Global Payments Review
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- Date Established
- Atlanta, Georgia
- Canadian merchant accounts offered
- Good for international merchants
- Full lineup of products and services
- Interchange-plus pricing offered
- Low complaint volume
- No pricing disclosures on website
- Three-year standard contract with automatic renewal clause
- Early termination fee
- Expensive for low-volume merchants
Global Payments is a merchant services provider headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Originally founded as National Data Corporation back in 1967, the company today serves over 2.5 million merchants in 31 countries. In 2016, Global Payments grew even larger when they acquired Heartland Payment Systems, an already large company in its own right.
Big payment processing companies tend to have a bad reputation, particularly regarding their poor treatment of small business customers after the sale. This often has little to do with the actual processor and more to do with the independent sales office or specific sales agent marketing the service through a third party. Sheer volume is also a factor. Since a big processor serves hundreds of thousands of merchants, complaints can really pile up, even if just a small percentage of merchants have issues.
Interestingly, Global Payments has a reasonable overall reputation – despite ranking as one of the largest payment processors in the US. Sure, you’ll find a fair number of complaints in the usual places (including quite a few on this review), but nowhere near as many as there are with competitors such as First Data. As an example, at the time of writing this review update, the company has 37 complaints with the BBB over the past three years, while First Data has over 900 complaints in the same period.
As the name implies, Global Payments maintains several divisions and subsidiaries around the world (in North America, Europe, Brazil, and the Asia-Pacific region). Global’s main website provides only a limited overview of the company’s products and services. Processing rates, account fees, and contract terms, for example, are not disclosed at all. These terms are all highly variable, so you’ll have to negotiate for the best possible deal when working with the company’s sales team.
Global Payments pretty much does it all, and they handle most of the nuts and bolts of your account (including payment processing) in-house. If you have a big business with complex needs, Global is actually a very good option. Larger businesses can negotiate the low rates they deserve based on their high monthly processing volume, and the company will help you find any and all solutions you require. Smaller merchants looking for low-volume processing services, however, should probably look elsewhere.
Overall, Global Payments rates a slightly above-average 3.5 out of 5 stars – but only if you’re dealing with the company directly. If you’re dealing with a reseller or even a subsidiary, you should also read our review for that specific organization. We’ve evaluated a number of these companies, and some are definitely better than others. If you encounter a new Global Payments reseller that we should check out, or have experience with the company directly, please leave a comment!
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Table of Contents
Products & Services
Global Payments offers a full range of payments services for in-person, online, and mobile transactions. The website provides a very basic introduction to each of these services, but you’ll have to talk to a sales representative for specifics. At any rate, we can’t possibly cover all of Global’s offerings here, especially with the added variety of multiple countries at play. Here’s an overview to get you started, focused on the US and Canada:
- Merchant Accounts: Global is a direct processor, so there is no intermediary here. This includes credit/debit card payment processing as well as check processing (with the right equipment).
- International Processing: Global Payments serves merchants in North America (including Canada), South America (Brazil), Europe, Asia, and Australia. Processing is possible in around 140 currencies and settlement in 15 currencies.
- Unified Commerce Platform: This software-based service is Global’s integrated payments platform. It’s designed for international merchants who need to accept both retail and ecommerce transactions. The Unified Commerce Platform is available in 58 countries and supports over 140 payment methods. As you might expect, it also includes an integrated online reporting tool to help you track how your business is doing.
- Payment Gateway: If you’re an ecommerce merchant, you might be interested in Global Payments’ in-house payment gateway. Note that there is some (but not full) overlap between features provided by this gateway and the Unified Commerce Platform. Hosted payment pages, direct API integration, “buy now”/”donate now” buttons, shopping cart integration, and Apple/Android/Samsung Pay are among the features available.
- Virtual Terminal: A simple, merchant-facing solution for processing mail order, telephone, and email orders, the company’s virtual terminal requires no special developer integration – just a web browser. If you also need to accept the occasional card-present transaction, you’ll need a card reader that can connect to your computer via either USB or Bluetooth.
- Subscriptions & Recurring Billing: This is a fairly common feature of merchant accounts and payment gateways these days. The Unified Commerce Platform also features an automatic account updater, which is super-handy in preventing lost time and revenue related to expired credit cards.
- Credit Card Terminals & Point-Of-Sale (POS) Systems: The area of the US website promoting services for in-person processing is vague, but you’ll likely have numerous options for EMV-compliant and NFC-capable hardware. While you could buy or lease through Global, I don’t recommend it. Check out our warnings against leasing for an explanation of why it’s almost always a bad idea. The Canadian site has more specific hardware options.
- Mobile Payments: Mobile Pay by Global Payments is the company’s app for Android and iOS in the US, while iCMP MPOS is advertised in Canada, along with an unnamed free magstripe card reader. An EMV-capable mobile card reader is also available for $60.
- Merchant Cash Advances: The Canadian site promotes this service through its partner, Evolocity Financial Group. Although the company probably offers this service in the United States as well, they don’t advertise it on their US website.
- Industry-Specific Solutions: Industry-specific resources are available for just about every type of company imaginable. Here are some of the more interesting or unique business sectors:
- Greater Giving (fundraising, auctions)
- Micropayments (laundromats, arcades, correctional facilities)
- School Payments (cafeterias, student stores, school fees)
- Internet of Things (IoT)
Overall, Global Payments rates an “excellent” in this category. They offer just about every possible service or product you might need to run your business. While we’d like to see them provide some more specific and detailed information about several of their products, we understand that this might not be practical for an international company that serves so many different countries around the world.
Fees & Rates
Global Payments does not disclose any pricing information on its website. Your rates and fees are negotiable, so don’t be afraid to haggle a bit. If you’re not sure what to ask about, check out our article, The Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing Rates & Fees, or our infographic, A Visual Guide to Credit Card Processing Fees and Rates.
The company appears to generally offer either interchange-plus or subscription-based pricing to all new merchants, even small business owners. However, they don’t disclose this policy on their website and there’s always the possibility (particularly with an independent sales agent) that you’ll be offered a more expensive tiered pricing plan if you don’t insist on interchange-plus. Regardless of which type of pricing plan you’re offered, there will be a monthly account fee that will be charged whether you use your account during a given month or not. This is in contrast to payment service providers (PSPs) that specialize in low-volume accounts, typically offering flat-rate pricing and no monthly fee. Square (see our review) is the classic example. While flat-rate pricing is not as inherently transparent as interchange-plus, it can be less expensive overall for small and micro-business owners.
While most merchants try to find the least-expensive processing option available, we believe that the overall value you receive from your provider is more important in the long run. Better customer service and additional features (such as next-day funding) are worth the extra expenses you might incur.
Global Payments doesn’t disclose any of the specific fees that you’ll have to pay to maintain your account and pay for optional add-on services, so be sure to inquire about these before you sign up. Sales agents throughout the processing industry are notorious for pushing additional services – many of which you will actually need – but neglecting to mention that there’s an additional fee to add them to your account. Finally, we can’t emphasize enough how critically important it is that you thoroughly review every word of your contract before you sign up. Never rely on a sales agent to disclose this information!
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
Merchant accounts from Global Payments include a standard three-year initial term, plus an automatic renewal clause that extends the contract for one-year periods after that. The standard contract also includes an early termination fee (ETF) that you’ll have to pay if you close your account early. This fee appears to range from $100 to $500, with $250 being the most common.
Fortunately, there’s room for negotiation with these standardized terms, and you certainly should attempt to obtain a waiver to the early termination clause at least. Be sure to get it in writing, and keep a copy for your records. While a waiver to the ETF removes the penalty for closing your account, it’s not the same thing as true month-to-month billing. You’ll still need to provide adequate notice and follow the instructions in your contract for closing your account. Failure to do so could result in the company continuing to charge you monthly and annual account fees even after your account has been closed and is no longer in use. We’ve seen a disturbing number of complaints from merchants who’ve had this happen to them, so don’t assume that your account will be properly closed and you’ll stop being billed just because you notified them of your intent to close your account and returned any processing hardware that you don’t own outright.
Global Payments earns a “good” rating in this category due to their general willingness to waive their early termination fee. If you’re a newly-established business with little or no processing history and they won’t waive the ETF, consider Global Payments to have earned a “fair” rating in this regard.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
There’s not a lot to be said here. Global doesn’t engage in much direct-to-customer marketing, and the website offers no specific information about rates and contract terms. They seem to employ a combination of both in-house sales staff and independent agents, so the sales experience is not very standardized. I’ll address the negative side of Global’s lack of standardization later in this review when we discuss complaints.
For now, the bottom line is that different agents will pitch different plans for different costs. Be sure to negotiate! And, remember this first and foremost: Verbal promises mean absolutely nothing. If it’s not in writing and signed, don’t believe anything your agent tells you. You must read your contract and application very carefully if you want to protect yourself here.
While the company’s website contains a lot of marketing fluff and very little concrete details about products or services, it doesn’t make use of any deceptive sales gimmicks, either. Overall, Global Payments earns a “fair” rating in this category due to the uneven nature of the sales experience and the lack of useful disclosures on its website.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Based on my research, Global Payments phone support currently breaks down like this:
- Technical Support: 24/7
- Customer Service: 9 AM-9 PM EST, Monday-Friday
- Operates out of Manila, Philippines
The Canadian and US sites provide separate toll-free numbers for customer support, each with a comprehensive automated menu available in English, Spanish (via the US number) and French (via the Canadian number). I easily reached a live operator in Manila through the Canadian and US numbers with virtually no hold time. If you have a middle-of-the-night or weekend non-technical inquiry, you’ll be redirected to the email ticketing system and receive a callback during the regular customer support hours listed above.
You can find a few resources and FAQs at the websites’ customer support centers, but the most detailed information is contained inside a Card Acceptance Guide (available in PDF format) and its Canadian equivalent. At over 100 pages each, these documents are difficult to navigate. The contents would be better displayed directly on the website in a more interactive knowledgebase. At least the US site is searchable – the Canadian equivalent is not.
A blog was added to the site in 2017, and a monthly email newsletter launched in 2018. Global’s Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn followings are quite behind some of the other large processors, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! I also recommend checking press releases to keep an eye on your payment processor and see what new features are in the pipeline.
Overall, Global Payments scores a “good” rating in this area. While allegations of poor customer service are a common thread in complaints, it does appear that the company has taken some steps to improve in this area. Of course, this is also where the quality of any reseller or subsidiary you deal with will either stand out or fall short. Each has its own customer support procedures and resources. In any case, insist upon a dedicated account representative as part of your contract who can be your main point of contact when you need help.
As you might expect with such a large company, Global Payments has received plenty of both positive and negative feedback from its customers. Although the majority of that feedback is negative, we’re very impressed with how few complaints the company has received in comparison to its size.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Despite the company’s size and length of time in business, Global Payments is not accredited by the BBB. They currently have a C- rating, most likely due to their lack of accreditation and the fact that they have not responded to some of their complaints. Nonetheless, we’re impressed by the low number of complaints they’ve received relative to their size.
The company currently has 37 complaints that have been filed within the last three years, with 10 of those complaints having been filed within the last twelve months. Their total complaint volume has gradually decreased over the last several review updates, although there does appear to be a slight uptick in complaint activity within the last year. There are also 72 complaints on Ripoff Report, although only one new complaint has been received within the last year. We’d also note that many of the complaints on Ripoff Report are cut-and-paste duplicates of BBB complaints, presumably from the same merchant.
For a company that serves over 2.5 million merchants, this is a remarkably low complaint volume. While it would be virtually impossible for a company this large to have zero complaints, this is still an impressive performance. Common issues that came up repeatedly in published complaints included the following:
- Undisclosed Contract Terms: Some sales agents will deliberately give you the impression that you don’t need to read your contract. They’ll say that it’s just basic boilerplate jargon, and that you can trust them. Please – do not trust them. Unless you read your contract, you might not realize what you’re signing up for. For instance, most contracts have a clause that states verbal agreements are null and void. So, you know, don’t believe everything you hear. Pay particularly close attention to the sections discussing cancellation and your fee schedule. This issue appears to occur more frequently with Global’s many ISOs.
- Poor Customer Service: We’ve all heard the cliché that in a big company, “you’re just a number.” In many cases, this can be true. If you do not have a dedicated point of contact in the form of an account manager you trust, you may suffer from poor and impersonal customer support. It’s also an unfortunate reality that large processors like Global pay far more attention to their biggest customers than they do to small business owners.
- Withholding Of Funds & Termination Of Accounts: This can happen for several reasons. Chargebacks and suspicious charges can quickly raise a red flag that will either get you suspended or shut down, and processing outside of the limits stated in your application and contract will likely lead to withheld funds. If you plan to run an unusually large transaction or are having a significant sales upswing, reach out to Global to have your limits reassessed. For more tips, check out our articles on how to avoid holds and minimize chargebacks. Don’t rely on your sales representative to explain this information to you properly.
- Difficulty Closing Account: Several merchants have complained about problems in canceling their service. As long as your contract remains active, you will be charged your “base fees,” which usually add up to $40-50 per month. If you don’t keep a careful eye on your bank statements, this can easily go unnoticed and accumulate quickly. Furthermore, if your account is not closed promptly, you may be charged an early termination fee that could have otherwise been avoided.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Positive testimonials exist, but you have to work pretty hard to locate them. I found two on the Global Payments YouTube channel from Kingston University in the UK. Given the large number of merchants using Global Payments, it sure would be nice to see some good testimonials or case studies all in one place. In the meantime, ask your Global Payments sales representative for some references. Specifically, ask for merchants in the same industry as you. Most good sales agents are more than happy to accommodate this request.
If you have experience processing with Global Payments, please leave us a comment with your story!
Global Payments earns a “good” rating in the User Reviews category on the strength of its low complaint volume relative to its size. We’d still like to see the company provide some compelling testimonials from customers, though.
With a company like Global Payments, the name sort of speaks for itself. It’s common knowledge that Global runs a large, successful, highly-capable processing business. This is not a fly-by-night operation. Global certainly does have big resources, and these have only been expanded further with the acquisition of Heartland Payment Systems. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s the best bet for all processing situations. Most of Global’s business comes through third-party resellers and independent agents, which also makes a single cohesive review difficult to produce.
For larger businesses with complex processing needs and high sales volumes, you should definitely get a quote from Global Payments. For smaller businesses, you might want to look elsewhere instead. Global is not a good “starter” merchant account provider. Sales and advertising transparency is lacking, which means you have to come ready to negotiate and knowing what to ask for (such as getting fair interchange-plus pricing and dropping the early termination fee).
Overall, Global Payments qualifies as a slightly-above-average processor and scores a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. They can get you a good deal as long as you are insistent and advocate for yourself. For new or small-volume businesses, we’d recommend that you explore other options. There are plenty of processors putting out a lot more effort to truly earn your business. You can start with our Merchant Account Comparison Chart to see our favorite providers, all of whom have earned a higher rating than Global.
Does your own experience with Global Payments align with our assessment? Please leave a comment with your thoughts – after reading our comment policy, of course!
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