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North American Bancard Review
Merchant Maverick's Rating: (3.5 out of 5)
Last Updated: October 31st, 2013.
Let me start by saying that North American Bancard’s web presence confused me to no end! They have a terribly outdated primary website, a new good looking secondary site, and generally inconsistent advertising that will have your head spinning if you try to approach them online. To me, this feels like a company in transition. They’re trying to update their image and their marketing style, and in some ways it’s working out. They need to pick a format and stick to it, though, because I’ve really had to go out of my way to get the information I needed to complete this review.
With a track record reaching back to 1992, Marc Gardner’s North American Bancard (NAB) has deep roots in the industry and continues to grow each year. They work under Global Payments Inc., serving between 125,000-250,000 merchants (depending on where you look) and processing about $13 billion per year – so something is working over there.
Since our last update North American Bancard launched PayAnywhere, its new mobile processing service. We recently reviewed that POS at 3.5 stars, citing customer service issues and overall average capabilities (check out the full review). NAB seems to be trying to keep its main merchant services separate from PayAnywhere, since they don’t use any cross advertising. In fact, they have a separate mobile card reader through the NAB site, called “Phone Swipe” (great name, right?).
For the sake of this review, I’m going to focus on NAB’s new marketing approach. They’ve corrected some big problems with their new sales tactics, and I’m excited to tell you that you can now expect no termination fees, no annual fees and no setup costs. This addresses many of the complaints they’ve received. I’m also glad to report that in many instances you can expect no monthly minimum for low-volume merchants. Their in-house customer service is a nice touch, too.
Unfortunately NAB suffers from all of the standard problems a big processor faces when they employ many independent sales organizations and agents to resell their products. Overall, you’ll find many complaints about failure to disclose fees and contract terms. My advice here is that you contact the corporate office directly if you want to get the fairest deal possible from this company, and then carefully review your contract.
My major complaints are as follows:
- Inconsistencies with advertising and sales experience, even at the corporate level
- Unresponsive sales office, depending on what email address or phone number you use
- Overall confusing marketing approach
I think NAB is moving in the right direction, but needs to tie up some loose ends. Right now, it feels like a brand with too many different faces. They need more transparency and more consistency. I’m not ready to bump them up to four stars just yet. For now, they remain a 3.5 star processor. I’m looking forward to coming back to this in a few months, though, hopefully with good news!
In the mean time, feel free to check out the full review or take a look at our highest rated processors.
- www.northamericanbancard.com. (New site)
- www.nabancard.com. (Primary site)
Products and Services:
NAB offer pretty standard fare when it comes to products and services, offering all the features you'd expect from a big processor. They don't seem to have a proprietary POS, however, aside from their mobile system. They do have:
- Merchant accounts
- Third-party payment gateways/virtual terminals: Provided through Authorize.Net.
- Terminal leases and sales: NAB claims to offer “free” terminals. Nothing is free, of course, and especially not in this industry. For the best no-nonsense terminal experience, you’re probably better off buying your own. Check out our article on terminal leasing to learn why to avoid it. Also, just like any product, make sure to shop around before you buy.
- Mobile services: NAB has a mobile card reader and app called “Phone Swipe” that connects to you iPhone, iPad or Android device to your merchant account for processing on the go. (Not to be confused with their PayAnywhere mobile service.)
- Cash advances up to $500K: Usually not a good idea, but might work out for some merchants. Basically, you get a loan and have to pay it back through the money you make from credit card payments.
- ATM services
- Fleet card acceptance
- Loyalty programs
- Gift card acceptance
Fees and Rates:
Absolutely no fees, rates, dollar figures, percentage points, or any other concrete data exists on the primary North American Bancard site. On one hand this surprises me, since the industry seems to be moving toward the disclosure of some flat-rate options and basic fees. On the other hand, NAB seems behind the times when it comes to direct-to-consumer marketing. As far as setting up big businesses with processing, the merchants really couldn’t care less about a processor’s website. They just want to negotiate a deal and get the service promised. Selling to the average Joe (or Josephine) takes a little more finesse and flair – two things the primary NAB site definitely does not have.
On the other hand, their new site located at www.NorthAmericanBancard.com does disclose some fees and rates, namely:
- 0.39% rate (presumably in an interchange-plus setting)
- No cancellation fees
- No startup costs
- No “hidden fees”
I like the sound of that! The sales rep I spoke with on the phone confirmed that there would be no cancellation fees and no start up fees. He even waived my gateway set up fee. He also mentioned:
- $5 monthly fee (covers statements and support)
- $10 monthly gateway fee
- $79 PCI compliance fee
- No monthly minimum (unless on interchange-plus)
Unfortunately, the rate quote he gave me was not competitive at all. I understand that to cover the risks associated with no setup fee and no cancellation fee, the rates are bound to be higher. But the rates he gave me were just – really not good enough. He said he could offer me an interchange-plus plan, but that he’d then have to include a monthly minimum of about $25. After I got off the phone with him I did the math myself, and I think I’d be more comfortable with the $25 minimum and interchange-plus than the tiered system he offered – even if the markup would be on the higher end of the spectrum. To make matters worse, the rate I was quoted over the phone is different from the rate he emailed me (and not in my favor).
To find the best deal for your unique circumstances, you’ll have to do the math yourself. If you need help, feel free to give this guy a call. He’s good at what he does.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
With the standard NAB contract, you’ll find similar contract features to what I consider the industry standard:
- Three-year agreement
- $295 minimum for early termination fees (could be much more)
- Auto-renewal of contract for one-year increments if you don’t provide 90 days notice of intent to cancel in writing.
They will let you out of the contract if you provide written notice within 45 days of signing and return all equipment, a feature they don't seem to advertise but that is actually better than most will give.
Wait a second – doesn’t that contradict all the information we just covered in the Fees and Rates section above? Well, yes. Yes it does. But it’s true. You can even check out their standard contract here. Given this, I urge you to be sure that a signed waiver of the termination fee is attached to your contract before signing with NAB or anyone else. Almost 100% of standard contracts have a termination fee. If there is no signed waiver, there’s probably a fee for leaving.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
I don’t care for the sales or advertising style offered by NAB's primary site. I found it difficult to communicate with them as a prospective customer, and found the information provided on their website lacking important details and overall transparency. Their new site is a little better, but not perfect.
My first qualm with the sales efforts at NAB is that I had a hard time getting a sales rep on the phone through their primary website. When you call their main number (1-800-BANCARD), you’ll find the automated system has no option to speak with a sales rep. But if you want to become an independent sales agent, you can be forwarded to that department. (When a company treats their prospective ISAs better than prospective merchants, it’s not a good sign.) If you hit zero to get to reception, you’ll be told that the best way to deal with the sales department is to fill out their online form. They don’t offer any chat-based sales support. It’s almost like they don't really need your business...
If you call through their new site, however, you get much quicker service. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that their primary site is way easier to find than their new site.
If you’ve read a few of my reviews, you know that I dislike sales gimmicks. So when I heard that NAB would give you $500 if you can beat their rates, I just rolled my eyes. This is not an original ploy. For instance, Velocity Merchant Services says they’ll give you $1,000 if you can find better rates. It’s just not possible that all of these companies have the best rates in the industry.
The truth is that NAB will not give you $500 (and neither will VMS). They’re serving 250,000 merchants, and giving out $500 to even a small percentage of them would make for a large expenditure. This claim is supposed to instill confidence, but it just makes me wonder what loopholes they have set up to avoid giving out any money (especially considering that their rates aren’t great).
If you visit this page (please let me know if this link stops working), you’ll see a special promotion not listed on the NAB site. I found this link through a Google Ad. This offer includes a “free” tablet to process on, as well as $5,000 of “free” processing during your first month. (Notice my use of quotation marks.) They also promise 1.69% flat-rate swipe processing.
Online sales materials:
On the primary North American Bancard website you’ll find large blocks of text in a small, gray font that is guaranteed to make your eyes ache. They do have some useful information mixed in, but overall it is very bland and not very well thought out.
Their YouTube videos are borderline embarrassing, with acting and graphics you’d expect to see in a cheap sales commercial from ten years ago. No truly useful information appears in the videos, but they’re good for a laugh. Half of them are directed at prospective sales reps anyway.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
North American Bancard offers a 24/7/365 in-house help desk at no additional charge, which I like to see. I didn’t find this company very responsive in my own experience, however. Other reviewers have also mentioned problems with customer service.
Have you worked with North American Bancard? Feel free to leave us your review. Don't forget to read the user review and comment policy. I’d love to hear from you!
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
NAB serves about 250,000 merchants, so you’d expect to see quite a few complaints. They have 1.5 stars on Yelp, 50 complaints on Ripoff Reports, and 442 complaints through the BBB in the past three years (although they have an A+ rating). I think this is a lot of bad press, even for a big processor. Common complaints include:
- Undisclosed 3-year contract with cancellation fee: This is probably the biggest issue that merchants are having with NAB, and I'll tell you why. North American Bancard relies on a large pool of outside sales reps that push their products. Some of those reps are going to be ethical, and others are going to be bad seeds that feel it’s solely YOUR responsibility to review your contract. Many sales reps feel totally justified in whatever they do since they have a legally binding document with your signature on it, even though they essentially tricked you into signing it. Make sure you get everything in writing. If you call the corporate offices, all of your phone calls are recorded. So for the sake of keeping all parties honest, I’d recommend you call them directly.
- Undisclosed PCI compliance fee: PCI compliance is a relatively new thing to merchants. They don't understand it just yet, so you can imagine how surprised some merchants were when NAB added a PCI compliance fee of $79 to their list of already existing fees. It’s not an outrageous fee, though, as long as it is disclosed to you. The sales rep I spoke to did disclose it without any coaxing, so that’s a plus. Spend some time on the PCI Security Standards Council website to see what level of security you're responsible for. You may not need to pay that $79 per year after all.
- Automatic sign up with MyBizPerks: This is basically a Merchant Club program. It includes a terminal warranty, free terminal supplies, some additional discounts and various other perks. It might actually be a good service for you. The problem is, they automatically sign you up for a 60-day free trial, and then automatically charge you $10 per month thereafter. The only notice you are given is in your merchant statement (did I mention that you should always read your statements?). A number of merchants are pretty upset about this, considering they paid for the service for many months before realizing it. You can avoid this by carefully reviewing your statements.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
You’ll find a handful of confirmable testimonials on NAB’s Success Stories page. For a company of this size, I’m not really impressed by their ten or so paragraph-long testimonials. Other big processors have video testimonials and comprehensive case studies to show me their customers really are satisfied. I did like that NAB discloses full names, business names, and city/state information for their reviews.
Other than the testimonials on the company’s site, you’ll have a hard time locating more than a few positive reviews on the web. NAB does seem committed to addressing complaints, though, since all of their BBB complaints were resolved, mostly to the satisfaction of the customer.
At the end of the day, I’m left feeling confused about North American Bancard’s services. I feel like they could give you good rates and good service. I even feel like they are trying to give you good rates and good service. I’m just not sure it’s happening in practice. NAB need more consistency and more transparency. I think it’s great that they dropped their early termination fee and started disclosing some rates. It seems like they’re bringing the style of their PayAnywhere marketing to the main NAB business, and it’s going a long way toward making this processor a contemporary contender in the direct-to-customer merchant account game. They still have some progress to make, though, before I bump them up to a fourth star.
Until they go the extra mile, you might want to check some of our favorite processors. Many of them also have no termination fees, and all of them can set you up with a fairly priced merchant account. Thanks for reading!