Vantiv (Now WorldPay) Review
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- Date Established
- Cincinnati, OH
- Chip card hardware available
- eCommerce integration
- eCheck processing offered
- Developer tools available
- Virtual terminal available
- No pricing disclosed online
- $295 early termination fee
- Poor customer service
Vantiv Now WorldPay is a large credit card processor located in Ohio. Well, large doesn’t quite cover it. Huge, perhaps? The company is the largest merchant acquirer in the US according to the Nilson Report. Vantiv has been in operation since 1970 when it was known as Midwest Payment Systems and then became Fifth Third. It’s been using the Vantiv brand name since 2011.
And now it’s becoming WorldPay. At some point. The two companies started the merger process in 2017, and at the start of 2018 announced that Vantiv would become WorldPay. Current branding is “Vantiv Now WorldPay,” presumably to get people used to the idea before the Vantiv name disappears. How quickly that will happen is unknown, but it will happen at some point.
For now, we’re mostly going to refer to the company as Vantiv, because that’s what the merchants are used to and that’s what it’s still operating as.
Vantiv’s service network includes hundreds of thousands of merchants, and with the WorldPay merger, it’s gained access to an entire globe of potential customers. Not only that, but many other payment processors — such as Fattmerchant (read our review) and Payline Data (read our review) — rely on Vantiv for processing.
With that many customers, one would expect to see a ton of complaints, but — surprisingly — I couldn’t find very many. The BBB profile is low on complaints, comparatively speaking, and so is the rest of the web. That seems like good news, but in this business, we have to take everything with a grain of salt.
Much like any other large processor, Vantiv’s merchant accounts do have a contract with an early termination fee ($295+), although it can be negotiated. I was troubled, however, to hear from a number of merchants complaining that they were asked to pay liquidated damages into the thousands of dollars in order to close their accounts. However, the company does not seem to consistently enforce this. I also hear complaints of shoddy customer support, though these tend to come from merchants who are having other problems with Vantiv.
So here’s my advice: If you want to sign up for Vantiv’s merchant services, make absolutely sure that this liquidated damages language is removed from your contract. You do not want to get stuck paying that. And while you’re at it, ask them to waive the early termination fee altogether. If they won’t do both of these things, then walk.
While we have doubts about the overall quality of Vantiv’s service (your comments certainly make us skeptical), the overall complaint volume is shockingly low for any company, but especially one of this size.
Moreover, I do think that Vantiv is at least making an effort to cater to small businesses and provide better resources. They aren’t perfect. You’ll get better information (and better disclosure) from our top-rated processors overall. But I do have to commend Vantiv for trying to be more open — and their efforts are greater than what I’ve seen from other large processors.
Is this the start of a new company with a new way of doing business? I’m honestly not sure. I’d certainly like to think the signs point to yes, but the evidence doesn’t quite bear out at this point. Time will tell, as we start to see more new merchants onboarded and then leaving the company.
I’m keeping Vantiv’s rating at 4 out of 5 stars. I have my concerns — quality of service, transparency, the ETF and liquidated damages — but overall, it’s possible to get a fair deal with Vantiv. I like that the company has such a huge network of POS systems that merchants can use.
I encourage you to be on your guard, read your contract, and negotiate fiercely to get a deal that meets your need. But if you have a POS that locks you into Vantiv, that’s no reason for automatic concerns. And if you’re shopping around for a new processor, Vantiv absolutely merits a spot on the list of potentials.
User reviews are a huge source of information for us. Whether you are still with Vantiv or left Vantiv for whatever reason, please leave a comment and tell us about your experiences — good or bad.
If you want the best deal on processing, with no ETF and outstanding service to boot, I’d recommend that you check out one of our top-rated providers. Otherwise, read on for our full review and find out whether Vantiv is for you!
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Table of Contents
Products & Services
Fact: The biggest advantage to choosing large processors that most of them can and do offer just about anything a merchant could want and need.
Large processors have access to resources and partnerships that smaller businesses don’t. Which means they usually have a few different options, whereas a smaller processor might offer one or two choices at best. I’m content with Vantiv’s offerings, and I am impressed that they’ve taken the effort to go in and provide details about some of the core products.
Vantiv seems to specialize in retail, though its own website says it also caters to the entertainment industry, the government, and large enterprises (each of these has its own mini-site, so it stands to reason they make up a large or at least fast-growing bit of business). But unless you have very, very highly specialized needs, Vantiv probably offers something that will work for your industry.
Here’s what you can expect as far as product offerings:
- Merchant accounts: Vantiv, or Vantiv Now WorldPay, as it styles itself, offers merchant accounts to businesses all over the globe. My impression is that the newly formed company is keeping the WorldPay name for global recognition but scaling up and rolling out Vantiv’s product offerings, but it’s hard to say anything definitively.
- POS systems: Vantiv offers an extensive array of integrated POS solutions (as well as nonintegrated solutions, if you prefer). You can expect Vantiv’s systems to accommodate pretty much every type of business out there. That’s one advantage to doing business with such a major company. Vantiv also offers developer tools for custom integrations.
- Terminals: Vantiv offers a choice of EMV-compliant terminals. The site specifically lists the Verifone VX520 and Ingenico iCT220 and iCT250 terminals with optional pin pads.
- Virtual terminal: Vantiv’s Virtual Terminal Plus is a PCI-compliant, customizable solution for merchants who need a virtual terminal to accept payments in person or over the phone.
- Mobile payment support: Vantiv’s services include support for Apple Pay, Android Pay, and other NFC-based payments, which is pretty standard stuff by now.
- mPOS: Vantiv offers its merchants access to SwipeSimple’s mPOS with choice of card readers. This is the same platform also offered by First Data, TSYS, and Global Payments. It’s not available to merchants directly, but user reviews in the app store are limited, and the score is just mediocre.
- eCommerce tools: Vantiv isn’t super specific about its eCommerce tools, but it does support global commerce with local currency displays so customers can buy in their preferred currency but everything is settled in yours. You can integrate Apple and Android Pay for in-app and mobile web transactions. Vantiv also gives you access to eCheck and PayPal payment support in its e-commerce setup. It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that you can integrate Vantiv into an assortment of third-party shopping carts.
- Developer-friendly tools: While I can’t judge the quality of Vantiv’s tools (I’m no programmer), the resources provided appear to be comprehensive and address a whole host of situations, from ecommerce to what Vantiv calls “omni-commerce” — a comprehensive platform for mobile apps, ecommerce, and EMV.
- Analytics: Vantiv’s iQ service delivers comprehensive analytics; even better, you can also get analytics and data reports on the go. So if you’re always on the move, you can still check in.
- Recurring payments: Vantiv’s developer tools give you a lot of flexibility over how you structure your payments, whether it’s installments or a subscription.
- Account auto-updates: This is starting to become more common, and a software feature that helps you automatically update the information file for expired cards can be a time-saver.
- Gift cards/stored value cards: Again, with a processor this large you should absolutely expect Vantiv to offer gift cards and other stored value programs targeting a wide variety of industries.
- Security suite: Vantiv’s branded security suite is called OmniShield Assure. It offers P2P encryption and tokenization, as well as data breach insurance. OmniShield Assure also helps reduce the merchants’ scope for PCI compliance.
Far too often, companies that support large enterprises fail at serving smaller ones in equal capacity, but that does not seem to be the case here. Vantiv offers large enterprise-scale tools as well as ones targeted at smaller merchants. And I’m actually impressed by the quality of the information they’ve offered up about their offerings. Usually trying to find out anything specific about a large processor’s product offerings goes about as well as pulling teeth out of a feral cat’s mouth. It’s…almost like Vantiv…wants you to know what you’re getting into?
If you have a REALLY specific question, you probably want to sale to a Vantiv rep or sales agent. But basically, Vantiv does it all. It helps to have massive resources at your disposal, that’s for sure.
My impression — backed up by looking over some of the documents related to the Vantiv/WorldPay merger, including a corporate presentation — is that WorldPay is bringing its international scope and digital/eCommerce capabilities to the party, while Vantiv is contributing its card-present processing technology. So I don’t expect anything radical to happen to the feature suite on offer here. Beefed up eCommerce/digital tools for sure, but otherwise, it should mostly be business as usual.
Fees & Rates
In another break from really large processors, Vantiv Now WorldPay has started disclosing some rates on its website. I feel a bit like I’ve entered some alternate universe. Did I step through a Stargate during a solar flare or something?
Now, it’s not a LOT of pricing information. But Vantiv does want you to know its rates:
- eCommerce: starting at 2.7% + $0.30
- Terminal Credit Card Sales: starting at 2.25% + $0.10
Take note: These are the lowest possible rates, and there’s a disclaimer:
* Price depends on payment processing services requested and merchant’s processing volume. Additional fees may apply. Additional terms and limitations apply and this promotion my be changed or discontinued by Vantiv at any time.
That means you may not be eligible for the lowest rate (especially if you have a low monthly volume), and there are other fees that will apply.
This also tells us something else: Vantiv uses a tiered pricing plan, not interchange-plus. That means your transactions will process as qualified/mid-qualified/non-qualified and there’s no reliable way to predict how many of your transactions will process as qualified.
Tiered pricing was supposed to simplify pricing for merchants by lumping things into categories, but the pain has been the random mix of qualified vs. non-qualified transactions.
In general, your contract may include the following fees:
- Annual Fee: $89-$169 per year
- Monthly Statement Fee: $8-$20 per month
- PCI Compliance Fee: $10-$20 per month
- Chargeback Fee: $25 per incident
- Early Termination Fee: $295-$495 + possible liquidated damages
Fees seem to vary based on which division of Vantiv you sign up with. Vantiv previously acquired several other smaller processing companies, including Element and Mercury. These companies were later rebranded as divisions of Vantiv (Mercury became Vantiv Integrated Payments, for example). They seem to offer different contract terms and fees based on the merchant complaints. I’ve also seen references to an EMV non-compliance fee and other unexplained charges on merchant statements, so this is absolutely something to be wary of.
The annual fee is always negotiable. Remember that the three-year contract and ETF (and the liquidated damages provision) are also negotiable. Make sure that your contract says these fees are waived and verify with Vantiv from the get-go.
It bears mentioning here that two of our top-rated merchant account providers, Payline Data (read our review), which offers interchange plus, and Fattmerchant (read our review), which uses a monthly subscription plan, actually process through Vantiv. Check out their reviews for an idea of rates.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
With Vantiv, you can expect a three-year auto-renewing contract with a $295 early termination fee (though some reports indicate an ETF of $495, especially for Vantiv Integrated Payments (formerly Mercury Payments). This is the industry standard, but I don’t usually recommend signing on with any company that requires an early termination fee unless you’ve worked with them in the past. It is possible to get a month-to-month agreement, but there are usually trade-offs. Just be sure to get a signed waiver form attached your contract before you sign the contract.
You should note that in some cases I’ve heard from merchants who had contracts with Vantiv that included liquidated damages, generally 10% to 15% of the total earnings the company would have made on the remainder of your contract. I find this type of early termination fee entirely unacceptable, and I’d encourage you to refuse this if you see it in your particular contract. It certainly seems to be inconsistently enforced.
Please also take note: A handful of the complaints have involved merchants who have signed non-cancellable leases for hardware. Specifically, these merchants have tried to return their hardware and are told they’ll still owe money on the lease. The complaints I have seen mention a two-year period, but the number of complaints is small and therefore may not tell the whole story. My guess is some sales agents are desperate to close the sale and possibly neglect to mention the lease or try to hide it in all the paperwork.
Please don’t lease your hardware (terminals or POS system) if you have ANY other option. It’s an expensive and ineffective option for many merchants. Some providers will offer rentals for a reasonable price, as well as the option to buy outright. Others will just give you a terminal when you sign up.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
Like most big processing companies, Vantiv doesn’t make any real disclosures or promises in its public marketing material. Your sales experience will depend on the particular agent you talk to, and whether that agent works as a Vantiv employee or as an independent agent. We always recommend dealing with the company directly when you can. We find there is typically more oversight and fewer hoops to jump through when you work with the companies, not ISOs. Because the sales force is managed directly, you are less likely to encounter shady reps who will promise you the world just to get you to sign your life and livelihood away.
When I looked at Vantiv’s social media and the educational resources it puts out, I was impressed. In my experience, large companies — especially those that serve enterprise clients — don’t handle either very well. Corporate clients don’t do their research via blog posts and Facebook; there are sales presentations and meetings and votes. Blog posts and social media are for reaching small businesses. Vantiv does seem to have a grip on what it’s doing. The website is shockingly informative and full of pages about all sorts of topics merchants should find information. I’m not going to call it the greatest resource out there, but the content makes me think this is a company that wants its merchants to understand what’s going on. It’s fresh, it’s appealing, it’s helpful.
Vantiv has Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn pages, as well as a Twitter channel. All are active regularly, and they do have a customer service rep who seems quite responsive.
However, despite all the appearances of wanting to be open and up front, I wouldn’t say everything is spot-on. Lots of merchants complain that Vantiv doesn’t send merchants copies of their contracts, or that their copies don’t match what Vantiv claims/what they’re being charged. Vantiv’s policy of using ETFs and liquidated damages is seriously out-of-touch. All of this is HUGELY problematic.
If Vantiv really wants to be a top-quality processor, it’s going to have to address these issues. And maybe it will serve as the branding transitions to the new WorldPay. Maybe all the suave marketing and baby-step disclosures are a precursor to bigger changes in this behemoth of a processing company. I’d certainly like to think so.
However, that’s not a promise, and I wouldn’t hold my breath in counting on Vantiv to be 100% upfront and fair about anything. Be thorough, be diligent, be persistent. And if you have reservations about going through Vantiv, there are plenty of other great processors out there.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Existing Vantiv/WorldPay customers get 24/7 service and support via the phone. There’s also an email contact form and a live chat option. It’s refreshing to see multiple channels to reach out. I especially like the live chat. I found the developer site fairly easy to navigate and it did have some good information, even. And Vantiv offers a video library for self-service if you have basic questions.
That sounds great, right? Except that the complaints we can find about Vantiv explicitly mention the terrible customer service. It’s not a lot of complaints to begin with (see the next section for more details), but of the complaints we do see, it comes up quite often. Most of the complaints about come from merchants who are being billed excessive amounts or are trying to cancel their accounts, so that gives me some confidence that day to day service is adequate.
Have you worked with Vantiv? What is the customer service like for you? Feel free to leave us your review, which helps us better assess what’s working and what’s not. Don’t forget to read the user review and comment policy.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Overall, Vantiv has 260 complaints filed with the BBB in the last three years (slightly down from 283), with just 60 from the last 12 months (also down from 101 previously). Take note that the Vantiv page is already renamed to WorldPay Inc.
You will find another 92 complaints under “Vantiv Integrated Payments” (down from 96 at our last check-in); some of those are in fact leftovers from when Mercury Payments was still operating under its own name, even if it was technically owned by Vantiv. But some are fairly new and have been responded to. Overall, it’s a small number, but some of the complaints are pretty serious.
Ripoff Report has just 12 complaints listed for Vantiv. The rest of the negative complaints are scattered across the web, or collected here on our website.
Vantiv’s approach to BBB complaints seems spotty. Sometimes the company is great and accommodating; other times it seems to be a bit less helpful or willing to work with merchants. The majority of complaints do not seem to be dealt with to the merchant’s satisfaction. You’ll also see that Vantiv’s support reps have been active on this review, reaching out to merchants who have left comments. However, that doesn’t tell us whether the reps are successful in solving the problem in most cases.
Most of the issues people have with Vantiv arise, unsurprisingly, during the cancellation process, though others are just rate-related.
- Hidden Fees: Definitely the most common complaint about Vantiv is hidden fees. Merchants claim they’ve been charged the wrong rates or extra fees that weren’t mentioned or that the sales rep said they were willing to waive. This is extremely disheartening because it’s a major strike against choosing a processor. Also, be warned: Vantiv seems to like to bury disclosures about fee increases in its monthly statements. So be sure you read them over thoroughly each and every month so you aren’t blindsided.
- ETFs and Liquidated Damages: This is probably the most worrisome complaint I’ve heard. The ETF is to be expected (especially when it isn’t clearly disclosed), although it’s frustrating. The liquidated damages provisions are far worse. Some merchants cited damages in the thousands of dollars, which is just unacceptable in my mind. However, the frequency with which this complaint crops up has decreased. The provision also appears to be inconsistently enforced, and I honestly hope this practice is on its way out the door. But read your contract carefully and make sure it’s waived before you sign. You can also negotiate
- Unknown Auto-Renewal: Many merchants who have processed with Vantiv long-term are surprised to find out that they owe an early termination fee even though they have been using the company for the better part of a decade. This is a common problem and is not unique to Vantiv. Since most contracts auto-renew after the initial three-year term is up, the so-called “early” termination fee can be collected whenever you cancel, unless you do so during a very small window of time. The good news is that Vantiv seems to be willing to waive these fees for long-term merchants. But do make sure you know when your contract is up.
- Difficulty Canceling Accounts: What’s worse than paying an early termination fee? Being billed — unknown to you — monthly for years after you thought your account was closed. I encourage you to follow up aggressively and check your bank statements to be sure that you are not being billed for the service after you cancel. Also be aware that unless you submit a cancellation request in writing, your account cannot be closed. Don’t let your rep handle closing the account. This is frustrating, and Vantiv support seems to be very hit-or-miss in regards to handling this issue fairly.
- Poor Customer Service: This is, next to ETFs and hidden fees, the most common complaint we see about any merchant service provider. And frankly, it always disappoints us. Despite the promise of 24/7 phone support, we’ve seen numerous complaints of hours-long hold times, merchants being shuffled from one rep to another, and a general inability to solve problems when they arise. The good news is that going through the BBB seems to be moderately effective in getting the company’s attention and therefore results.
All of these (excluding the liquidated damages provision) are pretty standard complaints about any processor, but especially a large one. It’s always disappointing, but we do see them a lot. If you want to escape these troubles, you’ll need to find a smaller processor who gives you personalized service, no contracts, and interchange-plus pricing.
This is overall a low volume of complaints about any processor, but for a giant processor like Vantiv, it’s extremely low. So perspective is also important. I think overall, Vantiv probably operates well and a lot of merchants don’t have trouble. The ones that do have clearly had some serious trouble, though, so you should be wary of potentially encountering these issues yourself. That’s particularly true if you’re dealing with an independent sales rep, not a direct representative of Vantiv (or any other processing company out there).
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
You can find some video case studies on the Vantiv VIP page. However, some of the videos are also from partners and highlight the company’s offerings. Many pages on the Vantiv site also include short, written testimonials from Vantiv customers. There are more videos on Vantiv’s YouTube channel, as well. And Vantiv maintains a shiny-looking page on its site about all the awards and recognition it’s won.
Beyond that, you’re not going to find too many merchants out there singing Vantiv’s praises. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens as the Vantiv brand transitions into WorldPay. It’ll make researching for these reviews more interesting, at least.
Had a good experience with Vantiv? We’d love to hear it! Good reviews are just as important as the bad ones.
Vantiv leaves me a little conflicted. It does a lot of things right, especially regarding the feature set. But it still messes up in areas where other processors have long-since solved the problems.
Overall, though, I’m still hopeful about Vantiv. There’s a lot of potential in this company. Whether it chooses to wield its newfound power to the benefit of merchants, we will just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, I don’t think Vantiv is going to radically change its feature set. (I mean, it’s kind of hard to do when your resources are so vast you’re already able to cater to just about any need.) It will be interesting to see how Vantiv’s eCommerce capabilities change as it gets access to WorldPay’s tools and strengths.
Retail businesses, in particular, are going to find Vantiv has everything they need. When you sign up with Vantiv, you will get access to a large network of POS partners, which is also a major advantage. Vantiv won’t work with every POS out there, but it does work with a lot of them.
You also get round-the-clock phone support as well as email, live chat, and self-help resources. While there are some complaints about the quality of service, they seem to arise when merchants have other, very specific issues. So I think from day to day, most merchants will get the support they need.
For now, Vantiv Now WorldPay holds steady at 4 stars. I don’t think it’s a bad company, and you should not automatically panic if you find out your new POS processes through Vantiv. You can get pretty much any sort of feature or service you need, from mobile processing to EMV and NFC support. Vantiv’s pricing is honestly the biggest hurdle, but it’s possible to negotiate so you can avoid liquidated damages and even an early termination fee.
If you’re thinking about signing on with Vantiv, reach out to us. We can work with you to make sure that you are getting a legitimate deal. Otherwise, you may want to check out one of our higher-rated providers instead for your small business needs. Keep leaving your comments and let us know how Vantiv is doing — we’ll re-evaluate Vantiv’s rating as necessary to ensure we accurately reflect the quality of the company’s offerings.
Good luck, and thanks for reading!
We've done in-depth research on each and confidently recommend them.
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