Taking $3,000 per month or less in card payments?
You’ll save with Square
- Date Established
- New York, NY
Let me begin this review with my favorite aspect of MerchantPlus – common sense. This provider features more common sense practices and common sense marketing than you’ll find in most other nooks of the merchant services market, and I love that about them. Rates and fees are incredibly simple, with flat rate and interchange-plus models front and center. All costs are fair, clearly advertised, and simple to understand. This company offers solid features and good value alongside excellent customer support, with no early termination fees, PCI compliance fees, or other such nonsense. So far, so good.
Aside from having the right price and honest advertising, MerchantPlus (MP) provides a number of nice features. Their in-house NaviGate gateway (get it?) comes free with every account, and is made highly compatible by using an emulation mode for Authorize.net’s Advanced Integration Method API. Overall, it looks like MP has good compatibility when it comes to integrating shopping carts and other services. They support payments in a number of currencies, making life easier for merchants with international clientele. Keep your eye out for their new mobile app hitting the market in early 2014. (Looks like it will be a good one!) While none of this exactly blows my mind, it’s all undoubtedly valuable.
I really wanted to give MerchantPlus a flawless review. Their service looks so good on paper, and you can find a number of positive reviews floating around. And, all in all, they have very few complaints for a business of this size. That said – I cannot in good conscience give a perfect review to a company currently rated a big fat “F” by the Better Business Bureau. Trust me, I know the BBB isn’t always the most reliable regulatory agency out there, and they’ve got some sketchy practices of their own. There’s no way around the facts here, though. While MP has only a handful of complaints, they completely ignored a couple of them. A few more complaints come up on other complaint sites, often without a response from the company.
Until I can get this cleared up, I have to take off half a star from MerchantPlus, leaving them with a still-respectable 4.5 stars. They have quality service and fair pricing, with interchange-plus and no early termination fee advertised in plain view. I really like this company, and I sincerely hope to return their 5-star status in the near future. In the meantime, I can still recommend them to you as a really solid provider.
Check out the full review below for more details, and please comment if you have any insights!
Table of Contents
Products and Services:
MerchantPlus exceeds the industry standard, offering what I consider to be a good variety of useful services, including:
- Merchant accounts: I should note that the instant access, pay-as-you-go account will not include a traditional merchant account. Instead, you will process indirectly through some type of aggregation model. For all accounts that include a monthly fee, you will open a merchant account and process through that directly. Check out this article to learn some of the differences between these two models. It appears that MerchantPlus uses BluePay as their processor. They had used iPayment in the past, but no longer appear to for new accounts.
- International payments: This allows you to accept payment in a number of different currencies. You’ll still have to be located in the US, though.
- NaviGate gateway: This proprietary payment gateway is a key feature for adding value to a MerchantPlus account. By using an emulation mode for Authorize.net’s Advanced Integration Method API, this gateway is compatible with just about everything Authorize.net (probably the most popular gateway in the industry) is compatible with. Access to NaviGate is including with every account. Also nice: customizable multi-user capabilities. If you’d rather use an Authorize.net gateway or another option, the fee will be around $9.95 per month.
- Virtual terminal: Unlike Stripe, MerchantPlus offers a virtual terminal with their gateway, so you can use any internet-connected computer as a credit card terminal.
- Easy integration/high compatibility: You’ll find reliable integration options for a ton of shopping carts (including Shopify), mobile payments, and other services. While I don’t have personal experience with it, their NaviGate API sounds promising.
Fees and Rates:
MechantPlus offers three different plans, only two of which you probably need to consider (the third is for businesses processing over $500K per month). One is a pay-as-you-go/flat rate solution, almost identical to Braintree or Stripe (and is a bit difficult to find). The other has a monthly fee and uses interchange-plus pricing.
Starter (pay-as-you-go, flat rate)
- Instant access
- 3.5% + $0.30 per transaction
- No monthly fee
- No PCI compliance fee
- No early termination fee
- No gateway fee
With this option, you do not get your own merchant account. As far as I can tell, you get aggregated much like you would with Square. This allows MerchantPlus to give you instant access to processing and an overall low cost, even if you process very little.
Advanced (monthly fee, interchange-plus)
- $30 monthly fee
- 0.30% + $0.25 over interchange (interchange-plus)
- No PCI compliance fee
- No early termination fee
- No gateway fee
Here, you’ll get your own merchant account (or as MP puts it, a “direct merchant account”), which is overall better for stability. You’ll have to wait a day or even a few days for the underwriting process to occur, but they seem to get this done faster than the industry standard.
My one complaint here is the $30 monthly fee. That’s probably the highest monthly fee you’ll see anywhere in the industry for this type of account. But, if you think about it, it’s still a competive rate. Let me show you.
Most merchant accounts, even competitive ones, will come with:
- $7 to $10 monthly fee (sometimes called a statement fee)
- $80 – $100 annual PCI compliance fee (about $7 per month)
- $10 to $20 monthly gateway fee (and sometimes up to $100 setup fee)
- $25 monthly minimum (the lowest amount in processing fees you can be charged per month)
So, if you had a good deal, you could expect about $25 per month as your base fee, plus a $25 monthly minimum. This means that even if you process nothing, you’ll be paying $50 per month with a good ecommerce provider. This makes MerchantPlus a particularly solid deal for merchants who will process very little in some months, but still want interchange-plus pricing.
So while this $30 can be a little confusing if you’re not familiar with normal industry fees, it’s actually a fair charge when you consider the normal fees associated with a merchant account. And I really love interchange-plus pricing…
- Must process $500,000 per month
- Starts at $299 per month
- 0.2% + $0.20 over interchange
- Includes a number of advanced capabilities
This one is for very high volume businesses.
“Rate Assure” Program
MerchantPlus offers lower interchange markups based on your processing volume for Advanced and Enterprise accounts. These are the numbers they commit to:
- Up to $100K per month: 0.30%
- $100K – 500K per month: 0.25%
- $500K – 1MIL per month: 0.20%
- $1MIL – 5MIL per month: 0.15%
- Over $5MIL per month: 0.10%
Overall, not a bad deal. I think the rates could be a tad lower in places (maybe negotiable), but I’m delighted to see this kind of common sense disclosure in plain sight. I’ve actually never seen this kind of thing advertised before. I’d love for this to become the industry standard!
Contract Length and Early Termination Fee:
No early termination fees whatsoever. Good deal.
But – that said – always read your contract and make sure the proper waivers are attached. MerchantPlus uses BluePay as their processor, and they even provide a copy of BluePay’s merchant agreement on their site. You can see it here. If you read it, you’ll notice that a $295 early termination fee is outlined. This is fine as long as you have a signed wavier form attached to your contract. Don’t sign without it!
Sales and Advertising Transparency:
MerchantPlus presents useful, honest advertising and marketing copy on the web. They do not appear to make any dishonest or misleading claims, and overall I’m left feeling impressed by their strategies.
One of the central marketing tactic used by MP consists of comparison charts. I like comparison charts (we use them regularly at Merchant Maverick), and while of course MerchantPlus is careful to present the information in such a way as to make their own company seem like the best choice, they don’t do so in any overtly dishonest ways. They even concede in these charts that other companies use monthly minimums instead of flat fees, and that depending on usage your cost will vary.
I haven’t seen or heard any reports of deceptive sales representative or bait and switch tactics. Based on all of my research, I believe that MerchantPlus offers generally honest sales consultations and thorough explanations of contract terms.
Customer Service and Technical Support:
While some industry leaders are pulling away from phone-based, in-house support teams, MerchantPlus is not. They provide in-house customer and technical support during east coast business hours in both English and Spanish, boasting less than one minute hold times. Beyond that, they offer business hours live chat and a 24/7 ticketing support system with turnaround in 12 hour or less.
I put in a couple of support requests via phone and email. I got a very nice, honest rep on the phone almost immediately, and heard back via email within hours. While I can’t say with certainty that they offer quality support, the buzz on the web from merchants is overwhelmingly positive.
You’ll also find a small albeit useful knowledgebase for self-service customer support.
If you’ve worked with MerchantPlus and have input on how their support stacks up, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. It helps us to keep our reviews as accurate and up to date as possible. Thanks in advance!
Negative Reviews and Complaints:
The reviews and complaints for MerchantPlus are very inconsistent. In most cases, the company seems to respond reasonably to complaints, but in other situations they completely ignore them. This, in part, has led to their current “F” rating through the BBB, despite the fact that they have only five complaints in the past three years, four of which are from the past 12 months. They’ve also failed to respond to four complaints, however, which is a big no-no in the BBB’s book (and not responding to four out of five complaints looks pretty bad to me too). One of the other complaints was responded to, but not resolved to the satisfaction of the customer. That’s bad news.
With only a handful of complaints available, I am not currently able to find any overarching trends in complaints, or to verify their legitimacy. Personally, I have concerns with how MerchantPlus handles complaints. No BBB complaints should ever go unresolved or ignored. Every complaint on the web should have a rep responding and trying to make things right, especially when there are so few to deal with. This does not currently seem to happen with MerchantPlus.
Many of the complaints in our comments section and elsewhere have to do with iPayment, a processor MerchantPlus used in the past. Based on my research, it appears that MP uses BluePay these days – a notably better processor in my opinion. So while I understand the frustrations these merchant faced, I’m glad to see that MerchantPlus took notice and moved away from iPayment.
If you’ve had personal, firsthand experience with MerchantPlus, please leave your review or insights in our comments section. Be sure to read our comment policy to ensure your remarks are publishable.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials:
On the MerchantPlus testimonials page, you’ll find a small collection of very nice comments, all of which come fully-disclosed with full names and business names (though not dated). Aside from these officially condoned and distributed positive remarks, I had an easy time finding merchants leaving kind words on third-party review sites, although I was unable to authenticate these reviews.
Once again, please leave us a comment with your review! That’s how we keep our information accurate and up to date. If you can take the time to authenticate your review, I will hold it in high regard next time I update this page.
In almost all regards, MerchantPlus is a great company to deal with. They offer quality services and honest guidance along with very fair and straightforward pricing. I have a few things that I like to see in a provider when it comes to pricing:
MerchantPlus fulfills all three of these criteria. While the monthly fee for their interchange-plus plan runs a little steep, you can make it worth the money by utilizing their in-house payment gateway, which is including in the package. Or if you only need to process cards sporadically, just go with their flat rate pricing model, which has no monthly fee whatsoever.
I have no doubt that this would be a 5-star provider if they could just clean up their reputation a little bit and work harder to respond to complaints in a public way. Most of the complaints you’ll find are outdated at this point, often pointing the finger at iPayment, a processor MerchantPlus does not currently use.
I’ll be revisiting this soon, hopefully with good news. But even in the meantime, I will recommend MerchantPlus to you as a quality payment services provider with 4.5 stars out of 5. They are WAY better than the industry standard, and overall impressed me.
Credit Card Processor Rating Criteria.