Big companies attract lots of reviews, and this one is no exception. Are the First Data complaints what you should believe, or should you listen to the reviews that praise the company? The truth is, you could get a great deal with First Data merchant services, or a not so great deal. It depends on how you go about signing up for processing. First Data offers credit card processing services directly and through resellers, commonly known as ISOs.
Because of that, there’s no standard pricing for First Data. The ISO has control over the rates and fees you’ll pay, and it can vary wildly.
Let’s take a look at exactly what the company can do and what customers think of the First Data merchant services.
- What services does First Data offer?
- Clover Capital
- Perka Loyalty Card App
- Veteran Program
- Processing Equipment
- Security and Fraud Protection
- First Data Rates and Fees
- First Data Reviews
In spring of 2017, First Data acquired Acculynk, makers of the PaySecure solution that enables online PIN debit entry. The use of PINs for online transactions has been possible for several years, but has not caught on and isn’t offered by most online businesses. Supporters hope that First Data’s acquisition will increase usage of online PIN debit transactions, which can be lower cost for businesses.
As one of the largest processors in the world, First Data offers all the payment services you need, including credit card and check acceptance, terminals and point-of-sale solutions, ecommerce, fraud protection, mobile solutions, and robust reporting.
First Data merchant services offers merchant accounts directly and through resellers, called independent sales organizations. (ISOs.)
Quickly and securely accepted credit and debit cards. First Data offers card acceptance online, in person, and over the phone. However you need to take cards, you can do so on the First Data platform.
First Data next day funding means you’ll see funds in your bank account quickly, reducing the time between when you process a transaction and when you receive the money.
First Data merchant services boasts transaction approvals in under 2 seconds, and allows you to accept most major credit and debit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, Diners’ Club, and EBT. First Data also has seamless integration with point-of-sale systems and the option to offer cash back to debit card users.
First Data offers TeleCheck electronic check acceptance service to convert paper checks into electronic checks. Conversion to echecks helps reduce fraud and bounced checks. You can also choose options like TeleCheck Checks by Phone to allow customers to make payments from their checking accounts over the phone, or TeleCheck RemotePay to allow you to accept recurring payments from a customer’s checking account.
Businesses with international customers will be happy to know that First Data offers Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) to allow you to accept and process transactions from international customers in their preferred currency. DCC features daily updates of foreign currency exchange rates.
Read more about how to take international payments.
First Data provides scalable e-commerce solutions for processing transactions online. You can also choose to use alternative payment options like Bill Me Later, PayPal, and Google Checkout. First Data’s Payeezy e-commerce solution lets you accept payments with any card or with a PayPal account or check. Payeezy has over 70 shopping carts to choose from, and offers real-time access to transaction information.
For accepting payments with a smartphone or tablet, First Data offers SourceConnect and uCommerce as well as the Clover Go to allow you to use an NFC mobile device. Seamlessly integrate mobile payment apps or use First Data’s PayEdge cloud-based mobile solution.
The company also offers wireless terminals for on-the-go acceptance of payments. If you’d like to use your smartphone or tablet, First Data offers MobilePay, Pogo, or Verifone’s PAYware Mobile solution to process transactions.
First Data offers a merchant cash advance program, Clover Capital, for those that need access to funds for business purposes. As with most cash advances, Clover Capital does not require collateral or a personal guarantee. Additionally, there’s no fixed payment amount, as you’ll repay the advance through a percentage of your daily credit card sales.
The one-page application requests basic information about your business and financial situation. You’ll also need to provide copies of your previous 6 months’ processing statements and previous 2 months’ bank statements.
The application review takes an average of 3-5 business days and funds for approved applications are typically deposited within 2 days of approval and signing paperwork.
First Data also offers the Perka loyalty card app to help you capitalize on and reward loyal customers. Perka is a company that specializes in loyalty programs for small businesses. The loyalty card app is free for your customers to download (and is available for both Android and Apple smartphones) and lets your customers accumulate rewards for shopping at your business. The program is customizable, allowing you to tailor it to your business’ specific needs, and includes unique features like a beacon that alerts you when a customer enters your store, so you can greet them by name.
You can also check out this video from First Data about the Perka loyalty app:
First Data offers a “Veteran’s Program” that provides veteran-owned or affiliated businesses with discounted pricing on processing and lower cost equipment. Additionally, eligible businesses can receive free credit card processing on Independence Day and Veteran’s Day. The offer is open to business owners where the owner or the owner’s spouse is an active duty military member, member of the reserves, or an honorably discharged veteran.
On the noted holidays, eligible businesses can process transactions with no processing fees. The free processing will be applied as a rebate on your statement. The offer excludes certain costs, such as monthly fees, chargebacks, and fines.
First Data offers a variety of machines for taking credit cards, including the popular Clover family of processing equipment. It also offers the proprietary FD series. Terminals boast fraud protection and security features to help keep your customers and your business safe. Most equipment can connect to the internet wirelessly.
First Data sells equipment, but also regularly leases equipment, a practice we don’t recommend here at CardFellow. Leases go through its equipment arm, First Data Global Leasing, and typically involve expensive contracts separate from your processing contract. If you’re going to use First Data, it’s a good idea to bypass the equipment lease, and purchase instead.
While First Data supports different equipment, it particularly pushes the Clover line, which includes full POS systems (the Clover Station and Clover Station 2018), small footprint or portable systems like the Mini, Flex, and Mobile, and a smartphone app/reader called the Clover Go. You can view details and read reviews of any of the Clover machines in our product directory: Clover systems.
One feature that sticks out about Clover systems is the Clover app market, which allows you to customize your Clover Station with specific apps that you choose. The app market breaks apps down categories ranging from general business to specific industries, as seen in the image below.
However, it’s important to note that Clover stations cannot be reprogrammed. If you purchase a Clover POS system, you can only use it with the company from whom you purchase it.
Since POS systems like the Clover aren’t cheap, be sure you know what you’re getting into before purchasing. It’s important to secure competitive pricing and the right processor before purchasing your system.Additionally, you’ll need to purchase a Clover software plan in order to use all of the features of the Clover systems. Software plans come at an additional monthly charge, which is separate from the fees to take cards and any merchant account monthly fees.
You can also read or leave Clover reviews here.
Many businesses correctly note that there are a lot of similarities between Clover equipment and Square equipment. (Especially as Square continues to debut new machines like the Terminal, a competitor to the Clover Flex.)
A primary difference between Clover and Square is processor compatibility. Square only works with Square for credit card processing. You can’t use the equipment with other processors. By contrast, Clover works with any processor that runs on First Data’s platform, giving you more choices when deciding on a processing company.
That also means that you have more opportunity to negotiate better pricing. (More competition = lower costs for you.)
Read more about the differences between Clover and Square.
First Data offers TransArmor Data Protection for an additional fee. But when I say “offers,” I really mean “requires” since First Data adds the TransArmor solution to all its clients’ accounts. (Note that CardFellow clients are exempt from this requirement. You can choose to use the TransArmor security package, but you are not required to like other businesses are.) TransArmor features encryption and tokenization to protect businesses and their customers.
Aside from TransArmor, the company provides a limited warranty against compromises. Additionally, First Data offers EMV enablement to allow you to implement chip-based payments through point-of-sale terminals or with a mobile device.
First Data helps you achieve PCI compliance and complete yearly assessments to ensure that you are always meeting compliance requirements. The company can help you identify possible vulnerabilities in your systems, and suggest solutions to prevent breaches.
Like all processors, First Data can set rates and fees differently from one business to the next. The company has the ability to offer pricing on several different models, including interchange plus and flat rate.
Keep in mind that your pricing will vary depending on whether you go directly to First Data or to a reseller in addition to what pricing model the processor uses.
First Data’s flat rate pricing is as follows:
|$50,000/month or less
|$50,000 – $200,000/month
There is no monthly fee for First Data’s flat rate pricing.
Businesses with more than $200,000 in vilume can choose either the same pricing as the $50,000 – $200,000 group, or get custom pricing on other pricing models, including interchange plus or tiered.
In addition to those rates and fees, you may incur charges for specific events. Those costs include a PCI non-compliance fee of $19.95/month, ACH reject fee of $25, chargeback fee of $25, and a paper statement fee of $5.95 per month. A monthly minimum of $25.00 also applies to your processing. First Data typically also charges for retrieval requests (which they call 12B Letters), which is an earlier step in the chargeback process.
Lastly, you may incur fees for equipment, particularly if you opt for a Clover system. You’ll typically have a monthly software fee for using the Clover, ranging from $9 – $39 depending on which plan you choose.
The “Payments Plus” plan is the lowest cost and has the fewest features while the “Register” plan offers access to all features but with a higher monthly fee.
Note that if you want to use the full Clover Station POS system, you’ll have to use the “Register” plan.
However, if you prefer not to use flat rate pricing or it isn’t the best fit for your business, you may still be eligible for interchange plus pricing. To get a fully-disclosed quote with extremely competitive pricing, you can request through this profile. Signing up for interchange plus pricing can often drastically lower your credit card processing fees.
It’s one of the largest credit card processors in the world, and therefore people have a lot of opinions on the First Data Corporation. Any company this size is going to attract some negative reviews, and First Data merchant services is no exception. The company has had over 1,000 complaints lodged with the BBB in the past 3 years – a hefty number. While it’s true that as a giant processor, First Data has an accordingly large client base, other big processors don’t come anywhere near First Data’s number of complaints in their own BBB profiles.
Yelp and Ripoff Report also have some info worth reviewing.
First Data Merchant Services is not currently accredited with the Better Business Bureau. However, the company has a profile page at the BBB site, and currently shows an A+ rating on a scale of A+ to F.
As of autumn 2016, there are a bit over 1,000 complaints on the BBB site. By contrast, other large processors have under 100 complaints.
First Data complaints allege a variety of issues, including failure to properly disclose contract information, failure to honor refund promises, failure to correct billing errors, unauthorized work performed outside the scope of the contract, unauthorized debits, and customer service problems.
The BBB notes that many complaints were resolved with the assistance of the BBB. The BBB found that while other complaints were not resolved to the customer’s satisfaction, First Data made a good faith effort to resolve the complaint.
In addition, there are 6 reviews available with the BBB: 5 negative and 1 positive, however the positive review is actually negative and just marked incorrectly. The 5 negative reviews reiterate the complaints, mentioning difficulty cancelling service, predatory equipment leases, high fees, complex contracts, and poor customer service. The positive review, as mentioned, seems to have been marked positive by accident, as it talks about expensive leases, unsupportive customer service, and high fees, ending with a suggestion to use a different credit card processing company.
Yelp has several different listings for First Data Merchant Services in different locations. Each contains a number of reviews, mostly one star. Complaints range from serious (allegations of fraud by forging customer’s signature on a contract) to the usual complaints about processing companies: high fees, terrible customer service, deceptive sales representatives, and difficulty cancelling accounts. Several of the reviews urge businesses to stay away from First Data, stating the company is unethical and deceptive.
400 reviews appear on Ripoff Report, again stating that First Data overcharges, takes funds unauthorized, has terrible customer service, and engages in deceptive practices. Some reviews also complain of expensive and non-cancellable credit card machine leases.