Merchant Account / Gateway suggestions

I have a client that is just starting up a retail business, and is looking to begin selling her product online. Currently, she is using Square ( to process credit/debit card payments.

Personally, I think this is a fantastic service, and she was adamant about keeping a similar model on her new website.

The model being: Free account setup, no monthly fee, no gateway fee, only a transaction fee that is a percent or two higher than the average merchant. This way she is able to keep initial costs down, until a higher demand for her products are reached, at which point, a more permanent solution would be put into place.

THE QUESTION: Does anyone know of a merchant service that provides a free account setup, no monthly fees, and has an API that I can install with a custom shopping cart. Passback variables are a must so that I can store an order.

Trying to stay away from Google Checkout and PayPal.

Square would be PERFECT if it only had an API and online support. It does not (that I know of).

Any advice would be appreciated.

First off Square is fantastic and their new iPad app… game changer #2 for small retailers.

As for your question - Square does not have an online payment option at this time and hasn’t announced one [although it would make sense if they can make it happen].

I’ve never seen a completely fee-less provider that was both seamless [i.e. not using a third party payment page] and lasted long enough to seem reputable although it’s always possible. CDG Commerce who use to post on these forums comes fairly close with no setup fees and $10 a month [vs the ~$30 average] but that’s as low as I’ve seen it get.

1 Like

I appreciate your feedback… Thanks!

Yes, I use Square myself - and it is pretty revolutionary what they’re doing with the Fee structure they’re pursuing. I have been building shopping carts and processing payments online for quite some time and had never seen ANYTHING that approaches their model until Square themselves just last year. It got me to thinking that there MUST be something similar online, an API for payment gateway/merchant where you can use a 3rd party for processing, and just cut them a larger portion of the profit in exchange for a no-upkeep credit card processing solution.

Has anyone else heard of anything that comes close to a zero-down, no monthly fee model for online payment processing? (I’m not saying one exists, just hoping to glean someone else’s knowledge if it does and I haven’t stumbled across it yet.)

Thanks in advance.

For keyed payments, square charges 3.5% + 15¢ per transaction. That’s not particularly a great rate, assuming you’re not taking a ton of international or corporate cards. The gateway is what normally kills the deal. As a provider, I’ve never seen a gateway for less than about $5 hard cost per month. Add in a statement fee which is normally a hard cost, and $10 per month is probably as cheap as possible.

For products that have a 300% profit margin, giving up 2% on a transaction fee/percentage is stomachable if it helps keep operation costs down. I have seen the mere $5-15 in monthly charges skyrocket to $175 monthly with other merchants such as First Data,, etc… This is what I’m hoping to avoid. Finding a merchant with a very minimal $10-15 monthly cost is acceptable, but it does make me and my client nervous that this number could grow, as I have seen in the past. Anyone with any experience using the previously mentioned gateway/merchant? Does the cost stay at what the advertise to gain your initial business?

Note: Square’s keyed payment option does not mean you can take online payments as explained in their FAQs - And of course even if they didn’t mind, the PCI requirements to get credit cards out to someone to key in would be rather silly.

I asked Square’s support team about online payments in the future and this is their response: While this is something on our roadmap, there’s no specific timeline for it. We’ll be sure to announce any updates!

Good to know, thanks for asking!

Sure thing and fyi, they’ve got a very accessible team via Twitter and elsewhere.

I just thought I would update this post, and let you guys know that I’ve decided to go with First Data International. I’ve included a transcript of our negotiations in hopes that it may help some of you looking for up to date information… see below:

Thanks for contacting us. An operator will be with you shortly…

[Lance] Seeking merchant account & payment gateway… info requested.

[First Data Agent] Hi Lance!

[First Data Agent]Rates and fees vary based on how you do business and what type of business you own. What type of products/services do you sell?

[Lance] Retail business, looking for a payment gateway to setup online payment processing.

[First Data Agent] And how much is your average transaction amount?

[Lance] $30-100

[First Data Agent] Got it let me get you some pricing now. May I have the business name and a contact # so I can save this approved pricing quote for you?

[Lance] xxx xxxxxx xxxxxx, you can reach me at 509-###-####

[First Data Agent]Visa/MC/Discover Credit & Debit: 1.99% + $0.30 per transaction
American Express B: 3.50% [/B]
Batch Settlement Fee: $0.00 per batch
Monthly Service Fee: B[/B]
Monthly Minimum Processing Requirement: $5
Annual Compliance Fee-$59.95
First Data Global Gateway (formerly Linkpoint/YourPay): $149
setup / $10 per month

[First Data Agent]This would include a gateway so you can link to your website and a virtual terminal so that you can accept phone or face to face orders.

[First Data Agent] Here is my contact information also, I will be your contact person going forward. You can reach me at 770-303-#### or <email address>

[Lance] Thanks for the contact information, please give me a moment to review this pricing sheet.

[First Data Agent] No problem

[Lance] So, on an ongoing monthly basis, I’m looking at $10 per month to First Data, plus whatever transaction fees I incur. Am I understanding this correctly?

[First Data Agent] Yes that is correct

[Lance] I have substantial experience with merchant providers, including First Data (Linkpoint), and in the past, one of the biggest negatives was having growing monthly fees far in excess of what was initially determined.

[Lance] I am hoping to find a merchant provider that has steady monthly fees. I’m hoping to avoid as much overhead as possible, as I’m sure you can imagine.

[First Data Agent] Yes with this pricing you don’t have any additional junk fees added just the simple set up and processing charges.

[Lance] I understand.

[Lance] The $10 monthly… does this include a payment gateway for internet e-commerce purchases, and accompanying API for custom development?

[First Data Agent] Yes

[Lance] Thank you.

[Lance] The annual compliance fee… I assume this is for PCI compliance. Is this an upfront fee, or is it broken down monthly?

[First Data Agent] Once $59.95 annually

[Lance] Lastly, as I search and scour the internet for a service provider that fits our needs… are there any special deals that you can offer me on the Setup fee that may help make my decision easier?

[First Data Agent] How soon would you be looking to get set up?

[Lance] Looking to start processing orders as soon as is feasible… If I find the right fit, I’m willing to get started immediately.

[First Data Agent] I can lower the set up to $100 if we can get started right away.

[Lance] Deal.

Hopefully this will help someone!