North American Bancard Review
While some large businesses can obtain value from NAB merchant services, smaller businesses will end up stuck in long-term contracts and ultimately overpay for credit card processing.
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- Troy, Mchigan
- Month-to-month contracts available
- Offers full range of Payanywhere products & services
- Extensive use of independent sales agents
- “Free” terminal offer requires a long-term contract
- Early termination fee based on liquidated damages
- Poor customer service and support
North American Bancard Overview
North American Bancard (NAB) is a large merchant services provider that relies on Global Payments for credit card processing services. The company has a very poor reputation among small business owners for a persistent pattern of aggressive and misleading sales practices. Like many similar providers, NAB touts its month-to-month contracts, but then pressures merchants to accept a “free” credit card terminal with their account rather than simply buying one outright. The catch is that doing so will invalidate the month-to-month agreement, requiring you to accept a standard long-term contract with an expensive early termination penalty.
Overall, North American Bancard earns a very average score of 3 out of 5 stars. If you have a medium-sized or larger business and are experienced at negotiating with sales agents, you might still be able to get a good deal with NAB. Small business owners, on the other hand, should steer clear of NAB. You’ll end up overpaying for processing services and might – despite the company’s advertising claims – end up in a long-term contract with a very hefty penalty if you try to cancel. Instead, check out our list of the best small business credit card processors to find much friendlier and less costly alternatives.
Table of Contents
Products & Services
North American Bancard offers all the standard features you would expect from a large merchant services provider. While it provides services to support eCommerce merchants, it’s clear from its advertising that its primary focus is on the retail sector. Here’s an overview of what NAB has to offer:
- Full-Service Merchant Accounts: As noted above, NAB uses Global Payments as its backend processor. You’ll want to be clear as to which processor is servicing your account, as you might have to contact them in the event of a transaction processing issue. All other customer service issues will be handled by NAB.
- Credit Card Terminals: The company offers a variety of terminals, including models that support both EMV (chip) and NFC-based payment methods such as Apple Pay or Google Pay. While older models like the Ingenico iCT220 are still available, NAB highlights several newer “smart” terminals from Payanywhere as its primary offerings. Smart terminals include features such as color touchscreens, wireless connectivity, and customer-facing displays. NAB doesn’t disclose which terminal models are available through its “free” terminal offer.
- Mobile Payments: NAB also offers Payanywhere card readers for mobile processing, including the Payanywhere 2+1 and 3+1 card readers. PayAnywhere runs on iOS and Android smartphones and tablets, and uses a Bluetooth-enabled card reader that can accept magstripe, EMV, and NFC-based (3+1 card reader only) payment methods.
- Point-Of-Sale (POS) System: The company offers the PayAnywhere SmartPOS+, which includes the PayAnywhere app, a 12.5” tablet with a stand, a 4.3” customer-facing touchscreen, and a built-in receipt printer. For restaurants, the MICROS RES 3700 system is also available. You can also add accessories to either system, including cash drawers and barcode scanners.
- Payment Gateway: While North American Bancard appears to gear their services mainly toward the retail sector, they also offer support for eCommerce merchants as well. NAB’s processing system is approved to work with Authorize.Net, USAePay, and five other gateways. While NAB advertises an all-in-one payments platform, it appears to be a bundled package of existing third-party services rather than a true integrated payments platform.
- Virtual Terminal: If you sign up for a gateway through NAB, you’ll also receive a free virtual terminal. You can use this for mail and telephone orders, or add an optional card reader to turn your laptop or desktop computer into a credit card terminal.
- Edge Program: For merchants looking to avoid paying credit card processing fees, NAB now offers its Edge Program, which combines a single flat rate for all transactions with an automated cash discounting program. While the flat rate isn’t disclosed, we’re willing to bet that it’s at or close to 4% — the maximum amount allowed.
- Reporting & Analytics: Your merchant account from NAB comes with access to Payments Hub, a web-based dashboard and analytics tool that can help you monitor your business. While the practice may have been discontinued, we’ve seen numerous complaints from merchants about being charged for this service after their 60-day free trial expired.
- ACH & Check Processing: This is an optional feature for merchants who want to avoid the hefty interchange fees that come with accepting credit cards. While it’s always a good idea to offer your customers multiple ways to pay you, be aware that ACH processing requires a separate underwriting process and a monthly fee.
In addition to these core features, NAB offers several other ancillary services that may be useful to your business, including a next-day or same-day funding option, loyalty and gift cards, and its PCI Plus security program. Again, most of these features will cost you extra.
NAB Merchant Fees & Rates
North American Bancard appears to have recently removed all pricing information from its website. Fortunately, that includes the misleading “rates as low as 0.29%” claim that used to feature prominently on its home page. Instead, you’ll have to contact sales and obtain a customized pricing quote for your business. Like many traditional providers, NAB has a mix of tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans available, and your monthly processing volume is the most significant factor in determining which rate plan you’ll receive. Put simply, the more you process each month, the lower the rates you could qualify for.
Smaller businesses that process a few thousand dollars a month will end up paying the highest rates, while only large businesses that process hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even more) a month will qualify for the lowest possible rate. Be forewarned that the company will usually offer you a more expensive tiered pricing plan as part of its initial offer. Businesses processing over about $5,000/month should negotiate for an interchange-plus plan instead. You’ll save money and have a clearer picture of how much the company is charging you as part of its markup.
NAB also used to advertise a flat-rate pricing plan for small businesses that only needed the Payanywhere mobile processing system. Rates were nearly identical to those charged by Square, and there were no monthly fees or long-term contracts. While this information is no longer posted on the company’s website, it might still be available. Be aware, however, that the relatively high processing rates that come with flat-rate pricing can get very expensive once your processing volume grows beyond about $5,000/month.
Common NAB Merchant Fees
Account fees with NAB are highly variable, but you should expect the following as a minimum:
- $12.95 (or higher) monthly account fee
- $3.99 per month inactivity fee if you don’t process any transactions for over twelve months
- Annual PCI compliance fee
- Monthly PCI-noncompliance fee (only if your account is out of compliance)
As always, it’s critically important that you carefully review your merchant agreement before you sign up, as all of these fees should be specified there. Do not rely on your sales agent to fully disclose all of these fees!
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
North American Bancard touts the availability of month-to-month billing with no early termination fee throughout its website. This policy reflects an industry-wide trend to do away with long-term contracts that included automatic renewal clauses and early termination fees (ETFs) for closing your account early. NAB’s previous ETF was particularly egregious, as you would have to pay the monthly fees for every month remaining in your contract, with a minimum charge of $295. This is essentially a liquidated damages clause, something you want to avoid if at all possible.
Unfortunately, this arrangement is only available if you don’t accept the company’s “free” terminal offer. It will be quite handy for eCommerce-only businesses and retail merchants who choose to purchase their equipment outright, but merchants accepting “free” processing equipment will most likely have to agree to the old contract provisions, including a three-year initial term and a very expensive ETF.
Despite the new policy, we found numerous complaints from merchants who were charged a high ETF when they tried to close their accounts. These types of complaints have tapered off over the past few years as more merchants opt for a month-to-month contract, but they’re still trickling in. Whether you choose the “free” processing equipment or the month-to-month billing option, be sure to keep copies of all documentation related to your contract in case there’s a dispute later.
Another nice, but unadvertised, feature of NAB’s contracts is that it will generally release you from your contract with no penalty if you cancel within the first 45 days of service and return all equipment promptly. While actually taking advantage of this policy might not always go smoothly, it’s still a better proposition than many providers offer.
Unless otherwise stated in your contract, you’ll have to provide 90 days’ notice to cancel your account. This is significantly longer than most providers require, and much more than the typical 30 days’ notice requirement of a true month-to-month billing arrangement.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
North American Bancard’s website is very slick and well-designed. In fact, it’s probably a little too slick, especially the annoying chatbot that pops up every time you navigate to a different page. Unfortunately, like many other providers’ websites, it’s clearly designed by marketers as an advertising vehicle for the company, and not as a useful resource for a prospective customer seeking out concrete information about pricing or contract terms.
The company’s “free” terminal offer is very prominent on NAB’s home page, but few details are provided. In addition to terminals, NAB also dangles the possibility of “free” mobile card readers and even full point-of-sale POS systems. Because the company offers such a wide range of equipment models with varying features and capabilities, we strongly suspect that any “free” equipment you receive will be the cheapest, most basic model available in its category.
The good news is that other misleading sales gimmicks have disappeared, including the “rates as low as 0.29%” claim. Instead, you’ll find a brief mention of “low rates with no hidden fees,” which is about as vague and unverifiable as you can get.
Beyond the website, the sales experience at NAB has more serious problems. The company has over 1,300 employees, but also maintains a sales force of several thousand independent agents. Why would a company need to have that many sales agents? From what we’ve seen, NAB seems to be far more interested in selling new accounts than it is in maintaining good relationships with its existing customers. Independent agents – not just at NAB, but throughout the processing industry – have a terrible reputation for being poorly trained before being sent out to look for customers. They also receive little or no supervision from their company, meaning that dishonest or unethical sales practices are rarely corrected. Usually working on a commission-only basis, independent agents are under intense pressure to set up new accounts, and they’ll often say just about anything to get you to sign up for a merchant account. Our best advice is never to trust anything promised to you by an independent agent. Get everything in writing and insist on reviewing every word of your contract before you decide to sign up for an account.
NAB has a robust social media presence, with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. It also has a YouTube channel and several videos uploaded to Vimeo. While the Facebook and Twitter accounts mostly mirror content posted on its blog, the YouTube and Vimeo content is a little more useful. Besides the usual sales pitches, you’ll find testimonials from satisfied customers and some helpful tutorials.
Customer Service & Technical Support
NAB offers customer support via telephone, email, and live chat. Telephone support is available 24/7/365, and you should receive a response to email inquiries within 24 hours. Note that the company’s phone number for customer care has a separate extension for tech support, so be sure to call the appropriate number based on the type of problem you’re experiencing.
Unfortunately, we’ve found a lot of complaints and very little positive feedback regarding the quality of customer support at NAB. As with most large merchant services providers, the helpfulness of the company’s customer support representatives often depends on the nature of your problem. Technical problems tend to receive much better support than angry customers complaining about an account freeze or trying to cancel their accounts.
North American Bancard Reviews, Complaints, & Common Problems
Negative Reviews & Complaints
North American Bancard has been accredited by the BBB since 2001 and currently has an A+ rating. This might come as a bit of a surprise, given that the company has had 100 complaints filed against it within the last three years, 35 of which were filed within the last twelve months. However, this is not an unusually high complaint volume for an organization that serves over 250,000 merchants. We’re more concerned that only 25 of those complaints were resolved to the merchant’s satisfaction. Customers have also left 40 reviews of the company, with an overall rating of just 1.45 out of 5 stars. On a positive note, NAB appears to respond to every merchant complaint, even if its track record of successfully resolving issues is pretty spotty.
We’d also note that this complaint volume represents a decrease from our previous review update, when NAB had 136 complaints filed against it. In the year before that, the complaint volume stood at 200, so there’s definitely a downward trend in BBB complaints. We attribute this decrease primarily to the recent availability of month-to-month contracts with no early termination fee. While this provision comes with strings attached, and not all merchants will be able to take advantage of it, it’s a step in the right direction and follows a trend within the processing industry to move away from unpopular long-term contracts.
Common issues in merchant complaints include the following:
- High Early Termination Fee: Although NAB now waives its early termination fee (ETF) for merchants who don’t need a free terminal or POS system, there are still many merchants who are liable for this fee. While some are merchants who have been with the company for many years and signed up before the waiver became available, others have been the victims of independent agents who falsely assured them that they wouldn’t have to pay an ETF. As always, we strongly advise you to review your contract documents thoroughly before signing up for an account. Never rely on the verbal assurances of a sales agent, independent or otherwise.
- Undisclosed PCI Compliance Fee: Most providers charge a PCI compliance fee, either as an annual fee, a monthly fee, or bundled in with your monthly account maintenance fee. NAB charges $79 per year (or more) for PCI compliance, but this extra fee often comes as an unpleasant surprise to some merchants. Again, review your contract documents and don’t rely on your agent to disclose this or any other fees. Also, be sure your provider is actually offering valuable services such as security scans or data breach insurance in exchange for this fee.
- Difficulty Closing Account: This complaint seems to come up with every provider that waives your early termination fee rather than putting you on a true month-to-month billing contract. Merchants think they’ve provided adequate notice and filled out all the necessary paperwork to close their accounts, only to find that they’re still being billed for monthly fees long after they’ve stopped using their account. While providers are required to keep your account open for as long as six months in case of a late-filed chargeback, they should not be charging you any fees when you’re no longer able to use the account.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
We found a few positive reviews of NAB on its BBB profile, although they don’t offer much useful information and are drowned out by the overwhelming number of negative reviews. This isn’t that surprising, as the BBB and other consumer protection websites are designed specifically to collect negative information about businesses, not positive reviews.
NAB doesn’t provide any testimonials from users on its website, but its YouTube and Vimeo channels have some fairly useful testimonials from actual customers. While they’re a little scripted, they still come across as genuine. Unsurprisingly, most of the positive testimonials come from business owners in the greater Detroit area.
Final Verdict On North American Bancard
North American Bancard gives the very strong impression of being yet another traditional merchant services provider that is primarily set up to cater to large, established businesses. The small business segment of the market is too big to ignore, however, and so it uses gimmicks like its “free” terminal offer — which would be useless to a large business that needs dozens of terminals — to lure in unsuspecting small business owners.
While NAB’s extensive use of pricey tiered rate plans is a big strike against it, the company’s sales and marketing tactics are its biggest weakness. NAB’s reliance on independent sales agents all but guarantees that you’ll end up with a deal that’s far less attractive than what you were expecting. With vague claims of low rates, “free” equipment that isn’t really free, and a month-to-month billing provision that you might not qualify for, the company usually delivers a lot less than what it promises.
We’re particularly concerned about the company’s extensive use of independent sales agents to market its accounts. Numerous complaints alleging dishonest sales practices suggest that it’s relying on a “hiring mill” or “churn and burn” strategy, where agents are brought on without regard to education or previous sales experience and then sent out with little training to try their hand at selling accounts. With this kind of poor preparation, most agents will be unsuccessful and will end up leaving the company in short order – only to be replaced by someone else with the same lack of qualifications and training.
At the same time, the company’s willingness to offer month-to-month billing with no long-term contract is a useful feature — as long as you either don’t need processing hardware or are willing to purchase it outright. The “free” terminal offer, on the other hand, might save you a few hundred dollars in the short term, but could cost you a lot more in the long run if you later need to break your contract with NAB.
Overall, North American Bancard earns a very average score of 3 out of 5 stars. While this may seem like a high rating for a provider with such significant problems, it’s mainly a reflection of the fact that the “industry average” in the processing business isn’t that great. If you own a large, successful business and are comfortable negotiating your own terms, you can probably get a good deal (and low processing rates) with a company like NAB. Smaller businesses with less leverage and more vulnerability to high account fees should probably steer well clear of NAB and other large providers like it.
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