Durango Merchant Services Review
- Specialists in placing high-risk and other hard-to-place merchants
- Offers offshore merchant accounts for some international merchants
- Fair pricing and excellent contract terms
- No early termination fees in most cases
- Dedicated account manager for customer service
- No pricing disclosures on the website
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 businesses. If you’re in the high-risk category and have had difficulty getting approved for a merchant account, we highly recommend that you check this company out.
We’re usually 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 will more likely than not 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 are willing to work with whoever will take them. That 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 equals 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. The company hasn’t had a single complaint with the BBB in the past three years and very few elsewhere. We recommend Durango not only to merchants with higher-than-average risk, but also any merchant looking for quality service and industry excellence — especially eCommerce merchants.
Durango earns a stellar overall score of 5 out of 5 stars. Note that this score applies only to its high-risk and offshore merchant accounts. While we haven’t seen any negative feedback from low-risk merchants, its 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 Durango, 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:
- High-Risk 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. Durango specializes in finding accounts for merchants with poor credit or who have found themselves on the Terminated Merchant File (TMF) or MATCH List due to an excessive number of chargebacks.
- CBD Merchant Accounts: We frequently receive inquiries from CBD merchants looking for a provider, and we’re happy to report that Durango is now able to place CBD businesses if you’re already an established company with a proven processing history. Startups are currently not allowed.
- International Merchant Accounts: If you’re an international merchant looking to do business in the United States, Durango has you covered. It’s a registered ISO in Europe and offers international merchant accounts that include currency conversion services, support for multi-currency accounts, and additional fraud prevention services. These accounts are available to merchants in Canada, Panama, the United Kingdom, and most countries in the European Union.
- 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. In some cases, merchants who have a stable processing history may be eligible to receive a free credit card terminal as part of their account package. Note that you must return this equipment if you later close your account.
- Mobile Payments: Durango uses the third-party iProcess app (available for both iOS and Android) and an encrypted EMV-compliant mobile card reader to give you a mobile smartphone or tablet-based processing solution. The reader can connect via Bluetooth, so it will work with newer devices that don’t have a headphone jack. The iProcess app has recently been updated to correct many of the problems users had previously reported.
- 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. Unlike almost every other payment gateway on the market, the Durango Pay™ Gateway is hosted on the Google Cloud Platform, so you should (hopefully) never have to worry about system downtime.
- 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 services to reduce and even eliminate the chance of bounced checks and several 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 the priority list. All Durango merchant accounts come with several anti-fraud services, including Verified by Visa, Mastercard SecureCode, Fraud Scrubbing, and EMV 3d Secure 2.0.
- Cryptocurrency Support: Do you want to accept bitcoin or some other digital currency in your business? Durango can set you up with a Cryptocurrency Merchant Account that offers very low processing fees, enhanced fraud protection, and complete protection against chargebacks. These accounts are available to any merchant selling products or services that are legal in their country of origin, even countries where credit card processing accounts are not available. The only caveat is that your business cannot be located in a country that is currently under sanction by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).
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 actual reason (in most cases) is 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 such as Square (see our review).
Durango is no exception to this general rule, and in fact, it discloses almost no information about pricing on its website. Unlike most other providers, however, the company does discuss the factors that go into determining the pricing for a given merchant and explains 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 it does 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 it gives you a break on at least this one fee.
While the company doesn’t disclose any specific information about processing rates, it does note on its 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 some 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. Durango Merchant Services is one of the few providers we’ve seen that openly discusses rolling reserves on its website. The company will 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. According to company representatives, Durango usually only imposes a rolling reserve on very high-risk startups or businesses that present an unusually high financial risk for one reason or another.
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 of them 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.
Fortunately, Durango offers almost all of its merchants a month-to-month contract with no early termination fee. However, some merchants in particularly high-risk industries will have to agree to 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.
As we’ve discussed above, some particularly high-risk merchant account contracts may require a rolling reserve. Luckily, Durango’s sales representatives do a much better job of explaining how this works to merchants than most providers. With a rolling reserve taking a significant chunk out of your sales every month, however, you probably won’t want to 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 back-end processors. The company deserves credit, however, for providing much more information about the inner workings of high-risk accounts and how they’re set up than most of its competitors will offer you.
Durango employs a combination of in-house sales representatives and independent agents to market its accounts and even recruits affiliates on its 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 here. 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 of not only in educating its 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.
Unlike many merchant account providers, quotes from Durango represent a “no strings attached” proposal that includes full disclosure of all processing rates, account fees, and contract terms. You’re free to review it at your leisure before deciding to move forward with an actual account. There’s no pressure to sign up without an adequate opportunity to review your contract, and the company won’t try to use your signature on the application to lock you into an agreement.
Durango has a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. While posting activity has declined in the last year or two, 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 its Facebook page, where it currently enjoys a 4.3 out of 5 stars rating from merchants who’ve given the company 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. Reps are available Monday through Friday, from 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. That means 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 the company provides is excellent. Many merchants and reviewers across the web have joyously heralded the company’s customer service as being entirely 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.
High-risk merchant account providers frequently come in for heavy criticism because the price for their services is significantly higher than what a low-risk merchant would pay. Durango, however, has garnered much more praise than condemnation from merchants — something that’s extremely rare in the processing industry.
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. The company’s BBB profile currently shows zero complaints within the last three years. Better yet, it also has two 5-star reviews from merchants. This is very unusual, as most customers use the BBB to complain about businesses, not praise them. While Durango has had an occasional complaint or two in the past, the fact that it’s been able to go over three years without a single complaint is a very impressive achievement and a strong indicator that it’s a great company with which to do business.
We have received a small amount of criticism about Durango in our Comments section below. However, most of the negative reviews have come from merchants who Durango turned down for an account. Unfortunately, even the best high-risk providers can’t approve an account for 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 the company was 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 it 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 single most important feature when selecting a merchant account provider, especially with high-risk accounts. They’re high-risk for a reason, namely the increased possibility of chargebacks and fraud. Because of this, a high-risk merchant will need more support (and more competent support) than a standard account holder might require. Durango passes this test with flying colors, based on the numerous reports from merchants we’ve reviewed.
No merchant account provider is ever perfect, and high-risk providers often come with more than their 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. It invariably provides excellent solutions to complex merchant situations. And if Durango can’t work with you for whatever reason, the company will be straightforward and honest about it.
The company also provides customer service and support that far exceeds the industry standard, as well as a sales team that features honest, knowledgeable staff. They provide the expertise needed to set up international merchant accounts from a wide variety of countries around the world and to deal with fraud and chargebacks proactively and effectively.
With so many positive qualities, it’s only natural that we continue to award Durango Merchant Services a coveted overall score of 5 out of 5 stars. 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 its low-risk accounts measure up against its competitors. However, Durango’s ability to work with a vast network of processors might very well allow it to find you a better deal on processing than you’d receive from a direct processor or a provider that only works with one or two back-end processors.
Durango undeniably qualifies as one of the best high-risk merchant account providers in the industry. In fact, it’s probably the “best of the best” for high-risk businesses looking for a merchant account. Give Durango a try!