- Processing rate plans fully disclosed
- Free payment gateway and virtual terminal
- No account setup or application fees
- Month-to-month billing with no early termination fees
- Excellent customer service and support
- Only available to US-based merchants
CDGcommerce is a merchant account provider with its main headquarters in Chesapeake, Virginia, and a west coast office in San Pedro, California. Founded in 1998, the company has twenty years of experience offering top-notch merchant account services to small and medium-sized businesses. While its services are geared more toward the eCommerce sector, it also provides a full range of offerings for retail merchants as well.
The company currently serves over 20,000 merchants, putting it in the small and mid-sized category for merchant services providers. More importantly, CDGcommerce has maintained a client retention rate of over 97% for more than a decade. Not many providers can claim this, and it’s a good indication that you’re likely going to have a positive experience with CDGcommerce.
In evaluating merchant account providers, there are certain features that we want to see. First, we look favorably on providers who offer true month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts and no early termination fees. This arrangement gives you the flexibility to change providers quickly and easily if you need to with no penalty. It also creates a great incentive for your provider to continuously offer quality customer support, as you can easily leave if you’re not happy for any reason.
We also prefer to see providers offer interchange-plus pricing, as it’s the most transparent (and affordable) pricing model for all but the smallest of businesses. If your business processes less than $10,000 per month, flat-rate pricing may be a better alternative, as your processing costs will be much more predictable. On the other hand, if you’re a large, established business with a high monthly processing volume, membership-based pricing can potentially save you hundreds of dollars per month in processing costs.
For retail merchants, we like to see providers who don’t trap their customers with expensive, noncancelable terminal leases. These leasing arrangements can end up costing thousands of dollars for a piece of equipment that’s only worth a few hundred dollars at most.
Fortunately, CDGcommerce scores very highly on all these criteria. All of its contracts are month-to-month, so you can cancel at any time without having to pay a penalty. The company offers a combination of flat-rate, interchange-plus, and membership-based pricing plans, depending on your monthly processing volume. Smaller businesses processing less than $10,000 per month will be on a flat-rate plan that’s similar to what Square (see our review) offers but has the added advantage of giving you a true full-service merchant account that’s far less likely to suffer a hold, freeze, or termination. For merchants processing between $10,000 and $200,000 per month, CDGcommerce offers an interchange-plus pricing plan that represents one of the best values we’ve seen from any provider. Large businesses processing over $200,000 per month will get set up with a membership-based pricing plan that eliminates the per-transaction percentage fee in exchange for a single monthly subscription fee. EMV-compliant and NFC-capable credit card terminals are included with all accounts, although you’ll have to pay a $79 annual fee for terminal insurance. This works out to much less than a typical monthly terminal leasing fee, and all you have to do is return your equipment if you decide to close your account.
It gets even better. CDGcommerce has also eliminated many of the excessive fees that other providers charge, including account setup fees, PCI compliance fees, and monthly minimums. Merchants who need a payment gateway can choose between CDGcommerce’s proprietary Quantum Gateway, Authorize.Net (see our review), CyberSource, or Shift4. Regardless of which one you go with, it’s free. Finally, CDGcommerce backs everything up with excellent customer service and support.
The company has recently revamped its website and introduced many new features and pricing plans for 2020. Although there have been a lot of changes in the pricing structure since our last review update, the current version of CDGcommerce’s website offers full disclosure of all processing rate plans and account fees. You’ll also find information that’s organize by industry type, making it even easier to locate information that applies specifically to your business.
With so many outstanding features, it should come as no surprise that CDGcommerce earns an excellent 5 out of 5 stars rating. It’s one of the very few providers in the industry that actually focuses on meeting the needs of small business owners, and it offers services and prices that are appropriate to this segment of the market. We recommend the company very highly, and when you learn about all it has to offer, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
The company’s line of products and services covers all the bases, but it’s particularly focused on eCommerce and small to mid-sized businesses. Its one-step PCI compliance program and robust optional cdg360 security features come in handy for eCommerce and beyond, and its free additional account tools will help you get the most out of your processing experience. CDGcommerce’s offerings include the following:
- Merchant Accounts: Like most merchant account providers, CDGcommerce is not a direct processor. Instead, it partners with one or more back-end processors to handle processing your transactions and getting the money to you. Your back-end processor will be identified in your contract documents when you set up your account. One unique aspect of the company’s merchant accounts is its use of a hybrid risk structure, which allows it to override risk decisions made by the back-end processor and assume liability for a transaction or account. The end result for you is that your account will be more stable, and you’ll be less likely to have your funds held or your account suddenly shut down.
- High-Risk Payment Processing: If you’re a high-risk merchant, you know how hard it can be to find a provider who will approve you for an account. CDGcommerce offers high-risk processing to certain select industry types. Check out their High Risk Merchant Types page on their website for details of industries they can accept – and those they can’t.
- Payment Gateway: eCommerce has been a specialty of CDGcommerce since its founding in 1998, and it’s one of the very few providers to offer a completely free payment gateway. Merchants can choose between either the company’s proprietary Quantum Gateway or Authorize.Net (see our review). The company has also recently added the CyberSource and Shift4 gateways as options as well. Regardless of which one you choose, your gateway is completely free to use — there’s no setup fee, no monthly gateway fee, and no extra per-transaction processing charge. That makes for huge savings over signing up with Authorize.Net directly, which charges a $49 setup fee, a $25 per month gateway fee, and an additional $0.10 per transaction for processing.
- Virtual Terminal: All accounts come with free virtual terminal access, allowing you to process transactions from any internet-connected computer instead of a traditional credit card terminal. You can key in transactions manually or swipe them with an optional card reader.
- Credit Card Terminals: Getting a credit card terminal for your business often involves a choice between buying your equipment or leasing a terminal from your merchant account provider. We usually encourage buying, as most terminal leasing arrangements include long-term, noncancelable contracts that end up costing you many times more than the actual value of the equipment. CDGcommerce offers a third alternative, and it’s an excellent choice for businesses that only need one terminal. Each retail merchant account comes with one credit card terminal, and all you pay is a $79 annual insurance fee. This fee covers upgrades, and the company will ship you a new terminal overnight in the event of loss or damage to your current equipment. Note, you do have to return the equipment if you close your account. It works out to about $6.58 per month — a fraction of what a traditional terminal lease will cost. CDGcommerce currently offers the Dejavoo Z9 and Z11 terminals, which support magstripe, EMV, and NFC-based payment methods.
- Mobile Payments: CDGcommerce has recently upgraded and expanded its mobile processing services. Merchants now have three options to choose from, depending on which pricing plan they’re on. Merchants on a flat-rate pricing plan can use the Walker C2X card reader, which can be purchased outright for $55 to $89, depending on options. There’s no additional monthly fee to use this service. The other two options (available to merchants on the interchange-plus or subscription plans) are the ChargeAnywhere Mobile reader ($29 + $10 per month) or the Dejavoo MPOS Z1 Mobile reader (available for either $79 per year or a one-time price of $299). All three devices connect via Bluetooth and support both EMV and NFC-based payment methods.
- Integrated Payments Management System: The star attraction of the company’s new product lineup is PastePay POS, an integrated payments and business management system that can be accessed from any smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. PastePay integrates with your countertop terminal, mobile card reader, or eCommerce website to provide a host of features for monitoring your business. PastePay’s feature list is too long to include here, but highlights include support for invoicing, scheduling, online service signups, inventory management, donations, and recurring billing. PastePay is included as a standard feature of all CDGcommerce merchant accounts, and it’s free. The only exception is for SMS text message-based marketing promotions, which get billed on a per-use basis. You can also take PastePay with you if you switch to a different provider. However, it won’t be free anymore, and you’ll have to pay the regular PastePay fees.
- Point Of Sale (POS) Systems: CDGcommerce offers four different options for a traditional POS terminal, including Harbortouch, FuturePOS, POSitouch, and Restaurant Manager. Support for point of sale systems from Shift4 is coming soon.
- Security Service: Called cdg360, this $15 per month optional feature includes $100,000 in data breach insurance, PCI-DSS vulnerability scans, customized security alerts, staff awareness training, and a Merchant Trust seal for your website. For this low of a price, the $100,000 insurance alone could be well worth it.
- Merchant Reporting & Control: While almost all merchant account providers now include online reporting tools, CDGcommerce goes above and beyond the industry standard here. Features include detailed account information, chargeback/fraud warnings, automated alerts, real-time reporting, historical trends and graphs, QuickBooks integration, and several other useful tools.
- Chargeback Protection Features: All merchant accounts with CDGcommerce include access to Chargeback Defender, a program that automatically notifies you immediately if a chargeback is filed against your business. The program also assists you in defending against the chargeback. If you’re not successful, the Chargeback Collector feature works with a collections agency to file for restitution to recoup the cost of the chargeback. You’ll receive 50% of any amounts collected, with the rest going to cover the costs of the program.
- Fraud Loss Reimbursement Plan (FLRP): For an additional $10 per month, users of the Quantum Gateway can sign up for this program, which reimburses you 100% of the cost of a fraudulent transaction (up to a maximum of $150).
Fees & Rates
One of the first things you’ll notice on CDGcommerce’s home page is a Pricing tab, prominently displayed in the top menu. That’s your first clue that CDGcommerce is different from most other companies in the processing industry, which usually avoid divulging any pricing information whatsoever on their websites. You’ll want to take a close look at the information presented here, as the company offers a variety of rates and pricing plans for different types of businesses. CDGcommerce has recently revamped its pricing structure, and now offers a choice between three pricing plans, depending on your monthly processing volume. Here’s an overview of the three plans:
Simple, One-Rate Pricing
This plan works best for small businesses processing between $1,000 and $10,000 per month. Your flat-rate processing rates couldn’t be easier to understand:
- 2.75% + $0.30 per transaction for swiped or EMV (card-present) transactions
- 2.75% + $0.30 per transaction for mobile (card-present) transactions (a 0.15% surcharge also applies to keyed-in transactions)
- 2.90% + $0.30 per transaction for online (card-not-present) transactions
Note that there is also an additional 0.25% surcharge for all American Express transactions. ACH debit transactions cost a flat 0.75% + $0.15 per transaction.
This pricing plan has no monthly account fee, making it very attractive to small businesses that might otherwise be tempted to sign up with Square. Unlike Square, however, with CDGcommerce, you’ll receive a true merchant account with a unique merchant ID number and robust customer service and support.
While there are no regular monthly fees with this pricing plan, there are a few incidental fees that you’ll have to pay from time to time. These fees include chargeback fees ($25 per occurrence), retrieval fees ($15 per occurrence), refund processing fees ($0.25 each), and batch fees ($0.10 each).
Most well-established businesses will be best served by the interchange-plus pricing plan, which is tailored to the needs of merchants processing between $10,000 and $200,000 per month. Interchange-plus processing rates are as follows:
- Interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction for card-present (e.g., swiped or EMV) transactions
- Interchange + 0.30% + $0.15 per transaction for card-not-present (e.g., online or keyed-in) transactions
There is also a special rate of interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction available to qualified nonprofit organizations. Again, all ACH debit transactions cost a flat 0.75% + $0.15 per transaction.
While this plan does include a monthly account fee, the amount will vary according to which of the following options you choose:
- Bronze Plan: $19 per month (includes a free gateway)
- Silver Plan: $29 per month (includes a free gateway + one PastePay application)
- Gold Plan: $49 per month (includes a free gateway, all PastePay apps, and cdg360 security package)
Note that users of the Bronze or Silver plans can also add the cdg360 security package for $15 per month.
Again, there are a few incidental fees that you’ll have to pay from time to time. These fees include chargeback fees ($25 per occurrence), retrieval fees ($15 per occurrence), and batch fees ($0.25 each). There is no refund processing fee under this plan.
Subscription (Or Membership-Based) Pricing
For large, established businesses that want to save a substantial amount of money on processing costs and get the lowest possible processing rates, CDGcommerce now offers several subscription pricing plans that are very competitive with those offered by such providers as Payment Depot (see our review) and Fattmerchant (see our review). Here’s an overview of your options:
- For $79 per month, businesses processing up to $75,000 monthly pay a single rate of interchange + $0.10 per transaction
- For $99 per month, businesses processing up to $200,000 monthly pay a single rate of interchange + $0.07 per transaction
- For $149 per month, businesses processing over $200,000 monthly pay a single rate of interchange + $0.06 per transaction
One important caveat is that the subscription rates quoted above only apply if you pay for your account on an annual basis. Like many businesses offering subscription-based services these days, CDGcommerce provides a substantial discount if you pay for twelve months all at once. Your rates will be higher if you choose to pay monthly. We recommend that you scrutinize your cash flow carefully before selecting either of these two payment options (i.e., monthly or annually). Also, note that all subscription plans listed above include all of the PastePay applications and the cdg360 security package as part of the subscription fee.
We’re very impressed with the way that CDGcommerce has been able to eliminate so many of the nickel-and-dime fees that most providers charge. Here’s a brief rundown of the things the company doesn’t charge you for:
- No account setup fee
- No annual fee (except the $79 per year terminal insurance fee)
- No gateway fees
- No monthly minimum (this is particularly valuable to very small or seasonal businesses)
- No PCI compliance fees
- No Address Verification Service (AVS) fees (saves $0.05 per transaction)
- No TIN/1099K IRS reporting fees
- No early termination fees
For a small business, this can add up to very significant savings over what you would pay with a more traditional merchant account provider. Account setup fees can be $100 or more. Gateway fees usually run between $15 and $25 per month, plus there’s often an additional per-transaction charge. PCI compliance fees typically run around $99 per year but can be even higher. Early termination fees, although only applicable if you close your account early, can run between $300 and $500 — or even more.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
True month-to-month billing with no long-term contract and no early termination fee is the best arrangement you could ask for, and that’s exactly what CDGcommerce provides for all its merchants. In the processing industry, the typical merchant account contract runs for an initial term of two to four years, with three years being the most common length. These agreements also contain an automatic renewal clause, which will extend your contract for an additional year at a time unless you close your account within a very narrow window at the end of the term.
Most providers include these terms in their standard contracts, although some will now waive the early termination fee — but only if you negotiate aggressively to have it removed. Even then, you’re still on the hook for three years or more, and you might continue to be billed for monthly fees after you’ve stopped using your account and thought it was closed. Always thoroughly review your contract terms before signing up with any provider, and follow the instructions for closing your account to the letter to avoid difficulties. Note that merchants on one of CDGcommerce’s new subscription plans who’ve paid for a full year of processing upfront and then decide to close their account can expect to receive a prorated refund of the subscription fees for the unused months remaining in their subscription.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
CDGcommerce’s newly redesigned website is still something of a work in progress, but it already discloses far more details about the company’s pricing and contract terms than most of its competitors. We expect to see some of this information fleshed-out a little more in the coming months. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact one of the company’s sales representatives if you have questions about a particular product or service.
The company uses a full-time, in-house sales staff (who receive a salary rather than being paid on commission) and doesn’t rely on independent sales agents. The use of independent agents by many other providers has resulted in a massive volume of complaints from merchants. Independent agents usually receive inadequate training and are poorly supervised. Combined with the need to make a sale to earn a commission, these agents frequently resort to dishonest (and sometimes unethical) sales practices. You won’t have to worry about this problem with CDGcommerce. With most of the pricing and contract terms already disclosed online, there’s simply no reason for your sales representative to lie to you.
CDGcommerce also has a social media presence, with accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Unfortunately, none of these profiles seem to have been updated recently with new content.
Customer Service & Technical Support
CDGcommerce offers direct customer service via telephone from 9 AM to 6 PM (EST), Monday-Friday, with phone coverage being available 24/7. Live chat is available through the website during regular business hours. Email support is also available, and you should expect a response within 24 hours. Reports from merchants indicate that the quality of CDGcommerce’s customer support is very high.
The company used to include an eCommerce Resource Center on its website that offered useful documentation for setting up a payment gateway as well as several educational articles. While this feature is no longer available, we’re hopeful that it will be coming back to the new website sometime soon. We’d also like to see this section expanded into a more thorough knowledgebase.
While CDGcommerce is a relatively small company in comparison to many of the other providers we’ve reviewed, it has a great reputation among merchants and across the payment processing industry. Complaints are few and far between and often arise due to issues with the back-end processor, which are out of the company’s hands.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
CDGcommerce has been accredited by the BBB since 2007 and currently has an A+ rating. The company has received only three complaints within the past three years, none of which were filed within the last twelve months. The most recent complaint is over two years old at this point. This also represents a decrease in overall complaint volume from our previous review update, when the company had received five complaints within the last three years. There are also two one-star reviews on the company’s BBB page, although they are exact duplicates of complaints filed on the same page and presumably written by the same merchants. CDGcommerce currently has a 3 out of 5 stars rating on its Facebook page, with two reviewers giving a 5-star and a 1-star rating, respectively.
The majority of complaints we found against CDGcommerce come from merchants who have experienced a funding hold. While it’s quite unpleasant to not receive your funds for a transaction (and they’re often very large transactions), merchants need to understand that this situation is not the fault of CDGcommerce. The company is not a direct processor, and the decision to withhold funds is solely at the discretion of the back-end processor. In fact, CDGcommerce is much more proactive than many providers in trying to resolve holds on funding. After all, the company doesn’t get its money until the funds are released, either. So before you make a fool of yourself on the internet by filing angry complaints and making pointless threats to sue the company, educate yourself on why funding holds are issued, how they’re resolved, and how you can avoid them in the first place. Our article on how to avoid merchant account holds, freezes, and terminations is a good place to start.
We’ve also found a few complaints from merchants whose accounts were terminated after the company determined that their businesses were high-risk. While CDGcommerce could do a better job of more prominently advertising its policy of not accepting such businesses, it’s equally important that merchants be completely honest about the nature of their businesses when submitting their merchant account application. There isn’t a provider in the industry that won’t shut your account down immediately if they find out that your business isn’t really what you said it was when you applied for an account.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
CDGcommerce offers several brief testimonials on its revamped website, but the information provided isn’t as extensive as what was available in the past. Hopefully, this aspect of the website will be expanded soon.
You’ll also find several positive reviews in our Comments section as well as on other independent review sites. It’s relatively uncommon for satisfied customers to go to the trouble of writing a review. Merchants are far more likely to complain than to praise. While this is probably true in any line of business, it’s especially true in the credit card processing industry.
For a small business looking to accept credit cards with a full-service merchant account rather than relying on Square (see our review), CDGcommerce is one of the best (and most affordable) choices you can make. If you can do without the optional bells and whistles, you can have a true merchant account with pay-as-you-go pricing and no monthly account fee. eCommerce merchants, who usually have to shell out extra just to connect their website to a payment gateway, can enjoy a free gateway and interchange-plus pricing for as little as $19 per month.
As your business grows, CDGcommerce’s services and pricing can grow with you. It’s easy to add data breach insurance and other crucial security features through the cdg360 add-on service. Because CDGcommerce doesn’t charge gateway fees, PCI compliance fees, or monthly minimums, your cost to maintain your account will always be low — and predictable. You can transition from flat-rate pricing to interchange-plus — or even subscription pricing — as your monthly volume increases and these types of processing rate plans become a better fit for your business.
We’re also very impressed with the company’s unique way of supplying credit card terminals. Countertop terminals are provided for free (one per account, of course), and all you have to pay is a reasonable annual fee to insure and maintain it. This is the one instance where we would recommend renting your terminal rather than buying one outright. Remember, this is not a lease — you can cancel your account and return your terminal at any time. It’s a good way to avoid the risk of being stuck with an obsolete terminal in the future.
If there’s a catch in CDGcommerce’s service, it’s that it’s only available to US-based merchants. The company goes out of its way to remind you of this on its contract documents, but some people still occasionally try to sign up without noticing these restrictions. The company can also accept some high-risk merchants in several specific industries. If you’re a high-risk merchant in need of a merchant account and CDGcommerce can’t accommodate your industry, check out our article on the best high-risk merchant account providers for some great recommendations.
Overall, CDGcommerce easily receives a score of 5 out of 5 stars. CDGcommerce’s combination of high-quality service and low pricing makes it one of the best processors we’ve found, and we highly recommend that you check the company out. If you’ve had any personal experience with CDGcommerce, be sure to leave a review in the comments section below.