Sam’s Club Merchant Services Review

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Location
Atlanta, GA

Overview:

Sam’s Club has provided members with wholesale goods since 1983, similar to its competitor Costco. In the early 2000s the company began to provide merchant account services to members, also like Costco’s own processing division. And, again like Costco, Sam’s Club resells the services of another credit card processor, which in this case is First Data. Clear both of these wholesalers recognized the potential to use their notoriety among the value-minded to sell merchant accounts, and they’re doing pretty well at it. Since its start, Sam’s Club Merchant Services has provided services to over 50,000 members.

But the only thing that Sam’s Club provides for its merchant services is its brand name. Everything else, like products and fees, all come from First Data with little or no change. The company mostly relies on gimmicks: the Sam’s Club name as an implicitly thrifty option, and online sales tactics like its simple pricing tool.

In addition to adding very little of its own services, there isn’t much information about what is provided. The most detail comes from its terminal offerings, and it’s First Data’s way or the highway when it comes to brands of terminals available.

Unless there are some major changes, I’m giving Sam’s Club Merchant Services 3.5 stars. Even though it’s simply another outlet for First Data, by adding another layer between the actual provider and customers without adding additional value garners Sam’s Club a lower rating. Read on to get the full details or check out some of our top rated providers! If you’d like to check out a more reputable and value-adding First Data reseller, take a look at Dharma Merchant Services.

Products and Services:

While there are quite a few services provided by Sam’s Club, everything comes from their partnership with First Data. Why not just get the milk from the cow? (Or at lease a better bottler.) Sam’s Club services include:

  • Merchant accounts
  • Terminal leases/sales: Sam’s Club, being partnered with First Data, exclusively uses Clover line of terminals (see our First Data review for more info). As always, we strongly advise against leasing terminals.
  • POS software: First Data’s POS is applicable to a wide variety of businesses and is fully integrated into their terminals.
  • Online reporting: Offered through ClientLine (referred to on the Sam’s Club website as Merchant Insider) and toted as complimentary. This is First Data’s reporting service.
  • Mobile processingPretty standard  with most major merchant account providers, just with that Clover “flare.”
  • E-Commerce Solutions
  • End-to-end Encryption
  • Marketing/Loyalty/Gift Card Programs

Fees and Rates:

Just like First Data, Sam’s Club does not disclose much in terms of rates or fees. However, they do have a tool that merchants can input some basic merchant input and then it tells them the one of two plans that would fit them best: OneRate or ValueRate Plan.

Here is what they advertise:

OneRate Plan

  • Rates starting at $19/month
  • No downgrades or surcharges
  • No monthly minimums
  • No additional processing fees
  • No early termination fees

ValueRate Plan

  • Rates starting at 1.29% + $0.15 per transaction
  • $5 monthly minimum
  • No early termination fees

Tools like these can be fun. Tools like these can seem helpful. Tools like these are often too good to be true. Remember to read the fine print! Gimmicks like these aren’t always a one size fits all kind of deal. If you can, try to get an interchange-plus deal instead of the advertised tiered plans.

Watch out for the fine print listed on the pricing page. There are volume limits and ticket size limits that impact the advertised pricing. For the OneRate plan, the following terms apply:

Rates are valid for Sam’s Club members only. $19 rate applies to processing up to $800 in monthly volume in MasterCard, Visa and Discover transactions. American Express transactions priced separately. Higher flat rate pricing available for businesses processing at a higher volume. Rates and eligibility are subject to change without notice. All merchants are required to complete a merchant application and are subject to underwriting and approval. Additional fees may apply. All rates and fees are subject to change in accordance with the terms of the Merchant Agreement. Processing services provided solely by First Data.

For the ValueRate plan, be sure to read the fine print here:

Rates are valid for Sam’s Club members only. Rate and authorization fee applies to retail card-present transactions with an average ticket up to $350. American Express transactions priced separately. Some business types are subject to different rates. Rates listed are for qualified transactions only. Rates and eligibility are subject to change without notice. All merchants are required to complete a merchant application and are subject to underwriting and approval. Additional fees may apply. All rates and fees are subject to change in accordance with the terms of the Merchant Agreement. Processing services provided solely by First Data.

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:

Sam’s Club doesn’t advertise any contract length, but three years is usually the industry standard. What it does advertise is no early termination fees. However, a quick Google search will tell you that, in many cases, there is no early termination fee as long as services are canceled within 90 days of starting. A $90 fee is applied beyond that which is below industry standard, but we’ll come back to that.

Sales and Advertising Transparency:

I can’t say I’m a fan of Sam’s Club’s transparency. Unlike their processing provider First Data, Sam’s Club is gimmicky. Sure, we expect to save big with Sam’s Club, but they go a bit too far with the price tool gimmick. That coupled with zero mention of any other pricing options doesn’t bode well for me.

I also wish their FAQ page was beefed up a little just to provide a bit more information. They also have a “Helpful Article Page.” But, these articles are only available to Sam’s Club members.

Customer Service and Technical Support:

While Sam’s Club advertises 24/7 phone support as well as e-mail and chat options, most of what I have seen about this have not been positive. Many reviewers have cited rude customer service or being flat out ignored.

Negative Reviews and Complaints:

Sam’s Club Merchant Services does not have its own BBB profile. Most complaints are fielded by First Data (check out its BBB profile here). There are a handful of complaints specifically about  Sam’s Club Merchant Services on Ripoff Report, some using words like crooks and highway robbery.

Common complaints include:

  • Poor customer service: Whether they were comments or customer reviews, it seems like the vast majority of complaints stemmed from customer service. Many of the complaints I read mentioned that the customer service reps were indifferent or didn’t seem to really care. Another complaint mentioned that the rep didn’t know the answers to the client’s questions. It also seems that many clients were unable to even reach their reps!
  • Excessive/expensive fees: Complaints against Sam’s Club Merchant Services are riddled with unforeseen and excessive fees. One of the most prominent fees is the $90 early termination fee (told you we’d come back to it). Most customers said that, even though they had terminated their services prior to the 90 day cutoff, they were still charged and had difficulty getting it removed. That, coupled with high buyout prices for leased terminals and other unforeseen fees, has quite a few people steamed. The best way to avoid this is to read everything and try to get your provider to waive the early termination fee in writing.
  • Withheld funds and terminating accounts: With First Data providing every aspect of the merchant services for Sam’s Club clients, we can’t forget First Data’s notoriety regarding holding funds and terminating accounts. Sam’s Club complaints are riddled with such instances. Your best defense is to learn how to avoid holds and minimize charge-backs.

Positive Reviews and Testimonials:

As with most providers, it’s pretty difficult to find any testimonials about Sam’s Club Merchant Services. There is a video about Clover Station terminal, but it only focuses on the one specific terminal and contains praise from one client. If you’ve had any positive experiences with Sam’s Club Merchant Services, let us know in the comments!

Final Verdict:

In conclusion, I gave Sam’s Club a lower score than First Data because Sam’s Club shouldn’t be in the business of reselling credit card processing services. By doing so, its just adding a layer (often a layer of confusion) between the merchant (you) and the processor (First Data), rather than savings and value.

Although offering merchant services is a great way for Sam’s Club to make some extra money, there’s isn’t much of a benefit in it for you. If you already know what rate structure to ask for (interchange-plus), and what rates are fair, then you might as well go directly to First Data, OR go with another provider who’s main business is credit card processing. Our favorite First Data reseller is Dharma Merchant Services, and Payment Depot is a great option as well. Anybody that understands merchant account pricing, and is willing to negotiate will have a better chance of getting a superior deal than what Sam’s Club is offering through First Data.

Stick with the wholesale goods Sam’s Club. That’s what we love you for.

Levi Bowers

Levi Bowers

Levi is a native son of Oregon’s Willamette Valley who wears many different hats. When he’s not wearing his merchant account review writer cap, he can often be found tending to his plants and drinking tea or working in other fields (and sometimes actual fields).
Levi Bowers

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    19 Comments

      Larry

      My sister is considering using Chase Paytech merchant services for her upcoming independent retail pharmacy since she banks with Chase. Chase site is offering for Retail discount rates + Auth. fees at 1.99% + $ 0.25 qualified; 2.68% + $0.25 mid and 3.75% + $0.25 non. qual; monthly fee of 9.95; set up fee $100 and monthly min of $25. How does this compare with Helcim which you rate so highly”

      RatingNot Rated

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Tom DeSimone

      Hi Larry,

      While I actually like Chase Paymentech in many instances, that quote is way too high. I’d much prefer to see a quote with no setup fee and no monthly minimum. You should also be sure that there is no PCI compliance fee, as this is a common fee and can add about $100 annually. Also watch out for early termination fees and non-cancelable equipment leases.

      Helcim has no monthly minimums, no set up fees, no early termination fees, no PCI compliance fees, and no predatory leases. Overall, your sister can expect to pay about 2% or less (depending on her monthly volume and average transaction size), with no mid- or non-qualified surcharges.

      Hope this helps. Good luck.

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Velvet Schweitzer

      Is there a company you would suggest using for credit card processing. I am opening a ladies boutique and after months of researching, I am more confused about who to use and I don’t know who or what to trust. Any advice would be welcomed.

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Tom DeSimone

      Hi Velvet,

      Try our merchant account finder! All of our highest rated processors have been extensively researched and vetted so that we can vouch for their trustworthiness.

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Tota Lee Hadenuf

      Fraud with a big happy we gonna get a lot of money out of you smile. Signed what i was told was a 2 year contract. It was a four year contract. Was told i would get a free Sams Club Membership, I did not. Immediately after signing the contract there were 2 rate hikes. Service was hell, no mail or email correspondence available. 2-6 hours typical phone time attempting to resolve an issue which may never be resolved to your satisfaction. They will overcharge you and will not compensate you for bank fees their actions incurred. How much? They withdrew over $1200 from my bank for not returning a terminal which WAS returned. They are masters of deception and here’s clear proof – upon cancelling the service they stated there would be no further charges. 3 months later they began withdrawing $66.95 per month from my bank account. I mistakenly ignored it specifically because the description of the withdrawal was “Deposit”. 20 hours so far on the phone and all i was able to accomplish is reducing the monthly withdrawal from $66.95 down to $12.00. They would rather drive you insane than give you a refund! DO NOT DEAL WITH THEM!

      Rating11111

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Rob M

      I acquired a practice from a doctor whose CPA spouse was the manager. I assumed she made a good choice in merchant services. After several years of use and ignorance, Sams’ stopped offering a Sam’s membership fee waiver. This waiver made me look elsewhere, and thank goodness because I am now saving thousands per year by switching services. I was getting robbed and didn’t know it. There are many significantly less costly options out there. Avoid this one.

      Rating11111

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Larry Bierman

      Sam’s Club switched credit cards on me without giving me any choice, and without providing proper equipment or training at the store to handle the new technology in the card. The first time I used the card at Sam’s it took an extra thirty minutes just to check out because after waiting in line I was told the machine at the line could not handle the new card and that I would have to check out at customer service. I used the card a couple of other times, but it was always slow to “communicate” and really seems to have not advantage over my Discover or Visa cards (without the chip). The way the new card was rolled out was a really bad and some executive at Synchrony Bank and/or Sam’s should get their ass chewed good. I switched to the plan membership card and am closing the Sams Mastercard account.

      Rating11111

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      James O'Neal

      Flat out FRAUD! Sam’s Club offers a “One Rate” plan to sucker you in and they get you used to paying the flat rate monthly fee. Just when you think all is well, they move you into an interchange plus fee schedule without telling you which will increase your costs dramatically. They increased my rates by 6X without even a phone call to notify me of any changes. I had no idea until I received my monthly statement with a ridiculously inflated fee schedule compared to previous months. When I called the agent in charge of my account to get things straightened out, she informs me that they were losing money with the plan that I was on and that they had to put me on a more expensive plan to make up what they had lost. When I asked for an explanation about how she could unilaterally change my plan with out notifying me, she said she’d email me the new plan and then hung up on me. I will never use Sam’s Club again, and will do everything in my power to inform anyone who might be thinking about using them about their bait & switch tactics. Save yourself a headache and take a pass on Sam’s Club processing…

      Rating11111

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Dana Sweeny

      This was the WORST company to work with. I have been in business 20 years. I switched companies to save money. I only had their service for 2 months it was so bad. They repeatedly delayed funds quoting”security issues”. It was a nightmare! I have had a merchant account for 20 years and have never before had delays like this. When I went to close my account they charged me $90 as I was under a 3 year contract. I don’t feel they fulfilled their contract by repeatedly delaying funds.
      beware of using this company! It will not save you money it will cost you money by delaying your funds!

      Rating11111

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Donnie RIcketts

      THIS IS THE WORST SERVICE AND HIGHEST FEES OUT THERE. THEY ARE CROOKS AND SCAM ARTIST. YOUR FEES WILL NEVER BE WHAT THEY PROMISE AND THE CHARGES ARE HIDDEN AND THEY ADD EXTRA AND BLAME IT ON VISA AND MASTERCARD.

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Pauline Faulk

      Your operators are the most unreliable source of information,
      For one week could not get to talk to a live person.
      Cancel my account
      Thank you,
      PF

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      Pauline Faulk

      Your service is THE WORST.

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      pauline connor

      i have just signed up with company and very very disappointed….very poor customer service. I have many business card users and cannot get them to work through the service. I have called many times to get resolved and cannot. I will lose many customers. The last customer service person i talked to was very rude and when i asked to talk to management to cancel she hung up on me. I will keep trying until they handle this situation but i recommend not to sign up with company.

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Judy S

      Thank you for your invaluable reviews and comments! You have spared me many days of frustration I am certain! My processing will definitely be contracted with a more reputable company than Sams/Walmart.

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Barbara Veres

      I am shocked to see all of the good reviews. Something is not quite right with that.
      Be aware of this credit card processing agreement for the following reasons:
      1. In my case, what I agreed to verbally, did not translate to the written contracts that come after you verbally sign up —which is how the process works.
      2. In the event the credit machine processor breaks—you are out of luck. You are expected to send an exhorbitant amount of money to send it back for shipping, and you have nothing to use while they take their time fixing it.
      3. After realizing you didn’t get what you paid for and cancel, they charge you $90 for an early termination fee. Even though their own agreement says no charge if you cancel within 90 days. In my case it has been months and I’m still fighting to get it back. The company loses the paperwork which supposedly says “I was approved to get the termination fee back since I cancelled it within 90 days.”
      4. The lease buy back fees in the amount of $59 was supposed to be refunded since the credit card processor broke and I wasn’t able to use it. Still fighting for that and 3 months later and I’m told, “we made a mistake and we need to resubmit.”
      4. Poor customer service—they are good about taking your money, but not good about refunding costs they charge against your account that they take by mistake. They are nice before they get your business, but head to the hills after they get it and you need help fixing their billing errors.
      5. To protect yourself, you might think I should close my checking account so they can’t keep taking money from it. They trick you into keeping it open so you can get your fees refunded but instead they take more money. In my case the early termination fee of $90 which is in violation of their contract since I cancelled within 90 days.
      6. Words of advice–beware. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to you. They will not ware me down, I will keep after them until I get my money back.

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      Qwanda J

      I am a victim also of this and like u said u cant get answers or ur locked into something u didnt agree on… this is someone credit and livlihood ur dealing with.. the bad part is they never told me i was being finance through another company and that i was locked in a contract with another company also… all he told me is when i needed to close my account all i had to do is pay $90 to opt out and i tried and they dont no what im talking about then they tells me i signed a contract and thats not true but they tells me they have a signature… so who signed my name a federal offense… wow this is the worst company ever and im surprised Sams Club is help advertising this SCAM SCAM SCAM

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      rita khouri

      most terrible people to deal with. It shows if you try to call and you wait an hour.

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Dr. Francesca Marino

      I have First Data terminal in my practice, acquired through Sams Club and its been a huge disappointment. Conveniently, the account executive from Sams Club Merchant Services who opened set up our account does not return phone calls or emails. I have even gone as far as to have many conversations with several analysts at First Data in an effort to resolve technical issues – No Such Luck.

      Short of emailing the CEO of Sams, [edited: name removed], I would really like to contact a more senior level person at Sams Club Merchant Services/First Data in Marietta, GA. Does anyone know of any senior level management in this division?

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      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

      Jack Cooper

      I had a Sams Club Credit Membership thru GE. I found it to be cumberson to process and not as useful as my regular credit card. I was doing on billing and when I cancelled the card & destroyed it could not get statements online because I didn’t have the ccv #. I call repeatedly and was promised a hard copy statement. I finally received one after 6 weeks. I paid what I had incurred and refused late fee’s. The rewards accrued were double the late fee’s but were never mentioned. If this cannot be resolved I will cancel Sams completely. Jack Cooper [edited: email address removed]

      Rating11111

      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

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