first data review

First Data Review: Rates, Fees, Complaints, and Lawsuits

First Data, a U.S.-based, globally recognized credit card processing company, was established in 1971 in Omaha, Nebraska, to facilitate high-volume businesses. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, it was rebranded as Fiserv after its acquisition by the company in 2019. The provider expanded by acquiring and absorbing multiple international businesses, including PaySys in 2001, BluePay and CardConnect in 2017, Ondot Systems, BentoBox, and Radius8 in 2021.

Several companies, such as Merchant One Inc., Finxact, The City POS, GovOne, and Taxware, were partnered with or bought by First Data. The provider facilitates millions of merchants in over 100 countries and has the most clients and resellers in the payment processing industry. Handling 45% of the country’s credit card transactions, the company caters to airlines, accounting, tax prep, healthcare, e-cigarette, gaming, electronics, tobacco, pharmaceutical, ammunition, education, and the hospitality industry.

Large enterprises and high-volume MLM and B2B businesses are the provider’s forte, but it also serves many small MOTO and non-profit organizations. First Data prides itself on offering the best results and achieving excellence in everything it does. It aims to provide an omnichannel ecosystem for businesses to thrive and evolve with the world. Merchants are facilitated with innovative financial service solutions to drive more sales while securing a promising future for their business.

Below is a detailed First Data / Fiserv review 2022 revisiting the provider’s key features and shortcomings to help merchants determine what’s best for their business;

First Data/ Fiserv Review 2022 – Products and Features

Since First Data is a direct processor, it does not require a middleman to facilitate merchant accounts. It provides all the services a business may need to process credit card payments and offers customizable solutions to ensure a high success rate. Along with a range of First Data products, the company purveys the full Clover line, efficient credit card readers, and a variety of payment terminals. It accommodates cash transactions, ACH check payments, contactless NFC, EBT, and EMV acceptance.

First Data/ Fiserv Review 2022 - Products and Features

The provider’s user-friendly equipment and flexible APIs help businesses excel at what they do and receive payments vis all available platforms. Consumers can easily interact with and deliver a secure and seamless checkout experience to their customers. Gathered from First Data reviews, here is a list of comprehensive solutions and features offered by the provider;

  • ISV payment and Shopping cart integration
  • Fraud and chargeback prevention
  • Mobile payment apps
  • Gift and loyalty programs
  • Merchant cash advances
  • Contingency billing
  • Real-time analytics
  • Multi-currency acceptance
  • B2B payments
  • ATM services

Fraud and Chargeback Protection

First Data reviews show that the company uses encryption and omnichannel tokenization to prevent fraud and secure customer data. A company can make regular customers and build confidence by offering a safe environment for sensitive data. With First Data, sensitive data is replaced by tokens that move across channels unbreachable by hackers. With the company’s risk mitigation services, merchants can identify invalid networks and authenticate genuine customers.

The provider uses FraudNet to identify threats and maintain compliance. By using the customer’s transaction history and closely monitoring behavioral patterns, FraudNet issues risk alerts and cancel or freezes suspicious accounts. FraudDetect is another useful software that increases a company’s revenue and reduces chargebacks by real-time analyzing each transaction, interpreting signals, and figuring the risk threshold. However, the company charges extra for these services.


The provider allows users to split the customers’ payments into four parts, enabling them to make larger purchases conveniently in six weeks. Merchants can also offer installment loans for purchases worth $300 to $15000. Depending on the transaction size, these installments can be paid over in 1 to 60 months.

According to a few First Data reviews, merchants are paid upfront, so they don’t have to worry if the customer delays the payments. Although, the provider may charge a hefty amount for this convenience.

Loyalty and Reward Solutions

With CardVision and uChoose Rewards, merchants can utilize advisory and reporting tools to gauge their customers’ preferences and behavior. Cardholders are awarded reward points on each card transaction and the ability to use them however they like. Merchants can maximize sales and footfall by offering online incentives or cash rebates on card purchases. They can customize these reward programs based on the customer’s preferences to engage with the target audience.

Omnichannel Integration

The provider enables merchants to provide a consistent experience to customers and drive more commerce with the Carat operating system. Merchants can benefit from over thirty third-party integrations and track every aspect of the business anytime on an internet-connected device. This way, they can reduce friction and seamlessly connect multiple channels, devices, and locations while offering a smooth shopping experience to customers.

Carat offers a unified experience based on clients’ trust and choices. However, deduced from the First Data reviews, this service is designed for large enterprises. It may not be as feasible for small businesses.

B2B Payments

Compatible with Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, and SAP, First Data offers ERP integration for B2B businesses to process hassle-free high-volume payments. Merchants can reduce payment acceptance costs, improve efficiency, and automate operations. The provider facilitates level 2 and level 3 optimization, surcharge management, enhanced AR/AP staff productivity, and helps merchants reduce days sales outstanding.

Multi-Currency Acceptance

Supporting over 130 currencies, the company allows consumers to accept international payments. With First Data DCC (dynamic currency conversion) service, customers can pay in their country’s currency, and merchants can receive it in their home currency without having to go through the trouble of converting it. However, the provider’s DCC rates change regularly.

Electronic Check Acceptance

Even though checks have become a rare form of payment over the years, it is still widely used in many businesses. First Data reviews indicate that its TeleCheck service converts paper checks into electronic checks, helping merchants save time and eliminate the risk of bounced checks. Customers can avail of the check-by-phone service to send payments over the phone and set up recurring payments from their checking accounts.

Rates and Contract

The company’s official website is a little overwhelming. The data is all over the place and does not offer concrete information about its services and rates. Like most service providers, First Data bind its clients to variable contract terms, and its rates depend on the agent setting up the account and the business type, size, and processing volume. Regardless, all businesses pay standardized account fees.

Contract Length

An average First Data agreement lasts from one month to five years. Its standard initial contract is four years, with an automatic renewal clause for the first year. The provider may allow negotiation for consumers demanding a shorter initial term, but it does not work for all businesses.

Merchants should note that the pricing will differ if they directly hire Fiserv or go to one of its resellers. However, it is presumed that working with a reseller is cheaper than signing up with First Data. This assumption is not factual.

Pricing Model

The provider offers interchange-plus, tiered, and flat-rate pricing as per their preference. Its tiered rate is slightly higher, which implies that merchants can lower their processing fee with interchange pricing. However, First Data has strict eligibility criteria for businesses to avail of interchange-plus pricing.

Fee Structure

Deduced from the First Data reviews cited online, here is a list of fees paid by its merchants

  • A swiped and keyed-in rate of 2.69% plus $0.19 and 3.69% plus $0.19 for merchants processing up to $50,000 per month
  • 2.29% plus $0.19 and 3.29% plus $0.19 for businesses processing higher volume
  • $19.61 monthly fee
  • Variable early termination fee starting from $250

The provider does not disclose most of its fees. Merchants are bound to an unbreakable multi-year equipment lease through First Data Global Leasing, but its terms are unrevealed. However, merchants looking forward to leasing POS equipment should know that buying the product outright will cost significantly less. The company does not charge any account set-up fee and has zero application fee.

Compliance and Protection Charges

To avail of the company’s security package through Clover, merchants pay a monthly PCI compliance fee of $19.95. They are also charged AVS and chargeback fees, which remain undisclosed by the provider. Consumers also pay annually for upgrades in security features or other services and yearly assessments.

First Data Veteran Program

First Data reviews portray that veteran-owned businesses are offered discounts on equipment and processing costs. Veterans and their spouses are charged half price for the Clover equipment and can use the software for free for the first three months. Fiserv Salute is a veteran engagement service focusing on improving community growth by offering career, education, and business opportunities to veterans and their families.

Customer Support Options

The company has its personal phone support line designated for domestic merchant accounts. There is a separate helpline for offshore businesses. First Data resellers can offer their own customer support or access the provider’s services by paying additional charges. Merchants are also offered email support and knowledgebase.

According to First Data reviews, the company’s official website features a support button leading to comprehensive support options resourced by Clover. There is also an FAQ page and a video library with tutorials and guidance videos. However, how the website is designed indicates that the provider focuses more on its big renowned clients.

Marketing and Sales

After the merger, the First Data website was redirected to Fiserv’s official website. The website is appealing with impressive graphics but does not offer beneficial information that would help consumers determine its worth for their business. The provider hires independent sales agents and trains an in-house team to market its brand. Like most payment facilitators who employ commission-based agents, First Data has received countless complaints regarding its marketing practices.

The company does not disclose tangible information and only uses the website to attract clients. It fails to offer honest quotes, and its sales representatives trap merchants with misleading information.


Surfing through the First Data reviews brings attention to the numerous lawsuits filed against it in the past few years. The company was also fined for multiple scams and labor violations. Here is a brief overview of the legal actions against First Data;

  • A stockholder sued the provider for $22 billion after its merger with Fiserv.
  • In 2016, a First Data reseller filed a suit against the company for charging an exorbitant authorization fee.
  • A class-action lawsuit was filed against its equipment lease policy in 2017.
  • An ongoing lawsuit from 2019 by Bessemer System Federal Credit Union accused First Data of providing insufficient security measures, falsifying information, and failing to comply with the agreement.
  • The provider was charged with a civil lawsuit in 2019 for being an accessory in money laundering. $40 million were paid for the settlement.
  • Another ongoing lawsuit from 2021 for forcing hidden charges on its clients.
  • After a data breach in 2022, MCU accused the provider of negligence, causing a threat to sensitive information and damaging the privacy of MCU members.

First Data Reviews and Complaints

Considering the company’s size, First Data has received many online complaints. Even though the number has declined after its merger with Fiserv, there are still over 1000 complaints posted on multiple consumer protection websites, causing low ranking. Since the company’s resellers have their own way of dealing with consumers, most of the negative comments are directed toward First Data resellers. It signifies that the provider is still struggling to manage its many resellers.

The online complaints cited against First Data revolve around excluding crucial terms from the contract, offering sub-par customer service, inability to resolve issues, and forcing hidden charges. Merchants are dissatisfied with the provider’s rates and have posted negative remarks about First Data Global Leasing. Here are the commonly cited complaints against First Data;

Expensive ETF and Account Fees

Since the provider offers variable rates, so do its resellers. Although setting up a merchant account through a reseller can cost you less, it is not always the case. Generally, a reseller will bind you to a long-term contract with ridiculously high ETF and account fees. The company’s early cancelation fee depends on the merchant’s monthly minimum, account, and customer service fee. It is combined with the time left in the contract.

According to some First Data reviews, the provider has a liquidated damages clause charging over $1000 if a merchant cancels the contract within the first couple of years. Merchants can negotiate a way out of this clause, but the possibility is rare. There are complaints about the waiver being ignored after the account cancelation, forcing consumers to pay a hefty amount. The provider only allows negotiation before signing the agreements.

Substandard Customer Service

Ideally, a company of this size would offer excellent customer service to its clients. However, that is a false assumption in this case. Numerous complaints prove the company’s inability to train a competent customer support team and to offer a decent enough platform for clients to address their queries. The provider does not resolve the issues of its consumers and piles up complaints without answering them, infuriating more clients.

Many consumers have complained about their calls being ignored and the customer service representative failing to call them back even after weeks. First Data reviews portray that the company’s supervisors direct the complaints to one email address and do nothing about them. Most merchants are unaware of being redirected to one of the resellers.

Unethical Sales Tactics

First Data reviews show evidence of unethical sales practices and deceptive marketing by the provider. The ISO and sales agents promise lower rates and attract merchants by offering exceptionally perfect deals far from reality. The agents do not disclose vital contract clauses and lie to the clients.

Multiple consumers fell prey to the sales representative’s false promises and lost their time and money waiting for their issues to be resolved. Furthermore, the sales agents deprive merchants of the knowledge that they are dealing with a reseller instead of First Data.

Withheld Funds

The company notifies clients about poor credit when they have enough credit in their accounts. First Data then withholds their funds and stops responding to calls and emails. After several tries to get a hold of the service provider, merchants are told to wait a few months.

Upon calling after the said period, they are promised to get the money back if they wait a couple more months. The cycle continues until the consumer decides to take their business somewhere else. The company has received several similar complaints.

Unrevealed Information

First Data does a horrible job of offering transparency and disclosure to its clients, and its website does not make it easier. Even though the official website is filled with text, it is useless for new consumers as it only displays the company’s praises from big clients. The context of the website does not disclose its services for small businesses, and sales representatives do not warn them about the potential risks.

As the First Data reviews suggest, the provider conceals most of its fees behind the ‘variable pricing’ rule, and merchants find out most of the information after the contract is signed.

Employee Complaints

There are mixed reviews by the First Data employees, and most, if not all, emerging after the company’s acquisition hint at it being a bad idea. Some even commented that First Data bought Fiserv and not the other way around and that they couldn’t think of any positive aspect of joining the provider. The reasons behind employee complaints include poor management, a toxic environment, and favoritism, causing low employee morale.

BBB Rating

Fiserv and First Data still have separate BBB profiles, and First Data is rated A+ but is no longer accredited by the review platform. Around 561 formal and 168 informal complaints were posted against the provider, out of which more than half remain unresolved. Unexpected charges, unauthorized withdrawals, poor security, and unresponsive customer service have received the most complaints.

Poor Security Measures

The most common negative review against First Data concerns its security measures. Users have complained about money being stolen from their accounts and denied disputes. The number of people commenting about their accounts being hacked is alarming. It proves that the company’s fraud protection service is ridiculously subpar. To make it worse, the provider fails to provide any consolation/refund for the fraudulent transactions and keeps canceling the disputes.

Difficult Account Cancelation

Multiple First Data reviews prove that the provider makes it impossible to end ties with it. The company prolongs the process while forcing unexpected charges on the clients. Merchants have complained that the company withdraws money from their accounts even after cancelation and fails to respond to their calls. This disables consumers from signing with a new payment facilitator.

Expensive Equipment Lease

First Data restrict merchants to an overpriced, noncancelable, four-year equipment lease forcing merchants to pay far more than the equipment costs. Even after a consumer has closed their account and signed up with another company, they still have to keep paying the lease charges. Since merchants can’t own the terminal and Clover hardware cannot be reprogrammed with the payment network of any other processor, their money goes down the drain for four years.

Final Thoughts

The provider’s payment solutions are not designed for small businesses and focus on big enterprises. Its prices are only affordable for large size companies bringing high revenue. The company displays an overall low rating based on poor security and the deceptive tactics of its resellers. It is unfeasible for small businesses to sign up directly with First Data, but resellers are notorious for scams. It is best to find another payment facilitator.

This First Data review concludes that the company fails to provide stability to its clients and does not prioritize their needs. Its attention is restricted to displaying itself as a luxury brand and signing famous clients. The company does not care about its consumer’s growth and betterment. Merchants are advised to find a payment service provider competent enough to accept the complaints and find a way to resolve them to customers’ satisfaction. Businesses keen on signing with First Data should negotiate to land a better deal or find a First Data reseller that matches their requirements.

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