Vantiv (formerly known as Fifth Third Processing Solutions) is a large credit card processor located in Ohio. They’ve been in operation since 1970 when they were known as Midwest Payment Systems, but have used to Vantiv brand name since 2011. Vantiv owns National Processing Company, Jeanie (ATM network) and SKIPJACK (payment gateway). They also acquired Mercury Payments in 2014.
Vantiv has hundreds of thousands of merchants that use their service, so they’re definitely one of the big boys. With that many customers, one would expect to see a ton of complaints, but – surprisingly – I couldn’t find very many. Their BBB profile is low on negative reviews, and so is the rest of the web. One could argue that it’s because the brand name Vantiv has only been around since 2011, but if you search their previous name “Fifth Third Processing Solutions” for complaints, you won’t find much either. That’s all good news, though I’m still going to keep an eye on the Vantiv brand to see how it progresses.
Much like any other large processors, Vantiv merchant accounts do have a contract with an early termination fee ($295+) although it can be negotiated. I was troubled, however, to hear from a number of merchants complaining that they were asked to pay liquidated damages into the thousands of dollars in order to close their accounts. I can confirm that many Vantiv contracts I’ve seen contain provisions to collect liquidated damages, although they do not seem to consistently enforce this.
So here’s my advice – If you want to sign up with Vantiv, make absolutely sure that this liquidated damages language is removed from your contract. You do not want to get stuck paying that. And while you’re at it, ask them to waive the early termination fee altogether. If they won’t do both of these things, then walk. If you need help, feel free to contact us.
In the meantime, I’m only willing to give Vantiv 3.5 out of 5 stars. If they remove the liquidated damage provision from their standard contracts, I’ll reconsider. In the meantime, I’d recommend that you check out one of our higher-rated providers.
Products and Services:
Formulating any list of Vantiv’s products and services seems like a futile effort, since they basically do a little bit of everything you could imagine. If one thing impressed me more than anything else it’s probably the scalability of the solutions. Whether you are a small business or a mega-corporation, Vantiv can meet your needs. Check out their site or speak with a sales reps for more details, but basically they do it all, and most of their solutions are proprietary.
Fees and Rates:
Vantiv does not disclose any fee or rate information publically, and doesn’t seem to standardize these numbers across the brand. Your quote will largely depend on the sales agent/sales office you sign on through as well as your business attributes.
In general Vantiv will pitch you a tiered pricing plan, which may include the following fees:
- $99.00 annual fee
- $50.00 – 90.00 PCI compliance fee (annual)
- $10.00 PCI non-compliance fee (monthly)
Chargeback fees and card network fees like the FANF are also to be expected. The annual fee is always negotiable. I’d recommend that most businesses, especially those who will do a high volume of card payments, request an interchange-plus markup quote instead.
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
With Vantiv, you can expect a 3-year auto-renewing contract with a $295 early termination fee. This is basically the industry standard, but I don’t usually recommend signing on with any company that requires an early termination fee unless you’ve worked with them in the past. If you request to have this fee waived, most agents will make an acception for you. Just be sure to get a signed waiver form attached your contract before you sign.
You should note that in some cases I’ve heard from merchants who had contracts with Vantiv that included liquidated damages, generally 10% of the total earnings the company would have made on the remainder of your contract. I find this type of early termination fee entirely unacceptable, and I’d encourage you to absolutely refuse this if you see it in your particular contract.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
Like most big processing companies, Vantiv doesn’t make any real disclosures or promises in their public marketing material. Your sales experience will depend on the particular agent you talk to, and whether that agent works as a Vantiv employee or as a as an independent agent.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Existing customers get 24/7 service and support. Have you worked with Vantiv? Feel free to leave us your review. Don’t forget to read the user review and comment policy.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
Vantiv impressed me with their responses to merchant complaints via the Better Business Bureau. The responding representatives provide extremely thorough, reasonable, logical and even generous rebuttals. In most cases the company will provide refunds when merchants complain, even if no refund is legally or even ethically required. Overall they have 50 complaints filed with the BBB in the last three years, which is actually very low for a processing company of this size.
Granted, the Vantiv brand has only been around since 2011, but even the previous brand “Fifth Third Processing Solutions” is low on the complaint count as well.
Most of the complaints arise during the cancellation process.
- Liquidated damages – This is probably the most worrisome complaint I’ve heard, and it came up a number of times. Some merchants cited cancellation fees in the thousands of dollars, which is just unacceptable to my mind. Check out this article for more information about liquidated damages as a form of early termination fees.
- Unknown auto-renewal - Many merchants who have processed with Vantiv long-term are surprised to find out that they owe an early termination fee even though they have been using the company for the better part of a decade. This is a common problem, and is not unique to Vantiv. Since most contracts auto-renew after the initial 3-year term is up, the so-called “early” termination fee can be collected whenever you cancel, unless you do so during a very small window of time. The good news is that Vantiv is willing to waive these fees for long-term merchants.
- Difficulty cancelling the account – What’s worse than paying an early termination fee? Being billed – unknown to you – monthly for years after you thought your account was closed. I’d encourage you to follow up aggressively and check your bank statements carefully to be sure that you are not being billed for the service after you cancel. Also be aware that unless you submit a cancellation request in writing, your account cannot be closed.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
You can find a number of success stories on the Vantiv site. They’re mainly from larger financial institutions that Vantiv provides processing service for as opposed to smaller merchants. Your best bet would be to ask them for references.
Vantiv is a huge processing company with vast capabilities. They can service enormous businesses in need of complex payment systems and offer competitive rates to win these businesses over. There is no doubt in my mind that Vantiv is a very capable company.
My one concern is that Vantiv Payments might not treat small or new merchants the way these merchants need to be treated. If you are not experienced in the merchant account business and do not know which questions to ask or what to look for in your processing contract, you could be in for a rough ride. It will really depend on your sales rep. Some are willing to go the extra mile to help you make an informed decision, while others might take advantage of your lack of experience.
If you’re thinking about signing on with Vantiv, reach out to us. We can work with you to make sure that you are getting a legitimate deal. Otherwise, you may want to check out one of our more highly-rated providers instead for your small business needs.
Good luck, and thanks for reading!