Taking $5,000 per month or less in card payments?
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- Date Established
- Westlake Village, CA
- Month-to-month agreement
- No setup or application fees
- Good customer support
- Deceptive advertising
- Limited pricing disclosed online
- Expensive for low-volume merchants
I’ll admit that CreditCardProcessing.com is a solid name for a merchant account provider. Like the gateway company Authorize.Net for authorizing transactions, CreditCardProcessing.com’s name pretty much says what it does. And, like Authorize.Net, the business name is also the web address.
However, unlike Authorize.Net and its spunky capital N for “Net,” CreditCardProcessing.com hasn’t capitalized the C in “com.” And, unlike Authorize.Net, CreditCardProcessing.com is way too long to type out every time. I’ve decided we’re abbreviating it CCP.
CCP is based in Westlake Village, CA, with a satellite office in the Boston area. The website and company logo indicate a 1998 start, but I’m using 2012 as the founding date. We’ll delve into the reasons for that later. For now, you should know that CCP became a wholly-owned subsidiary of iPayment, Inc. in 2012. iPayment is a large independent sales organization (ISO) for First Data, which is one of the biggest card processors in the US. CCP may take you through the application process and negotiate terms, but your actual merchant account is with iPayment.
Notably, CCP advertises no long-term contracts and no early termination fees. CCP’s pricing, features, and advertising closely resemble Flagship Merchant Services, which was also purchased by iPayment in 2012. Although they claim to be in direct competition with one another, I’d just think of Flagship and CCP as two branches of the same processing company. I’ve tried, but I have a hard time differentiating between them. They even offer the same bonus structure for recruiting sales agents. Not surprisingly, a quick look through LinkedIn reveals that many CCP employees have worked at Flagship or iPayment as well.
Both branches of iPayment are big on online ads. The onslaught began for me as soon as I started my research into the iPayment family. Multiple ads for both Flagship and CreditCardProcessing.com suddenly appeared amongst my casual web browsing. Checking the weather, I was hit with three. Looking up the lyrics to a song, I found six ads for CreditCardProcessing.com. (Granted, it was a 25-minute song…but six ads on one page!) I’m starting to see them in my sleep. It’s definitely an occupational hazard. I’m not quite ready to clear my head or my web browser of CreditCardProcessing.com yet, though. On with the review!
Their name says it all!
Table of Contents
Products & Services
Merchant Accounts: CreditCardProcessing.com reps will negotiate your pricing and terms and submit your application to iPayment proper, which generally uses First Data’s processing platform. A high-risk merchant application may be submitted to one of a small handful of alternate processing partners specializing in these accounts.
Payment Gateway/Virtual Terminal: Quiq is a proprietary gateway from iPayment, with a virtual terminal option for mail and telephone order (MOTO) merchants. For e-commerce merchants, the Simple Checkout page describes how you can set up “buy” or “donate” buttons that link to a hosted payment page, while the Advanced Integrations page discusses APIs and shopping cart integrations. Quiq also supports recurring billing and subscriptions.
Analytics and Reporting: iAccess is iPayment’s business management portal for analyzing your transaction data, viewing customer support materials and industry news, and accessing CRM-style resources such as online reputation management. This comes free with all merchant accounts.
“Free” Card Terminal: You can “pay $0” for an EMV/NFC-capable credit card terminal when you sign up for a merchant account with CreditCardProcessing.com. There’s a double asterisk with this offer, which at the bottom of the page indicates that “certain restrictions may apply.” Basically, the catch is that you’ll need to sign a 12-month agreement with a termination fee of $250 to cover the cost of the terminal should you cancel early. I’m told the terminal they most commonly offer these days is the Verifone VX520. CreditCardProcessing.com can also reprogram terminals you already possess as long as there are no compatibility issues.
Mobile Processing: Found under the “Wireless” section of the site, CCP offers iPayment’s MobilePay app and EMV/NFC-capable card reader. The app also doubles as a virtual terminal if you’re not using Quiq for that feature. While the reader is offered “free,” it comes with the same double-asterisk qualifying statement as the “free” terminal above. Depending on the channel through which you sign up for a merchant account, you may end up paying $39 for the reader. The good news is that’s with no tax, no shipping fee, and includes free replacement if needed.
POS Systems: CreditCardProcessing.com resells the full suite of Clover POS products. We already publish reviews on each of Clover’s offerings, as well as comparisons between resellers, so I won’t get into a lot of detail here. First Data will ultimately process your transactions if you’re using Clover. You’ll also see that CCP agents can offer new merchants a “Free* Clover Mini POS system.” We’re back in asterisk territory again for that “free,” so you’ll need to ask about the catch.
Digital Loyalty Program: So, CCP uses iPayment’s gateway called Quiq. iPayment also has a POS called Banq offered by Flagship. CreditCardProcessing.com offers an add-on digital loyalty program through iPayment called Pirq. It’s a cute little q-naming party over here, isn’t it? Requiring no separate POS integration, your customers download the Pirq app themselves to set up a digital punch card for your business.
Fees & Rates
I was pretty excited to see a “Rates & Fees” tab front and center at CreditCardProcessing.com. (Yes, I most definitely need to get out more.) My excitement turned to disappointment, however, when this led to an explanation page on why they don’t actually publish rates and fees. You can read it for yourself, but I can tell you it’s the standard justification that one size doesn’t fit all.
We surmise from copious online ads that rates are “as low as 0.35%.” Without telling you the pricing model, nor the type of card or transaction, this number is largely unhelpful. Good sales reps from CCP will carefully explain that this represents one qualified tier of a blended pricing plan.
Most of the pricing information below was obtained through my communications with CCP’s Director of Sales. He kindly provided their current “go to market” pricing, meaning it’s up for negotiation depending on your size, type of business, and other factors. Both tiered and interchange-plus plans are available. From their advertising, we gather that you’ll likely get a tiered quote to start.
Tiered Rates: Swiped
- Qualified signature debit: 0.35% + $0.20
- Qualified credit: 1.55% + $0.20
Tiered Rates: Keyed
- Qualified signature debit: 0.95% + $0.22
- Qualified credit: 1.95% + $0.22
- 0.30% + $0.10
- Monthly fee: $7.95
- Monthly minimum: $25
- Annual PCI compliance fee: $119
- Monthly PCI non-compliance fee (if applicable): $30
- Quiq gateway: $6.95/mo, first 500 transactions free, $0.05/transaction after 500
- Authorize.Net gateway: $7.95/mo + $0.05/transaction
- Address Verification Service (AVS): $0.05/transaction
- Voice Authorization (when applicable): $0.95
- Chargebacks: $25
As we move on from CreditCardProcessing.com’s pricing, keep these related points in mind:
- Tiered plans will also include higher mid-qualified and non-qualified rate brackets.
- The pricing package you’re presented with may differ depending on whether you’re signing up via one of CCP’s referral partners or applying through a Google ad.
- The PCI fee of $119 is charged in either May or November. Yours will come due depending on when you were approved to start processing.
- Card-not-present merchants incur an AVS fee on every transaction.
- Low-volume merchants need to carefully factor in the monthly minimum.
- Value-added services will cost extra. For example, Pirq is normally $30 per month, plus extra for premium versions with email and push notification campaigns. While you’ll probably get a discount when these services are bundled with a CCP merchant account, be sure to ask about the fee for each product you use.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
A definite highlight for CreditCardProcessing.com is that month-to-month agreements and no early termination fees are standard offerings. Still, there are some exceptions. For example, if you want to capitalize on the free card terminal offer, you’ll need to sign up for a 12-month agreement. If you terminate early, your effective ETF will be the $250 to cover the cost of the terminal.
Another potential wrench in the works is that annual PCI fee. Annual fees and month-to-month plans don’t generally mix too well unless you’re guaranteed a pro-rated refund. Apparently, if you cancel your CCP account before your next PCI fee is due (either May or November), you won’t be charged. You’ll need to watch your account carefully if you decide to cancel.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
Let’s start this section with a little mystery to solve. Ready?
When was CreditCardProcessing.com founded? Here are your clues:
You can see we’ve already run into a problem. Want another clue? The actual website copy currently reads: “CreditCardProcessing.com has been providing merchant accounts and credit card processing since 1998. Today, over 153,000 businesses trust CreditCardProcessing.com with their credit card processing needs.”
So 1996 was… a typo? I’ve seen some say that they’re simply using iPayment’s founding date. That could be true, especially since 153,000 merchants is also a number iPayment has used in the past. Perhaps whoever owned CCP before 2012 was founded in 1996.
The Better Business Bureau lists CreditCardProcessing.com’s start date as 2012. This was the same year it was bought by iPayment. Inc. The reason I’m using 2012 as the founding date in this review is that I think we can safely say that whatever CreditCardProcessing.com is today began in 2012. The CreditCardProcessing.com domain was not even in use until about 2012. CCP is still a bit of a mystery before then. I can’t say I’ve had much luck getting to the bottom of it.
Does the founding date even matter, though? Well, I think we can all agree it shouldn’t be this confusing. In addition to date and size mystery, I take issue with several of CCP’s advertising techniques:
- No pricing details on the main website. Regardless of a company’s justification for not publishing rates and fees, we’ve come to expect clear advertising of prices from the best merchant account providers.
- Deceptively incomplete rates in online ads. Phrases like “rates as low as” are never a good sign. The one hard number they publish is the 0.35% for qualified signature debit—one small sub-section of a tiered pricing plan. And, they completely leave off the transaction fee. And, there is no mention of annual fees, monthly fees, or monthly minimums.
- Asterisks, asterisks, and more asterisks! So many offers from CCP come with one or more asterisks. Even offers to their own sales agents for bonuses come with them! If you have to put in that many disclaimers, you should probably skip making the statement in the first place.
- Free gift card offers. Whether it’s a $50* or $500* Amex card if CCP can’t beat a competitor’s rates, we’re not fans of this “we’ll do anything to get a foot in the door” tactic. The widely varying dollar amount of CCP’s offer only serves to highlight how flippantly these deals are thrown around in the industry.
- Mutually exclusive offers inside the same ad. Online ads promote a free mobile card reader with your merchant account. The problem is, the free reader is part of a deal offered through CCP’s referral partners, not through online ad sign-ups. If I sign up through an online ad, the reader is $39. But that’s where I saw the free offer in the first place! See what I mean? Or, how about offering month-to-month plans and free card terminals right beside each other? We already know that if you want the free terminal, you’ve gotta sign up for a one-year agreement. They’re throwing everything at you in one big list, hoping to at least get a conversation going.
I’ve been pretty hard on CreditCardProcessing.com so far, but I’m just not a fan of their marketing style. If there is a forthright and worthwhile company behind all of this, they need to do a much better job of making that first impression. Truthfully, I don’t think CreditCardProcessing.com as a whole is nearly as tricky as its advertising and founding-date-switching would suggest. I suspect your interactions will be much more straightforward if you ignore their advertising completely and start from scratch. Talk to the company directly, ask good questions, negotiate well, and you will probably be fine.
Customer Service & Technical Support
CreditCardProcessing.com has a large customer support team based out of their California office. Tech support lines are covered 24/7, and nothing is outsourced overseas. Sales support is based in both California and Massachusetts, so between the two offices, this is covered from around 8am to 9pm EST (5am-6pm PST). Once you’re signed on for an account, your rep should be available to answer questions during your specific business hours.
The website includes a glossary, a short FAQ, and a set of longer resource articles. Many of CCP’s merchant support resources are accessed through iAccess. (Again, the name says it all!) Unfortunately, this means I can’t evaluate the full depth or breadth of CCP’s customer resources.
CreditCardProcessing.com also isn’t really active on social media. No Facebook or Twitter profiles are maintained by the company. An automatically generated Facebook page is about all you’ll get. They do have a LinkedIn page if you’re itching to follow something, or you could follow iPayment’s Twitter instead. CCP’s YouTube only has a couple videos, but I’ve seen screenshots of video tutorials for terminal trouble-shooting and “how to read your statement” guides from iAccess.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
While I can’t find many significant differences between CreditCardProcessing.com and Flagship Merchant Services, I’ll acknowledge that CCP has definitely earned fewer complaints. CreditCardProcessing has an A+ rating and 76 complaints over the last three years at the Better Business Bureau, with 27 in the last year. Flagship has 185 and a B rating. Over at Consumer Affairs, Flagship has 37 one-star reviews and iPayment-proper has 72, while CreditCardProcessing.com doesn’t even have a profile there. I’m still unclear on the comparative sizes of iPayment versus CCP, versus Flagship, versus any other subsidiaries of iPayment. I suspect Flagship has been a more prominent player in the market than CreditCardProcessing.com in the past.
Examining the substance of CCP reviews, the iPayment subsidiaries blur back together again. Merchants claim their representatives did not accurately disclose monthly fees, the monthly minimum, or the annual PCI fee, or they say their processing rates were higher than expected. Merchants have also run into difficulty closing their CreditCardProcessing.com accounts or accuse CCP of holding their funds without cause.
Any of the above complaints can be found in Flagship’s or iPayment’s complaint logs as well. They are actually some of the most common complaints across the whole card processing industry. For this reason, the account provider’s response is often the more interesting piece of the equation. Again, here we see a striking similarity between CCP and Flagship.
First of all, both companies often use identical, word-for-word texts in their responses. The response usually begins, “We regret that this merchant did not fully understand all of the terms of the agreement,” which we can easily peg as a sort of non-apology-apology.
Then, here’s a common response that follows that introductory statement:
The customer contacted our company, and was then connected to an account representative who went over the rates and fees of our merchant services. The customer… then provided their personal and proprietary information to the representative to pre-fill an electronic application and begin the approval/activation process. The application was sent over for the customer to review at which point they are able to perform an “e-signature” with their mouse and they then answer security questions based on their personal history pulled from public records. The full agreement was available to print out via PDF.
That’s your standard “the info was all in the agreement, so it’s not our fault” defense. Next, they may include a brief statement about why things may have gone wrong in this particular case, such as this response related to the closing of an account:
Because we provide a financial service, we typically require signed authorization to cancel our accounts. It does not appear the signed authorization was initially received in this case.
Finally, they say they’ve requested a fee refund (from iPayment) “as a courtesy” that will be processed in the coming days. Sometimes they skip straight from the introductory stock statement to the refund. Ultimately, a refund of some kind is the proposed resolution most of the time.
We could interpret these canned responses as laziness and a refusal to get to the bottom what really went wrong. Alternatively, we could see them as a conscious decision to stay out of the blame game and stick to a simple response that streamlines the arbitration process. Either way, I give CCP credit for offering at least a partial refund in the majority of cases. This strategy seems to be working as they maintain their A+ rating.
In the instance of held funds, we have another frequently copied-and-pasted-between-companies response that actually shifts blame to the parent company:
Please move this complaint to iPayment’s profile. The decision regarding the holding of the funds for this merchant is made by the Loss Prevention/Security Team of iPayment. CreditCardProcessing.com’s role in the sales process with this merchant is to explain the rates and fees associated with… credit card processing and the equipment used for said credit card processing. We then assist the merchant through the application, underwriting and boarding process of their merchant application and merchant account install. At that point, they have a merchant account with iPayment and all debiting and crediting and holding of funds are handled and determined by iPayment and we have no control over such decisions. The loss prevention department has advised this customer of the status of these funds.
I suppose we can be glad CCP blames iPayment more than they blame merchants! The hold/freeze/termination problem is secondary to the overall transparency problem when it comes to complaints, since account stability issues are often inevitable. It’s also true that holds and account freezes ultimately come from the processor, not the sales office. Still, excellent sales and customer service departments ought to act as advocates for merchants, rather than completely washing their hands of these issues. Meanwhile, you can also help prevent account holds and freezes by educating yourself as a business owner.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Do you remember iAccess from earlier in this review? This is merchant-facing account management software from iPayment. One key element of this software is “online reputation management.” From what I can tell, this allows you to track customer reviews on various websites so that you can respond to complaints quickly. I wouldn’t be surprised if this software also helps you solicit positive feedback from your customers. In fact, I’m almost sure iPayment and its subsidiaries are using the software to manage and improve their own online reputations. And why not? Might as well put it to good use!
The reason for my suspicion is that iPayment, Flagship, and CreditCardProcessing.com all seem to rack up way more positive comments around the internet than negative. Trust me, that’s rare. Flagship’s BBB profile has over 200 positive reviews, and its Consumer Affairs profile has over 100 5-star ratings. iPayment’s Consumer Affairs profile also has close to 200 positive marks. While CreditCardProcessing.com doesn’t have a presence on Consumer Affairs, at the BBB they do have 85 positive reviews. These nicely counter-balance their 16 negative reviews in the “Customer Reviews” section that’s separate from the main complaint section.
A closer look at the content of the reviews reveals that 71 of the 85 positive comments were left between July 2015 and October 2015. September 2015 was a particularly stellar month, with 38 positive reviews. If you check out our Flagship review, you’ll see they experienced an eerily similar phenomenon.
Does this mean these are fake reviews written by CCP employees? Or are they from real customers, but part of a targeted campaign to gather positive reviews? The best case scenario is clearly the latter. The more detailed comments typically praise CCP’s customer service and competitive rates. Beyond that, it’s hard to determine much from the shorter ones, such as “positive experience,” or “great company!!!!!!!!!”
Lastly, I’ll mention that five positive reviews scroll through a “Testimonials” box on the CreditCardProcessing.com site. These include business names and the full names of business owners, giving them a bit more weight. I believe these five are all duplicated over at the BBB.
If we are to believe the positive feedback about CreditCardProcessing.com, plenty of its clients are receiving excellent service and great processing rates. Month-to-month plans with no early termination fees are definitely ideal. My personal interactions with the CCP team were also pretty helpful and positive. While they’ve gathered a moderate number of complaints in recent years, I also appreciate CreditCardProcessing.com’s willingness to offer refunds to frustrated merchants. I believed the Director of Sales when he explained that he personally oversees the arbitration processes.
As I wrapped up my research on CCP, a few mysteries were still not solved to my satisfaction. I’d love to know more about its 1998/1996 beginnings, what changed after it was bought by iPayment at the same time as Flagship Merchant Services, and more on how each entity relates to the others. Although CCP may have fewer complaints than Flagship around the internet, the two appear uncannily similar from the outside looking in. I can’t help but picture the two sales teams working out of two sides of the same Boston-area office building!
It would be interesting to approach both Flagship and CreditCardProcessing.com for quotes and observe exactly how they try to out-compete each other. As of this writing, CCP does claim slightly lower baseline rates. In either case, be particularly aware of the monthly minimum processing fee, the annual PCI fee, and the multiple rate brackets of their tiered plans.
Regardless of any internal and in-person positives for CCP, I just can’t get on board with their online advertising strategy. The pricing transparency bar for good companies in the card processing industry is higher than it was in 1996, 1998, and even 2012. We expect to see some hard numbers and clear explanations of the various fees involved on the main website, which CreditCardProcessing.com does not provide. Secondly, I believe their online ads paint a deceptively incomplete picture of what CCP is really offering.
With this less-than-ideal outward appearance, I can’t award CreditCardProcessing.com more than 3.5 stars at this time. We’ll continue to watch complaint trends, which do indicate that some customers were surprised by their rates and fees, even after working with a representative. As CreditCardProcessing.com is owned by iPayment, they may not have much wiggle room to adapt their strategy. Perhaps they feel their current strategy works well and needs no tweaking. Only time will tell.
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