Finding the right merchant services provider for your business can be difficult enough as it is, but it’s doubly so when you own a high-risk business. Host Merchant Services is a provider that works with a wide variety of business types, from low-risk to high-risk, and has an extensive catalog of services that includes payment processing, point-of-sale, and even cash advances.
But finding the right provider is more than just knowing that they can work with you, you also need to learn whether their fee structure makes sense for your business, and what their standing is with the public.
In this review, we’ll take a look at the company’s products and services, their fees and rates, their public perception and legal standing, and their overall transparency.
Host Merchant Services is a merchant account provider situated in Newark, Delaware that supports a wide range of businesses. The company was founded by current CEO Lou Honick in 2009, and it has now grown to become one of the top-rated merchant services providers on CPO. In addition, the company accepts several high-risk industries through cooperation with Electronic Merchant Systems (EMS).
HMS only offers interchange-plus pricing and will freely admit if its rate structure is not the best fit for your company. For instance, this pricing might not be the best fit for low-volume mobile payment businesses.
HMS has nearly no complaints at the BBB or other consumer review sites, which supports its “service first” claim. That, and the fact that there are many favorable testimonies.
Even if your company is small, you will likely receive outstanding customer service from HMS.
Host Merchant Services provides a comprehensive range of goods and services for virtually any sort of business. Here’s a quick rundown of its main services:
The list of products and services offered by HMS includes:
HMS uses interchange-plus pricing for all its clients, and guarantees you’ll keep the same rates as long as you work with them. Furthermore, they provide detailed information about both processing rates and account fees on their pricing page.
While the advertised prices apply to firms processing more than $10,000 per month, HMS has no monthly minimums. HMS will tailor a tariff plan for lesser volume accounts, according to its website. For businesses processing under $10,000, they should anticipate to pay 0.50%-0.55% Plus $0.10. The published rates for amounts more than $10,000 serve as a starting point. Higher volume firms will almost probably have more leeway in negotiating the best credit card processing offer.
All their processing fees are based on interchange pricing plus a “per transaction” fee:
You’ll notice that restaurant charges are lower than retail ones. This fee variation is related to the food industry’s generally lower risk/higher volume characteristics. Furthermore, HMS is primarily targeting restaurant operators with its bespoke POS system, Bonsai POS.
HMS currently offers a cash discount scheme, which it enthusiastically refers to as “Free Payment Processing.” This technique automatically adds credit card processing expenses to your listed prices, but gives consumers who pay with cash or with debit cards a discount at checkout. Consumers prefer cash discounts since they do not incur an unexpected surcharge when paying with a credit card. The software is free for merchants who process $5,000 or more each month. If your company processes less than that amount, you can still join in the program, but it will cost you $20 each month. As an extra restriction, the application is only available to organizations that don’t need the “tip adjustment” function.
HMS has no long-term commitments or early termination penalties, and they also pledge to pay up to $250 in due early termination costs for referred clients, and $500 if the reference client processes more than $50,000 per month, according to the Partnership FAQ. Although this might be an offer limited to referrals, if you’re considering HMS and are facing an early termination fee from another provider it could be worth asking about it.
“Service first” is the firm’s motto, with service available at regular office hours (Monday-Friday, 8 AM-6 PM EST.), and even after hours. If you need quick help with your account during business hours, a live chat feature is also available. After hours, you may be directed to TSYS tech support or another third-party entity affiliated with your account, but HMS personally reviews and follows up on all exchanges.
Other support literature on the website includes a mix of older publications and a more recent blog focusing on industry news and card processing merchant-related subjects.
HMS also promotes local, on-site assistance for malfunctioning terminals within a 150-mile radius of its offices in Newark (Delaware) and Naples.
One of the main draws of HMS is their transparent pricing and lack of contractual obligations, which means you know from the start what you are getting, and you are free to leave if it doesn’t suit you. As far as negatives goes, the only real issue is their pricing structure might not be the best fit for smaller businesses.
Host Merchant Services will collaborate with you to develop a custom-fit solution for your company that includes an economical point-of-sale system, free equipment for your company, low rates, and more. HMS strives to find the best solution for your business.
You are not required to enter into a contract with Host Merchant Services. It provides services without demanding a commitment, which is not usually the case for high-risk enterprises. There are also no PCI compliance or closure fees with Host Merchant Services.
There are no setup, application, or cancellation fees, and all their pricing is clearly visible on their website.
The interchange pricing model might not be a good fit for small businesses, especially those with low volume sales.
Let’s take a look at HMS from the perception of its clients, its complaint history, and its legal standing:
The company has only two complaints with the Better Business Bureau, and both of the Host Merchant Services reviews on the site laud the company’s customer service experience. The company is consistently lauded for its excellent customer service, transparent pricing, and top-notch services.
Customer service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Host Merchant Services. It is available to you whenever you require support.
The HMS website now contains a comprehensive Testimonials page with favorable feedback from nearly four dozen merchants across the country. Unlike many other testimonials, most of them provide lengthy descriptions of specific qualities that were valuable to the merchants who wrote them. In general, clients appreciate their excellent customer services, their competitive pricing, and the lack of long-term contracts.
HMS has been a Better Business Bureau recognized member since March 2011, with an A rating and only two complaints in the last three years, and only one within the last twelve months. The company has an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars on TrustPilot, based on 25 reviews.
Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be any patterns of common concerns because there are so few complaints. The company has only one online complaint concerning its contract conditions, indicating that the majority of its clients are happy with their agreements. Overall, the terms of Host Merchant Services appear to be extraordinarily transparent and highly competitive.
The lack of any sales complaints suggests that Host’s sales representatives are generally straightforward and helpful when signing merchants up for services. This stacks up well against our ranking of the best credit card processors.
Lastly there are no outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints against Host Merchant Services that we are aware of.
On its website, Host Merchant Services actively promotes interchange-plus pricing and gives a summary of this pricing structure for businesses who are unfamiliar with it. In addition to traditional retail merchant accounts, Host offers interchange-plus pricing on mobile and e-commerce merchant accounts. Furthermore, no fraudulent advertising methods appear to be used by the corporation in its official documents.
HMS is one of the few commercial service providers that publishes processing rates on its website.
Except for the pricing of a few hardware items, HMS discloses almost everything on their website. Although HMS primarily markets and establishes customers through its in-house sales force, it also employs independent sales agents and advertises an ISO agent program on its website. Fortunately, no complaints have been filed regarding the company’s sales techniques as a result of this. Unlike most processing vendors, HMS appears to retain a close grip on its independent agents. In this scenario, whether you work with a firm employee or an independent agency should make no difference to you as a prospective merchant.
Host Merchant Services stands out as a superb merchant services provider in all categories. They go above and beyond to be transparent about their pricing, showing all their fees on their website and using examples to explain how their interchange pricing works. Their public perception is positively glowing, and they only have a tiny handful of complaints since they started operating, which have been resolved.
If you are looking for a transparent merchant services provider with an excellent track record and a wide variety of services, you can’t go wrong with HMS.