Bank Of America Merchant Services Review
- Transparent pricing
- Multiple hardware/software options available
- Check/eCheck acceptance
- Poor customer support reported
- Binding lease agreement for hardware
- Limited pricing disclosed online
Bank of America Merchant Services Overview
In this Bank Of America Merchant Services review, we are going to approach this option from a few different angles so that you can get the clarity you need before making a big decision. There are several things to consider, including what company is behind the processing, what products and services you can expect, and how much the services cost. First, we’re going to lay the groundwork on what corporate entity is actually providing your services.
Bank of America is well-known by customers and business owners alike; it is practically a household name. In that way, we can understand why many merchants go straight to Bank of America Merchant Services for payment processing services. If you trust it to handle your banking, why shouldn’t you trust it to handle your credit card processing?
But here’s the thing: We aren’t talking about Bank of America, the bank. Banc of America Merchant Services, LLC, is not a bank, and while Bank of America is the parent company, it’s not the same company. Yes, that is supposed to be a c in the legal name. To confuse matters a little more, Banc of America with a c refers to itself in all its online material as Bank of America with a k. From here on out, we’ll refer to the combined effort of these two in the context of merchant services as BAMS, Bank of America, or even BofA.
And BAMS is certainly an apropos name, as this company is an enormous merchant acquirer with a huge footprint. It’s ranked the fourth Top US Acquirer in The Nilson Report, and here is the kicker: BAMS is ultimately just a Fiserv (formerly First Data) reseller, meaning that BofA repackages and reprices Fiserv products. This sort of practice is very common among the top acquirers. So when it comes down to it, the combination of BAMS and Fiserv, which recently acquired First Data, takes the lion’s share of transactions, according to the Nilson Report below.
Despite this gigantic footprint in the payments industry, Bank of America isn’t really bringing anything spectacular to the table. Its merchant rates are hardly competitive, and if anything, BofA can add strict contractual agreements that hide behind its dinner-table name recognition.
What’s more problematic is that we see reports time and again that suggest this company uses questionable sales tactics and overall poor advertising transparency to get merchants to sign on the dotted line. You can imagine that all of this unease leads to a growing pool of unsatisfied customers who may not have understood the costs and then they face frustration when they want to get out. Between bank-breaking lease agreements and add-on services that many other processors include outright, as well as reports of shoddy customer support, most anyone would start to wonder how such a poorly run company manages to be so large.
The truth is that many merchants may not be checking over their fees with a fine-tooth comb, so they may not know better. Many don’t take the time to read the contract before signing (note: you should always read your contract before signing). Others are knee-deep in BofA services and may feel it would cost more to migrate elsewhere. And some merchants likely have enough purchasing power to bargain down the extraneous fees in their initial agreement. For all of those merchants who already bank with Bank of America, next-day deposits for business checking account holders remain a major draw. Name recognition may be another significant deciding factor.
If you’re really sure you want to look into Bank of America for your credit card processing, read this review carefully and keep all these factors in mind. As you continue reading, you’ll find out why I can’t give Bank of America Merchant Services more than 3-stars. Yes, BAMS is a big company with powerful resources, but I’m just not convinced that it wields these resources to the benefit of merchants. This company could improve on many features, including transparency, pricing, and, frankly, the fundamental way the company operates. If we were to see improvement in any regard, we could raise the rating, but not until then.
Check out the full Bank of America Merchant Services review below for the rundown of our rating. If you’re not up to it, you could also explore our handy comparison chart and find out about the better-rated companies we’ve found that stand out from the crowd.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
You have several options to choose from when it comes to your Bank of America merchant services. Keep in mind, though, that most of the options below will cost extra, and specific prices may vary by account.
- Accept Multiple Payment Types: You can find solutions to accept credit, debit, and PayPal.
- Tablet-Based POS Options: If you don’t have a POS, or you’re looking to upgrade, Bank of America offers the Clover suite of POS products, including the Clover Station, Clover Mini, and Clover Flex. You’ll find several types of devices available based on your needs, and the hardware kit includes support for magstripe, EMV, and NFC transactions. Plus, Clover supports a large app market of over 200 options in third-party integrations, which is great news. You’ll need to consider the additional cost of any third-party app you integrate with your account.
- TeleCheck: BAMS can process electronic checks for you while detecting potential fraud during the time of the sale through its TeleCheck service. However, this service requires a separate contract, according to the Bank of America site, and it isn’t available for Clover Flex or Clover Go.
- Mobile Payments: The Clover Go mobile app isn’t as functional as the full-fledged Clover POS, but it’s partially compatible.
- Payment Gateway: Bank of America offers its own payment gateway for online merchants, but you’ll likely face a large setup fee and a per-transaction fee on top of processing rates.
- Dynamic Currency Conversion: If you frequently deal with customers from another country, BAMS offers dynamic currency conversion, so you can charge customers in their card’s currency for a clearer customer checkout process.
- Global ePricing: BAMS calls this Global ePricing, but other companies generally refer to it as multicurrency displays. If you have an online shop and sell all over the globe, you can display item prices in location-specific currencies automatically.
- Real-Time Reporting & Analytics: BAMS promises detailed reporting and analytics, but you’ll pay additional monthly fees for this. Considering that many of the best merchant account providers and third-party processors such as Square offer free and detailed analytics for no additional cost, I’m a bit put off by this. We discuss which software bundle comes with what later on in the Software Plans For Clover POS section.
- Gift Card Services: Through the Clover POS, you can use the Gift Cards App to launch and track a gift card program. You can order a batch as small as 100 and choose from a handful of ready-made designs.
- Loyalty Program: As another example of how nondescript the marketing information is on the BAMS site, you won’t be able to find too much about the loyalty program. However, it’s part of the free software option that’s available with all plans except Clover Go.
- TransArmor Data Protection: TransArmor is a data breach protection service that provides tokenization and encryption, and you’ll get it at no charge with Clover products. If you’re bringing your own POS to the party, or you use the FD130 terminal, expect BAMS to charge you a monthly fee for this service. Note that this data protection is NOT the same as a PCI compliance fee.
- Next-Day Deposits: If you have a Bank of America business checking account, your funds are released to you the next business day. Having a BAMS account also means the bank will waive your $30 monthly fee for checking. If you don’t have a BofA checking account, your deposits will take longer. BAMS doesn’t clarify, but I would expect two to three business days.
That’s really about it for Bank of America’s services. For the most part, these solutions address what a merchant needs, which is nice. However, nothing about these options stand out as enticing or even noteworthy. Most of the services are just repackaged deals from another provider — and they’re going to cost you more to get them.
Fees & Rates
Bank of America Merchant Services has gotten a little better about disclosing pricing, and we were glad to see that BAMS now has a more predictable flat-rate pricing model. However, it doesn’t have information about rates through its payment gateway and portal options. It also no longer discloses pricing on hardware, and what I suspect is that merchants are encouraged to lease. Leasing equipment through BAMS can end up locking you in a 36-month agreement, and you’ll be on the hook for the entire cost of the lease agreement if you choose to cancel.
These practices are par for the course with large processors for a few different reasons (none of which necessarily benefit you). One is that they base their pricing on a whole slew of factors, such as your industry, your monthly or annual volume, what kind of hardware you need, etc., and your specific plan. However, plenty of other businesses clearly disclose their markup, so you know exactly what you’ll pay when you sign up. You shouldn’t accept the lack of pricing disclosure as perfectly normal, and don’t be afraid to push back and negotiate.
Hardware Options & Costs
As mentioned earlier in this post, BAMS doesn’t disclose equipment prices online this time around, and we suspect that’s because the company may attempt to corral you into a leasing agreement for your equipment.
Clover Go (Mobile Card Reader)
- Swiped/Dipped/Tapped Transactions: 2.7%
- Keyed Entry Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
- Swiped/Dipped/Tapped Transactions: 2.7%
- Keyed Entry/Mail/Internet Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
- Includes: Built-in receipt printer and various power supplies (e.g., power brick, cables, etc.)
- Clover Mini: Pricing not disclosed on the website; leasing with a binding contract and rental agreement available
- Cost: Pricing not disclosed on the website; leasing with binding contract and rental agreements are available
- Swiped/Dipped/Tapped Transactions: 2.7%
- Keyed Entry/Mail/Internet Transactions: 3.5% + $0.15
- Built-in receipt printer
- Barcode scanner/camera
- Works offline
- Cost: Not disclosed, leasing and rental options available
- Swiped/Dipped/Tapped Transactions: 2.7%
- FD40 PIN pad
- Receipt printer
- Cash drawer
- Printer paper
- NFC display printer or display pole may be required in your jurisdiction
- Phone, Mail, Hand-Keyed, Or Internet: 3.5% + $0.15
As I was poking around, I noticed this footnote under the Clover Station items:
Clover Station requires Clover Mini to accept PIN Debit. Clover Station requires Clover Mini or an NFC Display Printer to accept NFC transactions. In jurisdictions that require a cardholder facing display, Clover Station requires a Clover Mini, NFC Display Printer or a display pole.
In other words, if you want to accept PIN debit or live in an area that requires a customer-facing display, you’ll need to purchase a Clover Mini for each of your stations!
BAMS does offer various hardware accessories to go with your Clover equipment, but honestly, I am certain you could get those accessories for a lower price through another provider, as it is very likely that Bank of America marks up the cost of the Clover hardware. That in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing because most Fiserv resellers mark up the cost of the hardware to make a bit of money. But if you are bargain conscious, get your accessories elsewhere because you can definitely pay less than the asking price.
Software Plans For Clover POS
In addition to the cost of the hardware, you’re going to have to pay a software fee with Clover. You have three choices when it comes to what your POS can actually do for your business. First, we have Payments Plus, which now costs $4.95/month/per device, which is an increase from free at the time of our last review in May of 2019. Payments Plus is available for the Clover Mini and Clover Flex, but not for Clover Go, which is an entirely separate app from the Clover POS.
As I studied the page for a while, I realized that once again, things can get confusing if you’re not paying attention. Case in point, the first “feature” of Payments Plus is cloud-based reporting, which is accessible via web or mobile app. But there are no specific reports listed here, and you have to opt for the Register Lite plan at $9.95 per month to export basic reports (such as sales, payroll, and tax).
Seeing how product inventory and reporting are the basic tenants of most merchant services, I have to wonder what reports are coming along with Payments Plus. My guess is that the report is an overall sales tally for the day, but again, the company doesn’t specify.
As far as actual reporting or basic functionality, such as adding a discount or tax to an item, you’re on the hook for another monthly fee. Here is an overview of each plan:
Payments Plus ($4.95/month/per device; supports Clover Flex and Clover Mini)
- Cloud-Based Reporting: Accessed on app or web (no specifics about reports are listed on the site)
- Customer Engagement: Promotions, loyalty, rewards programs, customer feedback
- Employee Management: Schedule management, employee permissions, and logs
Register Lite ($9.95 per month/per device; supports Clover Flex and Clover Mini)
This Register Lite plan for POS includes all of the Payments Plus service plan items, plus:
- Tax rates and discounts
- Line-item sales for quicker checkout
- Create and save orders, add notes, and refund items
- Detailed product-level reports
- Cash drawer integration
- Access Clover App Market of 300 apps (additional charges apply)
Register ($39.95 per month + $9.95/month/per additional device/per location; supports Clover Flex, Clover Mini, and Clover Station)
The Register software cost rose another $10 from the time of our last review in May 2019. The plan itself will give you everything in Payments Plus and Register LITE, plus:
- Weight scale integration (available on Clover Mini and Clover Station)
- More detailed reporting (such as the ability to see reporting based on variants and modifiers)
- Enhanced inventory management (variant and modifier-level line item descriptions)
Counter Service Restaurant ($39.95 + $9.95/month per device/per location; supports Clover Mini, Clover Flex, and Clover Station)
Counter Service is a relatively newer option that includes all of the features in the Register option, plus:
- Identify order types (dine-in, to-go, catering, and more)
- Kitchen printers and display integrations
- Customer kiosk third-party integrations
- Menu management
- Preauthorization of bar tabs
- Customer engagement through customer-facing screens
- Take orders from customers while they stand in line (Clover Flex)
- Access to third-party integrations with the Clover App Market
Table Service Restaurant ($69.95/month/per device + $9.95 for each additional device per location; supports Clover Mini, Clover Flex, and Clover Station)
Table Service Restaurant includes every feature of the Counter Service Restaurant plan, plus:
- Bar tab management
- Advanced table order management
- Fire orders to kitchen printer or kitchen display
- Add gratuity to bills
- Manage floor plan
- Split bills
- Enhanced employee logins and access permissions
- Table-side ordering, firing, and payments (with Clover Flex)
- Scan to pay
One thing I notice right off the bat is that you’ll have to pay for the highest-cost plan to add gratuity, and that is disappointing. While I love that Bank of America has added these services for restaurants, the jump in cost seems a bit much for the features.
With a BAMS merchant account, costs start to add up quickly if you’re not careful. While Clover is somewhat competitive in the POS space, I don’t think anyone except a Clover representative would tell you it’s the best pricing available.
When you deal with a sales rep, you’ll also likely be offered hardware through a leasing program, which we suggest avoiding at all costs. We discuss that more in the Contract Length & Early Termination Fee section, so don’t miss it!
Finally, one of the bigger draws of BAMS is next-day deposits for merchants who also have a business checking account with them. If you don’t have a BofA business checking account, your deposits will take longer (two to three business days being most likely).
Bank of America does not disclose eCommerce fees, which is another sticking point. However, depending on what integration or in-house solutions you opt for, you’ll need to consider what your cost adds up to be.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
When we previously talked to a Bank of America rep using the live chat feature at the time of an older review, he told us that there was a three-year contract in place, which fits with everything we’ve heard from merchants. He also said there was no early termination fee, which definitely does NOT fit with everything we’ve heard from merchants. We have multiple reports of merchants being assessed a $500 ETF, which is $200 MORE than the typical ETF (most processors I’ve seen charge about $300). That’s ridiculously expensive for a company that already charges a boatload of fees.
When I called and spoke to a rep for this Bank Of America Review update, I was greeted by a friendly and knowledgeable rep who was able to answer my questions about the early termination fee. Once again, I was told that there is no early termination fee, but he did disclose that I would need to consider the hardware lease if I wanted to close the account. According to him, a hardware lease puts you on the hook for a full 36 months, and if you cancel, you’ll have to pay the remainder of the lease agreement.
This hefty sum would be far above what a merchant would pay outright for equipment. And if you’re canceling the equipment lease, you probably have a good reason. Yet you’d still be left with the remainder of the lease and the hardware you won’t use. For this reason, we strongly caution merchants against lease agreements though BoA.
If you can, buy the equipment outright. Buying your POS hardware outright will cost more upfront, but it’ll be a much better deal overall. If you need more time to pay, consider a small business loan to buy the equipment instead.
Another takeaway I’d like to mention is that you may still actually have an early termination fee or automatic renewal clause in your merchant agreement, so please review this carefully. We’ve seen too many inconsistencies in contracts versus what’s been promised by a sales member to fully trust anything verbally promised.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
Since the last time we reviewed Bank of America Merchant Services, we are glad to see some improvements with transparency. The site does not mention anything about tiered processing but offers a flat rate based on the hardware you use. We’ve reviewed that information in the Hardware Options & Costs section if you need a refresher. However, we can’t promise that you won’t come across tiered pricing just because it isn’t mentioned on the site. Be sure to read your contract, as the pricing model will be disclosed here in black and white.
We’re a bit unimpressed that the website is full of excessive fine print. Every page has footnotes with all the exceptions and rules and requirements and all the extra bits that BAMS doesn’t want you to pay attention to but has to disclose. Good processors don’t usually have to put fine print everywhere because they can be transparent and still win over customers. That doesn’t seem the case here.
As far as other points of connection, its social media channels are limited. Bank of America Merchant Services has dedicated LinkedIn and Facebook pages. Both appear to be updated regularly, but that’s about it. The Facebook page favors the Call Now action button, meaning that you shouldn’t count on a timely response if you message the company on Facebook.
BofA has a Twitter feed, but remember that with Merchant Services, you may be dealing with a different company on the back end. You’re better off trying to go through the official support channel (a phone line) than getting help on social media.
Many reviewers complain about non-disclosure of important contract terms, misleading fee/rate explanations, and overall poor sales transparency during consultations. Although it looks like most (if not all) of the BAMS sales reps are company employees and not independent agents, this doesn’t guarantee a good sales experience.
One thing I often do when reviewing a company is to check out an employee review site to see what people say. Sales agents are particularly great about leaving reviews, so this gives me some helpful information (such as whether the agents get a base pay plus bonuses or work solely on commission). I checked out Bank of America Merchant Services from the employment review site Glassdoor. Here, employees can leave reviews anonymously, so it’s likely going to represent a balanced view of leadership and working conditions. BAMS has a rating of 3.7 out of 5-stars, with 59% recommending their workplace to a friend.
For the most part, the biggest pros seem to be good work balance, good base reimbursement, and potential for good earnings. However, the cons seem to be about issues with poor training. This could certainly affect your information gathering, so be careful.
When dealing with Bank of America, I urge you to proceed cautiously and don’t sign anything until you’ve read it carefully. Be very thorough in asking questions and make sure that what you’ve been told lines up with what your contract says. If you’re worried about a pushy salesperson, you can and should certainly consider walking away. You can contact the company again later and try to get a sales rep who isn’t quite so aggressive. High-pressured sales tactics lead to spur-of-the-moment decisions that can potentially put you in a bad spot. You don’t want to sign something because there’s a “limited-time deal” only to find out that you’re now trapped in a contract.
Customer Service & Technical Support
While the customer support is decent, I’m left feeling underwhelmed concerning the overall support services and self-serve information offered at BAMS.
At BofA, you’ll find:
- Phone Support: BAMS no longer offers 24-hour support, but you can find help Monday-Saturday.
- Small Online FAQ: This self-help section is bare-bones, and I am disappointed by it. Then again, if BofA signs most merchants up with Clover, the Clover FAQs (which you can find on the Clover site) will address most of the software and hardware problems.
- Clover Device Support: Phone and email support are available directly through Clover if you have technical issues. This is pretty standard practice with any Fiserv reseller — Clover’s reps are going to be the most knowledgeable about the products and how to troubleshoot them. The good news is Clover’s support is 24/7.
- CyberSource Support For eCommerce: Offered 24/7 through the Cyber Business Center app.
If you have experience using the BAMS customer service options, please leave your thoughts in our comments section.
When searching for Bank of America Merchant Services by name in Google, we found that it has 92 Google Reviews with a 1.4 out of 5-star rating. Let’s take a look at a few of the recurring issues with Bank of America Merchant Services. These Google Reviews are certainly a red flag. I also found that BAMS has a 1 out of 5-star rating at Yelp.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Since Bank of America doesn’t have a separate BBB profile for Bank of America Merchant Services, we don’t have that resource to draw from in this case. However, the web is populated with complaints against BAMS.
- Expensive Terminal Lease Contracts: Some merchants have complained about not being aware that they were signing a non-cancelable terminal lease. The whole “not being aware” part can be chalked up to some merchants not fully understanding how leasing works, but I think more likely it’s sales reps being dodgy about explaining the terms. Terminal leasing is unnecessary, to begin with. And Fiserv’s insistence on leasing is a huge mark against the whole Clover system as well as the inconsistency in pricing from one reseller to the next.
- Withholding Funds/Termination Of Accounts: This can happen for several reasons. Chargebacks and suspicious charges can easily raise a red flag that will either get you suspended or shut down. You’re going to want to learn how to avoid holds and minimize chargebacks if you plan on signing up with BofA.
- High Fees & Hidden Fees: You’ll see first that Bank of America isn’t great at disclosing fees, and that’s likely because they are quite high. In addition to setup, monthly, and PCI compliance fees (not to mention the ETF), you could also be hit with annual fees. Merchant complaints aren’t clear about what other kinds of fees they encounter, just that they sometimes can amount to almost 10% of a single transaction. Related to this, you’ll see general complaints that Bank of America is expensive, and that may be a result of high processing rates and all the assorted other fees BofA charges.
- Poor Customer Service: While even a big company can give you a nice personal experience via friendly and dedicated account reps, this doesn’t seem to be the case with Bank of America. One reviewer pointed out that the company is “hands-on” when working with you to get you to sign a contract but is less helpful when merchant issues arise. Complaints specifically focus on equipment issues, long hold times, being shuffled around from department to department without a solution, and outright rude and even condescending support reps.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Google Reviews seems to be the largest pool of reviews for the actual Bank of America Merchant Services wing, rather than a general BofA customer base. After filtering it for only positive reviews, I found just six 5-star reviews out of the 92. Most of those reviews had no text and were also from people who have filled out only one Google review, and it was for BAMS. I’d imagine out of the hundreds of thousands of users, if the service was exemplary, we’d hear some details about it somewhere. That just doesn’t appear to be the case, and I’m left with serious doubts about the validity of those reviews in the first place.
There is one place where positive reviews might lurk — amid the reviews of Clover products. The Clover reviews seem to be a dumping ground of reviews from all of Fiserv’s many resellers. Unfortunately, weeding through them all and figuring out which sales reps work for which company is nigh impossible.
When we do find those positive reviews, they tend to center on the products BAMS offers versus the service. And that’s because Clover POS is a powerful piece of software. The problem is with the terms and services Bank of America offers to merchants. You can find other companies offering Clover products. For example, National Processing is a higher-rated solution, and you can find the Clover line here as well.
As we close up this Bank of America Merchant Services review, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts. Since the time of our last review in May 2019, Bank of America Merchant Services has changed its pricing model and improved some features, namely offering restaurant-specific options for its POS solution. Additionally, it’s a lot more transparent with payment processing costs, moving from an expensive and hard-to-predict tiered pricing to flat-rate fees in most cases. (As far as we can tell, but read your contract!)
While these changes make me feel a little better, I still can’t in good faith recommend BAMS to any merchant. That’s because reports are still coming in from customers about some of the more troubling issues, which are dealbreakers for me. What concerns me are the binding and expensive leases with POS equipment and the potential for misleading sales practices on the front end. What’s really disturbing are the negative reviews that are still coming into Google from real users. These are so bad that they don’t leave any doubt that there are issues going beyond any negativity bias any particular reviewer may have. With all that in mind, I recommend proceeding with extreme caution should you still chose BAMS as your merchant service provider.
I’m leaving the Bank of America Merchant Services review at 3-stars. A company as large as Bank of America Merchant Services can and should do better than just repackaging another processor’s goods for high prices and poor customer support. If I had to guess, I’d say that the customers of Bank of America Merchant Services likely signed up thinking that they were playing it safe with a big-name bank. But name recognition shouldn’t be the reason you choose a credit card processor. In many cases, this familiarity tends to be a breeding ground for “how much can they get away with” practices. If you have experience with or insight into BofA Merchant Services, leave your thoughts below. And if you’re interested in learning how to spot a better credit card processor, check out our resource: The Best Credit Card Processing Companies For Small Business.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.