Durango Merchant Services Review
- Specialists in placing high-risk merchants
- Offers offshore accounts for international merchants
- Fair pricing and contract terms
- Offer credit card terminals for direct sale
- Dedicated account manager for customer service
- Mobile processing solution is magstripe-only
- Website needs an overhaul
Durango Merchant Services is a merchant account provider headquartered in (naturally) Durango, Colorado. The company has been in business since 1999 and has earned an excellent reputation for serving the high-risk merchant community, as well as international merchants and even traditional low-risk merchants. If you’re in the high-risk category and have had difficulty getting approved for a merchant account, we highly recommend that you check them out.
We’re normally very leery of merchant account providers that market to the high-risk sector. Many of them are pretty shady, offering fast and guaranteed approval to merchants who’ve been repeatedly turned down for a merchant account. Unfortunately, they’re more likely than not to quickly approve your account so they can lock you into a long-term contract with exorbitantly high processing rates and a host of inflated account fees. High-risk processing is never cheap, but it doesn’t have to be a complete rip-off, either. Durango Merchant Services is one of the few completely reputable, honest, and fair merchant services providers who advertise as high-risk specialists.
Truth be told, many high-risk merchants don’t even realize that they’re high-risk until they begin to pursue a merchant account. But then, after a string of rejections, they get desperate and willing to work with whoever will take them. This is a huge mistake. If you’re running an honest business that just so happens to be high-risk, you deserve to work with a dedicated partner, not some processor looking to take advantage of your desperation. Durango will deliver the kind of exceptional service our other 5-star processors do, with the added benefit of expertise in high-risk accounts.
Your rates and fees will depend on your business category, risk level (higher risk equal higher rates), length of time in business, processing history, and credit history. Durango will act with integrity and treat you fairly, regardless of your business type. They’ve had only one complaint with the BBB in the past three years and very few elsewhere. I recommend them not only to merchants with higher than average risk but any merchant looking for quality service and industry excellence, especially eCommerce merchants.
Durango earns a stellar 5 out of 5 stars rating overall. Note that this rating applies only to their high-risk and offshore merchant accounts. While we haven’t seen any negative feedback from low-risk merchants, their highly customized pricing and lack of standardized fees or contract terms leave us with an inadequate amount of information to provide a reliable rating in this area. If you’re a low-risk merchant and are considering them, we recommend that you obtain a free quote and compare it to what other providers are offering you. Read on below for more details, or get started with Durango.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
Durango offers a full array of products and services for both high-risk and low-risk merchants, including the following:
- Merchant accounts: The company partners with a wide variety of banks and processors to get you approved for an account, regardless of whether you’re high-risk or not. They specialize in finding accounts for merchants with low credit or who have found themselves on the Terminated Merchant File (TMF) or MATCH List.
- International merchant accounts: If you’re an international merchant looking to do business in the United States, Durango has you covered. They offer international merchant accounts that include currency conversion services, support for multi-currency accounts, and additional fraud prevention services. International accounts are available in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, The Netherlands, Panama, Spain, the United Kingdom, and other countries not listed on their website.
- Credit card terminals: Rather than try to sign you up for an overpriced equipment lease, Durango offers a variety of terminals, PIN pads, and mobile card swipers for direct sale on its website. Prices are disclosed for most models, with this cost including both software load installation and free equipment setup. The company’s equipment lineup is quite robust, with models from Verifone, Hypercom, Ingenico, and others. Some models support EMV and NFC-based payment methods, so be sure to select a model with at least EMV compatibility.
- Mobile payments: Durango uses the third-party iProcess app (available for both iOS and Android) and the encrypted iPS Mobile Card Terminal to give you a mobile smartphone or tablet-based processing solution. While both the app and the card reader are free, be aware that the card reader is magstripe-only and doesn’t support EMV or NFC-based payment methods. The iProcess app offers a basic set of functions, but hasn’t been updated in nearly a year. Reviews from users have mostly been negative, with compatibility problems a common concern for Android users.
- Durango Pay™ Gateway: The company’s payment gateway is a proprietary product, but it’s got a robust set of features including support for recurring billing, a secure customer information vault, and a gateway emulator that will make switching over from a different gateway much easier. It also includes a virtual terminal that will allow you to process card-present transactions from any internet-connected computer with an optional card reader. There’s no gateway setup fee, but you may have to pay a monthly gateway fee, and possibly a small per-transaction fee as well.
- Online shopping cart integration: You can use either the company’s proprietary Durango Cart™ or a variety of third-party carts that integrate with the Durango Pay™ gateway.
- eCheck (ACH) processing: This includes a number of services to reduce and even eliminate the chance of bounced checks, and a number of additional services to allow check acceptance via the web or by telephone. Expect to pay an additional monthly fee for this service.
- Fraud protection services: For high-risk merchants, fraud protection should be high on your priority list. All Durango merchant accounts come with several anti-fraud services, including Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode, Fraud Scrubbing, and eCheck Demand Draft.
Fees & Rates
When evaluating a merchant account provider, the first and most important question merchants have is, “How much is this going to cost?” Equally important issues such as contract terms, product features, and customer service quality often get overlooked in favor of the impact on a merchant’s bottom line. While this is true for both high- and low-risk merchants, those in the high-risk community start at a disadvantage for two reasons. First of all, high-risk processing inevitably costs more than low-risk processing. Processing rates are higher, account fees are higher (and there may be more of them), and contract terms tend to be longer and more expensive to get out of. Second, very few (if any) high-risk providers openly advertise their rates, fees, or terms on their websites. While you might think they just don’t want to reveal how high their costs really are, the real reason (in most cases) is simply that pricing has to be customized for each merchant based on a myriad of factors. There simply is no “one size fits all” pricing like you’ll find with providers like Square (see our review).
Durango is no exception to this general rule, and in fact, they disclose almost no information about pricing on their website. Unlike most other providers, however, they do discuss the factors that go into determining pricing for a given merchant, and they explain why it’s simply not possible to list a set of standard fees when pricing will vary widely from one merchant to the next.
The only clear disclosure Durango offers is that they do not charge an account setup fee for any merchant, high-risk or otherwise. With most providers no longer charging account setup fees, this might not seem like such a great deal. However, high-risk accounts require a lot more work to set up than traditional, low-risk accounts, and most high-risk providers will charge you for this service. It’s to Durango’s credit that they give you a break on at least this one fee.
While the company doesn’t disclose any specific information about processing rates, they do note on their website that most high-risk accounts will be set up with a tiered pricing plan. We’re not fans of tiered pricing due to its lower transparency and higher overall costs, but for a new high-risk business that’s just getting started with accepting credit cards, it may be the only choice you’re offered. Nonetheless, we encourage all merchants to at least ask for an interchange-plus pricing plan when negotiating the terms of their account. Regardless of which plan you end up with, be aware that, as a high-risk merchant, your rates will almost certainly be higher than what a similar low-risk business would be offered.
You should also be aware that most high-risk merchants are assigned a rolling reserve as part of setting up their accounts. A rolling reserve holds a certain percentage of your funds each month as a hedge by the processor against excessive chargebacks or the possibility that you’ll go out of business. Rolling reserves gradually decrease over time, and eventually, you will get your money back. However, they can create serious short-term cash flow problems for a small business that’s just getting started. Fortunately, Durango Merchant Services is one of the few providers we’ve seen that openly discusses rolling reserves on their website. They’ll also thoroughly explain the mechanics of how the reserve works when setting up your account, so at least you’ll know what’s coming once you start processing.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
We’ve found in reviewing dozens of merchant account providers that a provider will usually only advertise its contract terms if it offers month-to-month billing with no early termination fee to all its merchants. Very few providers offer such generous terms, although more and more are moving away from long-term contracts all the time. Durango doesn’t disclose its contract terms for several reasons. For one thing, the company works with over a dozen banks and processors to place your account, and contract terms will vary widely among them. Also, the same factors that influence the kind of processing rates and account fees you’ll have to pay also come into play in setting the terms of your contract.
While we encourage every merchant to ask for a month-to-month contract, as a high-risk merchant you should be prepared to have to accept an industry-standard contract instead. This contract will usually have a three-year initial term with an automatic renewal clause for one-year periods after that. Your contract will also most likely include an early termination fee of around $500 if you close your account before your contract expires. The unfortunate reality is that your provider wants to ensure that their relationship with you will be profitable to them, and the easiest way to do this is by locking you into a long-term contract and imposing a hefty termination fee to discourage you from breaking your contract.
As we’ve discussed above, high-risk merchant account contracts frequently also include a rolling reserve. While Durango’s sales representatives do a much better job of explaining how this works to merchants than most providers, it also means that you’ll have little or no chance of avoiding a long-term contract. With a rolling reserve taking a significant chunk out of your sales every month, however, you probably won’t want to break your contract and switch providers until you’ve lifted the reserve and gotten your money back.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
Durango Merchant Services has a nice website that’s easy to navigate and has a very polished design. As we’ve discussed above, you won’t find very many specific disclosures, particularly about pricing or contract terms, due to the unique nature of setting up high-risk accounts with so many different backend processors. The company deserves credit, however, for providing more information about how high-risk accounts work and how they’re set up than most of their competitors will offer you. Unfortunately, the site itself looks like it could use an overhaul. We found a lot of poorly-worded, grammatically incorrect copy on multiple pages, as well as numerous dead links that need to be updated. We’d like to see this aspect of Durango’s marketing efforts improved, as a professional, error-free website is critically important to establishing credibility with merchants, particularly when focusing on the high-risk community.
The company employs a combination of in-house sales representatives and independent agents to market its accounts, and even recruits affiliates on their website. While independent agents have a bad name in the processing industry due to their frequent use of high-pressure sales tactics and failure to disclose important contract terms, this doesn’t appear to be a problem with Durango. We haven’t found any complaints from merchants regarding the company’s sales practices, either from in-house staff or independent agents. We take this as a reliable indicator that the company does a good job not only in educating their agents before sending them off to sell accounts, but also in supervising them while they’re on the job. We’ve even found a surprising amount of praise for the company’s sales team from merchants, something that’s almost unheard of in this industry.
Durango has a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While the company’s posting activity has dropped off precipitously in the last year, these accounts still provide links to valuable insights on Durango’s blog. We’re also glad to see that the company allows user reviews on their Facebook page, where they currently enjoy a 4.2 out of 5 stars rating from merchants who’ve given them a grade. While only one user has taken the time to leave a written review, it’s a very positive testimonial for the company.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Durango offers customer support via both telephone and email. They’re available Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (Mountain Time). Although we’d prefer to see true 24/7 support, we realize that most companies that offer this feature usually resort to outsourced support agencies to cover the time outside of regular business hours. So, while you might be able to reach a human in the middle of the night or on the weekend, he or she will often lack the training or authorization to handle anything beyond simple technical problems. Our biggest concern with Durango’s customer support hours is that they make it extremely inconvenient for international merchants to contact the company. If you’re an offshore merchant using Durango to do business in the United States, be aware of the time zone difference and how that will affect you. If this applies to you, email is probably a better avenue for contacting customer support.
The company also has a policy of assigning a dedicated account manager to each merchant. This means that you should (in most cases) be talking to the same person every time you contact Durango for support. High-risk merchant accounts invariably require more assistance than traditional, low-risk accounts, and it’s very handy to be able to develop a relationship with a single point of contact within the company who will understand your needs better than a random customer support representative.
While Durango’s customer support hours aren’t ideal, the quality of the service they provide is excellent. Many merchants and reviewers across the web have joyously heralded the company’s customer service as completely unlike any other high-risk-focused provider. Dealing with high-risk accounts is a lot more work than a standard account, especially on the customer service end. Complex questions and obstacles come up frequently. That Durango has such an outstanding reputation for customer service is truly extraordinary.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Durango Merchant Services has been accredited by the BBB since 2006 and currently has an A+ rating. We’re often skeptical of companies that, after having paid to get BBB-accredited, still manage to maintain an A+ rating despite dozens of complaints. However, that’s not the case with Durango. Their BBB profile currently shows only one complaint within the last three years, and zero complaints within the last twelve months. Better yet, the BBB profile also has one very positive review from a merchant. This is very unusual, as most customers use the BBB to complain about businesses, not praise them.
There’s also just one complaint against the company on Ripoff Report, but it’s from 2012 and was resolved to the merchant’s satisfaction. Since Ripoff Report never takes down complaints that have been filed, it will still be there for as long as the website is functioning.
We’ve also received a small amount of criticism of Durango in our Comments section below. Most of the negative reviews come from merchants who were turned down for an account by the company. Unfortunately, even the best high-risk providers can’t approve everyone. There are always going to be situations where, for one reason or another, Durango won’t be able to match you up with a processor. Surprisingly, some merchants who’ve been denied by the company have actually left positive reviews of their experience, citing Durango’s professionalism and willingness to explain in detail why they were not able to approve an account.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
There are 31 reviews of Durango Merchant Services on the Better Business Bureau’s TrustLink website, with 28 out of 31 reviewers rating them at 5 out of 5 stars. The company also offers a Testimonials page on its website that includes excerpts from some of these reviews. As we’ve noted above, there’s also a lot of positive feedback about Durango on the company’s Facebook page.
Qualities that are most frequently praised include the following:
- High approval rate: Even when a merchant has been previously denied multiple times by other providers, Durango can usually find a solution for almost any business type, US-based or international.
- Quick, reliable setup: While you might expect a ton of delays for setting up a high-risk account – and it certainly can take longer than a standard one – Durango is usually able to expedite this process and get you started in a short amount of time.
- Excellent customer service: This is, without a doubt, the most important feature in my mind, especially with high-risk merchant accounts. They’re high-risk for a reason, namely increased possibility for chargebacks and fraud. Given this, a high-risk merchant will need more support (and more competent support) than a standard account holder would. Durango passes this test with flying colors, according to the reviews I’ve seen.
No merchant account provider is ever perfect, and high-risk providers often come with more than their fair share of problems. Durango Merchant Services stands out from the crowd by offering fair pricing in a segment of the market that’s notorious for charging highly-inflated prices. They invariably provide excellent solutions to complex merchant situations. And if they can’t work with you for whatever reason, they’ll be straightforward and honest about it.
The company also has customer service that far exceeds the industry standard, and a sales team that features honest, knowledgeable staff. They provide the expertise needed to set up international merchants from basically any country in the world, and to deal with fraud proactively and effectively.
With so much going for them, it’s only natural that we would award Durango Merchant Services a coveted 5 out of 5 stars rating. As we’ve noted above, this rating applies mainly to the company’s high-risk and offshore accounts. We simply don’t have enough feedback to gauge how well their low-risk accounts measure up against their competitors. However, their ability to work with a large network of processors might very well allow them to find you a better deal on processing than you’d find with a direct processor or a provider that only works with one or two backend processors.
Durango clearly qualifies as one of the best high-risk merchant account providers in the industry. In fact, they’re probably the “best of the best” for high-risk businesses looking for a merchant account. Give them a try!