National Merchant Center Review

National Merchant Center Overview

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Several Linked Businesses

National Merchant Center is a merchant account provider headquartered in Irvine, California. National Merchant Center was formerly operated by the CEO of the now defunct Lucrazon, Alex Pitt, and there is evidence that the company has also done business under the name Global Processing. According to multiple merchant complaints, National Merchant Center has had multiple DBAs including the Latino Coalition, National Payment Provider, and PayPro. However, these entities are more accurately described as affiliated businesses than DBAs. The Latino Coalition selected National Merchant Center as its preferred payment processing partner in 2007, and one complaint states that the head of the Latino Coalition served on the board of National Merchant Center. Like National Merchant Center, National Payment Provider was founded by Alex Pitt, and at least one merchant complaint states that “employees of National Payment Provider made calls on behalf of the Latino Coalition.” PayPro is another name mentioned in complaints as an affiliated business of National Merchant Center, and the PayPro homepage previously redirected visitors to the homepage for Lucrazon—another Alex Pitt venture.

Ponzi Scheme Allegations

In February 2016, the designated receiver for the victim class in a North Carolina-based Ponzi scheme called “Zeek Rewards” alleged that “Payment World”  another company owned by National Merchant Center’s CEO Roman Balanko, facilitated the transfer of more than $13.1 million earned in the Ponzi scheme to a bank in Moldova through a partnership with Payza. The receiver further alleged that it is “an open question” whether those funds are still in the account or have been transferred elsewhere. The receiver’s efforts to investigate the whereabouts of these funds is currently unresolved. Although National Merchant Center is not directly implicated in any of the designated receiver’s claims, the allegations are worth noting for a few reasons. First, the claim that the CEO of National Merchant Center may have funneled profits from a criminal Ponzi scheme into an international account raises ethical questions about National Merchant Center’s executive team. Second, Lucrazon, a company that shares a founding member with National Merchant Center, is the subject of numerous merchant complaints that accuse it of being a Ponzi scheme. Third, Payza is currently the subject of a federal investigation, and its alleged partnership with Payment World could mean that Payment World is also a subject of this criminal probe. Currently, many of the facts in this case remain unverified, but merchants should be aware of the allegations that have been made.

National Merchant Center Location and Ownership

National Merchant is a registered ISO/MSP of Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Concord, California, and gives its current headquarters as 2955 E Main St, Suite 100 Irvine, California 92614. Roman Balanko is listed as the CEO of National Merchant Center.

National Merchant Center Review Table of Contents

  • Costs & Contract: National Merchant Center offers a three-year contract through First Data with a Liquidated Damages-style early termination fee.
  • Complaints & Service: National Merchant Center has received approximately 20 public complaints.
  • BBB Rating: National Merchant Center has an “A+” rating and has received 1 complaint and 1 review in the past 3 years. The company has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 2019.
  • Sales & Marketing: National Merchant Center appears to hire independent sales representatives and has received some serious complaints about its sales practices.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With National Merchant Center
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Products & Services Offered

Types of Businesses Served

  • Retail
  • E-commerce
  • MOTO

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National Merchant Center Rates, Fees, and Costs

Key Points

Swiped Rate 2.69% + $0.19
Keyed-in Rate 3.69% + $0.19
Virtual Terminal Rate 1.00% - 4.99%
Payment Gateway Fee Undisclosed
Early Termination Fee $375+
Monthly Minimum Fee $20
Regulatory Fee $495 Per Month
PCI Compliance Fee $19.95 Per Month
Equipment Lease Terms 60 Month (locked)

National Merchant Center Pricing

According to the National Merchant Center Application and the National Merchant Center First Data Program Guide., the standard National Merchant Center contract consists of a three-year agreement through First Data with automatic renewal for a one-year term. First Data’s rates are 2.69% plus $0.19 or 3.69% plus $0.19 for swiped and keyed-in transactions, respectively. The contract also includes a Liquidated Damages early termination fee, a monthly minimum fee of $20, a service fee of $10, an annual fee of $75, a chargeback fee of $30 per incident (with an additional $50 chargeback research fee added in some cases), a PCI Compliance fee of $19.95 per month, a monthly regulatory fee of $4.95, and a tiered pricing structure. The company also provides equipment leases for up to 60 months through First Data Global Leasing.

Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing

In addition to its storefront payment processing services, National Merchant Center 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.

Costly Termination Fees

The company scores poorly in this section largely due to its early termination fee. In the event that a merchant cancels service with National Merchant Center before the initial three years are over, that merchant will owe the greater of a.) the average net monthly fees charged for the previous 12 months multiplied by the number of remaining months in the contract, or b.) $375. This termination fee has the potential to be very expensive for merchants, and we do not advise business owners to sign a contract that includes these terms. Merchants should instead opt for a low-cost merchant account provider to get the best rates available.

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Response from National Merchant Center

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National Merchant Center Complaints & Customer Reviews

Key Points

Total Online Complaints 20+
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint Sales Tactics

Low-to-Moderate Complaint Volume

We have found approximately 20 negative National Merchant Center reviews, many of which accuse the company of being a ripoff or a scam operation. There are also numerous additional complaints filed against the credit card processor’s alleged DBAs. The majority of complainants cite deceptive or aggressive sales tactics, although other listed issues include poor customer service, excessive billing, and undisclosed fees. National Merchant Center has responded to many of these complaints and acquiesced to merchant demands in most cases.

National Merchant Center Lawsuits

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

National Merchant Center Customer Support

Although the company has a low-to-moderate complaint rate for a processor of its size, it is the content rather than the quantity of complaints that has lowered its rating to a “D” in this section. National Merchant Center’s website lists general phone and email contact information, but it appears that these channels are lacking when compared to top payment processors for great customer service.

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Response from National Merchant Center

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National Merchant Center BBB Rating Summary

Key Points - BBB

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

Under 5 Complaints

National Merchant Center currently has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has been accredited since March 2019. The company has only had 1 complaint filed against it in the past 36 months,  which related to an issue with a product or service. The lone complaint was resolved successfully.

What Merchants Say

In addition to the complaint filed against the company with the BBB, National Merchant Center has also received 1 negative review. The most recent review cites fraudulent sales practices:

We received phone calls from a number of masked numbers claiming to be our current credit card processor wanting to reduce our rates, claiming that we were being overcharged. We proceeded with the necessary application until we noticed that the name of the processor in the agreement was not our current processor or any of their affiliates but was National Merchant Center. We have the documentation and verification to prove it. I was not impressed with the behavior of the company. When I told them it would take us a few days, and that we would have an attorney review the document, he nearly insisted that he review it with us, until I had insisted that we have it reviewed. They have called us under various numbers from around California, and even hid their number from us when making a particularly precarious follow up call.

Merchants should be weary of deceptive sales practices that can compromise the confidentiality of their financial data. This particular practice is referred to as “slamming” and can be avoided by learning how to shut down incessant sales calls.

An “A” Performance

In light of the company’s low complaint total, we agree with the BBB’s rating at this time.

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Response from National Merchant Center

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Truth In Marketing & Advertising

Key Points

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

Telemarketing and Outside Sales

According to merchant complaints, National Merchant Center appears to primarily market itself through telemarketing and independent sales agents. There are numerous complaints from merchants and former employees that mention unethical conduct by National Merchant Center sales reps.

“Slamming” Allegations

One National Merchant Center complaint (available here) includes documents faxed to merchants by a company called “Global Processing.” These documents inform the merchant that “by removing the broker from your current account any type of monthly commissions being generated and 3rd party hidden fees you were getting charged would get removed and that money would go back to your business instead,” and they’re signed by a Brett Winegardner with the Rate Review Department at Global Processing. This Intelius page lists a Brett Winegardner as an employee of the Rate Review Department at National Merchant Center, and Global Processing is cited as a DBA of National Merchant Center in numerous other merchant complaints. Based on this evidence, it seems likely that the documents included in the complaint were in fact sent from someone at National Merchant Center.

Deceitful Sales Practices

The documents in question (available here) state in vague terms that the merchant can receive better pricing by removing “the broker” from his or her processing agreement. The merchant is supposed to do this by completing and returning the attached “Rate Reduction Form” (available here), which lists the new fees that the merchant will experience once the broker is removed from the picture. The complainant who supplied these documents stated on Ripoff Report that the forms were accompanied by calls and emails trying to get the complainant to switch his or her current payment processor to Global Processing. The complainant also felt that these documents and the other forms of communication received from National Merchant Center were intentionally constructed to convince the complainant that Global Processing was the complainant’s current processor, and that completing the form was necessary for the complainant to continue processing payments.

Serious Red Flags

We agree with the complainant’s assessment, as the language of these documents does not seem to clearly outline that the submission of these forms will sign the merchant up for a new processor. If the merchant’s complaint is to be believed, it appears that National Merchant Center is engaging in a practice called “slamming,” which is generally considered to be an unethical business practice within the industry.

Previously Listed Rate Quotes

At the time of a previous update, National Merchant Center’s “Apply Online” page included a fee schedule that quoted a swiped rate of “1.7500%” and a keyed-in rate of “1.0000%.” A disclaimer at the bottom of the page explained that these rates are just the company’s “Qualified” rates, but its “Mid-Qualified” and “Non-Qualified” rates were not mentioned on the page at all. We consider this type of rate quoting to be deceptive because it may give merchants an unrealistic expectation of the rates they will pay. Overall, the available information about NMC’s marketing tactics has compelled us to assign the company an “F” rating at this time. If you suspect that the company 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 National Merchant Center

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National Merchant Center Logo

Our Opinion of National Merchant Center

A Poor Choice For Merchants

National Merchant Center rates as a substandard merchant services provider according to our rating system. The company has received multiple complaints that detail deceptive sales practices, and its numerous DBAs help to spread complaints across multiple business names. Its contract terms are not especially competitive, and we have seen no evidence to indicate that the company has recently improved its policies. The company’s rating may be subject to change depending on how its BBB profile changes over time, but for now, merchants are encouraged to sign up with a highly rated provider to get the best deal and service.

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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.

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2 Reviews Leave Your Review for National Merchant Center Below

  1. ROBERT REID says:

    a high powered salesman showed me how my current agent had not applied discounts that were mandated by law and showed me better rates on transactions implying that i would save money. i followed for six months and processing fees increased considerately. i returned their machine and switched agents. i now have a threatening demand for 2800. $. there were even extra fees that i never contracted

  2. Rick Johnson says:

    I had a merchant account with National Merchant Center for 2 years with a perfect processing record and no complaints from them at all. Until last week when their representative called our customer support line (instead of calling me directly) and started giving confidential information to customer support who isn’t authorized to have that info. NMC wanted to change our platform, which also requires updating our gateway. But the NMC representative insisted that no changes were needed at the gateway, which is absolutely false and proves how poor training their support staff has.

    Apparently NMC is no longer getting along with Wells Fargo because they are switching banks. Due to this switch they shut off my merchant account on Friday afternoon without telling me. It wasn’t until Monday morning that I got a response telling me that my account had been shutoff and would not be reinstated. If there was a problem with the account they could have simply called me and told me that, or emailed me. But instead they shut it off with no warning.

    I’ve been with them for 2 years, with a great processing record and never had a merchant account shutoff before so this was really surprising to me! Fortunately I have other merchant accounts to handle the transactions and I’ll never use NMC again after the way they treated me.

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