ClearGate Overview

ClearGate May Have Overcharged You

If you accepted credit cards through ClearGate or any other credit card processing company between 2017 and 2019, recent changes to the law may entitle you to refunds of certain debit card and credit card processing errors and overcharges. See this post to find out if your were among the businesses affected and to learn how you can get your money back.

New Name, Same Services

ClearGate, formerly known as ClearChoice Merchant Services, is a merchant account provider headquartered in Reno, Nevada. The company appears to have changed its name in 2014, however, the domain once registered to ClearChoice redirects to ClearGate’s current website, meaning it likely does not operate under its other DBA any longer. There is some evidence that ClearGate is a reseller of First Data contracts.  Additionally, the company advertises virtual terminal and payment gateway services to merchants.

ClearGate Headquarters and Ownership

ClearGate is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., in Concord, California, and is located at 9736 S Virginia St Ste A, Reno, NV 89511-5902. Robert Onesian is listed as the founder of ClearGate.

ClearGate Review Table of Contents

  • Costs & Contract: ClearGate offers a three-year contract through First Data with an early termination fee of $250-$350.
  • Complaints & Service: ClearGate has received fewer than 10 public complaints.
  • BBB Rating: ClearGate has an “A+” rating and has received 0 complaints in the past 3 years. The company has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2006.
  • Sales & Marketing: ClearGate employs independently contracted sales agents, which has resulted in some complaints about undisclosed fees.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With ClearGate
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Products & Services Offered

Types of Businesses Served

  • Retail
  • E-commerce
  • Mobile

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ClearGate Rates, Fees, and Costs

Key Points

Swiped Rate 2.69% + $0.19
Keyed-in Rate 3.69% + $0.19
Level II Visa Rate 2.05% + $0.10
Level II MasterCard Rate 2.00% + $0.10 - 2.31% + $0.10
Level III Visa Rate 1.85% + $0.10
Level III MasterCard Rate 1.75% + $0.10 - 2.06% + $0.10
Gateway Fee Undisclosed
Early Termination Fee $250-$350
PCI Compliance Fee $19.95 Per Month
Equipment Lease Terms 48 Month (locked)

Three-Year Agreement

The ClearGate Program Guide 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 $19.95 monthly PCI Compliance fee, a monthly minimum fee, and tiered pricing. However, according to the company’s website, it offers pricing proposals that offer flat rate or interchange-plus pricing models in addition to the tiered pricing referenced in its program guide. While not competitive with the cheapest merchant accounts, these terms are about average for the industry, and they are typical of the standard First Data agreement.

Though pricing and fees of a merchant account will vary by reseller, First Data’s typical rates and fees are included in this review for reference. Merchants who process up to $50,000 each month will receive a swiped rate of 2.69% plus $0.19 and a keyed-in rate of 3.69% plus $0.19. Merchants whose monthly charges exceed $50,000 will receive a swiped rate of 2.29% plus $0.19 and a keyed-in rate of 3.29% plus $0.19. First Data allows resellers to choose between selling month-to-month contracts or service agreements ranging from one to five years.

Most First Data agreements involve a minimum service length of two to four years, an early termination fee of up $495, and a PCI Compliance fee of $19.95 per month. Merchants also have reported costly, non-cancellable equipment leases lasting for up to 48 months through First Data Global Leasing.

Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing

In addition to its storefront payment processing services, ClearGate also dedicates a portion of its website that advertises its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. However, pricing on either of those services is not disclosed. Additional rates and fees, including gateway fees, technical support fees, batch fees, and additional transaction rates typically apply to these e-commerce services.

Level 2 and Level 3 Processing Services

In addition to its traditional merchant services, ClearMerchant also advertises that it provides level 2 and level 3 processing for b2b and b2g transactions. Level 2 and level 3 processing rely upon different interchange rates than traditional consumer credit transactions. Accommodating those rates requires different payment processing technology from a merchant account provider to transmit the amount of data required to facilitate the transactions. These services are reserved for b2b and b2g purchases that utilize corporate credit cards. ClearMerchant advertises Level II rates for Visa transactions at 2.05% plus $0.10 and 2.00% plus $0.10 to 2.31% plus $0.10 for MasterCard. Level III rates for Visa transactions are 1.85% plus $0.10 and 1.75% plus $0.10 to 2.06% plus $0.10 for MasterCard.

ClearGate Contract Complaints

There are currently at least 2 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.

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Response from ClearGate

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ClearGate Complaints & Customer Reviews

Key Points

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

Low Complaint Total

We are currently able to locate three ClearGate complaints, none of which outright accuses the company of being a scam or a ripoff. One complaint cites unauthorized charges, while the other two complainants report nondisclosure of contract terms, specifically the company’s contract length, early termination fee amount, and cancellation policy.

ClearGate Lawsuits

We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against ClearGate. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.

ClearGate Customer Support Options

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 phone number and email address for customer support, but the credit card processor does not rank as a top merchant account provider for customer service at this time.

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Response from ClearGate

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ClearGate BBB Rating Summary

Key Points - BBB

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

No BBB Complaints

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.

An “A” Performance Overall

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. Merchants should be aware, however, that there are reasons to be skeptical of the BBB’s reviews.

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Response from ClearGate

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Truth In Marketing & Advertising

Key Points

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

ClearGate Sales Tactics

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, 3-year service term, and cancellation procedures.

No Misleading Quotes

To its credit, ClearGate does not appear to list deceptive rate quotes in its official materials. If you suspect that ClearGate is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to find and eliminate hidden charges.

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Response from ClearGate

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ClearGate Marketing Example

ClearGate Logo

Our Opinion of ClearGate

A Solid Option for Most Businesses

ClearGate rates as a better-than-average merchant services provider according to our standards. The company has a very low complaint rate across all 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. We also recommend that merchants compare the company’s pricing to top-rated merchant accounts to get the best deal.

We rely on your feedback about ClearGate to keep this review accurate and up-to-date. Please take a minute to tell us about your experience. We and the small business owners of this world thank you!

Thank you for reading my review. I hope that it has helped you with your research.

Why I'm Qualified to Write About Credit Card Processing and Merchant Account Services

I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry because I didn't like how it takes advantage of small business owners. It feeds like a leech on businesses and thrives by imposing fees that are nearly impossible to comprehend. Seeing a need for change, I left and built this website help business owners better understand the industry, research merchant services providers, and get refunds of excessive merchant account fees. My experience of working "behind the curtain" in the industry, and using that knowledge for good, has resulted in millions of dollars returned to hard-working small business owners as well as enterprise-level companies.

From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to create this website, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this "insider" knowledge to myself. To lift the fog, I've reviewed hundreds of companies, read thousands of user reviews, and learned the pricing tricks of every provider. If you have questions about credit card processing, you can find the answers on this website.

How I Can Help You

I specialize in helping businesses get refunds of excessive fees and have recovered $1,567,184 this year alone! Submit a recent statement below to find out if you are getting overcharged. I'll take a look at it for free. If I find fees that can be refunded, hire me on contigency. I only get compensated if I put money back into your pocket.

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2 Reviews Leave Your Review for ClearGate Below

  1. Steve Donato says:

    This company is run by charlatans and scam artists who lock you into a fee structure, and then – without your knowledge or permission – raise the fees through the roof. The head charlatan, Pete Pistone – tried to ding me for not being “PCI Compliant.” This was utter nonsense, as I was completely within the PCI Compliant regulations and guidelines. When I cancelled this horrible service, he threatened me with collections. This guy has been trying to ding my credit for 10 years, because I refused to succumb to his bully tactics and pay his gangster fees. AVOID THIS COMPANY AT ALL COSTS.

    This post will help: PCI Compliance Myths and Misunderstandings


  2. Nancy M says:

    ClearGate charged me for a $300 machine to allow our business to use chip cards. It took them 4 months to make the machine actually take the new chip cards, all the while charging the same fees as before. Using chip cards is supposed to save businesses money in processing fees since the responsibility for fraud is now put on the business, rather than the credit companies. We did not receive any such discount in fees so we changed to a new processing service and are now in a fight with ClearGate to stop charging our bank $59.90 each month for services that they are no longer providing. Nothing has been processed through them for 2 months and yet we are still getting charged what they call access fees. I guess because they still have access to my bank account I am paying them $59.90 a month to steal from me. I would highly recommend using another service instead. We changed to Costco processing and are saving hundreds of dollars in monthly fees.

    From The Editor
    This Post Might Help: Cancelling a Merchant Account Without Paying a Fee

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