG simply provides excellent service and clear, honest marketing. To that end, they have:
- No set up fee
- No monthly minimum
- No early termination fee
- No PCI compliance fee
- Free use of Quantum gateway
Finding all of these features in one place for as little as $10 per month in base fees is exceptionally rare. Beyond that initial $10, you can pick and choose additional services to pay for. This way you aren’t paying for things you don’t want or need. Want to use an Authorize.Net gateway instead? Only $15 per month, no set up fee. Want $100K in data breach insurance and other security upgrades? $15 extra (and $15 very well spent, in my opinion). Want a terminal? Well, you only have to pay $79 annually for insurance, nothing more. Don’t want any of those things? That’s fine too. You won’t be charged for them.
CDGcommerce might not have the name recognition of a big processor, but that doesn’t stop them from providing some of the best, most flexible service around. They make a great option for those who just want to process sporadically, or even those interested in mobile processing (they’ll even give you a free card reader). While I'd really like to see CDG advertise an interchange-plus program, you can get it if you ask for it, or through this offer. (I’m pretty sure that clock never runs down, FYI…)
All said, I’m glad to recommend CDGcommerce to any and all businesses, especially ecommerce businesses. Whether you’re looking for barebones service or a fully equipped account, CDG will set you up with an affordable plan and honest, high-quality service. They’ve earned their 5-star rating, and I have a feeling they’ll be holding on to it for many more years.
Check out the full review below for more details on this stand-out processor.
San Pedro, California and Chesapeake, Virginia.
Products and Services:
CDG’s line of products and services covers all the bases, with a focus on ecommerce and small to mid-sized businesses. Their one-step PCI compliance program and robust optional CDG360 security features come in handy for ecommerce and beyond, and their free additional account tools will help you get the most out of your processing experience. CDG offerings include:
- Merchant accounts
- Virtual terminal/gateway: You can use a Quantum gateway for free, or pay $15 per month for an Authorize.Net gateway. Virtual terminal is free, and allows you to process from any internet-connected computer instead of a traditional credit card terminal.
- Terminal leases: While I’m normally not crazy about terminal leases, CDG does a pretty god job of keeping it affordable. While other companies will set you up with a non-cancellable third-party lease amounting to thousands of dollars in fees or cancellation penalties, CDG offers truly free terminal leases. You’ll just have to pay a $79 annual insurance fee and, of course, return the machine when you wish to cancel service. Wireless terminals (not the same as mobile) carry different fees, however.
- Mobile readers and USB readers: These terminal alternatives allow you to process swiped transactions from any computer or smartphone, and are available for free with your account - you won’t even have to pay the insurance fee. Good deal!
- Online reporting and tools: I usually consider online reporting and some additional tools a given, but CDG really goes above and beyond the industry standard here. Features include detailed account information, chargeback/fraud warnings, automated alerts, real time reporting, historic trends and graphs, Quick Books integration, and a bunch of other useful tools.
- Security service: Called CDG360, this $15 optional add-on includes $100K breach/data theft protection, PCI/DSS vulnerability scans, customized security alerts, staff awareness training, and a Merchant Trust seal for your website. For $15 a month, the $100K insurance alone could be worth it.
Fees and Rates:
While I found this portion of the CDG site a little difficult to navigate, that’s really only because they provide so much information. Right off the bat, they won’t charge you for the usual money pits:
- No set up fee
- No monthly minimum
- No early termination fee
- No PCI compliance fee
- Free use of gateway and virtual terminal
BAM! That’s great news. Generally, you would expect to pay $8 per month for PCI, up to $25 for monthly minimum, $100+ in set up fees, and $300 in early termination fees. Gateway fees are usually around $10-15, and many companies charge for virtual terminal use on top of that. (Great job CDG!)
Okay, so what will you have to pay then?
- Statement fee: $10
…that’s it. You are not obligated to pay any more than that for your baseline cost. Of course you’ll also pay processing fees, but even those rates are competitive. If you want to use an Authorize.Net gateway instead of Quantum, then you will need to tack on $15 per month. If you want their CDG360 security package (including $100K of data breach insurance), then you’ll have to add on an additional $15. These services are entirely optional, though.
Ten bucks for base fees is about as low as it gets in this industry. Even mobile processors like Inner Fence are charging $25 monthly just to maintain your account.
You can also get free use of a credit card terminal, provided you pay a $79 insurance fee annually. Mobile phone-based swipers come completely free of charge. For merchants interested in wireless terminals (NOT mobile card readers), you have to pay:
- $35 set up fee
- $19.95 monthly wireless fee
- $79 insurance fee
But you will get to lease the wireless terminal at no additional cost, which is nice.
You can find CDG’s standard processing rates here, but I’m not going to include them in this review. In all likelihood, your actual quote will not be exactly the same as what you see on their site. If you want a quick quote without calling them up, you can use their online application process to get a no-commitment rate quote.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
No early termination fees means that, for all intensive purposes, you will have a month-to-month contract with CDG. You should note, however, that you will need to complete the necessary steps for cancellation outlined in your merchant agreement in order to stop your monthly fees from being billed.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
CDG Commerce does an outstanding job disclosing all account fees and major contract stipulations to potential customers. You will see a couple of offers that I might call “gimmicks,” but none are deceptive. For instance, they offer free terminal leases, but fully disclose the mandatory $79 annual insurance fee.
I also like that they don’t depend on sales-driven independent agents, a practice that can lead to a poorly trained and inconsistent salesforce encouraged to sell expensive accounts for higher commissions. The CDG salespeople I spoke with on the phone and via chat were very helpful, honest, intelligent, and offered me very fair and consistent pricing information.
Their Resources page offers a few useful documents. It’s nothing too impressive, but nice to see nonetheless. I would like to see more information about interchange-plus pricing, but I’m glad that they at least offer it.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
We've personally experienced CDG's customer service, in addition to the responses that we've heard from references and other friends. Their staff is very helpful, knowledgeable, and operates with a great deal of integrity. They offer live chat, email, and phone support 24/7.
As a reviewer, it's difficult for me to ascertain the quality of customer service when it comes to complex, account-specific issues. But that's where you come in! Have you worked with CDGcommerce? Please leave us your comments! Don't forget to read the user review and comment policy.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
While CDG has virtually no complaints on the web after 15 years in business, you can find a few if you try. Of these, however, I’ve actually seen the company CEO personally respond on occasion and offer to help the complainant directly. That’s pretty awesome in my book. Try getting the CEO of First Data to respond to your complaint…
At the BBB, you’ll find five complaints over the past three years, with two of those occurring in the past twelve months, along with an A+ rating. For a business dealing with so many merchants over such a long period of time, this kind of web reputation is almost unheard of in the processing industry.
While a few complaints have come up, none have with any real regularity. Any processor might have isolated problems. As long as no patterns of poor service emerge and the processor addresses complaints, I can’t hold it against them. Here are some things you should know, though:
- You need to be a US-based merchant doing business mostly in the US. While CDG puts this info all over their site and applications, it still catches a few merchants by surprise. CDG has taken these complaints to heart, though, and now even direct such merchants elsewhere.
Our services require a U.S. business, U.S. bank account and a U.S. signer with a valid SSN #. If your business does not meet these criteria, please consider our international & high risk affiliate option.
- Account freezes and cancellations: Since a processor is essentially extending you a line of credit with your merchant account, they have to cover their own butts. This sometimes means holding funds or freezing your account if suspicious activity comes up. From what I’ve seen, CDG does a good job of avoiding these practices as much as possible. They do happen, though, and can occur with literally any account provider. Check out our article to learn how you can prevent freezes and holds.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
On their site, you’ll find a long list of customer testimonials. We have personally contacted a number of them, and found these merchants were extremely happy with their accounts. They also assured us that they weren't paid or incentivized in any way by CDGcommerce to write their testimonials.
You’ll find a number of positive reviews in our comments section, as well as on other independent review sites. It’s fairly uncommon for satisfied customers to go through the trouble of writing a review. In my experience, customers are exactly 1,000,000 times more likely to complain than to praise, especially in this industry. Given this, even a few positive customer experience can mean a lot!
In the end, we still love CDGcommerce. They are about as close to an all-around perfect payment processor as you’re likely to find anywhere. They have fully-disclosed base fees as low as $10 per month, making CDG a great option for low-volume or sporadic processing. On the other hand, they also have all the resources a larger business would need, including optional breach insurance and security upgrades for an extra $15 per month. With no PCI compliance fees, no early termination fees, free gateway/virtual terminal, and no monthly minimums alongside fair rates and abundant features, I couldn’t ask for more.
If I had to come up with some complaints, my first one would be that they don’t advertise interchange-plus, which is by and large the most transparent and fair pricing model out there. That said, they do offer interchange-plus pricing with no monthly minimum for most businesses, but you’ll have to ask for it and your sales rep will probably have to get approval from a manager. You can also get it through this unadvertised offer. (I know the countdown clock is sort of gimmicky… please forgive them.) Aside from that, I’m not crazy about the look and design of their website. It’s a little clunky and not very clean, and it gave me a feeling of hesitance when I first saw it. But hey, we’re not a website review service…
Overall, I’m more than happy to recommend CDGcommerce to any and all businesses, friends and family included. Whether you’re looking for barebones service or an account with all the bells and whistles, CDG will set you up with an affordable plan and honest, high-quality service. They’ve earned every point in their 5-star rating!