Credit Card Processing

Comdata Review – Is It Worth the Cost?

by

May 02, 2018

Comdata offers a plethora of financial services for businesses of every size in a wide range of industries. It started in the trucking industry, however, and many of its offerings (such as its POS products and fleet cards) are aimed at that sector.

It also offers accounts payable, expense tracking, prepaid gift cards, and virtual cards for vendor payments and employee payroll.

Comdata develops technology, issues credit cards, processes transactions, manages data and reporting, and has its own payment network. This makes it a full-service company that has products in a variety of categories we cover.

We’ll review their line of products in this article and explain the pros and cons of each (along with how they compare to other competitive products). Let’s get started.


Who Is Comdata?

Comdata is a Tennessee-based company founded by Curtiss W. Harter Jr. in 1969. In December 2014, it was acquired as a subsidiary for $3.45 billion by Fleetcor Technologies, Inc., a financial company and direct competitor of WEX, that provides fuel cards and workforce payment products. Currently, it conducts about $54 billion in payments annually.

It initially provided a product called Comchek, which utilized paper checks for freight brokers, but moved into digital and mobile payments as technology moved forward. Comdata’s partners include Noventis, AvidXchange, Fleetio, Infintech, First Data, and Concur.

Comdata’s subsidiaries include Stored Value Solutions, Intertax, eFueling Technologies, and U.S. Funds Express. Each company has a refined focus within Comdata’s spectrum of services.

What Products Does Comdata Offer?

Comdata has a full range of products for fleet management, including permits, scale transaction services, lodging, fuel cards, and more. If you’re interested in those specialty products, you can learn more on Comdata’s website under its MyFleet program.

Non-fleet business services includes two categories of products: Corporate Payments and POS.

Corporate Payments

For corporate payments, Comdata offers several services, including:

ConnectPay – ConnectPay is Comdata’s AP automation platform. It acts as a bridge between your accounting system and your check, wire, ACH, and virtual card payment systems.

Corporate MasterCard – The Comdata Corporate MasterCard acts as a business card for travel and expenses (T&E), purchasing card, and fuel card. When used at over 16,000 participating restaurants and hotels, it provides a 4 percent rebate to the company. It also provides up to 25 percent rebates for office supply stores, rental car locations, shipping providers, and print shops.

Virtual MasterCard – Virtual credit cards provide a single-use temporary card number for making vendor payments without compromising your actual account data.

Payroll MasterCard – According to the Wall Street Journal, a payroll check can cost between $4 and $20 to issue, but not every employee has a bank account to enable direct deposit. Comdata’s Payroll Cards are easier for employees to qualify for than bank accounts and enable direct deposit into their prepaid debit accounts.

POS

Comdata also has quite a few options when it comes to point of sale services.

  • SmartDESQ
    A full-service point-of-sale system designed for fuel transaction processing at truck stops and convenience stores.
  • SmartAuthorize
    A POS designed specifically for diesel fuel transaction processing and authorization.
  • SmartConvenience
    A
    n integrated POS system that combines fuel, retail, and restaurant into one platform.
  • SmartStation
    A complete back office system geared toward fuel site supervisors.
  • SmartSite PX
    A freestanding fuel site controller that provides real-time insight, analytics, and site support for unattended fuel locations.
  • SmartSite HX
    A site controller system to upgrade legacy card readers.
  • SmartSite FX
    A terminal fuel site controller to manage commercial fueling locations remotely.
  • Smart Q
    An RFID-enabled transaction processing platform.

When Do Full-Service and a la Carte Models Make Sense?

Pricing for each service depends on which pricing models you choose. Full-service companies like Comdata and its parent company fully understand how to offer a range of products and services to suit any business need.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs are often stretching themselves thin as they scale up. Using one business’s financial services like this is a great way to ensure your loyalty pays off. Loyalty and trust are everything in a business, so the partnerships you build with a company matter.

I’ve worked in the mortgage and insurance industries and have seen operations in media, marketing, etc., where simply having the right tool at the right time to help automate operations makes the difference. Between operating platforms and financial services, having a full-service vendor offer a la carte pricing is as easy as choosing your cable package at home.

The Cost of Convenience

Just know that convenience comes at a price markup. Just like c-stores charge more for a banana than a grocery store, these full-service financial technology providers that service them do, too.

You can also integrate security, inventory, and sales reporting and analytics and have one platform to manage expenses easier, upgrading as you can afford (or need).

When researching Comdata, I read several white papers, and spoke with a few account reps. They’re an old-school company keeping up with the new age, and they’re very professional. He already knew who I was and knew about CardFellow. We had a great discussion via text, phone, and LinkedIn.

With some services, you pay for the personal touch, and ComData definitely provides that in a friendly and professional manner. If you’re trying to make your business run more like an enterprise, this is a great full-service provider.

Otherwise, a simple platform like PayPal or Payoneer may work better for your model. Just make the tool fit the job.

Conclusion

Comdata provides a full suite of financial and tech tools for c-stores, along with specialized financing options, consultations, and more. It’s a great way to get a taste of a reputable efficiency machine that’s been operating since the pre-Internet era.

If you’re looking to add that Mad Men touch to your office or retail store of any kind, this is the type of company you want to do business with.

Additionally, Comdata’s a la carte model makes is a convenient one-stop shop for convenience stores, gas stations, and other businesses to keep up with modern technology at the pump, point of sale, or payroll. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

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Brian Penny

BY Brian Penny

Brian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Countrywide and Bank of America turned whistleblower and freelance writer. His banking career also included jobs for Chase, American Express, and client work for Wells Fargo and other large banks. He's interested in all things finance, and spends much of his time for CardFellow writing about financial technology and payment security.In addition to CardFellow, you can find Penny's blogs on Huffington Post, Forbes, Fast Company, The Street, Cracked, High Times, Quicken's Small Business Resource, and Small Business Daily.

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