The Best and Worst Practices of Canadian Merchant Account Providers

Looking for merchant services in Canada? We’ve compiled a list of the best and worst (mostly worst) practices of Canadian merchant account providers and credit card processors. We have no patience for bad sales practices and neither should you. You’ve worked hard for your business and deserve better.

The Bad  |  Cancellation Fees

Contract cancellation fees, early termination fees, terminal deactivation fees and account closure fees continue to plague the Canadian credit card processing market. While nearly all US processors have dropped their cancellation fees, most bank-owned Canadian processors continue to impose these on merchants.

The Sad  |  90s Software

Most Canadian processors are terrible at making software, although not much can be expected of banks. While we don’t think their web-servers were actually built in the 90s, their user interface and limited features sure feel like it. Take a look at this Google image search of Moneris’ eSelect Plus, the payment gateway of Canada’s largest processor.

The Terrible  |  Frequent Rate Increases

The primary sales practice for most bank-owned processors has not changed in over two decades: tease merchants with a low introductory rate and then increase those rates gradually over time. Merchants then have to call to have their rates lowered, or switch to another bank-owned processor, offering more teaser rates. It’s a terrible way to build relationships with your customers, but it’s probably pretty profitable if they keep doing it.

The Irresponsible  |  Lack of Compliance Pathway

Visa and MasterCard dictate that all merchants accepting credit cards, no matter what size, must be PCI compliant. Some of the better processors (like us) offer a PCI program included as part of our service, allowing you to scan your website, secure your business and get compliant and avoid non-compliance fees.

However, many of the largest processors in Canada offer no pathway to compliance. Instead, they charge an arbitrary “compliance” fee but don’t teach you how or give you tools to secure your business and actually get the required PCI compliance certificate. They just charge a fee without providing a service.

The Good  |  Canadian Code of Conduct

The Canadian Code of Conduct of the Processing Industry came into effect in 2010 and has been updated a few times since. It was implemented by the Canadian Government to curb some of the worst practices by processors, like raising fees without allowing you to end your contract. While this was a welcome change for most merchants, many processors often pretend to be unaware of these practices until you call them out on it.

The Improved  |  Interchange Plus Pricing

While tiered pricing, teaser rates, and “differential pricing” are still the industry standard, there have been some recent moves in the right direction. Helcim was the first and remains the only Canadian processor to exclusively offer Interchange+ pricing to all merchants with complete rates listed on our website. While most still don’t publish their rates for you to see, some bank-owned processors are starting to switch their pricing over to the Interchange+  model. It’s a small step towards offering more transparency to Canadian businesses.

The Best  | 

Yes, we’re biased, but from the beginning, we committed ourselves to be the most transparent, friendly, and honest processor you’ll find in Canada. We offer our merchant services on a month-to-month basis without any cancellation fees. We have great low rates (that we guarantee for the life of your account with us) through our Interchange Plus pricing and PCI compliance is included at no extra charge.

On top of that, we’ve offer amazing software and tools, included with all our merchant accounts. Your Helcim account lets you process payments, send invoices, keep track of customers, use a POS (point-of-sale) on your phone or tablet and set up an online store.

For a more information on what to look out for when looking for a merchant account provider, check out our article on Top 5 Tricks Used by Canadian Credit Card Processors.

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