Merchant Account Reviews

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  • Upserve Payments (Formerly Swipely) Review

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    Overview: A couple comes into your restaurant. They have a quiet lunch, a little coffee afterward. They pay without incident, politely waving on the way out. You probably see this as an ordinary, boring, everyday occurrence, and most likely won’t think about them after they leave. Swipely (now Upserve) users, on the other hand, see […]

  • Adyen Review

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    Overview: As one of those weirdos who quit Facebook, I can’t decide if telling you that Adyen is Mark Zuckerberg’s merchant account provider is a glowing endorsement or a huge turnoff. Either way, you might as well know right out of the gate that in addition to Facebook, Adyen’s star-studded cast of globally oriented clients include […]

  • Vanco Payment Solutions Review

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    Overview: Vanco Payment Solutions is a merchant account provider with main headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia and a second office in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The company is the result of a merger between Vanco Services, which was established in 1998 in Minneapolis, and Veracity Payment Solutions, which started up in 2007 in Atlanta. Veracity acquired Vanco in […]

  • Easy Pay Direct Review

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    Overview: Easy Pay Direct is a payment gateway and merchant account provider headquartered in Austin, Texas. The company also has a second office in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Founded in 2000, Easy Pay Direct serves over 60,000 clients, making it a mid-sized provider. The company’s EPD Gateway is their primary product, with associated merchant accounts being […]

  • Paynet Systems Review

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    Overview: If you’ve done your research on Paynet Systems, you’ll know that they’re a subsidiary of Pipeline Data Incorporated, and if you happened to read my review of, you’ll also know that they too are owned by Pipeline. Judging by my negative findings on, I figured I’d get more of the same with […]

  • 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 […]

  • 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 that don’t […]

  • Merchant Focus Review

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    Overview: The thing that drew me to Merchant Focus originally was their strong relationship with Authorize.Net, the most popular payment gateway provider in the US. If Authorize.Net trusts these guys enough to send a whole bunch of business their way, that’s saying something. And there’s no doubt about it, Merchant Focus is an above average […]

  • Capital Merchant Solutions Review

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    Overview: Capital Merchant Solutions (CMS) is a merchant account provider headquartered in Bloomington, Illinois. First established in 1997 as a paper check processor, they’ve expanded into a full-service merchant account provider, covering credit card payment processing, eCommerce, and mobile payments. CMS operates a number of different websites, each aimed at a particular aspect of their […]

  • U.S. Merchant Systems Review

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    Overview: U.S. Merchant Systems (USMS) has been in business since 1992. That’s plenty of time to establish themselves in the market and to do business with a number of merchants. It’s also plenty of time for us to see how they’ve been as a merchant service provider. I think the only major blemish on their […]

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.