Merchant Account Reviews

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  • Review

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    Overview: Let me begin this review with my favorite aspect of MerchantPlus – common sense. This provider features more common sense practices and common sense marketing than you’ll find in most other nooks of the merchant services market, and I love that about them. Rates and fees are incredibly simple, with flat rate and interchange-plus […]

  • Cayan (Merchant Warehouse) Review

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    Highlights: Interchange-plus pricing offered Very good customer service and support Multiple products and services offered Month-to-month contracts with no early termination fees No account setup or application fees Call them at (866) 433-8790 Overview: Cayan first went into business as Merchant Warehouse back in 1998, re-branding themselves as Cayan in early 2015. The company is […]

  • Total Merchant Services Review

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    Overview: Total Merchant Services (TMS) is a merchant account provider headquartered in Woodland Hills, California. Founded in 1996, TMS is one of the more-established companies in the processing business. They’re also one of the larger companies in the industry, serving about 100,000 merchants. Bigger isn’t always better, however. TMS continues to suffer from an over-reliance […]

  • Merchant One Review

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    Overview: Started in 2002, Merchant One is based out of Miami Beach, Florida from where it serves over 100,000 customers. Merchant One has been a bit of a rollercoaster since we first reviewed them back in July of 09′; they only had about a handful of negative reviews on the most popular complaint sites and were sitting […]

  • Cynergy Data Review

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      Overview:   Cynergy Data is another one of those companies thats been around for some time. Established in 1995, they’ve been doing business for over a decade now. They’ve won the Inc. 100, 500 and 5000 awards, and their CEO won the 2008 Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award. All great achievements […]

  • National Merchant Bancard Review

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    Overview: National Merchant Bancard (NMB) is a merchant account provider with a headquarters in Sunrise, Florida and a west coast office in Woodland Hills, California. Founded in 2002, the company claims to have provided accounts to over 40,000 merchants, putting them in the small to mid-size category for their industry. With a focus on eCommerce, […]

  • ChargeToday LLC Review

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      Overview:   It definitely isn’t the cheesy site design that attracts customers to, I’ll tell you that much. Ok, ok, maybe I should cut ’em some slack, but the webmaster in me enjoys ragging on sites that look like they’re still stuck in the 90’s. Which is funny to me because ChargeToday started […]

  • Sun State Merchant Services Review

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      Overview:   I was hesitant about writing a review for Sun State Merchant Services because they’re so new. They’ve only been in business since 2008, so they really haven’t had a chance to prove themselves much. I decided to give it the green light anyway though. Who knows, maybe what little info I did […]

  • BankCard USA Review

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    Overview: Established in 1993, BankCard USA Merchant Services is a mid-sized processor headquartered in Agoura Hills, California. Not a direct processor themselves, they are an authorized re-seller for First Data. In addition to traditional in-store credit card processing, they also offer wireless terminals, a POS system, and options for eCommerce and mobile processing. The company […]

  • PayByWeb Review

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      Overview:   PayByWeb was a tough review for me, mainly because they seem like a great company on the surface. They’ve been in business for a while, they have an outstanding BBB score and only a few complaints against them. I was just about ready to give them a nice rating, until I read […]

What is a Merchant Account?

If you want to accept card payments from your customers – and virtually every business needs to these days to remain competitive – you need access to a merchant account. “Merchant” is another word for a seller or business owner. You can think of a merchant account as a bank account that extends you, the merchant, a line of credit. This allows a merchant to receive funding for the credit transaction based on the trust that they will perform the services or deliver the goods properly, and thus the customer will not refuse to pay for the transaction based on the inadequacy of the merchant.

The point of a merchant account is to facilitate the complex interactions that need to occur between you, your customer, the credit card networks, and your payment processor every time you receive a card payment. It helps to ensure that you receive funding as quickly as possible, that the banks are protected from losses, and that buyers are protected from ripoffs and scams. With a merchant account, everyone is held accountable based on the rules of the credit card processing agreement.

You will, of course, have to pay a number of fees in order to take advantage of the credit card processing networks and banks. But it’s much easier and more secure to open a merchant account than it is to keep a book of credit accounts for all of your customers!

How to Avoid Merchant Account Scams and Ripoffs

Be skeptical of sales gimmicks – If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. A lot of processors make claims about having the lowest rates in the industry, but how can they all have the lowest? Answer: they can’t. They will match the rate quote provided by another processor, but the contract could still include hidden fees to make up for it. When a processor claims that it will pay you $1000 if it can’t beat a competitor’s quote, rest assured it has no intention of paying up. There’s always a loophole.

Request interchange-plus pricing – The only way to make real, meaningful comparisons between rate quotes is to get an interchange-plus rate. This type of quote will tell you the markup that you are paying on top of the wholesale (or “interchange”) cost of the transactions. Since the wholesale cost will vary from transaction to transaction, this is the only way to get a clear picture of the profit margin for the processing company. Fixed rate tiered quotes that do not separate wholesale from markup reduce transparency and make it impossible to compare the rates effectively from one company to the next.

Avoid early termination fees – The most common merchant account fee that we see complaints about is the early termination fee (ETF). These fees can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and are often not disclosed or poorly disclosed during the sales and contract signing process. Don’t take your salesperson’s word for it, either. Verbal promises during the sale process are not legally binding. If it’s not in writing, it’s worthless. You need to review your contract carefully and make sure an early termination fee waiver is included if the contract mentions an early termination fee.

Don’t give in to pressure – Some merchant account sales agents will try to put pressure on you to make a quick decision, saying that an offer is only good for a certain amount of time. Never let these high-pressure sales tactics sway you. You, the business owner, have all the power. Don’t make any hasty decisions. Sales agents may also try to make you feel like you owe them something just because they have spent time on you. You don’t owe the sales agent anything! Don’t let them guilt you into making a decision that could negatively impact your business for years to come just so they can close a sale.

What Is a Payment Gateway?

A payment gateway provides the connection between an online payment and the bank that processes any given credit card transaction. Whether used for eCommerce or a mobile payment application, the payment gateway works behind the scenes to securely transfer sensitive credit card information. It’s important to recognize that a gateway is not the same thing as merchant account, and each comes with its own separate fees.

Most eCommerce businesses will need a payment gateway, but some in-person businesses might need one too. Point of sale (POS) software will sometimes require a payment gateway to operate. If you just need a virtual terminal to key-in card information at your computer, however, you might not need a dedicated gateway at all. Many payment processors include a virtual terminal for free as part of their basic service packages.

To use a payment gateway, you will have to “integrate” it with your website or software. This can be as easy as typing in a numerical key. It can also be difficult enough that you will have to hire a web developer to help out. It all depends on your gateway, your software, and your needs. Your gateway provider’s website should include detailed instructions regarding integration.

When picking a payment gateway, it’s important to make sure that it’s compatible with your POS, your shopping cart, or your payment processor. Not all gateways work with all systems. Be sure to talk to customer service before you commit to any solution to avoid fees and penalties for cancelling.