Overview

Dwolla (dwolla.com) is a Des Moines, Iowa-based startup that is on a mission to radically change the electronic payments industry. The company was founded in 2008 on the premise of bypassing credit card Interchange fees (aka: swipe fees) and providing a low-cost payment service to businesses and consumers. Dwolla has created a proprietary payment network similar to that of VISA and MasterCard, and Dwolla’s network does not charge a fee for the transaction like a traditional merchant account does (costs will be covered below). Instead, the company eliminates credit card use altogether by linking consumers’ Dwolla accounts with their checking accounts. The service may sound similar to PayPal, and in some ways it is, but Dwolla is approaching the concept from a very different angle.

Although Dwolla’s payment concept is not exactly a new one, its marketing and business strategy is completely unique. With help from a few banking and financial institution investors, Dwolla has created a payment network that eliminates all of the common fees that merchants incur from accepting card payments. Additionally, the company’s network eliminates the common transfer delays and fraud that plagues similar networks such as the ACH network that most banks utilize. Essentially, Dwolla is a global system for free, instant cash transfers.

Dwolla can be used for payments between individuals, businesses, or both, but the focus of this review will be the consumer-to-merchant acceptance side. Merchants can accept payments the same way individuals can pay each other, or they can use features that are better suited for their needs. These include website integration and plug-ins for shopping carts as well as tools that can be used to accept payments at the merchant’s location. The company has made major headway in the payments market and has reported that it is processing $30 to $50 million in transactions every month. Ben Milne is listed as the CEO of Dwolla.

Dwolla Products and Services

  • Bank transfers
  • Recurring payments
  • API integration
  • Mass payment via CSV upload
  • White label option
  • Custom fees

Industries

  • Retail
  • E-commerce
  • B2B
  • Personal
a

Sales & Marketing

Key Points - Sales & Marketing

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

Dwolla primarily markets itself via its website and uses no deceptive advertising or marketing tactics that are apparent to this reviewer. There are also no complaints regarding the company’s sales tactics to be found on this or other consumer protection websites, indicating that there are no issues with hidden fees or rate increases. Dwolla’s recent reduction of its per-transaction pricing to completely free further reduces the risk of deception. Given Dwolla’s simple pricing plan and clear disclosure of its fees, we have assigned it an “A+” rating in this category.

Dwolla Marketing Example

a

Costs & Contract

Key Points - Costs & Contract

All Transactions: Free
Early Termination Fee None
PCI Compliance Fee None
Equipment Lease Terms None

Dwolla probably has the most attractive pricing of any electronic payment service on the market. Prior to June 2015, Dwolla charged only 25 cents per transaction for any amount over $10, but it appears to have eliminated this fee. The company currently allows users to send and receive money using its network for free. There are no additional fees whatsoever (including no PCI Compliance fees) and no service agreement or cancellation fees.

For merchants who require additional features, Dwolla offers plans that charge a flat monthly fee with no transaction fees. The company’s Plus plan starts at $25 per month, its Premium plan starts at $250 per month, and its Custom plan starts at $1,500 per month. Each plan adds new features like next day transfers, priority support, higher transaction limits, and white label options. Overall, these rates are extremely competitive considering the company’s free processing platform.

a

Complaints & Service

Key Points - Complaints & Service

Total Online Complaints 20+
Live Customer Support No
Most Common Complaint Transfer Time

Dwolla has only about 20 complaints filed in the usual online forums, including Ripoff Report and the comments section of this review; however, the content of these complaints appears to describe isolated incidents and simple merchant misunderstandings surrounding the $3.00 monthly fee for Dwolla Instant (an opt-in service that offers up to $500 in instantly transferrable cash). This $3.00 fee is clearly disclosed on the Dwolla website and will not be considered deceptive for the purposes of this review. Other complaints describe technical issues or inadequate support, but they do not indicate a consistent or severe problem with Dwolla’s service. The company provides email support and help articles published on its website.

a

BBB

Key Points - BBB

Product & Service Complaints 6
Billing & Collection Complaints 1
Advertising & Sales Complaints 1
Guarantee & Warranty Complaints 0
Delivery Complaints 1

Note: We have adjusted this company’s BBB rating according to our own standards. To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.

As of this review, the Better Business Bureau is showing Dwolla as not “BBB Accredited” and is assigning the company an “B+“ rating based on nine complaints filed in the last 36 months. Of the complaints, six are due to problems with service, one is related to billing and collection, and one has to do with an advertising or sales issue. Three complaints were resolved to the customer’s satisfaction, while the remaining six either were resolved to the customer’s dissatisfaction or did not receive a final assessment from the customer. In light of these figures, we have slightly adjusted the BBB’s grade to an “A-.”

Dwolla Logo

Dwolla Bottom Line

Dwolla is making waves in the credit card processing industry. The company offers a free, low-risk payment alternative for merchants. The only drawback to the service is that both the merchant and customer need to have Dwolla accounts. Therefore, the service is best used as a supplement to a traditional credit card processing service. The service is especially useful for business-to-business payments and rent payments.

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. Schedule a Consultation with Phillip

Schedule a Consultation with Phillip

25 Reviews Leave Your Review Below

  1. I’m beyond unhappy with Dwolla, I have been waiting for payment since the first when all my bills are due. It says online that my money is available but I can’t withdraw it because my bank account isn’t verified. Well I have deposits In my bank account from Dwolla in my bank account, but when I emailed them saying I cannot verify my bank account they said my information is wrong, but I looked and it’s accurate. I have been waiting way too long for this money without a sufficient answer from Dwolla. So my review is to never use this service on account of how shitty they’re process is! I’m beyond unhappy and a few of my bills are now late because of them. I already have your “verified numbers” in my account, give me my money!!!!

  2. Warning: Do not sign up for Dwolla. They want me to send all my personal information like bank statements, driver’s license number, etc. Sounds like a scam! Customer service is rude and not helpful.

    1. Yes!!! I WOULD.NEVER RECOMMEND DWOLLA TO ANYONE FOR ANYTHING! I just had this same issue… set up an account. Did a couple Dwolla to Bank transfers… Then they withhold my transfer, later asked me to verify my bank account by sending bank statements, after asking for a copy of state ID day before… and then later why I get money from the sender. I comply then they close my account!!! Customer service was very unhelpful. Said our securities department has to process and approve… got several conflicting emails talked to several customer service people etc… experience was awful and they have delayed payment and my personal information that I provided is not retrievable and probably not protected. This is fraud.

  3. I would NOT recommend this service. I opened an account and immediately had a stranger access my account information by transferring money and emailing me. There is no way to contact the company other than by email. It took weeks just to receive an email that their security team will ‘No longer be able to service my account’. NO response as to what this means so far. Also, no customers want to go through the personal bank account information required to setup an account since this is such a new service.

  4. Let me tell you about this company. I wouldnt DO any business with this company. I had submitted my paperwork for my VAPE business 3 months ago. NEVER got an email, nothing. I go to login and its asking for more paperwortk. Submitted it. Then they asked me to SUBMIT my drivers license, which was BS as it has nothing to do with my business. I could have been an employee working on behalf of the company.

    Anyways, lets get on with it. They told me they needed the paperwork and didnt say anything about my website. Nothing; well they told me after i uploaded PERSONAL information, IRS paperwork, they said we are going to look over account. The said they didnt want to approve me because I sold CBD products. WHAT? Ok then, what about Hemp iced tea? Do you block that? Or hemp backpacks? Hemp clothing or cotton? So I took it down and emailed them to tell them I removed it. I get an email saying my account status has changed. To my confusion and despair I logged in and im suspended??? I email them and they said basically we do not want to do business with you.

  5. We’re forced to use Dwolla to pay for bus tickets on Suburban Express, which my daughter takes to and from college for weekend trips. It’s the only form of payment they’ll accept.

    My experience is that the funds transfer is extremely slow – the one I initiated today, 11/10 is estimated to complete on 11/17. Really? Seems like a pretty poor excuse for a payment processor if it takes them a week to get money out of my bank and into the Dwolla account. If I was a merchant and had to wait that long, I wouldn’t use them at all.

  6. So why do they have 5 stars here with all of these negative reviews? Did they pay off this site?

    Dwolla seems to be pretty much useless. You are better off just having your clients send you paper checks and dealing with sales that way or even getting an account like american express bluebird which is the same thing as Dwolla but faster. Someone can email you a photo of a check and you can deposit that right to your bluebird account and have the funds within 2 days. Dwolla purposely holds your funds for 5 days. even if they get your money from the sending bank the next day. They state this is to make sure they dont get any rejection codes after the transfer. Which isnt possible.

    Dwolla will though all you to do everything in realtime (and not purposely make you wait for no reason) if you want to pay them $250 a month!! this makes them more expensive that ANY payment solution out there. I just seen they have a company who provides a debt card to pull from your dwolla balance immediately. I may decide to try that card and see how long it actually takes to be able to spend funds and post again. But for right now they do not sound like a good company. They claim they wont process credit cards because of the 1-3% transaction fees which are nothing. This is because if you use a debt or cc card the money is transferred instantly and they do not get to hold onto it and make more from their bank accounts balance.

    The only good thing is they accept high risk transactions. But just like Paypal this is because they are new. As soon as they make enough im betting they ban them as Paypal did. Just using them to get going and then turning their backs.. Watch!

    1. not being able to delete reviews isnt cool as some will leave a review before they are able to find the support phone for Dwolla which you can only find on Google it seems. I contacted them again and spoke to someone and i guess if i do get the card or send to my bank, even without paying for faster service it should be next day funding after it has reached the Dwolla balance. If that is true then it will take 5 days total to clear a payment.

      I will actually continue to use Dwolla WITH another merchant account as well. Using Dwolla as the “pay by bank or check” option
      They don’t charge a monthly or gateway fee which actually does make them cheaper. i shouldnt have posted until i found out more,
      but again they do make reaching a live person a bit hard to do from their website so ill share the blame with them :)

      1. OK im back, Dwolla today (5 days later) finally told me the payment to me didnt go through and could not tell me if it was NSF or what reason. They said they CANT tell me. SO DO NOT USE DWOLLA FOR ANY PROCESSING NEEDS! ITS NOT A REAL FUNDING SOURCE OR WAY OF DOING BUSINESS!!

        Now if i wanted to, i could have the client remit payment again and wait 5 more days? For what reason? Sorry this company is horrible and shouldnt be trusted. Paypal tells me the reasons. This means this companies bank account isnt as secure. DONT TRUST THEM!

        Due to the reasons above im now glad the review wasnt removed, they played me, and theyll play you too!

  7. I was asked to use Dwolla to send money in a transaction. I was fortunate to have a good agent because I would have lost the bid due to issues with Dwolla. It took 3 days and as many tries for them to resolve clerical errors that prevented me from funding my account. Then the transaction to fund would be another 3 days. And then ANOTHER 3 days to send funds! I eventually convinced the seller to use a different service and the transaction went off without a hitch. At Dwolla’s speeds, you might as well meet in a coffee shop, wearing a red rose, and hand over an envelope of cash! Better yet, get a money order and snail mail it. It will probably get there sooner!

  8. The problem started when i started to fund my account. After wasting my time with requesting driver license, bank statements and lots of time waiting security team suspended my account.

    I have not done any transactions with the account yet.

    The reason stated is that I tried to fund my account with large fund. I made their job easier and i cancel the transfer of fund since they could not come up with a legally acceptable way for their behavior.

    My impression is : it is kids operation, they are not ready for doing real business unless for kids.

    clumsy,small minded,useless and unreliable.

  9. Dwolla has refused to give my money that was placed in there care by online poker winnings.
    They received 3 winnings from the poker site that I play at. The first 2 disappeared and the 3rd they blatantly refused to send to me. At my request they sent the money back to the poker site ( that claims to be their partner )
    for me to get it from them. They marked the returned money forfeited so that I cannot get my winnings now.

    THEY GET AN F- FOR THEIR BUSINESS PRACTICES.

    They have lied to me and stolen money from my account.

    DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Been trying to open an account 4a week.finally did I think. Troubles with password and pin would not accept finally did.was told to verify e- mail I did was told they were sending verification and to click on link been waiting 4over 6 hours.never received.had cash winnings on lucktastic scratch game it was not much.but will not pay me my winnings.bunch of f-ing scam artists.

  11. Why is Dwolla asking for SS# to collect my online poker winnings? I believe people give out SS# when they won $600.

  12. DO NOT USE DWOLLA TO SEND MONEY!

    Here’s my nightmare story and their refusal to help:

    I made a purchase online and the seller asked to use Dwolla. At first it looked like a reputable website but I’ve come to find out there’s no support behind it. Long story short, the seller has run away with $2000 of my money, and he’s used Dwolla to scam thousands from others as well. After their “investigation”, they concluded that they can’t get in contact with the seller so they can’t do anything about the claim. Meanwhile I have email correspondence from multiple people scammed by this crook. HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF A REPUTABLE SERVICE? YOU ARE HELPING SCAM ARTISTS…..

    1. Hi Payam,

      Can you elaborate on the transaction you made? What did you purchase and how did you communicate with the seller?

  13. I also disagree about the $3 fee complaint, It clearly says their is a a $3 recurring fee and that your credit will be checked that’s why I did not activate it yet.

  14. So far Very Slow to get money. I received a transfer to my Dwolla account on 4/19 and Dwolla said the funds would clear by 4/25. Well im still waiting for the funds. I called and the customer service rep said they needed information from the person that was sending me the money. This person is a friend whom never received a call or email stating they needed additional verification from Dwolla. I asked my friend to call which he did and Dwolla wanted him to fax his drivers license to them? Kinda odd but he did. Now they are saying it will take an additonal 4 days to clear and be in my Dwolla account. They indicated that I will have to just wait. There is not escalation or expedite that can be done. Then it will take another 4 days to transfer to my bank. WOW… This is going to be an over 2 week transaction… Still have flaws IMO.

    1. Paypal does this same thing now. When person to person is sending money the one sending has to verify they sent it before they will release funds, but my experience with paypal is that once it’s verified they release it quickly. I have had bad experiences with a lot of these so called merchants/processors it’s a nightmare dealing with them. They are bullies and do what they please.

  15. I’m thinking there is a security flaw in Dwolla. I have no account with Dwolla, and yet a party named Myron Peppers managed to get Dwolla to link my checking account to Myron and they hacked my account for $650.00. Thankfully, I spotted this activity before the funds transferred through Dwolla, and Dwolla stopped the transaction from going through. My bank also took action to stop the transaction.

    If the service they provide is supposed to be for subscribers to their service only, and I am not a subscriber, how could Myron Peppers do his thing? I’m a bit disturbed with this incident.

    M.Lee

  16. AVOID INSTANT TRANSFER SERVICE (HIDDEN FEES): I’ve been a DWOLLA customer for about a year, regularly making deposits of a substantial amount of money each time. The delay in deposit from my linked bank account got annoying and one day I noticed a message after making a deposit, encouraging me to enable DWOLLA INSTANT feature for instant bank transfers. Unfortunately, this is not exactly true. They actually open a line of credit for you starting at a low $100 limit. Also, they fail to ever mention a $3.00 recurring monthly fee associated with this feature (they hide any mention of this fee deep in the terms of service – never once explicitly informing the user of any fees). Once you enable DWOLLA INSTANT then you can’t disable it again without paying the fee. I contacted their customer support literally 5 minutes after I enabled the feature to basically be told “deal with it and pay the fee.” I’m sorry but I expect more from a financial institution who I regularly have done business with over the past year. If they’re so deadset on getting my $3.00 with deceitful tactics which are NOT STANDARD in their industry (usually businesses are upfront about any fees, especially recurring) then they can have it but they will not keep my business. My advice is find a financial instution who actually has a personable customer service abd appreciates customer loyalty. I feel like I’ve been scammed and can’t help wonder how many other customers they’ve pulled this over on to get $3.00? A few hundred thousand?

    1. I feel the above negative comment regarding Dwolla’s Instant funding service is disingenuous, or perhaps simply poorly informed.

      Dwolla discloses the reocurring $3 fee for Instant very plainly on http://blog.dwolla.com/its-instant/ – that’s just one click and a screen’s worth of reading off their main page.

    2. The monthly fee is listed on their fee page, which can be clicked at the bottom of the page. Seems transparent. Could be a bargain, or not, depending on how you use the service. Similar level of service from other financial institutions may appear to be free, but aren’t, as they do cover their costs (and protect profits) making funds promptly available for clients in other ways than charging up front.

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