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FiveStars Review

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FiveStars Review

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Advertiser Disclosure: Our unbiased reviews and content are supported in part by affiliate partnerships, and we adhere to strict guidelines to preserve editorial integrity.
Date Established
Winter 2011
San Francisco, California
Merchant Maverick Contributor

Merchant Maverick Contributor

Merchant Maverick is a highly successful partner referral site which has helped over 1 million business since 2009. We provide high-quality, non-paid, unbiased reviews of business and e-commerce products and services to allow entrepreneurs make better decisions. At Merchant Maverick we make small business simple.

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    Lynn Patterson

    Organization Name: Noah's Ark Kennel and Cattery

    Would leave a zero if I could…because that is what I got out of being duped into signing up for this horrible service. They make all sorts of crap and false promises to get your name signed on a tablet. You are not shown any contract and are lead to think your are signing up for what you have been told by the sales person that is taught to scam small businesses to enroll. I urge all people to do your research and check out all the negative reviews left by other business owners. If you do sign up…here are a couple of things to know…that you aren’t told by your sales person.1) it auto renews2) requires a 30 day cancellation in writing AND an exit conversation with a higher up person(where they beg you to stay, lower your fee and spew all sorts of other lies to get you to stay.3) nothing kicks in until you have 2000 people signed up(per people in CA)4) check and see how many businesses are signed up in your town- for example- there is one business signed up in Chapel Hill. Poor business- they got suckered into signing up for something that their business is suppose to show up on other Fivestars businesses in the area and there are no other businesses for them to show up at?Total scam and waste of money

    • Organization Name: Noah's Ark Kennel and Cattery

    I am a small business owner who was duped by Five Stars’ aggressive sales tactics, and lofty promises of which we never saw the benefits. As far as I’m concerned, they’re ripping off small mom and pop shops and should be shut down. We tried to get out of our 1 year contract after six months and seeing ZERO return. They wouldn’t let us out of our contract and we weren’t even able to speak to a manager because “they’re not client facing and do not have phones”. $50m in funding and an unhappy customer can’t even speak to a manager? This business is a scam!

      Ryan Matthews

      Organization Name: Voff Bark & Brew

      Worst product/service ever. Basic paper Punch cards are so much better. You most sign a 12 month contract @ $150 to $350/month with many added fees, with no trial period. Cheap off brand tablets that don’t work (yet they charge you $200 for 2 $20 tablets), won’t integrate with most all POS (even though they say it will). Zero customer service yet they call and bug you all the time. Tried to cancel 2 days after and they blew it off. This system take way too much time to manage and really doesn’t add any value or revenue to your business. Gave tablets to Goodwill and had my bank block their charges. Save your time and money with some other systems or buy a POS that has a reward system built in. Horrible company and product

      • Organization Name: Voff Bark & Brew

      Organization Name: New Moon

      Thanks for review, i was solicited by one of their reps today but i think i’ll stay with Perka intergrated into my Clover POS

      • Organization Name: New Moon

      We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.


      Organization Name: Discount Sport Nutrition

      These guys used to be awesome. However, they make it way to difficult for our customers to opt-in to our loyalty program. There is simply too many steps to opt-in. Customers get confused, frustrated, etc. There support used to be good as well. Now, it is nothing but telling you what you want to hear with ZERO results or follow ups.

      • Organization Name: Discount Sport Nutrition

      Have you considered Thanx? No POS integration, no special equipment, basically no effort on either party’s end. The customer just download the app and links their card to Thanx (if they don’t already have it), and then the card issuer notifies Thanx when they shop with you. Effortless, automated loyalty.

        Erin Estilette

        Worst company ever. They do every underhanded thing to get you to sign up, the machines never work (servers always down), the dashboard doesn’t work (supposedly set up incorrectly), and when you call to cancel, there is “no one available to help with that, but we can set up an appointment for you to speak to someone.” That someone never calls on time and then they try to lock you into an invalid contract, since they’ve never provided a working service in the first place, and try to charge you a ridiculous amount of money for NOTHING PROVIDED.

          Bill Barrons

          Erin, I am considering 5 star. You sound like you had a bad experience. can you elaborate?

            Erin Davis


            Different Erin here, but we use FiveStars and while we haven’t had ridiculous growth because of it, our customers like it and we’ve seen people return because of the promotions. We might see more growth from it if I was maximizing the promotion tools better.

            Unlike the other Erin, I’ve had great customer service experiences and they’ve been very attentive. When I was hesitant, they did whatever they could to make it easier for me. We were able to have a free trial and a little extra time before we had to start the contract and they were also great about working with us on pricing.

            All in all, I’m very pleased with the service.
            We run a small boutique in Central Illinois about 3 hours from Chicago, but I think the customer service and account reps I have worked with are in California.

            Hope that helps,

              Patrick C McCarthy

              I’m having the exact same trouble with trying to cancel my fivestars. It is ridiculous. I’ve been trying to cancel for over a month and no one will help me.


                After months of being emailed and called on by Five Stars I decided to take a look at their services. I should add that over these months of being called on, they kept asking for a previous owner who has not been involved in this business in 7 years, even once asking if I knew when he’d be in stating that he had asked them to call .. despite this deceit, I still decided to look into what they might be able to offer my small business. I spent 1 hour and 40 minutes for a presentation I was told would take approximately 20 minutes give or take. I was completely transparent about my business revenue from the beginning but ended up being met with an unaffordable rate and told my business was too small for them to help .. so basically they didn’t want to give me a rate that could help me build my business to a point where their rate became affordable. Incidentally, I was told that they were in business to help small businesses grow .. not so much. I will NOT look at them again but will pursue other programs that are truly in business to help small business.


                  This Company is horrible. They charge way too much for the services they provide. Do not get into a contract with them. It is a nightmare to change anything or get any money back from them. Appcard is a good company that we have switched to that we are very happy with.


                    Hi PhyliciaDo you know of an app or program which you can buy which basically does the same thing as these loyalty programs do but stores the info on your own data base.

                      Mike Polner

                      Hey Phylicia, Love the posts! Merchant Maverick is super insightful and it’s clear it’s a really valuable tool for readers! I’m the Director of Product Marketing @ FiveStars – lots has changed in the past few months for our product and for our customers. Would love to connect and chat! I’m available over email at mike.polner@fivestars.comThanks!


                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

                        Amad Ebrahimi

                        Thank you for the kind words Mike. We will definitely update the FiveStars review. I’ll let Phylicia know.

                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

                          Sean Williams

                          Hi Amad, Any idea when we are going to be able to get the Fivestars price and features updates? Thank you for your help.


                            This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

                            We've done in-depth testing of each and confidently recommend them.


                            We have done comparisons of where our customers come from and why and no one comes from fivestars. We have advertised it and we basically stopped after 4-5 months. We had a 6 month agreement with them where they would charge us 199.99 and we thought would stop afterwards. We called numerous times to cancel and were still charged. We are going over a year now here and after putting a stop payment on the 199.99 they charged us 1 cent more for 200 so it would not trigger a red flag. Pretty scummy if you ask me. Stay clear.


                              This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

                              RJ Meyer

                              Do you know what Fivestars and Belly charge for setup and/or equipment fees?

                                This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

                                Phylicia Joannis

                                Hi RJ

                                For Belly, everything you need to set up your program (iPad hardware, software, & rewards cards) is included with the cost of your subscription. The same is true for Fivestars, which includes POS integration, if necessary.

                                  This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

                                  Vincent Palermo

                                  For full disclosure, I am a San Diego-based employee of FiveStars and have worked for this extraordinary company for nearly two years (one of the testimonials you cite came from a client of mine). I would like to thank you Phylicia for your comprehensive review of our service, it is my hope that your unbiased approach will give merchants a thorough perspective of the program. There are, however, a couple factual misinterpretations of our service in this review. We have also made some tremendous updates at FiveStars that will address some of the concerns which you mentioned. Firstly, while it is true that we have field reps to assist merchants in select areas of the country, we are growing our reach and refining our process. Aside from Northern California and Chicago, we also have a strong presence of remote employees serving merchants in LA, San Diego, Orange County, Denver, Portland, Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas, Minneapolis, Miami, Austin, and more to come very soon. While we may not be able to cannot cater to the needs on-site of merchants in other areas; our metrics show that these merchants are just as successful with the program as markets with face-to-face reps (I personally have very successful accounts in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Louisiana) . This is due to our continued investment in tutorials, successful account management and remote onboarding. I am sorry to hear about your experience with remote support and your sales reps. In the past few months, we have greatly expanded our support team and have reduced our average wait time to less than one minute. We are very conscious of efficiency and do not want any merchant in need of assistance waiting to speak with someone. I cannot attest to your experience with the sales rep via phone, but since your posting we have made strides internally to improve our telesales division. Regardless, the level of attention to the potential client that you referenced has never been a part of the way we do business at FiveStars. You likely spoke with a representative that was new and/or is no longer with us. That behavior does not align with our company ethos. We CAN tie social media interaction into the customer rewards. This can be achieved through the autopilot feature that you referenced. I urge my clients to reward a Facebook, Instagram, or Yelp Check-In/Post on the “new customer” or “growth” trigger. This is also something we are building out even further in the future. Merchants are not limited to one text per week. As a FiveStars user, I can only receive one text per business (that I am signed up with) per week. We do this to address concerns (as you cited above) that customers could feel spammed or even felt uncomfortable that a business is continually texting them. For the record, our average unsubscribe rate for the 6000 locations that we work with is less than 4%. That hints few customers dislike text message offers. Nevertheless, if you do not like to receive texts from a business but still like promotions, we have a new feature to address that. With our recently launched Promotions feature, users can receive push notifications or emails if they have unsubscribed to the FiveStars text (or given a landline to the store employee). That greatly expands the merchant’s reach, allows them more ability to send multiple promotions in a single week (if they choose) and also track the redemption rates on promotional campaigns. You mentioned that autopilot cannot be customized. I am sure you understand how this feature works, but the way it was phrased may be misleading to other readers. Indeed autopilot can be customized. We tell the business owners “you set it up and we send it out.” Of the five categories you listed for automated campaigns (with more categories coming shortly), a merchant has the ability to choose the content of the automated promotion and can change it, at any time, from their online dashboard. Their FiveStars consultant will advise them on best autopilot practices/incentives, but at the end of the day, the merchant has the final say. Another cool update is that you can now schedule the exact day/time of day that I receive the automated promotion. For example: let’s say you own a salon but are closed on Mondays. Yet I am due to receive my “at-risk” (30 days, no visit) text on Monday. We can actually schedule the timing of the text, so that I receive it at 12pm (ie.) the next day, to avoid any confusion and drive more traffic to your business. You cited a lot of concerns with the UI and issues with the mobile app. That is something that our product team has made huge improvements upon since this article was published and we are continually stabilizing and adding more features to the app. I personally am part of the internal beta test team for app updates, so I assure you that my colleagues are working very hard. These improvements are generated by user feedback, which we are always appreciative of. Finally, although you gave FiveStars overall a four-star review, you mention that we do not have a good app or a customer facing iPad. I’ve already addressed the major improvements in our app (both Android and App Store). The reason we do not have a customer facing iPad (unlike some loyalty programs on the market) is because we want the customer to interact with the employee and not a device. This makes the transaction more personable, which aligns with our mission statement of “turning every transaction into a relationship.” Also, we’ve been able to prove a higher signup rate than tablet-based rewards programs, simply because most customers consciously ignore the tablet at the front counter. Most customer facing iPad programs also do not offer the ability to give rewards for itemized purchases or dollars spent (they are only per visit)—a majority of traditional stamp cards cannot be converted onto a visit-based rewards program. This means that if I spend $2 at a coffee shop, I will get the same amount of points as a person that spends $50. Loyalty programs are counter-intuitive if they do not reward good spending behavior. With that said, keep your eyes open for some BIG things from FiveStars within the next few months. Cheers,Vincent PalermoSenior Loyalty Consultant (San Diego)


                                    This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.


                                    Fivestars prices have increased since this review. I’m now paying $219 per month for services that I don’t need. It was explained to me that $219 is the cheapest option I had. I’m currently looking for other options.***[Updated]When I first signed up with Fivestars, I was offered three tiers of services at three price levels: $99, $149 and $219. It was suggested to me by my sales person to start at the higher tier and scale down as I better understand the system. It has been 5 months since and I started with Fivestars and I now understand that I don not need the higher tier service. I called customer service to change my level of service and got a ringing phone with no one answering (not even a recorded message). I tried all day and had no luck! I called back the next day and after trying for over an hour, i got some to answer the phone. According to that person, there were no problems with their phone service! and it sounded like a frat party in the background. Anyway, customer service scheduled an appointment with my Sales person who called me the following day. I was informed by my sales person that the Fivestars has changed their price structure and the prices now start at $219. They explained that their prices were competitive and in line with similar companies. When I threatened to leave, they basically told me “good Luck”.I’m a small vape shop in Sacramento, California. I started with Fivestars five month ago. my first reaction, was I was giving too much away with no data to back up the program. After my fourth month, I did an analysis comparing January 2015 to April 2015 and here is what I found:I compared the number of visits of my top 10 customers and noticed an in increase in visits by 14.5%. I also compared the amount spent per visit and found that the average spent per visit decreased by 7%, however, overall money spent by my top 10 customers has increased by 24%. After giving rewards to my customers, I found that my profit has stayed the same. Maybe I’m giving too much as rewards and I need to scale it down. All this calculation, I had to do on my own and if it was not for my background as an accountant, I would not have learned the effectiveness of the program.3 out of 5 stars


                                      This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

                                      Gil Bert

                                      Do you have a few competitors of Five Stars you recommend?


                                        This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

                                        Phylicia Joannis

                                        Hi Gil!

                                        You can check out Belly, which has a similar platform. You might also consider Loyalty Gator or Perkville. They all service brick and mortar locations.

                                          This comment refers to an earlier version of this review and may be outdated.

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