North American Bancard Review
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- Date Established
- Troy, MI
As we revisit North American Bancard in 2015, it appears that some things haven’t changed. North American Bancard’s web presence is still a mess! The most useful information is contained on an outdated primary website, and while the secondary site looks great, it has next to no information available. The generally inconsistent advertising will have your head spinning if you try to approach them online. Last year, it looked like North American Bancard was in transition. Now it feels like that has fizzled out. Finding any information still requires going out of one’s way.
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. It works under Global Payments Inc., serving 250,000 merchants (according to the secondary website, NorthAmericanBancard.com) and processing about $24 billion annually — which suggests something is working as it should, at least.
Last time, we mentioned PayAnywhere, which is North American Bancard’s 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 it doesn’t use any cross advertising. In fact, it has a separate mobile card reader through the primary NAB site, called “Phone Swipe.” (Great name, right?)
Also worth mentioning is NAB’s acquisition of Electronic Payment Exchange, a credit card payment processor, which it claims will help NAB expand its business and improve security.
For the sake of this review, we’re going to look primarily at whether it’s followed through on the changes we saw in our last reviews. NAB has corrected some big problems with its sales tactics, and you can now expect no termination fees, no annual fees and no setup costs. This addresses many of the complaints the company has received. In many instances you can expect no monthly minimum for low-volume merchants, as well. Their in-house customer service is a nice touch, too.
Unfortunately, NAB still seems to suffer from all of the standard problems a big processor faces when it employs 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 to 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.
NAB is still moving in the right direction, but seriously needs to tie up some loose ends. It still feels like a brand with too many different faces, and poor marketing to boot. The company needs more transparency and more consistency. Because we haven’t seen the changes that are so desperately needed, and because of the seriousness of the many complaints in our comments section over the last year, we are lowering North American Bancard’s rating to 3 stars. Until NAB can bring better consistency to its service, its rating won’t be getting any better.
Feel free to check out the full review below, or take a look at our highest rated processors.
Products and Services:
NAB offers pretty standard fare when it comes to products and services, delivering all the features you’d expect from a big processor. There’s no proprietary POS, however, aside from the mobile system, but offerings include:
- 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 your iPhone, iPad or Android device to your merchant account for processing on the go. (Not to be confused with PayAnywhere mobile processing.)
- 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. This is disappointing, because the industry seems to be moving toward the disclosure of some flat-rate options and basic fees. On the other hand, NAB still 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 NAB site definitely doesn’t have.
On the other hand, the new site located at NorthAmericanBancard.com does disclose some fees and rates, namely:
- 0.29% rate (presumably in an interchange-plus setting; it claims to be the lowest rate anywhere)
- No cancellation fees
- No startup costs
- No “hidden fees”
I like the sound of that!
However, the 0.29% rate is the lowest possible rate, not a guaranteed one. Any business with low prices makes up the difference in volume — that’s basic economics. To get that whopping low rate, you’re probably going to have to do a lot of business… I think it’s more likely you’ll wind up with higher rates.
To find the best deal for your unique circumstances, you’ll have to ask around. If you need help, feel free to give us a call.
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.
NAB will let you out of the contract if you provide written notice within 45 days of signing and return all equipment, a feature it doesn’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 likely 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. Kudos for including actual information about contracts and terms, but there’s no knowledge center. There’s no search bar. There’s nothing of any value, content-wise.
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 its 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. NAB doesn’t offer any chat-based sales support. It’s almost like the company doesn’t really need your business…
If you call through their new site, however, you get much quicker service. Originally, we mentioned that finding the secondary site was a challenge. This time, a Google search of “North American Bancard” turned up both sites in the top search results spots.
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 it will 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). It’s 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 have been 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.) It also promises 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. Some useful information is mixed in, but overall it is very bland and not very well thought out. The blog posts are incredibly short and very general, or put in another way: not helpful. They look like they might have been outsourced to someone with only minimal knowledge on the topic. Some of the online resources were possibly meant to have links to additional resources, but there are no links present.
Something also interesting to note is found on the ISA website: Cancellation fee reimbursement. In fact, the exact wording is “Free new merchants from their existing contracts with cancellation fee reimbursement.” Yet this isn’t mentioned anywhere else. It feels very gimmicky — a sales tactic to rope in unsuspecting customers.
The YouTube videos are borderline embarrassing, with acting and graphics you’d expect to see in a cheap sales commercial from 10 years ago. (Worth noting: The videos are 4-5 years old at this point, too.) 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.
NAB does have both a Facebook page and a Twitter account, with a paltry 746 likes and 1,540 followers, respectively. There’s no engagement on the Twitter account, and hardly any on the Facebook page. For a company that claims to service 250,000 merchants, NAB doesn’t seem to really grasp…well, any sort of marketing technique of the 21st century. Oh, and the Twitter description? “We are currently hiring.” That’s not a consumer-facing business.
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. We’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. There are a few recent complaints on ComplaintsBoard, but most are several years old now. The company has 1.5 stars on Yelp (there’s a second page that comes up for a Harbor City office of North American Bancard that has 3 stars on 5 reviews), 63 complaints on Ripoff Report (up from 51 last year), and 344 complaints through the BBB in the past three years (down from 426). It’s worth noting that NAB is accredited and has an A+ rating with the BBB. Still, I think this is a lot of bad press, even for a big processor. Sure, it makes the effort to resolve complaints, but why not do something about eliminating the most common causes of complaints?
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, NAB automatically signs 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.
Noticing a trend here? Let’s add to that the fact that 163 of the BBB complaints are related to billing and there’s definitely a pattern.
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 handful of 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 their BBB complaints were resolved, mostly to the satisfaction of the customer.
At the end of the day, North American Bancard’s services leave me conflicted. I feel like it could give you good rates and good service. I even feel like NAB is 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 the company dropped their early termination fee and started disclosing some rates, even if they’re not 100% accurate.
It seems like North American Bancard has noticed the trends in payments processing services — and marketing — and tried to bring that to NAB. Unfortunately, it also seems that the company’s abilities to follow through on an idea or execute it properly are just lacking. For one, there’s the lack of integration between NAB and PayAnywhere (I still don’t understand why there’s a separate mobile solution). Then there’s the lack of a flat rate, the communication issues, the lack of a good knowledge base, the poorly done blog… If NAB can get it together, that would go a long way toward making this processor a contemporary contender in the direct-to-customer merchant account game.
We are currently seeing a lot of complaints from users that contradict North American Bancard’s marketing. We gave the company a shot to prove that it could live up to its promises, and it seems like NAB can’t do it consistently enough. Because of that, we had to lower its rating to 3 stars. Until NAB’s services match its marketing, that rating will not increase.
In the mean time, please check some of our favorite processors to get a merchant account with interchange-plus pricing and no early termination fees from an honest sales staff. Use NAB at your own risk.