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- Phone Number
- Date Established
- Calgary, Alberta, Canada and Seattle, WA
- All interchange-plus pricing (aka Cost+)
- Excellent customer support
- Truly extensive fee disclosures
- Fantastic educational resources
- Great charts demonstrating different interchange rate scenarios
- No termination fees
- No monthly minimum
- No setup/application fees
- No PCI compliance fees
Despite my propensity for verbosity, I’m a numbers guy at heart. Numerical data just makes sense to me. For this reason, Helcim is my new-found merchant account soulmate. This is a company that wields the power of numbers honestly and comprehensively, explaining complex pricing considerations in crystal clear and well-organized terms. I appreciate this immensely and am impressed as all get-out. And you want to know the really crazy thing? They’re based in Canada!
Okay, okay – nothing against Canada (my home state [New York] shares a waterfall with y’all), but the payments industry over there is generally not on the same level as in the US – or so I thought. But look at this young, prosperous business: Helcim (anagram of Michel?), though just a decade old, it hit the ground running. In terms of merchant account marketing, this company is one of the most forward-thinking, fair-minded providers I’ve ever seen. And based on reports I’ve read and my own experience, they deliver on all promises.
These folks go to great lengths to show merchants the pitfalls of the payment processing industry – common scams and marketing BS – and provide some of the most useful, intensive, and well-considered educational information you’re likely to find anywhere on the web. In fact, they cover most of the topics we’ve discussed in our own educational resources portal. (Hey Helcim – You’re gonna put us out of business!)
I would send my family to Helcim without hesitation and with no fear of things going awry thus leading to awkward holiday dinner table outbursts about how I ruined my cousin’s business with my processor suggestion. I have 100% confidence in Helcim, and that’s what it takes to earn 5 stars – a feat this company has met and exceeded with their first at-bat.
If you’re a Canadian business, this is absolutely a no-brainer. And if you’re a US-based business… also a no-brainer. Give Helcim a shot and you’ll never look back. See the full Helcim review below for more info, or just head over this company a shot and get the ball rolling. I’m that confident. Leave a comment to let me know what you think.
Products and Services:
- Merchant accounts: From what I gather, most accounts are processed through Elavon. I tend to like Elavon anyway, and it seems like these companies are working together very well here. Your contract terms and customer support will all be handled at Helcim, of course. Deposits are made in two business days.
- Terminal sales/leases: For US merchants, Helcim recommends buying your terminal outright, or they will reprogram your existing terminal for free. They have very nice terminals starting at $199. If you’re a Canadian merchant, this is different. In Canada, Chip and PIN terminals are not designed to be transferred or resold. So while Helcim profusely warns about the dangers of non-cancellable leases, they recommend a month-to-month rental instead.
- Virtual terminal: All internet plans include access to a web-based virtual terminal for processing cards right at your computer, no software required. Just internet. Receipts can be printed or emailed automatically.
- Payment gateway: If you opt for the upgraded internet account, you get a payment gateway that allows you to sell via an online store as well as utilize features like a credit card vault, recurring billing, payment pages, cart integration and more.
- Mobile processing: While this comes with a $30 monthly fee (and no free card reader), you’ll be saving money over Square if you process over $2,500 monthly since the cost-plus deal is so much better than your standard mobile flat-rate pricing. The app used is Elavon’s VirtualMerchant Mobile (aka VM Mobile), which has very basic functionality (no inventory, no frills), but merchants seem okay with it. Until very recently there was no tip function for Android, an oversight which I find a bit troubling. You are currently unable to demo this app before you sign up, but I’m told this is in the works. A free magstripe card reader is included, but there is no chip card reader supported for the mobile app at this time.
- Gift cards: This is nice to see, and fairly priced. I’m not blown away here, but as always Helcim goes out of their way to make sure you know exactly what this will cost so you can make an informed decision. And that does blow me away.
- Amex Opt Blue: This like interchange-plus for American Express. Not unique to Helcim, but most providers aren’t advertising it.
- Seasonal Accounts: Don’t need an account year-round? No problem. Again, not unique to Helcim, but I love to see them trying to save you money.
- Charity Accounts: Non-profits get lower rates!
Fees and Rates:
If you’ve read much of my writing, you probably know that I am a stickler for interchange-plus pricing. I believe that even low-volume merchants should qualify for this pricing model. There’s no good reason for you to deal with convoluted pricing. With interchange plus, you only have to worry about one rate: the markup above actual cost. Imagine if all of your purchases could be so transparent… Here’s the lowdown on the standard Helcim packages:
- 0.18% above interchange + $0.08 per transaction
- $12 monthly fee in the US and Canada
Internet Pro Plan:
- 0.36% above interchange + $0.25 per transaction
- $25 monthly fee
- Includes gateway for: credit card vault, recurring billing, payment pages, email invoicing, cart integration, etc.
- 0.18% above interchange + $0.08 per transaction
- $30 monthly fee
- Free mag stripe card reader (not chip card compatible)
- Free app
Discounts By Volume:
Standard merchant account
- $0 – 50,000 – 0.18% + 8¢
- $50,001 – 100,000 – 0.16% + 7¢
- $100,001 – 500,000 – 0.14% + 6¢
- $500,001 – 1,000,000 – 0.12% + 5¢
- $1,000,001 + – 0.10% + 5¢
Virtual merchant account
- $0 – 50,000 – 0.36% + 25¢
- $50,001 – 100,000 – 0.24% + 20¢
- $100,001 – 500,000 – 0.18% + 15¢
- $500,001 – 1,000,000 – 0.15% + 10¢
- $1,000,001 + – 0.10% + 10¢
These are the standard published discounts. Note that these are not applied automatically, and they are entirely negotiable. So if you got a lower quote elsewhere, chances are Helcim will match it.
If your needs fall outside of the standard offerings, Helcim will work with you to build a custom package around your business.
- Chargeback fee: $15
- Insufficient funds: $25
- Name change: $25
- Bank account change: $25
- PCI non-compliance: $30-35 monthly (Helcim does a good job of helping you avoid this)
- Wireless data fee in the US (optional): $20 monthly, in Canada it’s packaged with the terminal at no additional cost
If you have any questions about fees, Helcim put together this really nice page that explains what each fee is for. They even talk about fees like the FANF fee that the card networks charge, which will be passed on directly to you with no markup whatsoever.
Fees You Will NOT be Charged:
Monthly minimums PCI-compliance fees Setup/application fees Statement fees Early termination/account closure fees Non-qualified fees Junk fees/hidden fees
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
There are absolutely no early termination fees or cancellation fees charged by Helcim! As always, I still encourage you to carefully review your contract before signing. But Helcim is one of the more trustworthy providers I’ve encountered in this regard since they don’t seem to rely on outside agents. They have very consistent contract terms overall.
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
I’m going to make a big statement here. Are you ready? Okay. Helcim has the absolute best sales and advertising transparency I’ve ever seen. It’s quite clear that they respect the intelligence of their clientele, as evidenced in their completely professional, ungimmicky, grown-up web copy. They are not trying to trick you into anything, and in fact, have truly useful educational material. If you are a fan of the TV show King of the Hill, you will understand this as the “Hank Hill Approach.” Namely, low-pressure and highly-educational – demonstrating the shortcomings of the industry instead of exploiting these issues.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
Nothing is more infuriating than a flimsy FAQ. With Helcim, you don’t have to worry about that. They provide an extensive knowledgebase on par with the best of the best. This is seriously useful self-service support – no fluff!
I’m not 100% crazy about how it displays on the screen – for some reason I constantly have to toggle right – but that’s not a dealbreaker. (I put in a suggestion about this, so hopefully it will be fixed. Also if you make the window smaller, it will correct this issue.) Beyond this, you can access phone and email support 24/7, both of which I found highly responsive. (Some issues will of course, have to wait for business hours.)
While many providers will take over 24 hours to return emails, Helcim got back to me almost instantly. Users around the web tend to agree that Helcim excels in this category.
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
I found only one complaint about Helcim, but the entire complaint is only one sentence long and seems like baloney to me. Aside from that, this company has an absolutely flawless reputation. They have an A+ rating with the BBB, but also no complaints in the past 36 months. If you have experience with Helcim, please leave your thoughts in a comment. Positive or negative, your insights help us keep this review as accurate as possible.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
It’s one thing to keep complaints at bay (a commendable achievement), but another endeavor entirely to get your customers to rave about you on the web. Helcim has managed to provide such impressive services that merchants are speaking out on social media and independent review sites to let us know that this is, indeed, the real deal. I can’t tell you how rare this is. Helcim also offers a bunch of brief blurbs and client logos on their site, many of which are verifiable. I have absolutely no doubts about this company’s customer satisfaction levels.
Some in-depth case studies might be nice, but that’s not really the gig here. The solutions Helcim provides are fairly basic – the real magic is in how flawlessly they execute these basics. (But I really do love the very fair Square vs. Helcim comparison they provide.)
If you’re Canadian, for the love of all that is holy – check these guys out! They’re paving the way for the future of merchant account marketing and execution. For small and medium-sized businesses, you’ll find everything you need here. And for you US-based merchants – again, check these guys out! They’re delivering top-notch service in the good ol’ US of A, too.
When it comes to full disclosure, fair pricing, and common sense practices, I’ve found my true love at Helcim. There are only a handful of other providers that make this much sense to me. (We’ve reviewed almost 200 providers here… so this is really saying something.) They charge very fair prices, all interchange-plus rates, and – best of all – Helcim provides you a REAL education so you can make an informed decision. Their industry articles are almost as good as ours, and we’re a watchdog!
If I had to find a complaint, it would be their mobile app. It’s not quite as feature-rich as others on the market, although it does seem to perform well enough. I also think that a $30 monthly fee for mobile when retail only carries a $12 fee (in the US) seems a little off (probably requires gateway access). But aside from that, I’m simply speechless. In my opinion, you’d be insane not to short-list Helcim. Please leave your thoughts in a comment below!