Processing $5,000 per month or less in card payments?
- Date Established
- Chesapeake, Virginia
- Interchange-plus pricing offered
- 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
- Mobile card reader is not EMV-compatible
- Only available to US-based merchants
CDGcommerce is a merchant account provider with 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 their services are geared more toward eCommerce businesses, they also provide a full range of offerings for retail merchants as well.
The company currently serves over 20,000 merchants, putting it in the 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 most likely to have a positive experience with them.
In evaluating merchant account providers, there are certain features that we really like 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 solid 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.
For retail merchants, we like to see providers who don’t trap their customers in 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 their contracts are month-to-month, so you can cancel at any time without having to pay a penalty. They offer interchange-plus pricing plans to businesses processing over $10,000 per month. For smaller businesses that process less than $10,000 per month, they offer a simplified pricing plan that combines features of flat-rate and tiered pricing. While we’re generally not fans of tiered pricing plans, the company’s rates are fully disclosed and also quite reasonable. You won’t experience the kind of sticker shock that merchants on traditional tiered plans often suffer when they look at their monthly processing statement. Credit card terminals are included with your account, 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. For eCommerce merchants, they’ll also include the use of either their proprietary Quantum payment gateway or Authorize.Net (see our review) for free. Finally, they back everything up with excellent customer service and support.
With so many outstanding features, it should come as no surprise that CDGcommerce earns an excellent 5 out of 5 stars rating. We recommend them very highly, and when you learn about all they have 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 they’re particularly focused on eCommerce and small to mid-sized businesses. Their one-step PCI compliance program and robust optional cdg360 security features come in handy for eCommerce and beyond, and their 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, they partner with one or more backend processors to handle processing your transactions and getting the money to you. Your backend processor will be identified in your contract documents when you set up your account. It’s also very important to note that one of the ways CDGcommerce keeps their costs so affordable is by not accepting high-risk merchants. If you’re not sure whether your business falls in the high-risk category, consult with one of the company’s sales representatives before applying.
- Payment Gateway: eCommerce users can choose between either the company’s proprietary Quantum payment gateway or Authorize.Net (see our review). Either gateway is completely free to use – there’s no setup fee, no monthly gateway fee, and no extra per-transaction processing charge. This is a huge savings over signing up with Authorize.Net directly, as they charge a $49.00 setup fee, a $25.00 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, USB-connected card reader that CDGcommerce will provide to you for free.
- 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 $79.00 annual insurance fee to cover loss, damage, and upgrades. You also have to return the equipment if you close your account, obviously. This works out to about $6.58 per month – a fraction of what a traditional terminal lease will cost. CDGcommerce currently offers the Verifone Vx520 and PAX S90 terminals. Both terminals are EMV-compliant and support NFC-based payment methods. The S90 is a wireless model, so you’ll have to pay an additional $20.00 per month for the data plan, plus an extra $0.05 per transaction.
- Mobile Payments: If you need to process payments anywhere, but don’t want to deal with the expense of a wireless terminal, CDGcommerce offers the ProcessNow app and card reader. The app is available for both iOS and Android and works with a variety of smartphones and tablets. Both the app and the card reader are free. ProcessNow features single screen payment entry, automatic tip calculation, and inventory management capability. Customer receipts can be emailed or printed with a compatible Bluetooth-connected receipt printer. Unfortunately, the current card reader is magstripe-only and doesn’t support EMV. It also plugs into a headphone jack, so it won’t work with many of the latest smartphones.
- Point-Of-Sale (POS) Systems: CDGcommerce offers their proprietary CDG POS+ system, which uses the Harbortouch Echo terminal. The CDG POS+ equipment package includes a terminal with a 13.3” touchscreen display, a cash drawer, and a thermal receipt printer. All security features of the cdg360 security package (normally $15.00 per month) are also included. This equipment is provided for free, but you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of $39.00 and an annual $79.00 fee for complete equipment replacement protection. A barcode scanner is also available as an additional option. If you’d like to accept Apple Pay, an EMV/NFC Apple Pay reader is also available. While it’s free for merchants processing over $10,000 per month, those under this amount will have to pay either a one-time fee of $149 or a $10.00 per month rental fee. Overall, the CDG POS+ package represents significant savings over traditional Point-of-Sale systems, even with all the bells and whistles included.
- Security Service: Called cdg360, this $15.00 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, CDG 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 a number of other useful tools.
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. This is 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. You’ll start by choosing between two primary types of pricing: simplified and advanced. Simplified pricing, while available to all merchants regardless of monthly processing volume, is primarily designed for small businesses processing less than $10,000 per month. Advanced pricing, which is only available to businesses processing over $10,000 per month, offers interchange-plus pricing and discounted rates to merchants with higher processing volumes. While most providers that offer interchange-plus rates will provide a discount for larger businesses, you’ll usually have to negotiate for it, and they certainly don’t advertise their lower rates.
Every merchant using simplified pricing pays one of two possible rates for each transaction. These rates include both a qualified rate and a non-qualified rate. Non-qualified rates are a hallmark of tiered pricing plans, which we generally don’t like. Many merchant account providers mislead you by advertising only their qualified rates, and often only the lowest possible qualified rate at that. CDGcommerce doesn’t play this type of game. Not only do they fully disclose their non-qualified rates, but they also provide examples of the types of transactions for which a non-qualified rate will apply. We should also point out that even their non-qualified rates are about the same as what you’d pay with a payment service provider such as Square (see our review). In actual practice, you’ll most often have to pay a higher, non-qualified rate when a customer uses a rewards card that offers cash back or airline miles. Here’s an overview of the rates for CDGcommerce’s simplified pricing plans:
- Online: 1.95% + $0.30 per transaction (2.95% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction (international, corporate cards and premium cards))
- Retail (swipe): 1.70% + $0.25 per transaction (2.90% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction (keyed-in sales, international and premium cards))
- POS: 1.70% + $0.25 per transaction (2.90% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction (keyed-in sales, international and premium cards))
- Mobile: 1.70% + $0.25 per transaction (2.90% + $0.30 per non-qualified transaction (keyed-in sales, international and premium cards))
Advanced pricing offers discounts for nonprofits and businesses with processing volumes over $10,000 per month. Here’s a summary of CDGcommerce’s published advanced pricing rates, which apply to all online and retail merchants (including swipe, POS, and mobile users):
- $10,000 – $25,000: interchange + 0.30% + $0.10 per transaction
- $25,001 – $50,000: interchange + 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction
- $50,001 – $100,000: interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction
- Non-profit: interchange + 0.20% + $0.10 per transaction (regardless of monthly processing volume)
If your business processes over $100,000 per month, you’ll have to contact CDGcommerce directly for a custom pricing quote. You can expect to pay lower rates than those quoted here. If you’re switching to CDGcommerce from a competing provider, the company will offer lower rates than those quoted above to match what your current provider is charging you.
While these are certainly very competitive rates, you can’t evaluate the actual cost of your merchant account without also factoring in the numerous monthly and annual fees you’ll have to pay to maintain your account. This is where CDGcommerce really blows away the competition, as they have one of the most affordable fee schedules in the industry. Every account requires an account support fee of just $10.00 per month. If you opt for the cdg360 security package (which we highly recommend for all but the smallest businesses), you’ll pay an additional $15.00 per month. For online merchants, use of either the Quantum gateway or Authorize.Net is completely free.
What’s most notable about CDGcommerce’s fee schedule is the long list of things they don’t charge you for at all, including the following:
- No account setup fee
- No annual fee
- No gateway fee
- No monthly minimum (this is particularly valuable to very small or seasonal businesses)
- No PCI compliance fee
- No Address Verification Service (AVS) fees (saves $0.05 per transaction)
- No TIN/1099K IRS reporting fees
- No early termination fee
For a small business, this can add up to a very significant savings over what you would pay with a traditional merchant account provider. Account setup fees can be $100 or more. Gateway fees usually run between $15.00 and $25.00 per month, plus there’s usually an additional per-transaction charge. PCI compliance fees typically run around $99.00 per year, but can be higher. Early termination fees, although they only apply if you close your account early, can run between $300 and $500 – or even more.
Of course, providers are far more likely to advertise the fees they don’t charge you, without necessarily mentioning the other costs you’ll still have to pay. For example, all providers will bill you for chargebacks. While CDGcommerce doesn’t disclose their chargeback fee, you can expect it to be between $15.00 and $25.00 per occurrence. As always, it’s imperative that you review all contract documents thoroughly before signing up, even with a highly reputable provider like CDGcommerce.
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.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
CDGcommerce has a beautiful, easy-to-navigate website that provides most of the information you need to make an informed decision about the company. In fact, it discloses far more details about its pricing and contract terms than most of its competitors. Read carefully, however, as the “free” terminals and POS systems it provides with its retail accounts aren’t entirely without cost to you. Fortunately, the $79 annual insurance fee and $39.00 per month fee for a POS system are prominently disclosed.
The company also uses a full-time, in-house sales staff rather than relying on independent sales agents. The use of independent agents by many other providers has resulted in a huge volume of complaints from merchants. Independent agents usually receive inadequate training and are poorly supervised. Combined with the need to make a sale in order 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 their pricing and contract terms already disclosed online, there’s simply no reason for your sales representative to lie to you.
The company also has a reasonable presence on social media, 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 24/7 telephone support through a toll-free phone number. Live chat is also available through their website, but only during regular business hours. You can also contact the company via email, and you should expect a response within 24 hours. Reports from merchants indicate that the quality of CDGcommerce’s customer support is very high.
For self-help, their E-Commerce Resource Center offers several useful documents for setting up their Quantum Gateway (or Authorize.Net). They also offer a few educational articles, including a detailed breakdown of merchant account fees. We’d like to see this section of their website expanded into a more thorough knowledgebase in the future.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
CDGcommerce has been accredited by the BBB since 2007 and currently has an A+ rating. The company has received only five complaints within the past three years. This total is quite small for a provider of this size. There is also only a single complaint against the company on Ripoff Report. CDGcommerce currently has a 3.0 out of 5 stars rating on their Facebook page, with two reviewers giving them 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. They’re not a direct processor, and the decision to withhold funds is solely at the discretion of the backend processor. In fact, CDGcommerce is much more proactive than many providers in trying to resolve funding holds. After all, they don’t get their 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 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 their 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 a Client Interviews and Testimonials page on their website, where you’ll find three videos and eight written testimonials from satisfied merchants. They’re all quite compelling and include enough information about the business to verify their authenticity.
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. In fact, 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 for a mere $10.00 per month. This includes eCommerce merchants, who usually have to shell out extra just to connect their website to a payment gateway.
As your business grows, CDGcommerce’s services and pricing can grow with you. It’s easy to add data breach insurance and other important security features through the cdg360 add-on service. You’ll also qualify for lower interchange-plus processing rates as your monthly processing volume increases. 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.
We’re also very impressed with the company’s unique way of supplying credit card terminals. The equipment is provided for free, 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 one catch in CDGcommerce’s service, it’s that they’re only available to US-based merchants. The company goes out of their way to remind you of this on their contract documents, but some people still occasionally try to sign up without noticing this restriction. We’d also like to see an EMV-compliant card reader for their mobile payments system. More and more providers are introducing EMV-compliant mobile card readers, and CDGcommerce needs to catch up as this capability is quickly becoming the industry standard.
Overall, CDGcommerce easily scores a 5 out of 5 stars rating. Their combination of high-quality service and low pricing makes them one of the best processors we’ve found, and we highly recommend that you check them out. If you’ve had any personal experience with CDGcommerce, be sure to leave a review in the comments section below.