Host Merchant Services 2023: Reviews & Complaints

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Host Merchant Services
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Host Merchant Services

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Company Overview

Host Merchant Services is a Newark, Delaware-based merchant account provider that serves a variety of business types. Company founder and CEO Lou Honick got his start in the web hosting industry by launching, owning, and operating from 1997 until its acquisition by a private equity firm in 2008. One year later, he founded Host Merchant Services, which has become one of the top-rated merchant services providers on CPO.

Article Summary

Before we dive in, here’s a short summary of what we’ll cover:

  • Host Merchant Services’ various payment processing services.
  • The company has received very few complaints.
  • Host Merchant Services offers interchange-plus pricing, which is the best option in the industry.

Host Merchant Services Payment Processing

Host Merchant Services processes all major debit and credit cards for most business types. Their services include EMV card readers and swipers, POS solutions (from Clover, Vital POS, and SwipeSimple), mobile solutions, access to payment gateways and virtual terminals, other e-commerce solutions, cash discounts, EBT processing, gift and loyalty programs, and cash advances.

Location & Ownership

Host Merchant Services is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Walnut Creek, California. Host Merchant Services is headquartered at 250 Corporate Blvd., Suite L, Newark, Delaware 19702, and they list a second office at 10661 Airport-Pulling Road North, Suite 13, Naples, FL 34109. Lou Honick is the CEO and founder.

Video Summary

YouTube video

Host Merchant Services Pros and Cons


  • Few Complaints
  • Very Competitive Contract


  • None

Table of Contents

Host Merchant Services Customer Complaints & Reviews

Here's What Users Think

Complaint Summary

Total Online Complaints
Live Customer Support
Most Common Complaint
Recent Lawsuits

Low Complaint Total

We are currently unable to locate any Host Merchant Services reviews that accuse the company of being a scam or a ripoff, which indicates that the company’s in-house customer support team does an excellent job of resolving issues before they are taken onto public forums. The company is showing only a handful of complaints on this and other websites, with most related to being denied a merchant account or malfunctioning hardware. A recent complaint in the comment section below this review cites misrepresentation of rates and an unexpected equipment lease, but it is the only complaint of its kind. All other Host Merchant Services reviews we have located have been positive testimonials.

Host Merchant Services Lawsuits

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

Host Merchant Services Customer Support Options

Host offers 24/7/365 customer support to all clients.

Host Merchant Services Customer Service Number

  • (877) 517-4678 – Toll-Free General Customer Service

Other Support Options

In general, Host Merchant Services appears to offer reliable customer support to complement its competitive contract terms. We therefore assign it an “A” in this section.

Host Merchant Services Reviews Online

Our Better Business Bureau Profile Assessment

BBB Summary

BBB Reports

Low Complaint Total

Host Merchant Services has been an accredited business of the Better Business Bureau since 2011 and currently holds an “A” rating. The company’s BBB profile shows 3 complaints in the past 36 months. 1 complaint was resolved to the satisfaction of the merchant. The other 2 complaints were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the client or received no final communication.

An “A” Performance Overall

Considering the low complaint total and resolution rate, we agree with the BBB’s rating at this time.

Host Merchant Services Fees and Rates

A Closer Look at the Contract

Cost Summary

Cancellation Penalties
Monthly & Annual Fees
Processing Rates
Interchange + (Variable)
Equipment Leasing

Month-to-Month Contract, No Termination Fee

Host Merchant Services offers interchange-plus pricing with no term length or early cancellation fee. The section of the company’s contract that describes the termination process includes a portion that has been struck through; this portion describes an early termination fee ranging from $250 to $500. Business owners are advised to ensure that this portion does not appear in any contract they sign. We also have seen one complaint that seems to describe a termination fee associated with a long-term equipment lease. Although Host does not advertise equipment leases on its website, clients should ensure that such a deal is not embedded in or attached to their Host contract.

Retail, Restaurant, and E-Commerce Pricing

Host Merchant Services offers three per-transaction rates depending on business type. Retail businesses will receive a rate of interchange plus 0.25% plus $0.10, restaurants will receive a rate of interchange plus 0.20% plus $0.09, and e-commerce businesses will receive a rate of interchange plus 0.35% plus $0.10. Host also offers high-risk merchant accounts that will feature variable pricing depending on each business’s type and processing history. We encourage readers to compare these rates to our list of the providers of the best merchant accounts.

Other Fees

Host Merchant Services offers transparent insight into its additional fees through its website. Among those fees are a batch fee of $0.20, an optional gateway fee of $5.00 per month, a monthly fee of $14.99, and an annual fee of $24.00 which covers the cost of 1099 reporting.

Few Contract Complaints

The company is showing only one online complaint about its contract terms, which indicates that most of its clients are satisfied with their agreements. Overall, Host’s terms appear to be exceptionally transparent and highly competitive, and we therefore award Host Merchant Services an “A” in this category.

Host Merchant Services e-commerce solutions

Host Merchant Services offers e-commerce solutions including shopping carts, payment gateways, and virtual terminals

Host Merchant Services Jobs and Employment

Hiring Standards and Ethical Marketing Assessment

Key Points

Uses Independent Resellers
Misleading Marketing
Discloses All Important Terms

No Sales Complaints

Host Merchant Services appears to employ both W2-employed sales agents and independently contracted outside salespeople. We have located only one negative Host Merchant Services review that mentions the company’s sales team. This complaint describes higher-than-expected fees and improper disclosure of the company’s termination policy. The absence of any other such complaints indicates that Host’s sales reps are generally forthright and helpful when signing businesses up for services. This compares favorably to our list of the best credit card processors.

Transparent Pricing

Host Merchant Services actively promotes interchange-plus pricing on its website and includes a description of this pricing structure for businesses that may not be familiar with it. Host offers interchange-plus pricing with its mobile merchant accounts and e-commerce merchant accounts in addition to its conventional retail merchant accounts. The company also does not appear to engage in any deceptive advertising strategies in its official materials.

Host Merchant Services Review Summary

Our Final Thoughts and Opinions

Host Merchant Services rates as an exemplary credit card processing provider according to our standards. The company is showing generally positive reviews across all consumer protection websites and offers interchange-plus as its preferred pricing model. Even when dealing with highly rated companies, readers are encouraged to read their contracts carefully.

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Customer & Employee Reviews

What Others Are Saying About Host Merchant Services

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20 Responses


    We have been using SquareUp for several years, with no complaints. They recently increased their rates to be more competitive. We “shopped” around to ensure we would still be getting a great deal, and found this site very helpful to confirm that! Their site is easy to use, offers reports and easy to upload, etc. They’re changing rates to 2.65% swiped plus 10cents per trans.

  • imad

    I do not recommend this company to anybody. They have very bad customer service. It is the worst company I have ever dealt with.

    From The Editor
    This Post Might Help: Best Merchant Accounts for Great Customer Service

  • Anne Hoang

    Stay away from this company! They tricked us into thinking they were cheaper than our previous company but ended up being the same or more expensive. And the representative told us that the equipment was given to us free for use as long as we used them. But could be returned in the future if we decided we no longer wanted to use them. Turns out that was a lie. Cancelling with them might be at no charge if they cant beat another competitor company’s fees, but you have to pay $3600 for equipment! Look over everything before signing! What they say to you does seem too good to be true, so don’t fall for it.

  • Clyde Washburn

    We have have switched our Church to this Merchant Provider and have found their fees, service and courtesy to be exemplary at every level.
    Trustee & IT Manager, P.O.M.O G. Orthodox Church

  • clint

    I see nothing about whether they offer virtual terminal or not. Also I don’t see anything about ‘card not present’ fees.

  • Mike S

    I have worked with HMS for a few years now and they have been not only responsive, but they connect with clients on a personal level. Rates are better than any other option we can offer our clients and the application process is painless and fast! Thanks HMS!

  • Michael Cardascia

    I have been using Host Merchant Services at my restaurant for 2 years. The customer support is outstanding and I would highly recommend them to any business.

  • Chris Bath

    I have used host for a few years now and I have to say it is far superior to my previous hosting company. Low rates on processing and the customer service has been outstanding.

    • CPO

      Hi Chris,

      Please reply to this comment with your business name and location in order to authenticate your testimonial. Thanks!

  • Allison Jones

    Host Merchant Services has handled my restaurant’s payment processing for a few years now. I switched over because they were able to lower the rates and fees I was paying to save me quite a bit each month. After processing with them, I realized that other company’s customer service and support cannot compare to theirs. When I need help with something, I give them a call and have a real person on the phone in about 10 seconds. They are a great company to work with, and I’d recommend them to any business owner.

    • CPO

      Hi Allison,

      Please reply to this comment with your business name and location in order to authenticate your testimonial. Thanks!

  • Ana R

    I am trying to get in touch with them and no results . I sent an email and call leaving a message because i am interested to work with them but i do not have response.

  • michael

    Waste of time. Their response to our application was, Unfortunately I could not get this pre approved. Your score does not qualify for further consideration”
    What is that based on? We are over a million dollar business and do not qualify. I question the ratings here.

  • Carina Cooper

    Hugo helped me over the phone today.I found him very personable,and professional.He took care of the professional request that I needed in a timely manor.It is refreshing to talk to a pleasant representative who seemed happy to help.Thank you Hugo!

    • CPO

      Hi Carina,

      Please reply to this comment with your business name and location in order to authenticate your testimonial. Thanks!

  • Terry Gruchacz

    I started applying for a merchant account with Host Merchant Services on July 30, 2015. After a reminder on August 11th that I was still interested, the account manager finally sent me an application. I completed it and e-mailed on August 14th. The account manager then asked for more info on the 14th. I collected it and e-mailed it on the 19th. Today, August 28th, I had to remind the account manager I was waiting for a reply or anything saying he had received my e-mail. He got back to me and wrote Host Merchant Services could not take my account because my credit card volume was too low.
    The reason I am putting in a complaint is they dragged out the whole procedure when they could have told me on the 14th, when I e-mailed the original application, my volume was too low.

  • shirley

    my credit card machine will not says ‘reversal not cleared’ I know there is a way to fix this but I can’t find it…please help me

  • Joel Thomas

    Great merchants account providers are hard to come by. Finding one that can not only suit your needs but also provide top class support is another.

    We’re proud to have partnered with Host Merchant Services. This is a company that places great emphasis on customer service and are always there to help. We recommend HMS to the people we care about the most because there’s no question they’ll deliver!

  • William Brown

    Host Merchant Services are in my opinion the way to accept credit/debit cards if you want the “personal touch” Our business has been associated with many different credit card processors in our 20+ years in business, and HMS has been the only one with a local representative that is consistently available when you need her. They also provide quicker deposits of transactions with lower fees. We unequivocally recommend Host Merchant Services.

  • Ryan German

    Host Merchant Services has first rate unparalled customer service. Local office and direct cell phone numbers for tech support in addition to the standard 24-hr toll free. I especially like their web based processing solution to process cards not present for our phone orders and catering jobs. Rates are very competive (we have saved money processing with Host Merchant) and Host Merchant has also supplied us with wireless terninals we use to process cards at fairs, festivals, offsite and special events. Little extras (like free thermal paper) are a nice bonus.


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About CPO

We are committed to ensuring the accountability of credit card processors by bringing transparency to their business practices. Our primary objective is to safeguard North American businesses from unscrupulous processors that impose substantial rate markups, unjustifiable fees, and exploitative contracts that result in annual losses of billions of dollars for small business owners.

We have been in operation since 2009, diligently conducting comprehensive research, publishing extensive reviews, and monitoring more than 1,000 payment processors. Our expertise in the merchant services industry has garnered recognition from esteemed publications such as the Los Angeles Times, INC Magazine, The Atlantic, and the Miami Herald, among others.

How We Score Processors

Please note that our rating system was overhauled on April 26th, 2023. Reviews dated before this date may not score in accordance with the following.

Star Rating Criteria:

At the start of our research, all processors are awarded five stars. We deduct stars if the processor engages in any of the following business practices:

– One star deduction if the processor has any junk fees.

– One star deduction if the processor does not post its pricing clearly on its website.

– One Star deduction if the processor is suffering from moderate client complaints.

– Multiple Star deductions if a processor is suffering from severe complaints, imposes unjust cancellation fees, markets non-cancellable equipment leases, engages in predatory rate pricing, or may be engaged in illegal activities.

Get all of the details regarding out rating criteria here.

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