Founded in Omaha in 1971, First Data is the largest merchant service provider in the United States and, according to Wikipedia, processes 45% of all card transactions in the country. First Data was also the first processor to accept Visa and Mastercard bank issued cards. In 2019 they were acquired by Fiserv.
Overview of First Data Merchant Services
First Data is one of the most well-known payment processors in the credit card industry, but unfortunately they aren't always known for the best reasons. Steep fees, convoluted contracts, and bad customer service are just some of the complaints listed in reviews online. Check out some of their ratings below:
Merchant Maverick - 3 stars
Card Payment Options - 1.5 stars
Now while you can't always trust online ratings, you can usually get a sense of what a company is like when you read real, personalized reviews. In the comments of the Card Payment Options review (linked above) you'll find over 600 opinions on First Data's services from customers who've actually used them, and we highly suggest this as a resource.
Don't just take our word for it-read the reviews-but First Data seems to embody all of the things merchants generally hate about bad payment processors. From what we've read, "stay away" seems to sum up how most merchants feel about this company.
First Data Pricing
First Data offers different pricing for different businesses but does not disclose on their website the metrics they use to assign pricing to businesses that sign up. Apart from processing fees (which can vary) First Data does not have the most competitive pricing in the industry. This is because they also charge fees on top of their processing fees. We've already mentioned cancellation fees, but First Data also charges monthly PCI fees, chargeback fees, and AVS (address verification service) fees, among others.
First Data Plans
First Data does not offer subscription based pricing, but merchants will typically have to sign up on a four year contract, which is a long time to be tied down if you don't like their service. You can also have to face extraordinarily steep cancellation fees if you want to get out of your contract and process somewhere else.
First Data Software & Hardware Offerings
First Data is a legacy processor and as such they've been a little behind the eight ball in developing cutting edge merchant focused software. The way they've gotten around this though is through acquisitions, such as Clover in 2012. Clover's POS is famous among merchants, but the pretty POS is backed by First Data's merchant services, so merchants will need to consider if the nice equipment is worth a partnership with First Data.
When it comes to hardware, First Data often offers equipment leasing, but you will be better off buying their machines rather than renting. Their equipment leasing payment plans will actually end up costing you more than the price of the machine, and you can't cancel them, even if you were to stop processing altogether. (For more on why you should avoid equipment leases, click here.)
"Despite its enormous reach and a wide variety of payment tools for businesses, First Data has never been friendly to small businesses."
~ Merchant Maverick
"If you are searching for a professional, competent, and reliable payment processing company, look no further. After briefly trying out the services of another major payment processor, I knew my business would need something much better. I am very pleased to have found Helcim. Their support team is stellar! They promptly reply in a personable manner with solutions to problems. They offer many additional business tools to make your life easier. This was important to me. Let's face it. No one is jumping up and down about paying merchant fees - but it's part of doing business and you might as well go with a transparent pricing structure at a solid company. I feel confident growing my business with the team at Helcim."
~ Anna E., Care Bento
Experience Better Payments
At Helcim, we're on a mission to become the world's most loved payments company, and that's why we put our merchants first in everything we do. We work hard to over deliver in our software, hardware, and customer service offerings, while at the same time offering some of the most competitive pricing in the industry. If you're tired of overpaying for credit card processing, or working with a processor that just doesn't seem to care about you or your business, switch to Helcim and see the difference that having a payments company in your corner can make.