Payline Data Review
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- Phone Number
- (888) 265-4565
- Date Established
- Chicago, Illinois
Payline Data is a merchant account provider headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. A relatively new company, they’ve been in business since 2009. Like many of our other favorite vendors, Payline Data strives to stay on the leading edge of market trends and technological developments. They have several features that genuinely set them apart from the many run-of-the-mill providers in the industry, including the following:
- Interchange-plus pricing for all merchants (except developers using their Payline I/O service, which has flat-rate pricing)
- Month-to-month billing with no long-term contracts and no early termination fee (ETF)
- Standardized (and fully disclosed) pricing plans based on your business type
- Free terminal equipment with some plans
- Excellent customer service and support
The company has recently redesigned its website and not only does it look very polished and professional, but it also makes it easier to find the information you seek quickly. You’ll also find an excellent knowledgebase full of information to help you understand payment processing and solve some of the more common problems that can come up on your own.
Payline Data has a well-deserved reputation for transparent and honest sales practices – something that’s all too rare in the credit card processing industry. The standardized pricing packages also eliminate most of the negotiating over rates and terms that you’ll have to deal with when signing up with a more traditional provider. With Payline Data, you can just pick a plan that’s right for your business, and you’ll know your rates, fees, and terms ahead of time.
Another thing that separates Payline Data from the overwhelming majority of merchant account providers in the industry is their deep commitment to giving back to their community through charitable contributions and volunteer work. Their Payline Giving program partners with reputable charities to support twelve highlighted causes each year (one cause for each month). Current issues the company is focusing on include environmental protection, veterans’ issues, and Alzheimer’s Disease research. Payline Data donates a portion of its profits to each of these causes, and also grants their employees three days of paid time off every year to perform volunteer work.
In addition to charitable giving, Payline Data also offers special discounted pricing on merchant accounts for registered 501(c)(3) charities. Nonprofit, charitable organizations can also collect recurring referral payments as part of the company’s “Commercial Co-Venture” program. Contact Payline Data directly for details on this program.
Payline’s Spark, Surge, Shop, and Connect packages offer an excellent combination of equipment, features, and competitive interchange-plus pricing. Their retail and eCommerce offerings are up-to-date, including support for EMV and NFC-based payments for retail businesses. The Spark pricing plan stands out, offering new or low-volume businesses a full merchant account with interchange-plus pricing and no monthly account fee.
Overall, Payline Data earns a glowing 5 out of 5 stars rating and our strongest recommendation. Five-star doesn’t mean perfect, but it does mean that the company offers the best combination of products, features, pricing and service to meet the needs of most merchants. The company’s top-notch products and competitive pricing provide some of the best overall value you’ll find from any provider. Check them out!
Table of Contents
Products & Services:
As we’ve noted, Payline Data provides a wide variety of products and features to meet the needs of most merchants, including retail, eCommerce, and omnichannel businesses. Here’s what they have to offer:
- Merchant accounts: These are Payline Data’s core products, and despite the low, simplified pricing, they’re full-service merchant accounts complete with unique merchant ID numbers for each business. The company is not a direct processor but uses Vantiv as their primary backend processor.
- High-risk accounts: If your business falls into the high-risk category, Payline Data can help you get a merchant account. In fact, they’re one of our favorite high-risk merchant account providers. However, you should be aware that pricing and contract terms may differ significantly from the standard pricing plans advertised on their website. You will probably have to accept higher processing rates and stricter contract terms, but these should still be reasonable. Note that the company no longer prominently advertises the availability of high-risk accounts on their website.
- Non-profit accounts: As we mentioned above, registered 501(c)(3) charities and non-profit organizations are eligible for discounted processing rates. If you are a non-profit, you can also take advantage of the company’s “Commercial Co-Venture” program to gain recurring donations by referring business customers to Payline Data. There are no additional costs to you or your customers to sign up for this program.
- Payment gateway: Payline Data offers their proprietary Payline Gateway, which is included in their Payline Shop and Payline Connect pricing plans. The gateway includes features like recurring billing, electronic invoicing, and a customer information vault to store your customers’ payment method data. There are no separate gateway fees or per-transaction charges for this product.
- Virtual terminal: Included for free with all four standard pricing plans, Payline Data’s virtual terminal allows you to accept card-not-present payments from any internet-connected computer. The terminal software can process card-present transactions as well when coupled with a USB-connected card reader, in some cases eliminating the need for a credit card terminal.
- Credit card terminals: The Payline Shop plan comes with a free terminal – either the Verifone Vx520 or the Ingenico iCT220. Both are rugged, up-to-date machines that support EMV payments. If you need more than one terminal, Payline will sell them to you outright for $309.99 each. They’ll also reprogram your existing equipment if you’d like to use that option. Additionally, the Ingenico iCT250 is available for $349.99 if you’d prefer a more advanced model. Note that, unlike many “free” terminal offers from their competitors, Payline Data’s terminals really are more or less free. You’ll pay a higher monthly fee (about an extra $10 per month), and you’ll have to return the terminal if you close your account, but those are the only restrictions. It’s a far better deal than being trapped in a noncancelable terminal lease.
- POS systems: Unlike their credit card terminals, Payline Data doesn’t offer any POS hardware as part of their standardized pricing plans. However, they can integrate their processing system with your existing equipment. Contact your sales representative to ensure compatibility.
- Mobile payments: For customers wishing to use their smartphone or tablet as a mobile credit card terminal, the company offers their free Payline Mobile app with either the Payline Spark or Payline Surge plans. It’s available for both iOS and Android. If you sign up for the Payline Spark plan, you’ll receive a free Ingenico GX5 card reader. This is a basic, magstripe-only card reader that connects via the headphone jack. Additional readers are $49.99 each. Under the Payline Surge plan, you’ll be upgraded to a free Ingenico RP457C card reader. This reader can support magstripe, EMV, or NFC-based payments (such as Apple Pay), and connects either through the headphone jack or Bluetooth. We highly recommend this reader if you want to future-proof your mobile payments system. Additional readers are $149.99 each.
- Shopping cart integration: eCommerce merchants can use Payline Data’s free shopping cart/donation button/payment link, or integrate their website with any of their shopping cart partners. There are currently over 60 third-party shopping cart options available.
- eCheck (ACH) services: Like almost all merchant account providers, Payline Data also includes support for eCheck (ACH) payments. This is a good option to include with your account, giving your customers an additional payment method to choose from and saving you money in processing costs.
- Fraud protection: Payline Data offers several anti-fraud features designed to lower the risk of chargebacks with all of their pricing plans. The company partners with Ethoca and Verifi to provide specialized programs aimed at preventing chargebacks before they occur.
- Payline I/O: This is a developer toolkit aimed at developers who want to accept credit card payments from their B2B clients. According to the company, it’s “a full-stack payments API which offers secure payment integration, instant merchant onboarding, and flexible funding for integrating payments into software platforms that connect businesses with their customers.” Pricing is under a separate plan for this option.
Fees & Rates:
Payline Data offers five standardized pricing plans designed to appeal to most merchants. Payline Spark, Payline Surge, and Payline Shop are optimized for retail businesses, while Payline Connect is designed for eCommerce merchants. Payline I/O is a specialized plan for developers working in the B2B sphere. The company also offers customized Enterprise pricing to large businesses that want to save even more on their processing costs.
Except for Payline I/O, which uses a flat-rate pricing model, all four of the company’s primary pricing plans feature interchange-plus pricing. Rates vary with each plan, with low-volume and eCommerce merchants paying higher rates and high-volume retailers paying lower ones. Payline Data features a “price match guarantee,” so you might be able to get lower rates if you’re switching from a different provider.
The retail plans also include month-to-month billing and one free terminal or mobile card reader with lifetime equipment protection. Payline Connect substitutes a free payment gateway for the terminal. Let’s take a closer look at the details of each plan:
Designed for retail merchants who are just starting out, Payline Spark includes the following features:
- Payline Mobile app and Ingenico GX5 mobile card reader
- Free virtual terminal
- Interchange + 0.50% + $0.20 per transaction
- No monthly fee
- $25.00 monthly minimum
This plan combines in-store and mobile processing for retail businesses and represents the best value for most retailers. Features include:
- Payline Mobile app and Ingenico RP457C EMV-compliant mobile card reader
- Free virtual terminal
- Interchange + 0.30% + $0.20 per transaction
- $9.95 monthly fee
- $25.00 monthly minimum
Designed for larger retailers who want a traditional countertop system, this plan includes the following features:
- Free terminal (Verifone Vx520 or Ingenico iCT220)
- Free virtual terminal and payment gateway
- Interchange + 0.30% + $0.20 per transaction
- $19.95 monthly fee
- $25.00 monthly minimum
For eCommerce-only merchants who don’t need credit card terminals and process card-not-present transactions exclusively, Payline Connect includes the following:
- Free payment gateway with virtual terminal included
- Interchange + 0.65% + $0.20 per transaction
- No monthly fee
- $25.00 monthly minimum
Payline I/O is a special, API-only plan for developers who want to be able to accept credit card payments in their B2B application. Features include the following:
- Flat-rate pricing: 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction
- No monthly account fee
- No monthly minimum
In addition to these standard features, Payline Data also offers several optional add-ons. Payline mPOS, which integrates your POS system with Payline’s payment processing, is available for $59.99 per month under the Payline Shop plan. Users of Payline Connect can add a suite of fraud tools (which includes iSpy Fraud, Payer Authentication, and Verifi/Ethoca) for $19.95. Subscription billing (including Invoicing, QuickBooks Sync, and Account Updater tools) is also available under the Payline Connect plan for $29.95.
Payline Data’s all-in-one pricing means you won’t pay any annual fees, gateway fees, or PCI compliance fees under any of these standardized plans. The company does, however, charge for PCI non-compliance, so keep your account in compliance. We encourage you to read your contract documents very carefully before signing up, as there will inevitably be other, minor fees (such as the Visa FANF fee) that will be passed on to you at cost.
Overall, Payline Data’s pricing plans represent a great bargain for the majority of small to medium-sized businesses. While their interchange-plus rates aren’t the lowest we’ve seen, the low fees and free equipment mean that your overall costs will be significantly lower than with most other competing providers.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee:
All of Payline Data’s standard contracts come with month-to-month billing and no early termination fee (ETF). In other words, you can close your account at any time – and for any reason – without having to pay a penalty and without having to worry about being charged for months after your account is closed. Naturally, you’ll have to return any free equipment that came with your account. This is the best arrangement you can hope for in the processing industry, where long-term contracts and expensive cancellation fees have long been the norm. One word of caution: If you’re a high-risk merchant, you probably won’t be on a standard contract, and you might or might not be offered such flexible terms. Be sure to read your contract very carefully so you’ll know your contract length and whether you have to worry about an ETF.
Sales & Advertising Transparency:
Payline Data has recently revamped their website, and it’s very professional looking. Information is laid out very well, and the site is easy to navigate. The information provided isn’t as extensive as it could be, but pricing and contract terms are fully disclosed, which is better than what you’ll get from most of the other merchant account providers out there.
While Payline’s website is an excellent advertising vehicle to get potential customers in the door, the bulk of the work of setting up accounts is done by a sales team composed of both in-house and independent sales representatives. While the use of independent agents frequently leads to problems in the merchant accounts industry, that’s not the case with Payline Data. You’ll get the same high level of support and integrity whether you’re working with one of the company’s employees or an independent agent. While the company deserves plenty of credit for providing adequate training and supervision to all of their agents, it also helps that many of the issues that frequently get independent agents in trouble – such as rates, contract length, and early termination fees – are already fully disclosed by the company before you ever talk to an agent. Note that high-risk merchants and large businesses seeking enterprise pricing will probably still have to negotiate the best rates and terms they can get, as these businesses won’t be on one of Payline’s standardized pricing plans.
Like most newer companies, Payline Data has a very robust presence on social media. They have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Instagram. Here, you’ll find plenty of frequently-updated content, including blog posts and educational materials. They also have a YouTube channel, which includes numerous videos about the company and a handful of educational videos as well. Their interchange-plus pricing video is a very good overview if you’re still kind of hazy as to how that pricing model works.
Customer Service & Technical Support:
Payline Data provides customer service and support through email and a phone line that’s available from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM (CST), Monday through Friday. While we like to see 24/7 telephone support to cover the inevitable after-hours emergencies, the truth is that most companies providing around-the-clock support rely on outsourced help to cover their non-business hours, meaning you won’t get the same level of expertise and helpfulness at 3:00 AM as you would during the day. With Payline, the quality of their telephone support is top-notch, and it’s one of the areas where its customers have frequently praised the company.
You’ll also find a handy FAQ on the company’s website. While it’s not as extensive as a full-blown knowledgebase, it’s educational and will answer the most common questions new merchants will have. For developers, there’s also a very extensive API Reference available online that will be invaluable in integrating Payline’s payment platform with your customers’ websites.
Negative Reviews & Complaints:
Payline Data has been accredited by the BBB since 2014, and currently, has an A+ rating. The company has had eight complaints in the last three years, with five of those complaints being filed within the last twelve months. This is a low complaint volume for a company of Payline’s size, and a good indication that they’re keeping most of their customers happy. The company also responded to every complaint and attempted to resolve this issue to the customer’s satisfaction wherever possible.
You’ll also find five complaints against Payline Data on Ripoff Report. While there’s no clear pattern of specific issues to beware of, it appears that almost all of the complaints were filed by high-risk merchants. The high-risk category presents its own unique set of challenges for both merchants and providers. If you’re in this category, the best advice we can give you is to be completely honest about the nature of your business when negotiating to get approved for an account and read your contract thoroughly (this applies to non-high-risk merchants as well) before you commit to opening an account. Many of the complaints noted above could have been prevented if the complaining merchants had read their contracts ahead of time.
Also, be aware that issues such as a funding hold or the imposition of a rolling reserve are the responsibility of the backend processor (usually Vantiv in this case), not Payline Data. These problems are most likely to come up with high-risk businesses, but for the vast majority of non-high-risk merchants, the lower processing rates and more flexible contract terms available through Payline Data make them a much better choice than signing up directly with a massive direct processor.
Positive Reviews & Testimonials:
Payline Data doesn’t blow its own horn very much, and you won’t find any testimonials from customers on their website, although a few of their more prominent clients – such as Ace Hardware – are mentioned. On the company’s YouTube channel, you’ll find a few unusual “testimonials.” They’re unusual because they’re offered by Payline employees speaking on behalf of some of the businesses they represent. While it’s nice to see that the company is paying attention to their customers in this way, it doesn’t have quite the impact that an unscripted testimonial from an actual client conveys.
Positive feedback from business customers on the internet is always rare, even for the best of companies. Nonetheless, you’ll find a few enthusiastic reviews of Payline Data scattered about on the web, including in our Comments section below. Areas that generated the most praise include fair rates, high-quality customer support, and a positive sales experience with Payline’s sales team. The latter is a pretty rare compliment in the merchant accounts industry.
Final Verdict on Payline Data:
Interchange-plus pricing? Check. Month-to-month billing? Check. No early termination fee? Check. These features alone make Payline Data stand out from the vast majority of merchant account providers in the industry. Throw in free equipment, no gateway fees, and a low (sometimes $0.00) monthly account fee, and they move to the top tier of providers. A reputable sales team and solid customer support are even more reasons to do business with Payline Data.
Overall, we’re impressed enough to award Payline Data a coveted 5 out of 5 stars rating. That’s as good as it gets, but it doesn’t mean that the company is perfect or that they’ll be a great fit for everyone. There’s no such thing as a perfect processor – ever. Also, a pricing model that works great for one business might be too expensive for another. You’ll have to run the numbers and see how much a merchant account with Payline will cost you, as well as how that estimate compares with other providers.
Payline Data may not quite be the cheapest credit card processor out there, but we think that the overall value they provide puts them among the best of the best. Small businesses that are just starting out and are processing less than $5,000 per month often go with Square to save money. However, the Payline Spark pricing plan gives you a full-service merchant account with interchange-plus pricing for about the same cost. In fact, you’ll probably save money over Square’s fixed processing rates, especially if your business takes a lot of debit cards. You’ll enjoy more reliable account stability and be able to upgrade to Payline Surge or Payline Shop as your business grows and your needs change.
We also can’t help but be impressed with the way that Payline Data has made charitable giving a cornerstone of their business. They’re one of only a very small number of providers that pay any attention to charitable causes and are an excellent choice for a nonprofit looking to incorporate credit card acceptance into their operation.
One word of caution: If you’re a high-risk merchant, you need to understand that although Payline Data specializes in supporting high-risk businesses, those accounts are handled and set up very differently from their advertised pricing plans. While we consider Payline to be one of the best high-risk providers in the industry, you will probably have to pay higher rates and fees than businesses that aren’t high-risk.
Do you have any insights about Payline Data? Reviews, testimonials, complaints, questions, and any other pertinent remarks are always welcome!