Overview

ClearGate (cleargate.com), formerly known as ClearChoice Merchant Services (myclearchoice.com), is a merchant account provider headquartered in Reno, Nevada. The company appears to have changed its name in 2014, so it’s possible that it still conducts some business under the name of ClearChoice. There is some evidence that ClearGate is a reseller of First Data contracts. ClearGate is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., in Walnut Creek, California, and is located at 639 Isbell Rd., Ste 330, Reno, Nevada 89509. Pete Pistone is listed as the vice president of operations at ClearGate.

Key Points

  • Sales & Marketing: ClearGate employs independently contracted sales agents, which has resulted in some complaints about undisclosed fees.
  • Costs & Contract: ClearGate’s contract terms are roughly average for the industry.
  • Complaints & Service: ClearGate has received only two complaints, although both mentioned large, undisclosed fees.
  • BBB Rating: ClearGate has an “A+” rating with the BBB and has not received any complaints in the past three years.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With ClearGate

ClearGate Products and Services

Industries

  • Retail
  • E-commerce
  • Mobile
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Sales & Marketing

Key Points - Sales & Marketing

Employs Independent Resellers Yes
Advertises Deceptive Rates No
Discloses All Important Terms No

ClearGate appears to hire independently contracted sales agents to market its services. This is a common hiring practice within the credit card processing industry that often results in a sales team composed of poorly trained or unregulated agents. We are currently able to locate two ClearGate reviews that describe nondisclosure of fees by the company’s sales agents. These complaints specifically cite a failure to explain the company’s early termination fee amount, three-year service term, and cancellation procedures. To its credit, ClearGate does not appear to list deceptive rate quotes in its official materials.

ClearGate Marketing Example

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Costs & Contract

Key Points - Costs & Contract

Swiped Rate Variable
Keyed-in Rate Variable
Early Termination Fee $250-$350
PCI Compliance Fee Variable
Equipment Lease Terms Variable

The ClearGate merchant program guide (available below) appears to be a standard First Data program guide, which includes a three-year agreement with automatic renewal for two-year terms, an early termination fee ranging from $250-$350, a variable PCI Compliance fee, a monthly minimum fee, and tiered pricing. These terms are about average for the industry, and they are typical of the standard First Data agreement. There are currently at least two complaints filed online by merchants who were not expecting to pay $350 upon cancellation, indicating that this fee may not be appropriately disclosed by some of the company’s agents. Merchants are encouraged to read all terms carefully and to check their merchant agreement against their program guide to verify all fees. See the ClearGate Program Guide.

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Complaints & Service

Key Points - Complaints & Service

Total Online Complaints <10
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint N/A

We are currently able to locate two ClearGate complaints, neither of which outright accuses the company of being a scam. Both complainants report nondisclosure of contract terms, specifically the company’s contract length, early termination fee amount, and cancellation policy. Since ClearGate appears to be an ISO or reseller of First Data, it is possible that some ClearGate reviews are redirected to the online profiles of the larger payment processor. In the absence of any evidence that this is occurring, however, we have disregarded this possibility for grading purposes. The ClearGate website lists a dedicated email address for customer support.

a

BBB

Key Points - BBB

Product & Service Complaints 0
Billing & Collection Complaints 0
Advertising & Sales Complaints 0
Guarantee & Warranty Complaints 0
Delivery Complaints 0

ClearGate has been an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau since 2006. As of this review, the company has an “A+” rating with the BBB and has had zero complaints filed against it in the last 36 months. It also has not received any informal reviews, although it should be noted that these reviews are not subject to verification by the BBB. In keeping with our belief that “A+” ratings should typically be reserved for companies with zero complaints, we agree with the BBB’s rating at this time.

ClearGate Logo

ClearGate Bottom Line

ClearGate rates as a better-than-average credit card processor according to our standards. The company has a very low complaint rate on the BBB and other consumer protection websites, but its industry-average contract terms lower its overall grade. Merchants are advised to consult both their program guide and their merchant agreement when calculating their potential expenses through ClearGate.

Hi, I’m Phillip and I’m disgusted by the state of credit card processing in the U.S. and abroad. I believe that the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal money from hard working business owners. I’ve made it my mission to expose the companies and individuals who engage in predatory marketing, pricing, and contracts, or just provide terrible service. Along with uncovering the bad guys, I’ve also discovered the good guys who do stand out from the status quo. CPO is a website where you will find ratings and reviews of these companies along with advice on how to save money and which service providers consider. Together we can move the industry in a positive direction. If you would like to help support my work, please checkout “Fee Sweep” my eGuide to getting the lowest possible fees when accepting card payments. If you haven’t heard of “interchange” this advice will save you hundreds, even thousands, in processing fees.

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