National Merchants Association Review

National Merchants Association Overview

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Offering Merchant Services Since 2004

Established in 2004, National Merchants Association is a merchant account provider that operates under a membership group structure based in Temecula, California. The company offers membership terms through Merrick Bank, Commercial Bank or California, and itself. 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 and has received 3 complaints and 4 reviews in the past 3 years. The company has been accredited by the BBB since 2013.
  • 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

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Products & Services Offered

  • Debit and credit card processing
  • Online payment gateway
  • POS equipment
  • EBT acceptance
  • Gift and loyalty programs
  • QuickBooks integration

Types of Businesses Served

  • Retail
  • E-commerce
  • Restaurant
  • Lodging
  • High risk

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National Merchants Association Rates, Fees, and Costs

Key Points

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+
Annual Fee $99
Website Monitoring Fee $150 Per Month
Application Fee $250
High Risk App Fee $79 Per Month
Risk Management Fee $25 Per Month
Site Survey Fee $100
Fraudcast Fee $19.95 Per Month

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 merchants, and this membership fee can be either $19.95, $34.95, or $69.95 depending on the services a merchant wishes to add.

Liquidated Damages

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.

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Response from National Merchants Association

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National Merchants Association Complaints & Customer Reviews

Key Points

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.

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 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.

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Response from National Merchants Association

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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
Delivery Complaints 0

Under 5 Complaints

National Merchants Association’s relaunched BBB profile currently shows accreditation since 2013, an “A+” rating, and 3 complaints filed in the past 36 months. 2 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 4 negative informal reviews on its BBB profile. The most recent review describes 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.

Merchants stuck in similar situations can benefit from undertaking which contract terms to avoid in order to escape charges like set  up fees and the like. In the even those fees are unauthorized, merchant’s 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 agree with the BBB’s rating.

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Response from National Merchants Association

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Truth In Marketing & Advertising

Key Points

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.

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 explaining the complexity of dealing with high risk merchants. 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 merchants can be designated as “low risk.” The criteria they present states that merchants with fewer than 85% of their transactions being keyed in constitutes a “high risk” account. However, the company does not disclose any rates or fees that are uniquely applicable to high risk merchants which 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 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.

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Response from National Merchants Association

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National Merchants Association Marketing Example

National Merchants Association Logo

Our Opinion of National Merchants Association

An Average Rating Despite Negative Signs

National Merchants Association rates as a slightly better-than-average merchant services 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.

We rely on your feedback about National Merchants Association to keep this review accurate and up-to-date. Please take a minute to tell us about your experience. We and the small business owners of this world thank you!

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

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 built this website to help small business owners research which service 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. I can help you save money with your current merchant account or help you find a new one. Message me here to get started.

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14 Reviews Leave Your Review for National Merchants Association Below

  1. 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.

  2. Kris S. says:

    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.

  3. MoneyTree says:

    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.

  4. Anonymous says:

    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.

  5. Richard Wilson says:

    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.

  6. Sunder Lal says:

    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.

  7. Nukrong Boonsang says:

    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.

    1. CPO Admin says:

      Hi Nukrong,

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

  8. Dipan Patel says:

    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!!

  9. Anthony Swiantek says:

    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:

    Hello,

    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.

    Thanks,

    Tony

    She replied with:

    Tony,

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

    Thanks,

    A

    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:

    Tony,

    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.

    Thanks,

    A

    I replied with:

    A,

    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?

    Thanks,

    Tony

    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,
    H

    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.

  10. Vince Remandillo says:

    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!

    1. Phillip Parker says:

      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?

  11. 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!

    1. Jason Cloud says:

      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.

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