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- Date Established
- Naperville, IL
- Canadian merchant accounts offered
- eCheck processing offered
- Numerous integrations
- No pricing disclosed online
- Early termination fee
- Sudden account terminations
Acquired by First Data at the end of 2017 for a cool $760 million in cash, BluePay is a merchant services provider based in Naperville, Illinois. BluePay is also available to Canadian merchants through BluePay Canada in Oakville, Ontario. According to its website, BluePay is trusted by over 76,000 businesses and processes $21 billion in transactions annually. This puts it well into the big leagues of processing companies, with a full range of products and services available for small to enterprise-level businesses.
Part of BluePay’s allure for First Data (read our review) was its payment integration with over 460 prominent eCommerce, ERP, CRM, and membership organization platforms. When viewed in this light, the acquisition comes as no surprise — more and more card processors are realizing that integration into the software that business owners already use daily is key to accessing a larger pool of clients.
For now, BluePay qualifies as a slightly above-average merchant account provider. While it has racked up its share of complaints during 17 years of business, BluePay’s overall complaint volume is actually fairly low. In fact, the tally is far fewer than many other companies of similar size that have been in business for a much shorter period of time. So, kudos to BluePay for (generally) keeping its merchants happy. This, along with the overall breadth of product offerings, are probably the best reasons to choose BluePay.
Despite its strengths, however, there are some issues that prevent BluePay from earning a better score. One major concern for prospective customers is transparency about rates and fees – or rather, the lack thereof. When processing rates are not advertised, we look for clearly listed costs for items such as setup, monthly or annual maintenance, early termination and PCI compliance. These are very important issues to the merchant for two reasons: 1) these fees can significantly add to the overall cost of your merchant account, and 2) these are the types of costs that sales reps have an incentive to keep quiet about when trying to sell you an account. BluePay does not disclose any information about any of these fees, or even the basic pricing models.
When we dig into contract terms, we find that BluePay has a default three-year contract with an early termination fee of $295. While these undesirable terms were traditionally the industry standard, we’ve welcomed an increasing trend toward abolishing early termination fees altogether and allowing month-to-month contracts. We’re still waiting for BluePay to adjust its default setup. Nonetheless, BluePay will probably agree to waive the early termination fee — if you ask them to.
Back on the bright side, the company now provides 24/7 in-house customer service and support. The website has been improved and expanded to offer a decent section of educational resources and testimonials. BluePay performs solidly overall, though, and it seems to get the job done.
So, is BluePay right for your business? Keep reading to learn more about BluePay’s many features, their contract terms, and customer support availability. Or, if you already know BluePay isn’t right for you, take a look at our recommended credit card processors. You’re bound to find something you like.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
These days, merchants often encounter BluePay as a payment acceptance option within a software platform they already use or via referral though one of BluePay’s partnered financial institutions. BluePay offers just about every product and service a merchant could want. Here’s what’s currently available:
- Merchant Accounts: BluePay offers a variety of specialized merchant accounts designed to fit your particular business situation. Industry-specific programs include restaurants, retail stores, churches, non-profit organizations, and many others. Enterprise and B2B/B2G merchants may take advantage of BluePay’s Level 2, Level 3, and large ticket processing capabilities.
- Payment Gateway & Virtual Terminal: BluePay promotes its own in-house payment gateway and accompanying VT, which appear quite robust and customizable.
- Developer Resources: These resources highlight three methods to integrate BluePay into your system: installing a plugin, embedding a hosted payment page, or building a full API integration. You also may request a sandbox account for testing, and the standard programming languages are available. Before you dive too deeply into all that coding, however, check out BluePay’s extensive list of existing software integration modules.
- PCI Compliance: All the descriptions of point-to-point encryption and tokenization basically just mean that BluePay has good data security features. You will also have to maintain PCI Compliance on your end.
- Fraud Protection: As a feature of the BluePay gateway, merchants can customize their own fraud protection parameters and filters.
- Recurring Billing & Invoicing: Not all processors offer this service, so if it’s something you’re interested in, BluePay could be an asset to you. You’d typically access this feature through BluePay’s payment gateway. Access to an automatic account updater is also available.
- Check Processing (BlueChex): This includes eCheck and ACH payments, as well as traditional paper checks.
- Card Terminals: BluePay is compatible with many popular card terminal options, including Verifone, Equinox, and First Data. Find more details on which specific models can be reprogrammed to work with BluePay in the compatibility list online. There are fewer models available for Canadian merchants. Again, you can find that list on BluePay’s website. We typically recommend that you buy your own terminals for much cheaper than providers like BluePay will offer you (this is an option with BluePay). If you’re considering leasing your terminals instead, be sure to read our post on why that’s usually not a good idea.
- POS Software: BluePay point of sale systems are not proprietary, and they are offered by its integration partners.
- Mobile Processing: Use BluePay’s Mobile EMV processing app in addition to your existing mobile app to accept payments anywhere. You’ll need a certified mobile card reader to make this all work. BluePay’s advertised mobile card reader looks a bit outdated, but it does seem to be NFC and EMV-capable.
- Cash Advance Services: These are offered through BluePay’s Merchant Lending Program.
Fees & Rates
In previous review updates, we’ve criticized BluePay for advertising deceptively low teaser rates. The good news is that BluePay has dropped all mention of misleading “as low as” rates from its site. The bad news is that now they don’t advertise any pricing information whatsoever.
Rather, BluePay promotes three “Payment Packages” — Starter, Professional, and Enterprise — but with zero information on what you’ll actually pay. If I were negotiating a BluePay account, I’d start by inquiring about rates for each transaction, as well as the price of each feature listed in the package descriptions. Costs may come in the form of set up of the feature, monthly or annual maintenance, and/or per-use charges. Don’t forget to ask about all of these possibilities, as well as equipment costs. Here are the features that come included with each payment package:
- Credit Card/ACH Payments
- Virtual Terminal
- BlueView Merchant Portal
- Batch Upload
- Recurring Billing
- All Of The Above PLUS:
- All Payment Plugins
- Fraud Protection – Basic
- Level 2 Billing
- Hosted Payment Form
- SRED Device Support
- PTK (Protected Transaction Keypad)
- All Of The Above PLUS:
- Fraud Protection – Advanced
- Level 3 Billing
- Account Updater
BluePay says on their website that they follow a “consultative pricing approach,” meaning that your rates will depend on the types of cards you process, your method of processing payments (card-present, keyed in, eCommerce, etc.), and what data you transmit on your transactions. They claim to help merchants reduce processing costs by 15-30%.
While I have not been able to get a BluePay representative to give me any hard numbers on BluePay’s pricing structures, there is evidence that rates are available on a tiered model (different rates for qualified, mid-qualified, and non-qualified transactions) as well as an interchange-plus model. We always recommend that you seek out an interchange plus pricing model as it is the most transparent pricing plan and the easiest to compare across processors.
Note that if you’re working with BluePay via one of its many software platform partners, you’ll first encounter whatever pricing structure that particular platform has set up for processing.
In addition, you should expect to pay for more than just transaction processing. Again, I was not able to uncover any information about the actual costs of using BluePay, but I know from user reviews that BluePay charges a few miscellaneous fees.
I’m not too pleased to see that BluePay does not list their rates and fees online. This isn’t an uncommon practice in the industry, but it still isn’t ideal. I must admit that there is one advantage to BluePay concealing their prices — it allows BluePay to set up more customized plans. However, in my opinion, the negatives outweigh the benefit. By not publicizing pricing information, BluePay makes it very difficult for merchants to compare rates between processors.
I’m especially not pleased that I was not able to get any pricing information during my direct interactions with BluePay. When I inquired about pricing via live chat (while pretending to be a merchant), I was told that I would need to provide significantly more business information in order to get a quote. This tells me that if your business is not already established, it will be very difficult to determine pricing. And when I called BluePay as a reviewer, I was passed around to a dozen different parties, none of whom could give me even the most basic information on pricing. That doesn’t bode well for BluePay in terms of transparency.
Note: Although we were not able to gather any pricing information from BluePay this time around, during our last review update we were able to uncover a few numbers by talking with sales representatives. Here’s what pricing looked like in January of 2018. Please be aware that these numbers may have changed since:
Startup Retail Rates (Tiered Plan):
- Qualified Debit: 1.29% + $0.25
- Mid-qualified Debit: 1.99% + $0.25
- Non-qualified Debit: 2.99% + $0.25
- Qualified Credit: 1.69% + $0.25
- Mid-qualified Credit: 2.39% + $0.25
- Non-qualified Credit: 3.39% + $0.25
Startup Card-Not-Present Rates (Tiered Plan):
- Qualified Debit: 1.99% + $0.20
- Qualified Credit: 2.19% + $0.20
- Mid- and Non-qualified rates were not disclosed, but we were told we would “not pay more than 2.99%.”
Startup Interchange-Plus Rates:
- 0.50% + $0.10 markup
- Monthly Minimum: $25
- Gateway Fee: $15/month (and possibly $0.10/transaction depending on account type)
- Monthly Service Fee (Including Statement Fee & PCI Compliance): $15
- EMV Card Terminal: $15/month or $399 to purchase
- Mobile Plan: $9.95/month + one free card reader
- USB Card Reader: $69 or $99
- PCI Non-compliance (If Applicable): $29.95/month
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
For the standard contract, you’ll face a three-year agreement. That agreement will continue on after those first three years until you cancel your account with written notice. Most boilerplate merchant agreements in the industry look similar. If you want to close your account early, BluePay will automatically charge you $295 as an early termination fee, which is the industry standard.
I’d encourage you to negotiate with your sales rep to drop the cancellation fee altogether. If you insist, they’ll usually drop it to earn your business. Similarly, you can probably secure a month-to-month plan if you ask. Watch out for a reshuffle (read: increase) of other fees and rates if BluePay agrees to this. If you’d rather not argue these points, check out our best month-to-month processors to avoid cancellation fees from the get-go!
Since we’re discussing contract terms, I’d like to issue one more quick warning against terminal leases. At least the BluePay program guide lets you know upfront that you do not cancel your equipment leases when you terminate your account. This is another “industry standard” program you should give a wide berth.
Fortunately, you can choose to purchase your terminal outright from BluePay, or you can even reprogram your existing hardware to work with BluePay. BluePay is compatible with more than 80 of the most popular terminals, including brands like Verifone, Equinox, and First Data.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
As I’ve already mentioned, BluePay does not include any information about fees and rates on its website. While I’m glad that BluePay is at least not listing any deceiving information or sales gimmicks, I am not too happy to see no information at all. In the absence of specific rates, I want to see at least baseline fees for individual products and a discussion of available pricing models. Even if BluePay customizes rate packages for different sizes and types of businesses, pricing must be discussed out in the open in some form. This is especially true when your merchants have complained about non-disclosure of fees.
On the other hand, this lack of information does tell us one thing that could be a positive: Your pricing is subject to negotiation. (Download our Beginners Guide to Payment Processing for tips of negotiating payment processing rates.) BluePay also receives points for linking to its terms of service (BluePay calls this the Merchant Services Program Guide).
Overall, I’d still like to see BluePay considerably improve in this category. Advertising information on rates and fees would be a good first step. The one great thing they’re doing right now is keeping independent sales agents to a minimum, which helps to ensure their sales staff is well-trained and well-regulated.
Customer Service & Technical Support
BluePay now offers 24/7 customer support via a combination of chat, email, and phone. The support team is in-house, so you won’t face outsourced assistance from poorly-trained independent companies. There are signs that BluePay’s investment in this area is paying off: It earned bronze Stevie Awards in 2016 and 2017 in the “Customer’s Choice” category for customer service. More important than any awards, however, BluePay hasn’t received as many complaints about customer service as many other payment companies of similar size have racked up, especially recently.
BluePay’s support section features FAQs, a resource library, and a good selection of video tutorials. You’ll also find a status report page for the BluePay gateway that lets you know when the system is down for whatever reason, scheduled or otherwise. This status report even has its very own Twitter feed, which primarily lets followers know about scheduled maintenance; reports of unanticipated downtime are few and far between.
I like that BluePay maintains a blog, as well as active social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn). The company YouTube channel is updated regularly and features testimonials and educational videos.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Since the date of our last review, BluePay’s status with the BBB has changed significantly. In November of 2018, BluePay’s BBB accreditation was revoked due to BluePay’s failure to “Address marketplace disputes quickly, professionally, and in good faith” and to promptly respond to all complaints by following the BBB’s specific guidelines.
That said, BluePay has very few complaints currently listed on the BBB. There have been 12 complaints closed in the last 3 years, including 4 complaints within the past year. That’s down from our previous update, in which BluePay had 29 complaints filed within a three year period. This means older complaints are dropping off and newer complaints aren’t coming in fast enough to replace them, which is good news for a growing company. And it’s a very small number of complaints for a company of BluePay’s size.
That’s the story at the BBB, but how about in comments here at Merchant Maverick and other review sites like Ripoff Report? These are the most commonly reported problems with BluePay:
- Difficulty Closing Accounts: This is the most common complaint I’ve seen online. Merchants say it’s difficult to close an account. Some merchants say that they were continually billed by BluePay even after they had closed their account.
- Undisclosed Fees & Contract Details: You’ll notice that many complaints fall into the “contractual issues” or “deceptive sales practices” categories. In these cases, it’s difficult to place blame accurately, because it could be either the sales rep failing to disclose certain fees, or the merchant not fully understanding the contract. Most complaints of that nature involved the three-year contract term or the $295 early termination fee. BluePay’s PCI compliance fee also came as a surprise to some merchants, as well as additional monthly costs.
- Account Holds & Terminations: BluePay seems to have a somewhat conservative risk management department, which means you could definitely end up with your funds held for 180 days and your account frozen or even closed. In some cases, it looks like BluePay wasn’t able to provide a sensible solution or reasonable explanation to merchants, which is frustrating. This sort of thing can wreck a merchant’s reputation, so BluePay should take it very seriously. You can also check out our article on how to help prevent holds and terminations on your end.
- Unprofessional Sales Representatives: Some merchants said that they had negative experiences with BluePay sales representatives. Most frequently, I have seen merchants calling these representatives unprofessional.
Despite the above flaws, there’s no denying that complaints about BluePay have tapered off in recent months. However, we would like to see BluePay continue to improve, especially by fully disclosing all fees during the application process.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
With BluePay’s website expansion came an entire section dedicated to Reviews and Case Studies. Here, you’ll find 19 case studies and 25+ positive testimonials from merchants and partners in a wide range of industries. The enterprise-level case studies show a few of the ways BluePay has resolved problems for clients on their platform, and they are worth your time to check out along with the video testimonials from BluePay’s partners.
In an ongoing list of BluePay’s awards, we find a variety of accolades for different features and branches of the company. Be aware that most of these award programs involve campaigning for customers to vote, or companies nominating themselves by writing descriptions of their own accomplishments. This doesn’t negate the awards, which I’m sure were hard-fought, but perhaps takes the initial impressiveness down a notch or two.
Naturally, anything a company posts on its own website is 100% positive and sanitized of any negative comments. Nonetheless, it’s a good sign when so many merchants and partners are willing to provide a testimonial for BluePay.
Here are a few of the common positive comments I’ve seen on third-party review sites (including our own). These reviews are not influenced by BluePay, and are much more balanced, often mentioning both the benefits and challenges of the service:
- Competitive Pricing: For some merchants, BluePay was able to offer lower processing rates and fees than other options.
- Ease Of Use: It’s easy to set up a BluePay account, and the BluePay admin panel is easy to use as well.
- Customer Service: A few merchants have reported positive experiences with BluePay sales and support representatives.
These positive reviews were harder to find than the negative, however, this is often the case with merchant services. Help us learn more about real merchant experiences with BluePay by adding your own voice to the mix! If you have any experience using BluePay – good or bad – please feel free to leave a review at the bottom of this page.
Even with significant flaws, BluePay still ranks in the above-average category for merchant account providers. I appreciate the products and services it offers, and it has relatively few complaints for a processor this size. Keeping the majority of its sales department in-house, instead of opting for a huge sales force of independent resellers like so many processors do, earns BluePay points as well. This strategy helps ensure merchants receive a proper sales consultation with a dependable representative. We’ve also seen the complaints about the company decrease slightly around the web.
Now, for those “significant flaws” I mentioned. Advertising transparency still leaves something to be desired, and I’m not convinced that BluePay’s agents will go out of their way to get merchants the fairest rates possible. Don’t settle for a tiered plan if your agent offers that out of the gate. Ask for an interchange-plus plan with a fair markup rate and a reasonable monthly minimum. Let us know if you need help determining fair numbers for your situation. Also, we’d recommend that low-volume, mobile merchants investigate providers who specialize in these accounts.
If you’re seriously interested in BluePay, I’d advise you to carefully examine the Merchant Services Program Guide before you talk to a sales agent. While it’s 37 pages of mind-numbing fine print, it does include most of the standard contract provisions that you’ll want to discuss with your agent. BluePay definitely deserves some credit for providing this on its website, as many processors won’t show you an actual contract until they’re ready for you to sign it.
Overall, BluePay earns a slightly above-average score of 3.5 out of 5 stars. To warrant a higher rating on our next update, they’ll need to address some lingering transparency issues and start publishing their pricing information online. Eliminating all early termination fees and allowing month-to-month contracts for all merchants would also be an improvement. For now, we’ll keep an eye on BluePay. Here’s hoping they’ll make some changes before our next review.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear about your experience with BluePay! Let us know in the comments below.