Credit Card Processing

Credit Card Processor Ratings: Why CardFellow Doesn’t Do It

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At CardFellow, we’re often asked who is the “best” processor. We don’t rate processors or keep lists of who is the “best” for one simple reason: the best processor will vary depending on your business. Lists of the top credit card processors ultimately aren’t helpful, and can lead you in the wrong direction when it comes to getting the right processing solution.

Before you get discouraged thinking that means you’ll have to do a ton of work to find out who’s really the “best,” we’ll offer information in this article that will help you determine who is the best processor for you. To do that, we also have to tell you what to watch out for: “best credit card processor” or “top credit card processor” lists, and unverified processor reviews.


Hey, wait, then why are some of your processors “certified?”

At CardFellow, quotes are certified, not processors. It may sound minor, but it’s an important distinction. For a processor to be eligible to place certified quotes through CardFellow, they’re required to sign a legal agreement with us that dictates what they can and can’t do within our marketplace. For example, we require interchange plus pricing, we require a lifetime rate lock, and we prohibit cancellation fees, among other things. This is the only way that we can say with certainty what will happen with the quotes you receive from the processor within the CardFellow marketplace.

But we can’t control what that same processor does outside of CardFellow.

If you sign up with that same processor outside of CardFellow, we can no longer guarantee anything about the rates, fees, services, or contract terms because that quote didn’t originate through CardFellow and isn’t subject to our legal agreement. You may or may not get pass-through pricing, you may or may not have a cancellation fee, and you’ll almost definitely not get a lifetime rate lock. See the difference?

The quote is certified, not the processor.

The Problem with “Best Processor” and Top Credit Card Processor Lists

Many “best processor” lists try to be objective, attempting to rank processors on factors like rates, contract terms, and customer service. The problem is that those variables can and do change. In fact, they even change from one business to the next. Processors can charge every business differently, meaning there’s no guarantee you’ll receive the rates or terms that got a processor onto a “best” list. You could even call a processor on Monday and get different rates, fees, and terms than if you called on Tuesday and talked to a different sales person.

Does that sound like something you want to base your decision on? Probably not. While “best” lists are great for some products and services, they don’t work in credit card processing.

It’s also important to note that some rankings and review sites charge processors to be evaluated, or receive money from processors. Even though the fee is sometimes classed as a charge for the time spent in conducting an evaluation, or the funds donated are considered contributions to further the research process, at the heart of it, it means that money has been exchanged between the processor and the ranking site. If you insist on reading rankings websites and top processor lists, be sure to check for legal disclosures that will tell you if the ranking site is making money from the processors it promotes.

The Problem with Reviews

We’ve written about the problem with processor reviews in the past. Most of the time, processor reviews are not helpful when you’re trying to find the most competitive solution. Processors with great reviews can gouge you just as easily as processors with poor reviews. How? Processors set pricing and terms on a case-by-case basis. You could read the review from a business that got a great deal, call up their processor, and get an expensive deal.

Reviews are very helpful for some products and services, but they don’t really work in credit card processing. I know it sounds counterintuitive. Usually, if you’re looking for trustworthy advice, you go to the reviews to see what others think. But the only way that’s helpful is if you get a review on the exact same service. With general reviews, you can’t be certain you’re getting the same service. Take reviews as a rough guideline, not as a deciding factor.

But I see processor reviews on your site. What’s that all about?

Yes, there are two versions of reviews on the CardFellow website: unverified reviews and verified reviews. Unverified reviews are, well, unverified commentary that anyone is able to write. While we always urge you to take reviews with a grain of salt, we understand that they can give insight into a processor and want to provide that information.

Verified reviews are much more valuable. Only businesses that have chosen their processor through CardFellow can write these reviews. Because they went through us, we can verify that they’ve actually worked with the processor. More importantly, we know that anyone reading those reviews can be assured of receiving the same pricing model and terms with that processor if they go through CardFellow. That is, they’re reviewing the same service you’ll get.

Remember when I said that you can’t be sure you’re getting the same deal as someone else who left a review? That’s true if you’re looking at reviews and finding a processor on your own. With verified reviews at CardFellow, you’ll know you’re getting the same service because our contract legally requires it. If you like the sound of verified reviews for a processor who quotes through CardFellow, you have access to the exact same terms and pricing model as the person who wrote the verified review.

“CardFellow’s Experience” Review

Even more valuable than verified reviews is a segment we refer to as CardFellow’s experience, which is available in some processor profiles in our processor directory. The “CardFellow’s experience” section is a style of review written by CardFellow where we include supporting documents to back up our views.

We do this when we have reviewed actual statements from current or former clients of that processor. At CardFellow, we frequently review statements for businesses that are looking to save money, which gives us direct insight into the pricing and practices that processors use. We then explain any potential negatives about a processor or highlight positives. In both cases, any comments we make are backed with specific real-world examples from businesses that use(d) the processor.

You can view an example of the “CardFellow experience” section in our Chase Paymentech review. You’ll notice that the “CardFellow’s experience” section is often longer than typical “top processor” or “best processor” reviews, but the information provided will be invaluable in your search for the right processor. Note that we don’t charge processors to review their services, nor do we accept any funds to alter reviews or influence the reviewing process. We include the CardFellow’s experience section for processors that place certified quotes in our marketplace and for ones that don’t. If a processor places certified quotes through CardFellow, we note that in the review as well and strive for transparency.

So how do I find the best processor?

Instead of wasting your time reading reviews and lists of the “best” processor, take 5 minutes to sign up for a free CardFellow account, where you’ll get certified quotes backed by a legal agreement. Quotes are available immediately once you sign up, and we can talk you through choosing the best solution for your business.

You’ll notice that even within CardFellow, we don’t “rank” the processors who offer certified quotes. We stand behind every processor that places certified quotes in our marketplace, but we understand that what makes one processor the best for someone else might not make them the best for you. We care about matching you to the best processor for you, not the best processor according to some arbitrary score card. When we help you find the best processor, we’re basing that on who can give you the best service at the best price for your particular needs.

We can’t tell you who the best processor is, because there is no single “best” processor. But we can help you find the best processor for your business, in as little as 5 minutes.

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Ellen Cunningham

BY Ellen Cunningham

Ellen has a degree in English, which she puts to work every day researching and writing articles, processor reviews, and social media posts. She enjoys the challenge of explaining complex topics - making her a perfect fit for credit card processing - and strongly believes in CardFellow's mission of empowering business owners through education.When she's not busy following the latest industry news, Ellen can be found cycling the beautiful trails of southern New England, narrowly losing at pub quizzes, or practicing her trapeze skills in aerial circus class.

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