Headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, First Choice Payments is a U.S.-based merchant account provider offering credit card processing to most standard-risk businesses. The company’s official website is unavailable, and there is very scarce information about its origin and growth. Our experts tried to gather all the information available in the public domain to present this in-depth First Choice Payments review.
Various online reviews indicate that the provider-along with its other DBAs- Smart Choice Payments, Wholesale Merchant Processing, and North American Processing Solutions, is a business subsidiary of Payment Systems Corporation. There are suggestions that Federated Payments is the company’s back-end processor.
First Choice Payments is presently operating as Velocity Merchant Services, which absorbed Smart Choice Payments in 2019. The provider caters to multiple business types and serves various industries, including retail, e-commerce, wholesale, MOTO, electronics, restaurants, thrift stores, gas stations, and online businesses. It offers shopping carts, payment gateways, terminal leases, mobile processing solutions, and POS software to many low to medium-sized businesses.
First Choice is one of the worst-rated service providers, and there are various complaints and reasons to back that rating. The company is practically out of business, and the merchants are unhappy with its scams and sub-par products. The First Choice Payments review below will discuss the company’s services and drawbacks for merchants looking forward to signing up with the provider.
First Choice Payments Review Based on Features and Services
The provider claims to offer credit and debit card processing for all major brands and provides e-check services, online and mobile payment solutions, and gift and loyalty programs to its merchants. With First Choice, merchants can run their online business from anywhere and accept payments on their smartphone or a computer with an internet connection. Merchants are offered secure ways and convenient solutions to meet their needs and expand their business worth.
Credit Card Processing
In our First Choice Payments review, we found that provides a diverse range of services and merchant accounts for credit card processing and effectively reduces the risk of human error. It offers a secure platform for in-store, over-the-phone, contactless, and online payments. Merchants can accommodate customers and secure their data with tokenization and end-to-end encryption. The company assists card-not-present accounts, standard retail accounts, and mobile accounts. Its mobile terminals allow merchants to take payments on the go and save time and the provider helps businesses with cost reduction and improves their workflow.
Since the provider does not have an active website, it is fair to only rely on the information available. The company offers guidance to its merchants and assists them while choosing suitable POS software for their business. It uses the renowned Clover POS system, which allows merchants to track each transaction and accept fast payments with its mobile app. These POS systems are a convenient option for small businesses.
Gift Cards and Loyalty Programs
The provider helps businesses set up a loyalty program and acts as a bridge for a lasting relationship between merchants and their customers. Gift cards are a way for merchants to promote their brand, spread awareness, and attract new customers with the help of existing ones. Loyalty programs enable customers to attain reward points for their purchases that can later be used to purchase more goods or provide discounts for the customer. These gift and loyalty programs enable merchants to reach more customers and increase sales.
PCI Compliance and Fraud Protection
First Choice provides simplified compliance solutions and claims to help merchants reduce the time and cost required to reach the standards. It provides another layer of security for businesses to avoid data breaches and meet global standards for processing credit card payments. Its fraud protection tools enable merchants to steer clear of any liabilities that may come in the way of ensuring a secure platform for customers.
First Choice Payments Review Based on Cost and Contract Terms
The provider has not mentioned its contract length or any terms. It is fair to assume its contract details are the same as Velocity Payments and do not offer flexibility to the merchants. The company offers a multi-year contract with a $495 early termination fee, but it is not fixed and can go higher. The contract has an auto-renewal clause which is quite common in the industry. Merchants are charged a $4.95 PCI compliance fee, a $25 monthly minimum fee, and a $10 statement fee per month.
The provider offers a non-cancellable, long-term equipment lease through Northern Leasing Systems and charges as high as $3900. There is no additional information about its pricing except that it offers a flat rate. It may charge a per transaction rate of 1.00% to 4.99% for swiped and keyed-in card payments like its DBA.
First Choice Payments Review Based on Sales and Marketing
The provider uses telemarketing and employs independent sales representatives to market its services. Some complaints accuse the company of using deceptive quotes and scamming its merchants, and the provider’s partner companies are facing similar reports. First Choice does not disclose essential information in its marketing. The sales agents misguide new merchants and use in-genuine means to make them trust the provider.
First Choice Payments Review Based on Customer Service
First Choice provides essential documentation and guidelines for its products and services, which is standard practice. It purveys the equipment manual, POS terminal guidance, and installation details. The company has offered assistance and complete training to aware merchants. The company provides a tech team to guide merchants on operating First Choice hardware and software.
Moreover, the company has reserved a phone number for domestic phone support, available during business hours. Merchants can call anytime and address their complaints or put forth their queries. It is implied that the provider offers live support to its merchants, but no reviews support that claim.
First Choice Reviews and Complaints
There are numerous complaints cited against the provider on various online platforms. Merchants have reported that the company has an unethical working environment. Some reviews have even called it dishonest and a scam. The company’s long-term equipment lease is unfavorable and causes challenging circumstances for merchants.
Furthermore, while attempting to achieve a clean record, the provider has tried to direct the complaints to its DBAs by claiming to be a Nevada-based service provider. However, this tactic did not improve its reputation but made it worse.
Better Business Bureau Report
First Choice Payments does not have a BBB profile, but its DBA Smart Choice Payments was accredited by the review platform in 2015 and has an A rating. However, the partner company, Wholesale Merchant Processing, is rated F on its BBB profile. It should be noted that these providers have mentioned the same address and have the same president, which indicates that the company is using multiple names for the same services. Given this revelation, First Choice Payments is likely to be rated F as well.
First Choice Payments Review Based on Drawbacks
The company is an unreliable service provider, with below-average customer support and inconvenient contract terms. It does not prioritize the merchant’s needs and provides sub-par services with unjust pricing. Merchants have put forward numerous complaints, but the reviews show that the provider does not pay attention to any feedback and has never tried to fix the damages. Below is a review of the drawbacks of choosing First Choice as your service provider.
Poor Customer Service
There are numerous complaints about the company’s poor customer support. First Choice only provides a phone number as a helpline available during business hours. Merchants needing immediate assistance after that are expected to wait for the next day. Since there is no website, there is no live chat option, FAQ page, or live assistance. The provider not mentioned any email address either.
Moreover, the company ignores any queries or complaints by the merchants and does not offer satisfactory assistance to resolve the issues. Its sales team does not guide the merchants and leaves them hanging if they approach them with a concern.
Deceptive Sales Tactics
First Choice posts its promotional copy over most public complaints to hide them. This way, merchants cannot view or read those reviews and have to scroll down to the end of the page to find the complaints. The company hires sales agents who misguide merchants, make false claims, and ignore them once the contract is signed.
Moreover, the provider has registered multiple brand names for the same services, making merchants believe it is a separate company to distribute the complaints to its DBA. It is apparent that First Choice is a scam and cannot be trusted as it uses fraudulent marketing strategies and lies to its merchants.
High Termination Fee
The company has an expensive early termination fee which depends upon the time left in the contract. The variable termination fee is a big drawback because no one can question it once they have signed up with the provider. The company has mentioned a $495 termination fee, but some complaints accuse First Choice of charging as high as $900. Merchants who cannot afford this ridiculous termination fee are stuck with the company’s sub-par services and forced to keep the contract they did not want.
Undisclosed Terms and Pricing
The company has not given any information about its contract terms, pricing, or products. Merchants are left to assume most of the details and cannot know if they can trust the provider. First Choice has not mentioned its contract length, and its equipment is leased through Northern Leasing Systems, which charges a hefty amount for a long-term, non-cancelable lease. Merchants are left unaware until after signing up with the provider, with no way out.
Based on this First Choice Payments review, the processor is below the industry average and cannot be recommended to merchants in any business. It is inauthentic and ill-reputed, and its rates are too expensive for its below-average services. It openly uses false claims to trap merchants and forcefully keeps them bound in a lengthy contract. The company does not pay attention to user complaints and does not resolve issues of its merchants.
Moreover, it provides pathetic customer service and dishonest agents who hide facts from merchants. Merchants are advised not to rely on First Choice and find a better payment processor for their business to save it from severe financial damage.