Clearwater Payments Review

Overview

Founded in 2015, Clearwater Payments (clearwaterpayments.com) is a payment services provider that is owned and operated by former executives of Crescent Processing Company, Park Central Company, Future Payment Technologies, and Talus Payments. In fact, “Clearwater Payments” is a registered trademark of Future Payment Technologies, which could mean that the company is technically structured as a DBA of Future Payment Technologies. There is also a possibility that Clearwater Payments is associated with Merchant Processing Company, a revived version of the Crescent Processing Company website.

The executive management team of Clearwater Payments includes David Kesler (owner), Jon Frankel (owner), Chad Smith (CEO), Bob Stevens (COO), and Sunnye Goldston (VP of product), all of whom held the same positions at Future Payment Technologies and Talus Payments prior to December 2016. The owners also were executives at Crescent Processing Company and Park Central Company prior to operating Future Payment Technologies. Talus was purchased by a private equity firm prior to 2017, and Talus is now operated by a different ownership group separately from Clearwater Payments. This history has been included in Clearwater Payments’s review because the aforementioned businesses are some of the lowest-rated processors on CPO.

Following this review’s initial publication, a Clearwater Payments representative contacted us to state that Clearwater Payments is not a merchant services company and does not engage in that industry in any way. Rather, the representative stated that Clearwater Payments is focused on providing third-party bill payment services to the utility, insurance, and consumer finance markets. Although billing software may be the company’s primary focus, the Clearwater Payments website currently features the following language:

  • “Support for all Payments – Accept credit cards, debit cards, and echeck payments made over the phone, through our online interface, via mobile devices/smartphones, or by way of a live agent.”
  • “Instant Payments and eReceipts – Your customers can make their payments in real-time and instantly receive payment/confirmation receipts via email or text messaging.”
  • “Simplified Reconciliation – All prior days’ payments are delivered in ONE daily settlement report – no more reconciling from multiple sources.”
  • “our convenient online portal gives your customers a choice of making one-time, scheduled or recurring payments”
  • “Multiple Payment Options – Your customers can pay their bills via credit card, debit card or ACH/echeck.”
  • “With Clearwater POS, accepting walk-in payments is both simple and convenient. Our robust terminal is secure, easy to use and packed with numerous features to help support the needs of your business.”
  • Flexible Pricing – Convenience fee, flat rate, cost-plus, or hybrid model

These are payment processing services, and a merchant account will be required to accept credit cards through these services. Whether Clearwater Payments provides that merchant account, refers merchants to a Clearwater Payments partner, or requires merchants to obtain their own merchant account separately is not explained on the Clearwater Payments website. Given the fact that Clearwater Payments offers billing tools and its executive leadership team has an extensive background in merchant services, we feel it is in the interest of merchants to review this company on CPO.

Clearwater Payments does not list its acquiring bank or its address on its website, but some sources state that the company is located at 12377 Merit Dr #1530, Dallas, Texas 75251.

Key Points

  • Sales & Marketing: Clearwater Payments does not appear to hire independent resellers and has not received any complaints related to its sales practices.
  • Costs & Contract: Clearwater Payments appears to offer variable contract terms that will depend on each merchant’s business type and processing history.
  • Complaints & Service: Clearwater Payments has received fewer than 10 public complaints.
  • BBB Rating: Clearwater Payments does not have a profile with the Better Business Bureau at this time.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Clearwater Payments

Clearwater Payments Products and Services

  • Debit and credit card processing
  • Online invoicing
  • Accounting tools
  • Sales reporting
  • Fraud detection tools

Industries

  • Retail
  • Mobile
  • E-commerce

Response from Clearwater Payments

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Sales & Marketing

Key Points - Sales & Marketing

Uses Independent Resellers No
Promotes Deceptive Rate Quotes No
Discloses All Important Terms No

Clearwater Payments appears to market its products via online advertising and referrals, and there is no evidence at this time that the company utilizes independent sales agents or telemarketing. This marks a dramatic divergence from the sales practices at Future Payment Technologies and Talus Payments, which accumulated dozens of complaints about aggressive telemarketing commission-only sales agents. It may be possible that Clearwater also engages in these tactics and simply has yet to attract complaints under its new brand, but we have found no evidence that the company is actively recruiting outside sales agents at this time.

The Clearwater Payments website does not list any misleading rates or guarantees, and we have not found any online advertisements from Clearwater that use “teaser” rates. We will therefore assign the company an “A” rating for now with a strong advisory that this company’s executive team has previously operated “D” and “F” rated providers in this category.

Response from Clearwater Payments

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Costs & Contract

Key Points - Costs & Contract

Swiped Rate Variable
Keyed-in Rate Variable
Termination Fee Variable
PCI Compliance Fee Variable
Equipment Lease Variable

We are unable to locate any information about the standard Clearwater Payments contract at this time. The company does not provide its pricing or documentation on its website, and there are no Clearwater Payments complaints that describe specific aspects of its contract. Given the company’s history, it is likely that Clearwater Payments offers an automatically renewing contract of up to four years with a $495 early termination fee and accompanying four-year, non-cancellable equipment lease. However, it’s entirely possible that Clearwater has overhauled its former pricing approach for something more merchant friendly.

As with the previous section of this review, we will assign Clearwater Payments an “A” rating based on the absence of any merchant complaints. However, it comes with a caveat that Clearwater’s executive team has previously scored very poorly in this category. If you have any specific knowledge of the standard Clearwater Payments contract (including any PCI compliance fees or monthly minimum fees), please share it in the comment section below this review.

Response from Clearwater Payments

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Complaints & Service

Key Points - Complaints & Service

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

We are currently unable to locate any negative Clearwater Payments reviews, and there is no evidence that the company is a scam or a ripoff at this time. This may be largely due to the fact that the Clearwater Payments brand is relatively new, but it could also mean that the company’s executive team have adjusted their procedures since their time at Talus. Clearwater Payments advertises that each merchant gets a dedicated account manager, but it does not list any dedicated support contact information on its website. We have assigned Clearwater an “A” due to its clean complaint record, but the management team’s track record suggests that negative reviews will eventually be posted about this company.

Response from Clearwater Payments

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BBB

The Better Business Bureau does not maintain a profile for Clearwater Payments at this time. We therefore will not factor a BBB rating into this review.

Response from Clearwater Payments

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Clearwater Payments Logo

Clearwater Payments Bottom Line

Clearwater Payments rates as a reliable merchant account provider at this time due to a total absence of merchant feedback about the company. The history of its management team suggests that Clearwater is destined to see its rating drop, but we have assigned it an “A” for now to allow for the possibility that the company is a clean break from its predecessors. We encourage merchants to describe their own experiences with Clearwater Payments below so that we can accordingly adjust or maintain this company’s rating.

Phillip Parker is a former merchant services sales agent who believes the industry has been overrun by people who engage in fraud and deception in order to steal from hard working business owners. He created this website to help you avoid the bad players, save money on fees, and to get peace of mind with your merchant account. If you would like to help support his work, learn more about our cost reduction service. We can evaluate your statement, tell you exactly how much you're overpaying, and then help you dramatically reduce your fees with your current credit card processor. Looking to switch instead? See our list of the best merchant account providers.

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