In this Stax review and profile, we'll provide more information on the subscription pricing model in general as well as details about the company's rates and fees, customer reviews, services, and more.
As Fattmerchant (also known as Sunshine Payment Services), the company was founded in 2014 in Orlando, Florida. They gained attention quickly due to a well-publicized 0% markup subscription pricing model. Fattmerchant is spelled with two T's in 'fatt' to stand for Fast Affordable Transaction Technology. Fattmerchant processed through NPC/Vantiv and Sunshine Payment Services, LLC is a registered ISO / MSP of Fifth Third Bank.
In 2020, the company rebranded as Stax Payments, touting itself as an all-in-one payment platform. The company revamped its website and unveiled a new logo. The company is still located in Orlando and remains a registered ISO / MSP of Fifth Third Bank, as it has been since its inception as Sunshine Payments and then Fattmerchant.
In 2021, Stax acquired competitor Payment Depot, though the company still continues to operate under the name Payment Depot or Payment Depot by Stax. Businesses that signed up with Payment Depot have been moved to Stax. Customer service and account queries now go through Stax departments.
Also in 2021, Stax acquired CardX, an expert on and advocate for credit card surcharging. With the move, Stax positions itself to offer more robust credit card surcharging programs. Like Payment Depot, CardX will continue operating under its own name or under CardX by Stax.
Subscription flat rate pricing is similar to interchange plus pricing in that the processor passes the costs of interchange and assessments separate from its markup. Where the two differ is in how the markup is calculated. With interchange plus, processors often use a percentage of volume and a per-transaction fee. A monthly fee may also apply. With subscription flat rate pricing, there is no percentage of volume markup. The processor makes money solely from a per-transaction fee and a monthly or annual subscription fee. Whether it's the "best" pricing model depends on the specifics of your business. In many cases, the 0% markup looks appealing but isn't actually as beneficial as a competitive interchange plus solution.
Previously, Fattmerchant had comments on its website about having "no markup" that caused confusion for some business owners. Stax has continued those comments, with images such as this one:
In the image above, Stax implies that when you work with them, they're the only company between your business and accepting cards, and states that there's no markup in the relationship. In reality, all processors charge a markup - that's how they make money. Stax simply charges it a different way than some other processors.
Additionally, Stax is NOT the only company between your business and card acceptance. They act as a processing company on behalf of another processor. You can read more about the chain of companies involved in processing credit cards in our piece How Credit Card Processing Works.
Stax offers all of the commonly used payment methods, including in-store point of sale processing, e-commerce card acceptance, virtual terminal processing for mail or phone orders, and mobile processing. The company guarantees next-day funding for all services, but same-day funding can be added to your service plan for an additional fee.
You can accept major credit and debit cards, including Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. You may also be able to accept checks.
For traditional in-store payment processing, Stax can support small countertop credit card terminals (including EMV-capable equipment) or full point-of-sale systems. Equipment features vary, but may include the ability to accept EBT and gift cards in addition to credit and debit, integrated PIN pads, thermal printers, and more. If you have existing equipment you would like to use, Stax may be able to reprogram it at no additional charge.
If you need to accept credit card payments online through your website, Stax offers an e-commerce solution that integrates with popular gateways and platforms, including Bigcommerce, Magento, WooCommerce, and more. The e-commerce solutions offer customizable forms, the ability to accept coupons, and the choice to set up recurring billing such as for subscriptions or monthly "clubs" of products. You can choose to develop your own shopping cart or use one of the existing compatible options.
For businesses that accept payment by phone or mail, or prefer to use their existing computer with internet connection to take credit and debit card payments, Stax offers a virtual terminal. As an online system, there is no software to install, and businesses can easily accept cards and checks, set up recurring billing, and run reports. Prefer to send invoices? You can also do that (by email or text) with the virtual solution. Email and text invoices come with the option of accepting payment through the invoice for ease of payment. Customers that make a payment will automatically receive an email receipt from Stax.
Businesses who accept payments on the go or in non-traditional locations outside of a storefront may benefit from Stax's mobile processing option. The Stax app is available for both Android and Apple operating systems and is compatible with wireless Bluetooth card readers. Transactions are tokenized for security to meet PCI standards.
If you'd prefer not to use a Bluetooth card reader, you can optionally key in the card number instead. Keep in mind that keyed transactions typically incur higher costs for acceptance. (This includes higher costs at the interchange level, which is out of Stax's control).
With mobile processing, businesses can accept payments, apply discounts, add tax or tips, issue returns or process refunds, and view reports.
Mobile processing is highly recommended for businesses who frequently accept payments on the road, such as caterers, landscapers, artists, tradeshow sellers, plumbers, and more.
In spring 2017, Fattmerchant announced a new reporting dashboard to provide easy access to reports and key metrics to help you make better business decisions. This appears to now be Stax's reporting dashboards.
The dashboard can be accessed through smartphones in addition to tablets, giving you the ability to check on information from anywhere. The platform is designed to bring information into one central location so that you don't need to search for the details you need. You'll be able to view transaction summaries, sales data by time period, data from multiple locations, rate of growth and customer retention, and weekly reports. The specific reports available may depend on the monthly plan that you choose.
Stax boasts PCI compliant solutions and gateways, including tokenization as part of the e-commerce platform offering. The mobile solution is compatible with encrypting card readers to help ensure safe transactions for businesses and customers.
As previously mentioned, Stax offers a subscription model for pricing, meaning that businesses pay interchange and assessments at cost, and pay Stax a monthly fee and a per-transaction fee. Stax boasts that they don't have additional fees, including statement, PCI compliance, annual, contract, batch, or IRS fees.
The company offers several plans, depending on your needs and size: Small Business, Large Business, and SaaS Platforms.
For small businesses, there are three plans available: Growth, Pro, and Ultimate.
The Growth plan costs $99/month plus the interchange and assessment costs of accepting cards. This plan includes digital invoicing, recurring payments, ACH processing, credit card surcharging capability, reporting dashboards, and a free terminal or mobile reader.
The Pro plan costs $159/month plus the interchange and assessment costs of accepting cards. The plan includes everything in the Growth plan plus mobile payments using Text2Pay, online payment links, the ability to store credit cards on file, a basic accounting sync with QuickBooks Online, API integration, and additional reporting dashboards.
The Ultimate plan costs $199/month plus the interchange and assessment costs of accepting cards. The plan includes everything in the Pro plan plus automatic updating for stored credit cards, one-click online shopping cart setup, the most advanced reporting dashboards, and data exporting.
All three plans include up to $500,000 in annual processing volume.
All three plans also have the option to add additional features at a separate cost. Additional options include terminal protection for your card machine, custom branding to tailor your invoices and payment receipts, same-day fund depositing, a digital gift card program, credit card surcharging program, and Level II B2B transactions.
Remember, on all plans, the fees are in addition to the costs of interchange and assessments.
Interchange and assessments are not set by nor controlled by Stax, but will be charged to you through Stax.
To get an accurate, fully-disclosed quote for your specific business, request one through CardFellow. If you aren't already a CardFellow user, you can sign up for free.
Stax Enterprise plans are for businesses processing more than $5 million/year in credit cards. The company doesn't publish any information about monthly fees or per-transaction fees, instead requesting interested companies contact Stax for a custom quote.
The Stax for SaaS Platforms option is designed for businesses whose users accept cards themselves. (For example, a marketplace where individual users sell goods to other customers.)
This type of processing is not offered by every processor. Stax supports Platform processing only for companies with a presence in the United States.
The company does not publish pricing for Platform processing, instead requesting interested businesses contact Stax for a custom quote.
Since Stax processes through NPC, you may be subject to an EMV non-compliance fee if you don't have and use EMV capable equipment.
Note: Since Stax has previously operated as Fattmerchant, we're not removing those historical reviews here. Fattmerchant reviews will not be updated, but the section on Stax reviews will be periodically updated.
Stax has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau since 2020 and has an A+ rating at the time of this update. However, the company also has 40 complaints and a 2.5 star rating (out of 5) from a few dozen reviews on the BBB's site. It's important to remember that the BBB website is geared more toward customers who are having problems with a company, so it does tend to skew toward the negative as compared to other sites that may have more positives.
That said, the complaints allege that machines or services don't work. One complaint states that the company didn't program terminals correctly, which led to transactions that were not credited and funds not deposited to the business's account. Other complainants say that they were originally with Payment Depot prior to Stax's acquisition and that customer service has gone downhill or is non-existent since the acquisition. Some reviews mention higher rates of disputes, others say their accounts have been shut down without warning. Others say that they closed accounts with Stax but the company continued to charge them even after acknowledging cancellation.
Stax is proactive about answering the complaints on the BBB's website.
The reviews warn of hidden fees, no or very delayed customer support, and frequent errors made by the company. They also complain of difficulties closing accounts and deceptive tactics by the sales team to get customers to sign up. Some customers state that after they were moved from Payment Depot, they received new or different monthly fees and in some cases annual fees. As with the complaints, Stax replies to some of the reviews.
Stax fares slightly better on TrustPilot, where it has a 3.6 star rating (out of 5) from several hundred reviews. The negative reviews echo those found on the BBB's site, with the most common complaints around hidden or unexpected fees and poor customer service.
The positive reviews praise the company for how easy it was to sign up, how smoothly things have gone since sign up, great communication from the company, good savings, and helpful support.
For historical purposes only. Fattmerchant now operates as Stax.
Fattmerchant was accredited with the Better Business Bureau in August of 2015 and had an A+ rating, the highest available. As of January 2016, there are no complaints against Fattmerchant lodged with the BBB and the company doesn't have any reviews on either Yelp or Ripoff Report.
Fattmerchant doesn't provide testimonials or awards on their website. Fattmerchant does have some positive reviews on their Facebook page, but not all reviews indicate that the reviewer themselves used Fattmerchant, instead mentioning that they've referred clients to Fattmerchant, or wishing them luck. Some reviewers praise the company's transparency and cost savings.
Unlike general web reviews, verified reviews are posted by businesses that have chosen the processor's quote through CardFellow's marketplace, and CardFellow has confirmed with the processor that the business is using its service. Businesses can update verified reviews at any time to ensure the review accurately reflects the processor's performance over time.
Unlike verified reviews which are validated by CardFellow, web reviews can be submitted by anyone viewing this profile. While we validate these reviews as best we can, CardFellow does not verify that a reviewer is using or has used a processor's service.
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Posted by Marie on Apr 12, 2021
Fattmerchant is refusing to transfer our customer's card data tokens to our new software system. They say it's "against company policy." So it's not that they CAN'T give the information, they just don't want to. This is extremely disappointing and does not show any decent level of customer service. It will take us a lot of time and money to get all the card info from every single one of our customers and enter it all in manually into our new software.
Posted by Josh Gordon on Jun 28, 2019
Have been using this company to take payments and send invoices for my marketing agency. So far the fees are substantially lower and the funds hit much faster than when I was previously using quickbooks.
Posted by CardFellow on Apr 19, 2018
Fattmerchant's pricing model can be beneficial in some cases, but we'd also prefer that they depict it more accurately. It's a zero percent markup, but that's not the same as "no markup." However, we've had good experiences getting responses from reps when we have questions.