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First Data Review

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If you’ve ever taken a credit card or looked into taking credit cards at your business, chances are you’ve come across First Data. It’s the largest credit card processor in the world, serving millions of businesses, and owns the popular line of Clover credit card processing equipment.
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Processor(s)

 

First Data

Acquiring Bank(s)

 

Bank of Amercia, PNC Bank, Wells Fargo

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.

First Data places direct quotes in the CardFellow marketplace, meaning that businesses that work with First Data through CardFellow are afforded benefits and protections not available outside of CardFellow. That includes a lifetime rate lock, no cancellation fee, and ongoing statement monitoring to ensure you pay as little as possible for processing. You’re much more likely to have a positive experience with First Data with those protections, which is why there are many positive ”verified reviews” for First Data here at CardFellow.

Let’s take a look at exactly what the company can do, how to get a fully disclosed quote, and what customers think of the First Data Corporation.


News

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.

What services does First Data offer?

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.

Credit Card Processing

Quickly and securely accepted credit and debit cards. 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.

Check Acceptance

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.

International Payment Acceptance

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.

E-Commerce

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.

Mobile Solutions

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.

Clover Capital

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.


Click to enlarge.

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.

Perka Loyalty Card App

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:

Veteran Program

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.

Credit Card Processing Equipment

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, 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. 

Note, First Data (and other processors) are not permitted to lease equipment through the CardFellow quote marketplace.

Clover

While First Data supports different equipment, it particularly seems to push 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. 

Clover hardware

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.

Clover app market image

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.

You can also read or leave Clover reviews here.

Security and Fraud Protection

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.

First Data Rates and Fees

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.

First Data’s flat rate pricing is as follows:

  $50,000/month or less $50,000 – $200,000/month
Swiped Rate 2.69% 2.29%
Keyed Rate 3.69% 3.29%
Per-Transaction Fee $0.09   $0.19  

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.

Clover software plans

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.

Clover Plans explanation

Note that if you want to use the full Clover Station POS system, you'll have to use the "Register" plan.

Interchange Plus

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.

Your quote through CardFellow is considered a certified quote and comes with all of CardFellow’s protections, backed by our legal agreement with First Data. If you have a problem with your service or pricing, you’ll be able to contact CardFellow for assistance in resolving the issue.

To use our free quote request tool, complete our short sign up form. (Don’t worry, we never share your contact info, and there’s no cost to you.)

First Data Reviews

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 Complaints and Reviews with the Better Business Bureau

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.

First Data Reviews with Yelp and Ripoff Report

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.

First Data Reviews Through CardFellow

In CardFellow’s processor directory, there are 63 verified First Data reviews that total 4.5 stars. This is not a mistake, nor is it artificially positive reviews. The reason CardFellow clients have such a different experience with First Data is because when it places quotes through CardFellow, First Data is bound by our legal agreement to adhere to our requirements; requirements that we put in place to protect you.

Through CardFellow, First Data cannot do the things that others complain about at the BBB, Yelp, or Ripoff Report. (For example, when quoting through CardFellow, First Data cannot lease equipment, cannot charge a cancellation fee, and cannot change pricing or add hidden fees after a quote is accepted.) Additionally, First Data has CardFellow-specific representatives, which ensures a smoother process.

CardFellow’s protections are why reviews for First Data on CardFellow praise the knowledgeable reps, quick set up, excellent rates, no hidden fees, and helpful customer service.

A verified First Data review at CardFellow is from a business that CardFellow has confirmed is an active First Data customer at the time of the review. This ensures that rating manipulation doesn’t happen in either direction. No one can post a review if they aren’t a customer, meaning that fake positive reviews won’t artificially inflate the score and fake negative reviews (such as from competitors) won’t negatively deflate it.

The reason First Data lost half a star in its rating is due to a few negative comments that refer to problems like held funds for large transactions and having to contact First Data to get a refund on PCI non-compliance fees.

First Data is a great example of how processors set terms and pricing on a per-case basis. Outside of CardFellow, there are plenty of negative reviews and bad experiences. Within CardFellow, businesses have a much more positive experience, due to our contract with First Data. If you’re considering First Data for your processing, be sure to request your quote through CardFellow.

SATISFACTION
RATES & FEES
CUSTOMER SERVICE
4.5/5

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.

From Nathan, on Jan 16, 2018

SATISFACTION
RATES & FEES
CUSTOMER SERVICE
4.7/5

During the holidays trying to stay in touch was much easier than I had planned. We are nearing completion of the application process. Rates are normal, nothing spectacular. We have not begun to use the service yet, but so far the process has been simple.

From rick, on Apr 05, 2017

SATISFACTION
RATES & FEES
CUSTOMER SERVICE
4/5

From David, on Feb 28, 2017

SATISFACTION
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CUSTOMER SERVICE
5/5

From JOEL, on Feb 05, 2017

SATISFACTION
RATES & FEES
CUSTOMER SERVICE
1.3/5

$19.95 charged every month for transarmor- Never signed up. no customer service. Look elsewhere- I know I will be.

From Jeremy, on Oct 06, 2016

SATISFACTION
RATES & FEES
CUSTOMER SERVICE
5/5

From Barbara Warren, on May 25, 2016

SATISFACTION
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CUSTOMER SERVICE
5/5

I have been very pleased with First Data.

From Norman, on Mar 15, 2016

SATISFACTION
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CUSTOMER SERVICE
3/5

From Cindy, on Dec 26, 2015

SATISFACTION
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CUSTOMER SERVICE
3.3/5

Must use First Data gift cards only. High gift card processing & they were out of stock with 2 month wait to get cards.

From Frank, on Dec 21, 2015

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CUSTOMER SERVICE
5/5

From Karl Johnston, on Sep 04, 2015

SATISFACTION
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CUSTOMER SERVICE
4.7/5

So far so good! Oz has been very helpful!

SATISFACTION
RATES & FEES
CUSTOMER SERVICE
1/5

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 eric on Aug 05, 2018

SATISFACTION
RATES & FEES
CUSTOMER SERVICE
1/5

Do not use First Data, ever. These people sucked us into a long 4 year contract. At the end of it, I closed my account. They would lease your machine to you for the entire term which cost thousands of dollars over the cost of similar machines. They would also charge you property tax on that machine, they are also one of the very few that charges PCI compliance fees to the tune of $149 a year. When I used their services I only had about $1,500 to $2,000 a month in charges, but all their fees amounted to 10% of that being taken out. Total scam. I was one of the lucky ones, if you try to end your lease early they will ruin your credit score.

Posted by Blake Newman on Jan 09, 2017

SATISFACTION
RATES & FEES
CUSTOMER SERVICE
1/5

All their customer people know how to say is I'm sorry, I apologize, I'm sorry. But, they can't solve any of your problems. Some of the sorriest people I've ever talked to. They suck you into a long-term contract and then when you try to break the contract, they play whack-o-mole with you. If you need a merchant account to accept credit cards for your business - DO NOT USE FIRST DATA. They are such crooks and make it expensive to stop doing business with them. If you call one minute before the contract expires, you get hit with a $500 early termination penalty. If you call one minute after the contract expires, you get automatically renewed and they hit you with another month's fee. Unbelievable. And, every time you call, plan on 45 minutes to wait on hold, be transferred, wait on hold, be transferred.

I'm sorry to hear about your negative experience. First Data's back end processing can be offered by multiple outlets and or re sellers. Did you go through the CF platform? This surely would not be your experience as we set expectations and follow with customer support/care.
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