National Merchants Association 2023: Reviews & Complaints

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image of a phone image of a phone that changes when your mouse hovers over it (866) 509-7199 View Pricing

Company Overview

Established in 2004, National Merchants Association is a merchant account provider that operates under a membership group structure based in Temecula, California, though it appears they are now also operating out of Las Vegas, Nevada. The company offers membership terms through Merrick Bank, Commercial Bank of California, and itself. However, due to the recent lawsuit against CBC, it is likely the two companies are no longer partnered. The company often markets itself as a “merchant advocacy group,” which may give some clients 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 (now Fiserv).

Article Summary

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

  • National Merchants Association’s various payment processing services.
  • The company received a number of complaints before 2020 but has not seen many since.
  • The company’s contract apparently features a number of costly fees that are not applied consistently.

National Merchants Association Payment Processing

National Merchants Association processes all major debit and credit cards for most business types including high-risk. Their services include EMV card readers and swipers, POS solutions, EBT, NFC processing, e-check processing, e-commerce solutions, fraud protection, access to payment gateways, QuickBooks integration, and recurring billing.

In-Store Payments

National Merchants Association provides solutions for in-store payments. They focus on processing customer payments with ease while keeping costs low.

Merchant Advocacy

The organization positions itself as an advocate for merchants. They offer account optimizers who individually evaluate and maintain merchant accounts, looking for ways to improve profitability.

Membership Benefits

As a member of National Merchants Association, businesses gain a partner in business development. The organization works on behalf of businesses to reduce costs associated with accepting credit cards.

In The Spotlight:

This Processor Eliminated All Monthly and Annual Fees

Only Pay When You Process, No Contract.

Location & Ownership

National Merchants Association formerly listed its address as 43620 Ridge Park Dr Ste 310, Temecula, California 92590-5520, though its website now gives 10100 W Charleston Blvd, Ste 210, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89135. It is a registered ISO/MSP of Evolve Bank & Trust, Memphis, Tennessee. Heather Altepeter is listed as the CEO of National Merchants Association.

Video Summary

Table of Contents

National Merchants Association payment processing
Though billed as a merchant advocate group, National Merchants Association’s primary product is payment processing

National Merchants Association Customer Reviews

Here's What Their Clients Say

Customer Reviews Summary
Item Result
Total Online Complaints 10+
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint Hidden Fees
Recent Lawsuits Yes

Moderate Complaint Total

For its size and time in business, there are fewer negative National Merchants Association reviews 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 canceling service, unavailable or unhelpful customer service representatives, and disputes over which documents the merchant had actually signed. If you have your own National Merchants Association review to make, please do so in the comments below.

Complaint Responses

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 client. 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 and Fines

We have not found any outstanding class-action lawsuits or FTC complaints filed against National Merchants Association. However, NMA has been involved in a suit against the Commercial Bank of California since 2022. In the National Merchants Association lawsuit against the Commercial Bank of California, National Merchants Association claimed that the bank unlawfully froze its accounts, causing it to lose revenue and damage its reputation. National Merchants Association alleged that the bank acted without cause or notice and in violation of the California Uniform Commercial Code. The lawsuit sought damages and injunctive relief.

In 2022, Merchant X LLC filed a complaint against National Merchants Association (NMA), Heather Petersen, Altepeter, Ms. Altepeter, and Evolve Bank & Trust. The complaint, filed on January 14, 2022, alleges three causes of action: 1) breach of contract, 2) breach of implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and 3) violation of California’s unfair competition law. It’s currently unclear what the results of this case were.

Dissatisfied clients who wish to pursue a non-litigious course of action against the company should consider reporting it to the relevant supervisory organizations.

National Merchants Association 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 Customer Service Number

  • (866) 509-7199 – Toll-Free Customer Support

Other Support Options

  • Customer support form on its website
  • Customer service email address at [email protected]

National Merchants Association does not qualify as a top-rated processor for customer service at this time.

National Merchants Association Online Ratings

Here's How They Rate Online

Online Ratings Summary
Item Result
BBB Reports 2

Under 5 Complaints

Currently, the NMA profile shows an “F” rating with 2 complaints filed in the last 3 years. The 2 complaints were resolved to the satisfaction of the client.

What Merchants Say

National Merchants currently has no informal reviews, though previously it had also received 4 negative informal reviews on its BBB profile. The most recent review described undisclosed fees:

National Merchants Association by heather a******** is a scam. They charge undisclosed set up fees and don’t refund once caught red handed.

Clients stuck in similar situations can benefit from learning which contract terms to avoid in order to escape charges like setup fees and the like. In the event those fees are unauthorized, businesses can pursue a statement audit to reconcile billing inconsistencies.

An “A” Rating

In light of the company’s rebooted profile and the information available, we have adgusted the BBB’s rating to an “A”.

National Merchants Association Fees, Rates & Costs

A Closer Look at The Contract

Cost & Fees Summary
Item Result
Cancellation Penalties Yes
Monthly & Annual Fees Yes
Processing Rates 1.00% - 4.99%
Equipment Leasing Likely

National Merchants Association Pricing

The standard National Merchants Association membership agreement 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 clients, and this membership fee can be either $19.95, $34.95, or $69.95 depending on the services a client wishes to add.

Virtual Terminal and Payment Gateway Pricing

In addition to its storefront payment processing services, National Merchants Association also dedicates a portion of its website to advertising its virtual terminal and payment gateway services. However, pricing is not disclosed on either of those services. Additional rates and fees, including gateway fees, technical support fees, batch fees, and additional transaction rates typically apply to these e-commerce services.

Liquidated Damages

According to complaints filed on other consumer protection websites, some business owners report that the National Merchants Association contract is a 36-month agreement with an early termination fee of $395 or more. A former complaint with the BBB stated 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 a client was 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 clients. 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. We encourage business owners to check out our list of the providers of the best merchant services.

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.

National Merchants Association Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs

Should You Work For Them?

Jobs & Marketing Summary
Item Result
Uses Independent Resellers Yes
Telemarketing Unclear
Misleading Marketing 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 businesses, 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. This does not compare favorably to our list of best credit card processors.

Merchant Membership Program

As noted above, National Merchants Association markets itself as a “merchant advocacy group” with language on its website asking businesses 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 clients up for its products.

High-Risk Merchant Service

The company promotes itself as an option for high-risk merchant accounts. National Merchants Association dedicates a section of its website to explaining the complexity of dealing with high-risk businesses. Business type, business model, product types, and processing history are a few of the factors they consider when determining the risk of a merchant account. This section of their website determines how businesses can be designated as “low-risk.” The criteria they present state that clients with fewer than 85% of their transactions being keyed in constitute a “high-risk” account. However, the company does not disclose any rates or fees that are uniquely applicable to high-risk businesses that use their services.

“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 businesses that 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, business owners 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.

Our National Merchants Association Review Summary

Our Final Thoughts

National Merchants Association rates as a slightly better-than-average credit card processing provider by our standards. The company is showing a lower complaint volume than expected for its size and time in business, but some of the available information about its contract appears to specify a high cancellation fee and a 36-month standard agreement. The publicly posted complaint rebuttals from company representatives also appear to vary in terms of tone and accuracy. We will continue to monitor the company’s reputation to determine whether it will become one of the worst-rated providers or eventually on par with the top-rated providers.

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Your Comments & Reviews

How Did National Merchants Association Treat You?

15 Responses

  • michael a ackerman

    This is the worst company every. We were their largest office (the owner Heather, lied and told us we were in the 10-15 range), sent them a lot of business and caught them not paying us our residuals per a signed and executed contract. The first time we caught it, the COO agreed, and got Heathers approval and paid it. The second time we caught it(the same exact thing so precedence set), Heather ignored several requests to address it and upon threats to go to the card associations and banks to complain, she cancelled our contract. Now 14 months later the amount owed is over $200,000 and she blocks any communication to address it. In addition, she ran from us when we tried to come up to her at a trade show to address.

    We have now sent her a final bill and plan on going to a collection agency to follow through. We are not the only ones as several other offices have called me to complain about similar issues with her. Unfortunately, through her reputation of doing this to offices and increasing rates and putting garbage fees onto merchants, her business has dropped by about 90% and we have a small chance of getting our money.

    Gouging customers, cheating offices, and a toxic work environment is just sad.

  • I am a small business owner who was looking to connect with a credit card processing company with low transaction fees. After signing up with the National Merchants Association (NMA), I realized that I was being charged an exorbitant rate of fees (much higher than what our contract had stated or what the rep had communicated). I was charged 42% (it was supposed to be 1.2% – 3.25%) in service fees (authorization/transaction/card brand fees) by the NMA. Additionally, I was also told directly from NMA, as it was outlined in the Account Setup Form and Agreement, that I would be charged $10/month with a 1.2% – 3.25% service fee per transaction. I was charged $40.42 last month for a total of $0.01 in charges from one transaction (I only had a “test” charge done using their hardware/software from my personal credit card into my business account). Could you imagine how much this would’ve cost me, if I had ran a “real” transaction for several thousands of dollars!! This type of fraud is alarming and I do not want to see this happening to other unwitting victims.

  • MoneyTree

    To date I have not done business with this company. My review is based on the application I have sitting in front of me:

    Annual fee $99.00
    Website monitoring: monthly $150 per URL
    Fraudcast monthly $19.95/mo
    Termination fee $395
    Membership fee (monthly) $19.95
    Application fee $250
    High Risk app processing fee (monthly) $79
    Risk mgmt fee (monthly) $25
    Site survey $100

    TOTAL: $3976 for the first year of service — NOT INCLUDING actual fees on transactions.

    I don’t think further comment is required.

  • National Merchants Association is neither an “association” nor an “advocacy group” as they claim. They are a for-profit payment processor. According to the CA Franchise Tax Board: the National Merchants Association is not a tax exempt 501a, 501c or 527. The use of the words “association” and “advocacy group” in the company name and branding is misleading to the public and should cause consumer concern about the company’s business practices and ethical standards.

  • Richard Wilson

    I want to point out to the public that National Merchant Association is a fraudulent company. They have taken over $1,000 from my account without my permission, i called and speak to some guy that called himself the Manager, his Name is “Tim Reynolds” he is not a nice guy and a complete butt head without understanding.

    I had to dispute these charges with my bank, at no time i have authorized “National Merchant Association to take money from my account.

  • I contacted David Ortiz and he is very polite and I thank god I spoke to David he helped me a lot. I all would say awesome people and awesome service.

  • Nukrong Boonsang

    Good service and a quick reply to my question about microchip card processing service after I have spoken with Terron: a staff of National Merchants Association. The service fee and discount rate are very cheaper than my old credit processing provider. I can save thousands of dollars when comparing with the old one.

    • Hi Nukrong,

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

  • Dipan Patel

    I absolutely agree with what Heather says, and this will not be a fake review Phillip. Before you have any other thoughts in your mind, the Co. will be Fortune Solutions, Inc., Dipan Patel, Director, for additional detail get back to me. We don’t have a long history going back with NMA; however, but our experience says the company is by far the best choice out of so called PSPs prevailing in the US market. We provide consultative services and specialize in assisting eCommerce and MOTO companies in getting them the volume they need to process their more complicated products. Apparently, we have never been mislead by any of the staff members at NMA, may it be a pre-sales query or about merchant services agreement.

    Lets talk about the turn-around-time to your emails, try it and let me know, i’ll wait for your response…!!!

    The providers you have rated above as “Top by Specialty” are actually not bothered to reply despite of sending them several emails, been 2 months now………..STILL WAITING!!……….. I wonder what happens to the emails in their INBOX..

    There are several processors operating who would not even blink before terminating merchant or the agent agreement, it would be pointless blaming National Merchants Association who is actually so committed to this industry, and drives you to the right path.

    Keep going Heather, we are with you!!

  • Anthony Swiantek

    I am including emails from them and am deleting their contact information and names:

    I got a charge on my Wells Fargo account for $994.00 on 9-27-13. It listed National Merchants Association as the company who charged me. I contacted them that day and left messages. No Calls Returned. Then I got in touch with them Monday they said I was charged for an Application fee, Underwriting Fee, and Termination fee. Since I never applied with them I asked them for the information they had and they sent me some information but no application with my signature and they said it was applied for online. There was an email from First Data saying they were canceling the account for Confirmed ID Theft. I asked them for the IP address where the application came from. They would not give me any of that information but I have the name of the Rep that most likely attempted to steal my identity.

    Here are the first few email exchanges: The first from me:


    I found this email from you. If you can send me all the info on the account as far as how much was processed and what bank account the funds were put into. Also not only how much was processed in total but how much was charged back. Also if there is an outstanding balance for charge backs. If you have the IP address that the online application was sent in from that would be great as well.



    She replied with:


    Before I can send you all of this information, please send your Drivers License for verification purposes.



    I complied and sent my Drivers License. She then sent back all the information they had to run the application including my Drivers License. Pretty Slick Mover there. Unfortunately for them I have the email asking for the DL and it shows that it was added to the file on Oct. 1st long after the account was terminated by first date for suspected ID theft.

    For about 2 days they never answered or returned repeated messages. Then I get this email:


    We cannot give out IP addresses of the people who use our system. Also, after speaking with First Data, they terminated the account not only for excessive CB’s on a related account, but also because of suspected ID theft. Without being able to verify your identity and the business, we do not feel comfortable giving you any more information about the account.



    I replied with:


    I sent you my ID upon request. It should be pretty obvious to you guys that it was my ID that was Stolen which is why I’m filing charges with the police.

    I’m out $994 because of this issue. What is your companies plan to reimburse me for this?



    The CEO then replied with:

    Mr. Swiantek,

    As you’ve been made aware, First Data has terminated the merchant account opened in your name due to confirmed ID theft. For more information, you must contact First Data directly as this was their decision and discovery, not NMA’s.

    Under the circumstances, our bank has advised us not to issue any refunds. For your protection, if you have been charged, I suggest you issue a chargeback with your bank.

    If you have any further questions, please present those only in the form of a letter mailed to our office. At this time, the staff at NMA will no longer be discussing these matters with you. I am sorry this has happened to you and I wish you the best of luck in getting this resolved.

    Best Regards,

    So basically this email was a “Sorry your ID was stolen but we got your cash and we ain’t going to give it back!” Now fortunately for me my bank will more than likely succeed at getting the money back in my account and even if they don’t I have Life Lock with a lot of resources actually they will use up to $1,000,000 to get my funds back in my account.

    The one thing that really worries me about National Merchants Association is with this response I wonder if they were part of the ID Theft Fraud and working with the guy who attempted to steal my ID?

    I wouldn’t want NMA having my information if I was looking for a merchant account. God only knows what they would do with it and how much they would hit your account for.

  • Vince Remandillo

    My company was paying over 4% for processing services for the past 5 years. We came across the National Merchants Association (NMA) through a google search. The staff was very knowledgable and eager to save us money. We signed up with the company and have been processing with them for two years now. We have saved thousands of dollars on our processing bill, and the company has help us to generate more business to our door.
    I would fully recommend the National Merchants Association to ANY business that is tired of being ripped off by other credit card processing companies. They are truly on our side!

    • Hi Vince,

      Due to several recent attempts we’ve had from different providers attempting to post bogus positive reviews about themselves, can you please reply to this comment with you business’ contact information in order to verify that its a legitimate review?

  • Heather Petersen

    Ok so I’m a little biased since I am the CEO, but I will say that working at The National Merchants Association has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. We are constantly improving the bankcard industry through educating our merchants and agents alike and truly stand by our motto, A Merchant Account That Works For You! With an eye on philanthropy and service, we proudly support the communities in which we live and work. The newly released, Give-it-Back program in which merchant fees are donated back to local charities has been rewarding and a huge success! We are excited to keep giving!

    • Jason Cloud

      These comments must be fake because this company has done nothing but screw up my account and rip me off on a monthly basis.
      The website claims and sales claims are exactly as stated on here , only I don’t even use this merchant account and they charge me at least $144.00 a month in fees.

    • I can’t see why you hire unethical sales agents in Bakersfield, agent left no paperwork, all of a sudden my cousin is in a lease for a wireless unit,plus the counter top This agent has done this to numerous merchants, he signs the lease at home .They are rightfully seeking a class action suit,contacting the law group that went after the leasing companies.

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