Hearing the name “Bank of America” already brings the payment processor a certain amount of power and credibility. And most people who choose the band are under the wrong impression that a payment processor linked with such a reputable band would handle all the processing in-house. However, Bank of America Merchant Services (BAMS) operate as a joint venture with First Data. Originally First Data was registered under the official DBA of Bank of America, but Fiserv acquired First Data in 2019 and dissolved the joint venture. Despite the termination of this joint venture, Fiserve continues to handle most of the credit card processing services for Bank of America.
Most merchants that register with BAMS do that because they already have a business banking relationship with Bank of America. It is for the ease of having all the business transactions through the same organization. But BAMS has several problems that plague the payment industry, especially the more prominent names.
Features, Services and Products
Now that you have an idea of what BAMS is let’s discuss the features and services that the merchant service provider offers their clients.
Card and Check Processing
With Bank of America Merchant Services, you can accept payments from major credit card organizations, including Diner’s Club and JCB. The payment processor also allows both pin and signature-based debit card transactions.
If you have customers that like to pay through electronic or physical checks, you can accept them easily through BAMS. You need verification or a warranty to accept the payment using TeleCheck. TeleCheck screens, checks and minimizes the risk of returned checks. Even if you don’t get an electronic check, the verification solutions work fine with physical checks.
If online transactions are a significant source of income for your business, just like other platforms, you can accept those too. Using the BAMS Compass Platform, you get real-time verification and approval for the quick processing of payments.
Bank of America Merchant Services utilizes the Payeezy Gateway, formerly called Global Gateway E4. This is a very secure online payment gateway that is PCI compliant and easily integrated with your website. Using this gateway, you can also accept payments by phone or mail order.
Bank of America Merchant Services also offers mobile payments using their Mobile Pay Service. You can use both the Mobile Pay smartphone application and the internet Mobile Pay system to take payments at the doorsteps of customers using their card information. Both the options have the level of security that you would expect from a reputable payment processor in the modern industry. You can also send an email receipt to your customers if they want one.
You don’t typically get this feature with other payment processors. You can disburse payroll to your employees automatically through the electronic pay system by BAMS. The electronic payment system is compliant with the payroll requirements of 50 states. Cards and checks are widely accepted in the system as well.
Processing and Hardware Equipment
BAMS does not have any countertop payment machine or POS terminal that they advertise. But if you need a payment processing terminal that doesn’t take up a lot of space and does the job just fine, the Clover Flex and Clover Mini are good options. The prices are not openly disclosed, but it is best to buy the terminals outright.
If you need a fill-fledged Point-of-Sale system, you can opt for the Clover Station. You will get access to over 200 apps to streamline your transactions on the Clover App Marketplace. Most of the features you need to run your business are already present in the system.
And if you need to make mobile transactions, the Clover Go card reader is an excellent option to integrate with Bank of America Merchant Services. You can connect the Clover Go with your smartphone and accept payments through magstripe cards, EMV or NFC-based methods.
Drawbacks of Bank of America Merchant Services
Despite being one of the biggest names in the payment industry, the payment processor has some severe problems that businesses should consider before getting into a long-term relationship with the provider. Below are some of the most significant issues with the processor.
Lack of Transparency and Costly Pricing
Many online transaction businesses frowned upon the type of pricing and opacity in transactions that BofA Merchant Services have. The provider hides their fees from their clients on purpose because they know what they charge for processing is very high. Several types of fees will hit you, and many of the fees you will face are disclosed only in the fine print of the contract you will sign with them. Customers complain that their prices are often more than the average in the industry.
Expensive Leasing of Equipment
Bank of America Merchant Services pushes expensive leases on customers who don’t suspect foul play. They try to conceal that they are making their customers sign a non-cancelable lease for point-of-sale terminals and are known to push clients to make the lease agreement even if they are not willing to do so. Using leasing, the payment processor can get more than the actual price of the terminal, and the sales agents earn a higher commission.
In some statements by BAMS, it could be seen that they were labelling their processing fees as assessment fees or interchange fees. These terms usually mean that the processor has nothing to do with this, which is out of their control. However, the interchange quoted by BofA Merchant Services is entirely under their control. This is probably one of the biggest red flags by the provider.
In recent years, Bank of America Merchant Services has introduced a pricing model that includes a flat rate. While these changes are worth appreciating, the payment processor falls way behind the standard you should expect from a competitive and effective provider.
While some things are out of the providers’ control, such as interchange fees and Clover’s subscriptions, the provider chooses a policy that benefits itself financially at the cost of its customers, even where they have more control. Therefore, BAMS is strongly not recommended, especially for smaller businesses just shifting to a more cashless environment.