National Merchants Association Overview
Offering Merchant Services Since 2004
Established in 2004, National Merchants Association (nationalmerchants.org) is a merchant account provider based in Temecula, California. The company often markets itself as a “merchant advocacy group,” which may give some merchants the impression that it is a non-profit organization or a third-party entity. However, it is a for-profit credit card processor. There is some evidence that the company is an ISO of Global Payments and First Data.
Headquarters and Ownership
National Merchants Association is headquartered at 43620 Ridge Park Dr Ste 310, Temecula, California 92590-5520 and is a registered ISO/MSP of Synovus Bank, Columbus, Georgia; Commercial Bank of California, Los Angeles, California; and Citizens Bank, N.A. Heather Altepeter is listed as the CEO of National Merchants Association.
National Merchants Association Review Table of Contents
- Costs & Contract: National Merchants Association appears to offer variable contract terms that may include a multi-year commitment with an early termination fee of $395 or more.
- Complaints & Service: National Merchants Association has received more than 10 public complaints.
- BBB Rating: National Merchants Association has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received three complaints in the past three years.
- Sales & Marketing: National Merchants Association hires independent sales representatives and has received some complaints about its sales practices.
- Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With National Merchants Association
National Merchants Association Statement Analyzer
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Types of Businesses Served
- High risk
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National Merchants Association Rates, Fees, and Costs
|Swiped Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Keyed-in Rate||1.00% - 4.99%|
|Monthly Minimum Fee||$25|
|Monthly Membership Fee||$19.95 / $34.95 / $69.95|
|Early Termination Fee||$395+|
|Website Monitoring Fee||$150/mo|
|High Risk App Fee||$79/mo|
|Risk Management Fee||$25/mo|
|Site Survey Fee||$100|
National Merchants Association Pricing
The standard National Merchants Association membership agreement (available below) describes a one-year contract with renewal for one-year terms, an early termination fee of $99, and a monthly minimum fee of $25. Additionally, the company’s website advertises a “flat rate” pricing plan of 2.65% per transaction that does not appear to be the same as the pricing plan outlined in the agreement below. National Merchants Association collects a monthly membership fee from all merchants, and this membership fee can be either $19.95, $34.95, or $69.95 depending on the services a merchant wishes to add.
According to complaints filed on other consumer protection websites, some merchants report that the National Merchants Association contract is a 36-month agreement with an early termination fee of $395 or more. A current complaint with the BBB states that the company has a liquidated damages fee that can be calculated as follows: “the greater of Two Hundred Fifty Dollars ($250) or ******* average monthly volume derived from processing Merchant’s transactions (based on an average of the highest three (3) months of processing volume during the previous or current term of the Agreement, whichever is greater, multiplied by .003, multiplied by the number of full and partial months remaining in the term of the Agreement.”
Variety of Contract Complaints
Another complainant mentions that they were led to believe that they were in a one-year agreement outlined in the company’s contract only to find out upon cancellation that their term was for three years. Still another complaint in the comment section below describes an annual fee of $99, a website monitoring fee of $150 per URL per month, a Fraudcast fee of $19.95 per month, a termination fee of $395, a membership fee of $19.95 per month, an application fee of $250, a high risk app processing fee of $79 per month, a risk management fee of $25 per month, and a site survey fee of $100.
Conflicting Contract Terms
Generally speaking, there appears to be some inconsistency with how the company charges its merchants. This may be due to its use of several different pricing plans or its partnerships with multiple acquiring banks. National Merchants Association also provides high risk merchant accounts, which typically receive higher-than-average rates and more stringent chargeback policies.
Potentially Expensive Terms
On the whole, National Merchants Association’s contract terms aren’t competitive with the cheapest merchant accounts. In light of the conflicting accounts regarding the company’s contract terms, we are assigning it a “D” rating for the time being. See the National Merchants Association Merchant Agreement.Are you happy with your National Merchants Association fees? Tell us about them before your go!
National Merchants Association Complaints & Customer Reviews
|Total Online Complaints||10+|
|Live Customer Support||Yes|
|Most Common Complaint||Hidden Fees|
Moderate Complaint Total
For its size and time in business, National Merchants Association is showing fewer complaints than expected, but a couple of these describe the company as a scam or a ripoff. Commonly cited issues include nondisclosure of the three-year service length or $395 early termination fee, other hidden fees, difficulty cancelling service, unavailable or unhelpful customer service representatives, and disputes over which documents the merchant had actually signed.
Some of these complaints have received rebuttals from company representatives. These rebuttals sometimes carry a tone that borders on unprofessional. Additionally, we were able to find one rebuttal that provides false information in the company’s defense. This rebuttal claims that “Card Brands require a 36 month contract for all merchant services accounts” and that there is “no such thing as a ONE year contract in merchant services.” This is untrue, and it’s not the sort of claim we’d expect to see from a “merchant advocate.” The same rebuttal claims that the company representatives “cannot and do not have the authority to waive an early termination fee.” However, in a rebuttal posted beneath a separate complaint, the company claimed to have waived the ETF for the merchant. While this misinformed rebuttal appears to be an isolated incident, it seems possible that the few complaints about the company’s customer support are a product of responses like this one.
National Merchants Association Lawsuits
We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against National Merchants Association. Dissatisfied merchants who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.
Customer Support Options
The National Merchants Association website lists a dedicated support email address and a general phone line, but it appears to offer additional support via a merchant login section. National Merchants Association does not qualify as a top-rated processor for customer service at this time.
National Merchants Association BBB Rating Summary
Key Points - BBB
|Product & Service Complaints||2|
|Billing & Collection Complaints||0|
|Advertising & Sales Complaints||1|
|Guarantee & Warranty Complaints||0|
A New BBB Profile
In the wake of the shutdown of the Better Business Bureau’s Los Angeles-area branch, National Merchants Association has received a rebooted profile that dates back to March 10, 2013. When the company’s original BBB profile was last available, National Merchants Association was not an accredited business of the BBB and maintained an “A+” grade. Six merchant complaints had been filed with the BBB within the previous three years and were categorized as five in billing and collection issues, and one in problems with a product or service. Four of the complaints had been fully resolved, and the BBB believed a good faith effort was made for the remaining two, despite customer dissatisfaction.
Under 10 Complaints
National Merchants Association’s relaunched BBB profile currently shows accreditation since 2013, an “A+” rating, and three complaints filed in the past three years. Two complaints are related to problems with the product or service, and the other is an advertising or sales issue. One complaint was resolved, while the other two either were resolved to the merchant’s dissatisfaction or did not receive a final response from the merchant.
What Merchants Say
National Merchants has also received three negative informal reviews on its BBB profile. The most recent review describes inconsistent billing and poor service:
Fees are not transparent and you can never EVER get a straight answer from them on the phone. I had to fight for 3 months to get the ledgers for our three different MIDS. Our invoices do not match at all what they are claiming, and they refused to give us the ledgers until they sent our account to collections. You can never get them to tell you anything real. They are always vague, and I get the feeling like no one there really knows what is going on. I also can’t ever get anything passed up the chain to a supervisor.
Merchants stuck in similar situations can benefit from undertaking a statement audit to reconcile billing inconsistencies.
An “A” Rating
In light of the company’s rebooted profile and the information available, we agree with the BBB’s rating.
Truth In Marketing & Advertising
|Employs Independent Resellers||Yes|
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
Outside Sales Agents
National Merchants Association appears to partner with ISOs and independently contracted agents to market its services. This is a common practice within the industry that often is linked to high complaint volumes among merchants, as it is difficult for a company to regulate the conduct of independent sales entities. We are currently able to locate several negative National Merchants Association reviews that mention nondisclosure or misrepresentation of contract terms by sales agents, specifically when it comes to contract length and an early termination fee.
Merchant Membership Program
As noted above, National Merchants Association markets itself as a “merchant advocacy group” with language on its website asking merchants to join “the only organization in the U.S. that works on behalf of businesses to eliminate the unnecessary and unreasonable costs associated with accepting credit cards.” However, the company’s membership program simply provides additional credit card processing services such as POS supplies, loyalty programs, marketing tools, and e-commerce software for a fixed monthly fee. It is unclear what tangible results the company has achieved through its “advocacy” besides signing more merchants up for its products.
“Flat Rate” Pricing
As of this update, the company’s website is currently advertising a zero fee surcharge pricing plan without any specific pricing disclosures. At the time of our previous update, it promoted a flat rate pricing plan that charges 2.65% per transaction for merchants who average over $25 per transaction (2.65% plus $0.10 per transaction for merchants who average less than $25). This plan was advertised to come with no statement fees, annual fees, application fees, or Non-Qualified fees. It made no mention of any other monthly fees. We have no reason to believe that the terms quoted on this page were misleading, but given that it is common for “flat rate” programs to include hidden costs, merchants are encouraged to ask questions regarding this program before signing up for it. If you suspect that National Merchants Association is charging you undisclosed fees, we recommend seeking a third-party statement audit to eliminate hidden costs.
National Merchants Association Marketing Example
About Phillip Parker
Thank you for reading my review. I hope that it has helped you with your research.
I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry to start my own a small business. From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to write about it, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this insider knowledge to myself, so decided to build this website to help you research which providers to use and how to save money on rates and fees. 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 here. Simply scroll to the top of the page to find the search bar. You can also message me if you need any guidance.
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