Global Payments Review
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- Date Established
- Atlanta, Georgia
- A full lineup of products and services
- International merchants supported
- Interchange-plus pricing offered
- No pricing disclosures on the website
- A three-year standard contract with an automatic renewal clause
- Early termination fee
- Extensive use of independent sales agents
- Expensive for low-volume merchants
- High complaint volume
Global Payments Overview
Global Payments is a merchant services provider headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded initially as National Data Corporation back in 1967, the company today serves over 3.5 million merchants in over 30 countries around the world. After decades of steady growth, the company acquired Heartland Payment Systems, an already large company in its own right, in 2016. More recently, Global Payments has become one of the largest organizations in the processing industry with its September 2019 acquisition of direct processor TSYS for $21.5 billion. The Global Payments name will be retained going forward, although you can still find a separate website for TSYS as of July 2020.
Big payment processing companies (especially those large enough to be direct processors) frequently 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 company’s services through a third party. Volume is also a factor. Since a big processor serves hundreds of thousands (or, in this case, millions) of merchants, negative feedback can pile up quickly, even if just a tiny percentage of merchants have issues that are serious enough to warrant filing a complaint.
This situation certainly seems to have happened to Global Payments. While we’ve never liked the company’s long-term contracts or shady sales practices, it’s always managed to maintain a remarkably low complaint volume relative to its size. Not anymore. Since the time of our last review update in May 2019, the number of complaints against the company has increased to nearly ten times higher than it was just a year before. The bulk of the new complaints were filed within the last twelve months, confirming that this is a new problem. We suspect that the dramatic increase in complaints is at least partially related to the recent merger between TSYS and Global Payments. When mergers of this size occur, thousands of merchants who were customers of the company being acquired suddenly (and often with little or no notice) find their accounts to be “under new management.” While the overall processing costs may stay more or less the same, it’s more likely that they’ll increase — sometimes significantly. (After all, someone has to pay for that expensive merger.)
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 your sales agent.
As one of the largest companies in the processing industry, Global Payments has the resources to do all of its transaction processing in-house. It also offers a robust lineup of products and services that will meet the needs of practically any business. If you have a big business with complex needs, the company might be a good option for you. Larger businesses can negotiate the low interchange-plus rates they deserve due to their high monthly processing volume, and the company will help you find any solutions you require. Small business owners looking for flexible, low-cost processing services, however, should definitely look elsewhere.
Due to the dramatic increase in complaints brought about by the Global Payments-TSYS merger, we’re dropping the company’s overall score to 3 out of 5 stars. While we’d love to drop it even further, the truth is that Global’s long-term contracts, expensive cancellation fees, and heavy use of independent sales agents are pretty much par for the course in the world of traditional merchant services providers. There really isn’t anything so egregious about the company’s services that would warrant a below-average score. As we’ve said, Global Payments actually can be a reasonable choice for some businesses.
For most of our readers, however, Global Payments will not be a good choice. If you’re looking for a more reasonable solution that’s small-business-friendly, check out our Merchant Account Comparison Chart for an overview of the best all-around providers that we’ve found. Also, if you’re a current or former customer of Global Payments, please tell us about your experience with the company in the Comments section below. Thanks!
Table of Contents
Products & Services
Global Payments offers a full range of payment 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, with a focus on the US and Canada:
- Merchant Accounts: As we’ve mentioned above, Global Payments is a direct processor. There’s no intermediary here, so you (hopefully) won’t get the run-around if there’s a problem with one of your transactions. Also, you’ll always deal with the same organization for customer service and support.
- 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 integrations, and Apple/Google/Samsung Pay are among the features available.
- Virtual Terminal: The company’s virtual terminal is a simple, merchant-facing solution for processing mail order, telephone, and email orders and does not require a 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: Global Payments is now using the Mobile Pay app (still referred to as Heartland Mobile Pay on the Apple App Store) for US merchants. It’s available for free for both iOS and Android devices and works on both smartphones and tablets. You’ll also need the company’s Mobile Pay Card Reader, which connects via Bluetooth and supports magstripe, EMV, and NFC-based payment methods. While the app is free, you should expect to pay around $60 for the card reader.
- 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, it doesn’t advertise such on its 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. It offers just about every possible service or product you might need to run your business. While we’d like to see Global Payments provide some more specific and detailed information about several of its 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 Merchant Account & Credit Card Processing Fees, or our infographic, A Visual Guide to Credit Card Processing Fees & Rates.
The company appears to generally offer either interchange-plus or subscription-based pricing to all new merchants, even small business owners. However, it doesn’t disclose this policy on its 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 is a 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 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 — some 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. However, some contracts include a liquidated damages clause that can result in an even higher penalty for getting out of your contract.
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 of 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 your account will be properly closed and that you’ll stop being billed just because you notified the company of your intent to close your account and returned any processing hardware that you don’t own outright.
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. The company seems 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
- Location: 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 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.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Despite the company’s size and length of time in business, Global Payments is not accredited by the BBB. The company currently has an A- rating, probably due to its lack of accreditation and because it has not responded to 100% of the complaints filed against it. However, it has responded to most of those complaints and shown a tremendous willingness to issue refunds in even the flimsiest of cases.
Global Payments currently has 330 complaints that have been filed within the last three years, with 165 of those complaints having been filed within the previous twelve months. This represents a nearly ten-fold increase in complaints since the time of our last review update in May 2019 and is clearly cause for concern. Unfortunately, details are not available for most of the more recent complaints, so we can’t identify a clear issue that has sprung up within the last year. However, we did notice that consumers, not merchants, posted most of the complaints for which details were available. Almost all of these complaints were filed by people who were gambling or playing the lottery online (including state-sanctioned lotteries in Georgia and Pennsylvania) and allege difficulties with receiving payment through Global’s echeck/ACH processing service. Hopefully, this is not an issue that will affect you as a merchant.
Of the complaints that were filed by actual merchants, we found several alleging deceptive sales practices by agents of North American Bancard, a Global ISO. In one instance, the agent is alleged to have signed the merchant up for a second merchant account without disclosing that this was done. Unfortunately, Global Payments has little control over the behavior of its ISOs’ sales force, but it did provide a full refund. Incidents like this are more common than most people realize, and they’re a good example of why you should carefully review your monthly merchant account statements to guard against having money drained out of your account like this.
Other common issues that came up repeatedly in published complaints included the following:
- 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.
- 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 such as Global pay far more attention to their biggest customers than they do to small business owners.
- 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
Global Payments name-drops a lot of its more well-known clients on its website, including Wendy’s, Taco Bell, and even Walmart. However, no testimonials from these companies are provided. There is a “Customer Spotlight” on a medical office software company called Advanced MD that’s very detailed, but it’s the only testimonial offered.
We also found two video testimonials from Kingston University on the company’s YouTube channel, but that’s about it as far as self-generated praise goes. It’s somewhat surprising that a company as large as Global Payments doesn’t put more effort into producing the kind of professional, compelling testimonials and case studies that many much smaller providers offer.
There are also a surprising number of 5-star reviews of Global Payments on Trustpilot, but many of them appear to have been submitted at the request of the merchant’s sales agent after setting up their account. Merchants who’ve been with the company for more than a week or two appear to tell a different story, as many of the 1-star reviews focus on the kinds of issues that typically arise after at least several months of using a provider.
We also continue to receive comments on Global Payments from our readers, and few of them are very positive. If you’ve had experience with Global Payments (good or bad), please tell us about it in the Comments section below.
With a company such as Global Payments, the name speaks for itself. It’s common knowledge that Global runs a large, successful, highly capable payment processing business. This is not a fly-by-night operation (although that could fairly be said about some of its ISOs). However, just because a business is successful does not mean that it’s a good proposition for all of its customers. Global certainly does have some significant resources, and these will only get bigger with the company’s recent acquisitions of Heartland Payment Systems and TSYS.
If your business needs access to specialized resources and services that a smaller provider can’t offer (for example, support for international payments), it’s worth looking into Global Payments. For smaller businesses, you might want to look elsewhere instead. Global is not a good “starter” merchant services provider. Sales and advertising transparency are 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).
Despite its place as one of the largest processors in the industry, we’re only awarding Global Payments an overall score of 3 out of 5 stars. While the company has a very impressive lineup of products and services, its use of long-term contracts with expensive cancellation penalties, poor sales practices, and reputation for below-average customer support drag down the overall rating significantly. The recent surge in complaints against Global with the BBB is a further cause for concern. While the company can be a viable option for larger businesses with a high, stable monthly processing volume who are willing to negotiate for the best possible terms and rates, small business owners should definitely look elsewhere. A good place to start your search is our Merchant Account Comparison Chart, which offers side-by-side comparisons of several of the best providers in the industry.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.