Heartland Payment Systems Review


Overall Rating Breakdown
Sales & Marketing Tactics
Costs & Contract Terms
Complaints & Service
BBB Rating

Heartland Payment Systems

"A" Credit Card Processor Rating

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Jump to: Sales & Marketing | Costs & Contract | Complaints & Service | BBB Complaints

Heartland Payment Systems Overview

Heartland Payment Systems Logo

Heartland Payment Systems Logo

Heartland Payment Systems (heartlandpaymentsystems.com) is a very large merchant account provider based out of Princeton, New Jersey. The company was founded in 1997 and appears to be a direct processor, although it may also use the processing networks of a few larger acquirers. According to several reports Heartland ranks as the fifth-largest processor in the United States and processes over $80 billion in credit card transactions annually.

The company made national headlines in 2008 when Heartland’s computer systems were infiltrated by a computer hacker named Albert Gonzalez, who subsequently stole the data of more than 130 million credit cards. While this could have spelled doom for such a prominent company, Heartland responded very quickly to repair the damages and prevent future security breaches. Heartland now regularly updates its security systems and, understandably, takes data security very seriously. Additionally, Heartland seems to have a strongly embedded philosophy of educating merchants about payment processing, even going so far as to dedicating an entire website dubbed the “Merchant Bill of Rights” to fulfilling this purpose.

Heartland also appears to be one of the very few merchant account providers that is actively passing Durbin Amendment savings on to merchants. For those who are unaware, the Durbin Amendment is a flawed bill that forced banks to reduce debit card Interchange fees but did nothing about requiring third-party processors and sales organizations to pass the savings on to the merchant, which most do not. Heartland Payment Systems Inc. is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, CA, The Bancorp Bank, Philadelphia, PA, and Heartland Bank, St. Louis, MO. The company’s headquarters are located at 90 Nassau St Fl 2, Princeton, NJ 08542.

Heartland Payment Systems Sales & Marketing Tactics | A-

Key Points – Sales & Marketing 
Uses independent resellers? No
Promotes deceptive rate quotes? No
Discloses all important terms? No

Heartland does not use any deceptive advertising or rate quoting practices that are apparent to this reviewer. Additionally, representatives of Heartland have stated that all of the company’s sales staff are internal W2 employees who undergo background checks. Heartland never outsources its products and services to other companies and never uses independent contractors, sub-ISOs, or reseller organizations.

Although the company claims to go to great lengths to fully disclose its contract terms to merchants, the most consistently reported complaint about the company is nondisclosure of its $295 early termination fee (ETF). It appears that Heartland’s standard practice is to provide merchants with two documents at the point of signing. One is a short summary of the pricing and contract length, commonly referred to as a “merchant agreement.” According to merchant complaints, this agreement does not mention the early termination fee (ETF).

The second piece of documentation is a large handbook of user guidelines, often referred to in the industry as a “program guide.” The early termination fee is mentioned somewhere in this larger document. We do not consider this disclosure method to be very transparent, although there seems to be some variation among the company’s agents when it comes to verbally disclosing the ETF. The consistency of reports emerging about nondisclosure of the company’s ETF has prompted us to lower Heartland’s rating to an “A-.”

Heartland Payment Systems Marketing Example

Heartland Payment Systems Costs & Contract Terms | A-

Key Points – Costs & Contract Terms
Swiped rate: Variable (Interchange-plus)
Keyed-in rate: Variable (Interchange-plus)
Termination fee: $295
PCI compliance fee: Unknown
Equipment lease: Variable

Pricing of Heartland merchant accounts appears to vary based on a variety of factors including business needs, sales volume and the agent setting up the account. The company’s standard contract (available below) has a three-year service agreement with a $295 cancellation fee, both of which appear to be negotiable. It also appears that Heartland is willing to waive cancellation fees in numerous circumstances. Heartland’s website claims that the company offers all of its merchants Interchange-plus pricing, which is the most transparent pricing model available. The company does not appear to charge an annual PCI Compliance fee but, based on merchant reports, it may be disguising the fee under another name and charging it on a monthly basis. If you have more information, please leave it in the comment section below.

Click here to see a copy of the standard Heartland Payment Systems merchant agreement
Heartland Merchant Agreement

Heartland Payment Systems Complaints & Service | A

Key Points – Complaints & Service
Total complaints: 80+
Live customer support? Yes
Most common complaint: Sales tactics

For a processor of Heartland’s size, the company has very few complaints posted in the normal channels and forums, and only a handful of these complaints accuse the company of being a scam or a ripoff. Of the complaints, nearly all of them can be traced back to the agent who set up the account. In fact, the agent appears to be a major factor in determining a merchant’s future satisfaction with Heartland, so merchants are encouraged to work with someone they trust. Aside from complaints about agents, there are a handful of reports from merchants indicating that their fees were suddenly raised without notification. There are also a few complaints of deceptive sales tactics and undisclosed fees in the comment section below this review, but the details behind these complaints are unclear and seem to be isolated incidents in many cases. The company’s customer service department appears to receive generally positive reviews.

Heartland Payment Systems BBB Report | A (CPO Adjusted)

Key Points – BBB Report
Product/service: 7
Billing/collection: 6
Advertising/sales: 6
Guarantee/warranty: 0
Delivery: 0

As of this update, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is showing that Heartland has been accredited since 2004. The BBB is awarding Heartland an “A+” rating and reporting 19 complaints filed in the last 36 months, a very low complaint count for such a large processor. Of the complaints, seven were due to problems with service, six with billing, and six with advertising and sales. Heartland resolved 16 of the 19 complaints to the merchants’ satisfaction. Since we believe that “A+” ratings should be reserved for providers with zero complaints, we have slightly adjusted the BBB’s rating for the purposes of this review.

Bottom Line

Among the largest processors in the United States, Heartland is one of the most positively reviewed and rated providers. Despite the data breach it experienced in 2008, the company has thrived and become an advocate for data security and merchant education. The company could improve its rating in this review by lowering its three-year service agreement to a shorter term, or by giving merchants the ability to cancel service any time without a penalty.

This review was originally published on 10/31/10 and was last updated on 7/30/14.

Leave your own Heartland Payment Systems review in the comment section below:


Heartland Payment Systems Review

Rated 4.25 Out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by Phillip Parker
Reviewed on 2014-07-30 13:17:03

There are very few Heartland Payment Systems negative reviews posted in the normal channels and forums, and only a handful of these complaints accuse the company of being a scam or a ripoff… Among the largest processors in the United States, Heartland (heartlandpaymentsystems.com) is one of the most positively reviewed and rated providers… Learn more in this Heartland Payment Systems review.

 

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About the author

Phillip Parker

Phillip Parker is a former merchant services agent turned small business advocate and the author of "Fee Sweep," which teaches merchants how to dramatically lower their processing rates, eliminate junk fees, and avoid fine-print scams. He founded CardPaymentOptions.com to help merchants enact positive change in the credit card processing industry.



 
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65 comments

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  1. KENNY (ATLANTIS PIZZA)

    I have used Heartland in the past i used it in my business in 7750 okachobee blv W.P.B.
    then the service and rates where ok
    In January i did sign a contract with Heartland (PAT) i was told that there would be no charging fees for terminating the service , also i was promised new credit card machine
    i newer recieved the credit card machine , and right afthet a month or two the RATES START CHANGING, when i called the representative of Haeartland PAT and i asked her how comme my friend who its 3 miles away from me has different rates (in the begining we had same rates) she told me that my friends customers use different credit card ???
    whell i was disapointed and not happy because Heartland was changing the rates and i stoped having theyre service, now they are sending me statements for early termination service, which in my knowledge i did not know that i have signed anything regarding that, oraly i was told that i can terminate the service with heartland anytime without terminating fee, so BE CAREFULL FROM HEARTLAND

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    3 / 5 found this review helpful.
    1. tammy

      Kenny,
      You must not understand interchange fees set by the bank. You can find these on Visa and MC’s website to educate yourself. These are not optional. Like your cost of pizza ingredients, they are the card companies cost.

      I hope this helps. I owned a chain of Mexican food restaurants and we used Heartland for 9 years with no problem and no one could touch their rates. I learned exactly how it worked so I know they are fair.

      Good Luck.

      Tammy

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      1. Al Michaud

        Tammy,

        maybe you had no issues with Heartland rates…but aside from rates they have serious issues with customer service. Like Kenny I also had a problem with them….after my 3 year term , I decided to leave and I was still charged an early termination fee of $295 ? I learned the hard way that Heartland AUTOMATICALLY renews your contract for another 3YEARS. The only way to avaoid this $295 charge is to terminate exactly on the day your 3 years is up. So you cannot cancel on day 364 of year 3 or 1 day after 3 years is up…no matter what you are screwed.

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        1. Chad

          Al, I sold with HPS for quite a few years and I can tell you that no, you will not be charges the $295 if you leave anytime after the first 3 years. Also, the contract does NOT roll over for another 3 years. I believe technically it’s another 12 months but I NEVER saw that enforced so really it’s month to month. NEVER ONCE did I have a merchant that was hit with a cancellation fee if they left after 3 years, never. So I’m not sure what you’re talking about because that just does not line up with them at all and I was there over 8 years.

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          1. Al Michaud

            Chad,

            Respectfully speaking… I was charged as I described above. I was with Heartland for almost 5 years…when I tried to cancel Heartland I was told I owed $295 for an early termination fee. I was told my contract was automatically re-newed.? I tried to talk to anyone at Heartland who would listen and was not able to get anywhere. So what I was told by Heartland was that I needed to cancel terminate within 30 days of the end of my 3rd year or something like that .
            So I am not sure who you are with Heartland but what happened to me is true and unfair. Even cell phone companies do not re-new you automatically!
            Al Michaud
            Sweet Meadow farm

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      2. Mike

        Tammy, it seems you are following the same script as the previous Heartland reps in responding to those who have criticized the company. Kenny plainly said Heartland changed his rates after he signed the contract, and then you recommended he educate himself on the subject of interchange fees, which we all know are two different things entirely. Whatever the problem, Heartland always finds a way to suggest it is the customers’ own fault, or they are ignorant, or they are just liars.

        Also, you are incorrect in stating no one can touch Heartland’s rates. I saved a lot when I switched from Heartland to another company.

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  2. California Business Owner

    We have had a bad experience similar to many who have posted here. We signed up with Heartland in August 2013 through a friend of a friend. Our main concern was having a long-term contract and cancellation fees in case we didn’t see any savings compared to our current company. When we asked him about it, he flat out said that there are NO TERMS, and we can cancel the contract at any time if we are not satisfied with their service. He repeated it so many times … trust me, there are no terms, you can do month to month. I’m a manager, you’re good with me. He even gave us a copy of the cancellation form, which says NOTHING about the cancellation fee.

    So we signed the contract that apparently had a 3-year term and $295 cancellation fee somewhere. We found out a year later when we wanted to end their services since we were paying more than we were with our old company. Yes, we should’ve read through everything word for word or maybe just hired a lawyer to fully investigate. But it SHOULD BE ILLEGAL for a company representative to verbally tell a customer one thing, and then have them sign a contract that says another. We were tricked. Why would a company have to resort to this level to get customers?

    I originally blamed our sales rep, but it seems this has happened to several others so I can only assume the company trains their sales reps to do this or turns a blind eye because it still earns them sales. Whatever the case, we will never recommend Heartland to any of our associates. Any company that is aware of these “bad reps” and does nothing is just as bad as their reps.

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    3 / 3 found this review helpful.
    1. California Business Owner

      I would just like to update this post: The CEO replied to an email I sent that described everything our company went through. I also included some of the complaints here. He said he was unaware of this practice and was glad we brought it to his attention. It’s reassuring to know that the leadership at least cares about the company and is responsive to the customers’ needs. He said we will not be paying the cancellation fee, which we are grateful about not just because of the sum of money, but because of the principle of it all. We’re glad to finally have a good outcome after this horrible experience.

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      2 / 2 found this review helpful.
  3. Peter Bright

    I own a very succesful small business that I started from scratch.Heartland has been my credit card processor for about ten years. Prior to signing on with them I had two unethical processors over an eight year period. I probably call Heartland about twice a year for service or technical problems. They have never let me down. I am in a service oriented business so I know good service when I run into it. Also, their statements are clear and concise. My experience with Heartland has been A+. I think they are ethical and professional. Just giving credit where credit’s due. Keep up the good work.

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    7 / 12 found this review helpful.
    1. Phillip

      In order to authenticate your testimonial, please reply to this comment with your business name and location.

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      4 / 4 found this review helpful.
    2. Al Michaud

      Peter and anyone else that feels Heartland is a stand up company.
      Ask Heartland their policy on the following, because this is what cost me $295 for switching from them after 5 years….

      I choose to switch to another merchant after I had been with Heartland for 5 years. I was told my 3 year term automatically renewed and that I was only on my 2nd year of the new 3 year term. So I was early terminating my second 3 year contract…that is crap. That is not a stand up company in my eyes, the early termination should ONLY apply to the first 3 years.
      It seems to me everyone trying to switch will get hit with the early termination fee,,,since they automatically renew you to a 3 year contract???
      I pleaded with them to use common sense and refund me $295…but I got nowhere.

      Al

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      5 / 5 found this review helpful.
  4. "Proud Heartland Rep!"

    Mike,

    I find it hard to believe that you are a business owner with a previous relationship with Heartland. Given the fact, you have such a vested interest in this thread and have posted 3 separate posts against Heartland going back to 2012. It sounds like you are an ISO that signed a Heartland customer and this led to your ridiculous posts. As a matter of fact, your posts were sent January 2012, July 2012, September 2012 and 2 comments in November 2013. There is not one business owner in my portfoilio that would take time away from building their business to constantly follow a random credit card review site. Not only that, a $295 early termination fee is the lowest I’ve ever seen in my tenure. That’s a pretty easy out in comparison to other contracts that I’ve seen with early termination clauses ranging from $500 to $6,000. For all I know, you are throwing your invalid comments to solicite more information from Heartland Representatives that are in the trenches everyday helping business owners.

    If you are truly a former client, I welcome you to contact our support number and leave a confidential message for me personally. I will contact you personally to find resolution to your dissatisfaction.

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    2 / 5 found this review helpful.
    1. Mike

      Mr. Proud Heartland Rep doesn’t think I’m an actual business owner because an actual business owner wouldn’t take the time to post against Heartland as much as I have. I guess the company depends on business owners being too busy to fuss about being deceived and tricked into signing a contract they wouldn’t have signed otherwise, but that strategy obviously doesn’t work on all of us. Mr. Proud Heartland Rep has suggested I contact Heartland’s support number and leave a confidential message for him personally, so he can find a resolution to my dissatisfaction. How can I leave a personal message for him if I don’t know his name? If he is so proud, why doesn’t he give us his name? This anonymity of Heartland reps seems to be the norm. Could there be a reason why the Heartland reps and former reps don’t want to reveal their actual names and phone numbers? The business owners who write glowing reports on Heartland also seem to be publicity shy.

      Why doesn’t someone from the corporate office of Heartland rise to defend the company and offer to make things right, instead of depending on reps who most probably don’t have the authority to spend corporate funds? One thing we business owners for sure don’t have time for is a runaround.

      Thank you, Mr. Phillip Parker, for providing this forum.

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      1 / 4 found this review helpful.
  5. "Proud Heartland Rep!"

    I have been with Heartland for close to two years. Before my career with this company, I was an independent business owner for 5 1/2 years. I have read each of the 44 comments in response to Heartland Payment Systems. As a former Business owner, I took credit cards, I signed contracts and I knew I had to pay a fee for the service. However, not until about 6 months in to my career with Heartland, did I have a clue what “Durbin,” Interchange, ISO, PCI and in no way did I know what “basis points” were. The Small Business Owner that posted in 2011 knew way more than I did when I had my business. My point is, out of these 44 complaints and positive reviews, I have to ask myself how many of these posts are truly reliable in the terms of Due Diligence? However, I encourage every business owner to keep open communication with their Rep or Customer Support Team. Ask to see the entire contract prior to signing and demand to see the final contract that follows in the mail. Ask about the contract legnth and terms and if there are early termination fees. If the Rep tells you there are no early term fees, demand a written document guaranteeing that. For any Business Owner that has been disappointed with their relationship with Heartland, I wish you great prosperity in the future.

    If you are a business owner looking to switch to – or from ANY processor, ask for references in your local area that has processed for more than a year with the local rep. Find out what other business like and don’t like.

    To Your Prosperity,
    Texas Territory Manager
    Heartland Payment Systems

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    2 / 3 found this review helpful.
    1. Mike

      You’re preaching to the choir, Tex. The people complaining here about Heartland have already learned these lessons. Apparently you cannot deny Heartland doesn’t provide the full contract terms unless the customer demands them, and even then apparently the company’s practice is to withhold, delay, or obfuscate important information.

      When a person is starting up a business or taking over an existing business there are many things to learn and do, and there’s not always enough time to be as diligent as you recommend. People in this situation are easy prey for unethical service providers. Please let us know when Heartland decides to furnish its customers all contract terms and conditions at or before the time of signing, without the customers having to be smart enough to demand them first.

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      2 / 3 found this review helpful.
      1. Industry guy

        Mike, as someone that is no longer working for HPS but was with them almost 10 years, I can tell you ALL the terms and conditions are supplied to the merchant. It’s absolutely true that a rep can at times forget to give them to the merchant but when a merchant comes on board, they are mailed a copy of their contract AND the terms and conditions. To say “when a person is starting up a business or taking over a business there are many things to do and ot always enough time to be as diligent asTex recommends,” is garbage. If you are signing something it’s YOUR responsibility to READ IT! If you don’t read it and you just sign away, you have no one to blame but yourself. Honestly 90% of complaints I read online about not just Heartland but much companies come from merchants not reading their contracts. On the Heartland contracts there a section the merchant signs acknowledging they received and read the terms and conditions so if they are signing that and not queastioning anything, again it’s 100% their own fault.

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        1. Mike

          Okay, Guy, you’ve pretty much confirmed what Tex said; Heartland’s unhappy customers are responsible for their own mistakes in signing contracts without fully reading them and demanding to receive the missing details. Further, you think Heartland is fully justified in taking advantage of such people by sneakily leaving out some stuff that people should be smart enough to ask about before they sign. We were dumb. We get that.

          I wonder where Heartland finds people like you. You know the part about the $295 fee for quitting Heartland, as well as other important terms, are not mentioned in the contract that is handed to merchants to sign. This information is in a separate document incorporated by reference only, which document you’ve stated is sent to the clients after they “come on board.” (Heartland didn’t send this document to me, but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway after I signed the contract.) If this practice is not intended by Heartland to deceive and take advantage of naive and trusting clients, then please explain why everything isn’t included in the main part of the contract folks get to see before signing. I doubt you can provide any plausible explanation.

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          1. Industry Guy

            Not here to argue with you Mike, just telling it like it is. Just because it might not fit with your subjective experience doesn’t mean what I’m saying is wrong. So to your question YES, merchants are responsible for their own mistakes in signing contracts without fully reading them and demanding to receive the missing details. Who the heck else would be responsible??? Even if a rep said don’t worry about it I’ll get it to you later, it would still be crazy for anyone to sign a contract that way. You then asked me if I “think Heartland is fully justified in taking advantage of such people by sneakily leaving out some stuff that people should be smart enough to ask about before they sign.” How does HPS take advantage of people by “sneakily” leaving something out??

            You are correct about one thing at least, the $295 cancellation fee is not on the contract itself, just as it’s not on most processors contracts which is why almost ALL processors have separate terms and conditions, just like when you buy a car, just like when you get a loan, just like when you get a mortgage etc etc. What other important terms are not on the contract that you you think are board? You said “This information is in a separate document incorporated by reference only, which document you’ve stated is sent to the clients after they “come on board.” Obviously reading comprehension isn’t your strong point so allow me to quote what I actually said. “It’s absolutely true that a rep can at times forget to give them to the merchant but when a merchant comes on board, they are mailed a copy of their contract AND the terms and conditions.” I acknowledged that reps can forget to give the T&C but it’s still sent to the merchant in the mail. Even if Heartland “didn’t send the document to you” it does get sent out and if you were dying to read it a call to the 800# and it would be sent to you in a matter of minutes.

            Lastly you asked ” If this practice is not intended by Heartland to deceive and take advantage of naive and trusting clients, then please explain why everything isn’t included in the main part of the contract folks get to see before signing. I doubt you can provide any plausible explanation.” I’ve said the answer a few times now but I’ll do it again for you. Heartland isn’t here holding the reps hand as the reps gets paperwork signed. It’s the responsibility of the rep to give the merchant the T&C and yes, I have no doubt reps can at times forget to do that. There’s NO incentive for a rep not to give the T&C to a merchant because there’s nothing in there that isn’t industry standard stuff. In all my years of being there i NEVER had a merchant that had an issue with the T&E to the point they wouldn’t sign up. Some would question the 3 year contract, again which is standard for a LOT of companies, but if it was that huge of an issue we’d let them do it year to year, pretty scary right? Again, I haven’t worked for Heartland for a while now but I still find it hilarious when “merchants” like you, and I use ” ” because I don’t believe you were really a merchant of theirs, have a bad experience and then you pretend like you just know everything about the company and you have it all figured out. Again, your subjective experience doesn’t mean you have it all figured out because reading your ill informed comments sure prove that.

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      2. Sue Schoenfeld

        I can tell you as an employee of Heartland that these terms and conditions are mandatory and are sent to the merchant in the welcome packet with each and every account. No excuses!

        A $295.00 cancellation fee is typically BASELINE for the merchant processing industry. What we find is that a merchant will hop around from provider to provider without any commitment while we guarantee your rate for 3 years. It simply discourages them to do so, because in more cases than not, these merchants come back to us.

        If you discuss your intent to not be involved in a contract UP FRONT your salesperson CAN sign you without one in most cases.

        I am proud to work for Heartland and all it stands for. We continue to be the leader in our industry and continue to do the right thing when no one is looking. It’s simply impossible to please everyone all of the time.

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        3 / 4 found this review helpful.

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