Payment Alliance International (PAI) Review

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How did they treat you? ▼

Updated 12/26/2018: Payment Alliance International ( is now solely focused on ATM solutions and no longer handles merchant services. Clearent acquired Payment Alliance International's merchant services division in 2017 and has now fully taken over services for its some 17,000 merchants. We will therefore no longer update this review. See our Clearent review for up-to-date information about this company's former merchant services division.

Payment Alliance International ( is a privately-held ATM provider located in Louisville, Kentucky. Founded in 2005, the company sold merchant accounts alongside ATMs until its merchant services division was acquired by Clearent in January 2017. Since that acquisition, Payment Alliance International has ceased to market merchant services on its website and Clearent has begun servicing Payment Alliance International's existing merchants. At this time, it appears that Payment Alliance International is no longer boarding new merchants under the PAI brand. However, merchants who opened an account through PAI in the last three years may still encounter PAI-branded service or support while Clearent finalizes its acquisition. This will likely be our last update of this review due to the fact that PAI no longer sells merchant accounts.

In previous years, Payment Alliance International was known as a major provider of high-risk merchant accounts for firearm vendors. Payment Alliance International is currently a registered ISO/MSP of MetaBank. It is also worth noting that Payment Alliance International bought Netbank Payment Systems in 2007. The company is located at 2101 High Wickham Place, Suite 101, Louisville, Kentucky 40245. David Dove is listed as the CEO of Payment Alliance International.

Key Points

  • Sales & Marketing: Payment Alliance International uses independent sales agents to market its services but has not received many sales complaints.
  • Costs & Contract: Payment Alliance International offers a three-year agreement with automatic renewal and an early termination fee that can be very costly.
  • Complaints & Service: We have found more than 30 Payment Alliance International complaints.
  • BBB Rating: Payment Alliance International has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 0 complaints in the past 3 years.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With Payment Alliance International

Payment Alliance International (PAI) Customer Reviews

Here's What Their Clients Say

Customer Reviews Summary
Total Online Complaints 30+
Live Customer Support Yes
Most Common Complaint Fund Holds

We are currently able to locate over 30 Payment Alliance International complaints on this and other consumer protection websites, and some of these complaints accuse the company of being a scam or a ripoff. Common complaints include unauthorized or unexpected withholding of funds, undisclosed fees, difficulty canceling the account, and poor customer service. Additionally, a handful of the company’s complaints appear to be the result of a mail scam in which a foreign entity was using the Payment Alliance International name without the company’s knowledge. The company has taken steps to alert merchants to this scam and appears to be blameless in the situation.

Overall, the most common issue among Payment Alliance International clients appears to be confusion over the company’s fraud prevention policies. Since Payment Alliance International offers high-risk merchant accounts to businesses that otherwise might not qualify for merchant services, these complaints are to be expected to a certain degree. Still, it seems as if the company could prevent some of these complaints by explaining its reserve account policies to new merchants in greater detail. We have also seen a recent increase in complaints related to undisclosed fees that persist after cancellation, which is a trend worth monitoring. It should be noted that some complaints about Payment Alliance International may be redirected to Clearent now that Clearent is servicing the company’s previous accounts.

Payment Alliance International (PAI) Online Ratings

Here's How They Rate Online

Online Ratings Summary
Product & Service Complaints 0
Billing & Collection Complaints 0
Advertising & Sales Complaints 0
Guarantee & Warranty Complaints 0
Delivery Complaints 0

Note: We have adjusted this company’s BBB rating according to our own standards. To better understand why we adjust BBB ratings, please see our Rating Criteria.

As of this review, Payment Alliance International has an “A+” rating with the Better Business Bureau with 0 complaints filed in the last 36 months.

There are also BBB profiles for what appear to be independent sales offices of PAI in Elmhurst, Illinois; Palm Beach, Florida; Pueblo, Colorado; Orlando, Florida; Jackson, Mississippi; and Newark, New Jersey. We will disregard these profiles for the purposes of this review, but it should be noted that they have varying complaint records and BBB grades.

Payment Alliance International (PAI) Fees, Rates & Costs

A Closer Look at The Contract

Cost & Fees Summary
Swiped Rate Variable
Keyed-in Rate Variable
Early Termination Fee Liquidated Damages
PCI Compliance Fee Variable
Equipment Lease Terms Variable

The standard Payment Alliance International contract (available below) is a three-year agreement through Global Payments with automatic one-year renewal, a Liquidated Damages early termination fee, and a variable PCI Compliance fee, monthly minimum fee, annual fee, and statement fee. The company’s ATM processing agreement (available here) also includes a Liquidated Damages early termination fee that is to cost no less than $650.

Now that PAI’s merchant services division is owned by Clearent, it’s possible that the company’s merchants have received modified contract terms under the new ownership.

Payment Alliance International’s early termination fee is calculated in an uncommon way. According to the contract, “the following amount(s) shall be immediately due and payable to Global Direct and/or PAI: the lesser of (a) the maximum amount permitted by state law, and (b) all monthly fees assessed to Merchant under this Card Services Agreement and due to Global Direct and/or PAI for the remainder of the then existing term of the Card Services Agreement, including all minimum monthly fee commitments.” So, upon early termination, merchants can expect to either pay out the remainder of their contracts with Payment Alliance International or pay the maximum fee allowable by state law, but they will only pay the smaller amount of the two. This fee appears to have the potential to be either very large or very small, but at the very least, it does not appear to be tied to any real measurement of the company’s losses as a result of merchant termination. The company’s ATM agreement includes a similar early termination fee, but it takes the larger of the two terms listed.

These terms would normally merit an “F” rating in this category, but there do not appear to be any Payment Alliance International complaints online that mention the company’s early termination fees as a major issue. It may be that many of the complaints reporting large amounts withheld after cancellation are the result of the company pulling this early termination fee from the merchants’ reserve accounts, but it’s unclear at this time whether this is occurring. We cannot determine at this time why these fees have yet to impact merchants severely enough to prompt them to file a public complaint, but we will factor the lack of complaints into the company’s score. If you have any knowledge of how this liquidated damages clause is enforced, please share that information in the comment section of this review. See the Payment Alliance International Merchant Agreement.

Payment Alliance International (PAI) Employee Reviews & Sales Tacitcs

Should You Work For Them?

Jobs & Marketing Summary
Employs Independent Resellers Yes
Advertises Deceptive Rates No
Discloses All Important Terms No

Payment Alliance International partners with ISOs and independent sales agents to market its services. Although this “hiring mill” practice is a common strategy within the credit card industry that often results in elevated complaint rates, we are currently able to locate only a handful of negative Payment Alliance International reviews that mention problems with the company’s sales team. These complaints describe undisclosed fees and poor follow-through by sales agents.

One issue that is indirectly related to the company’s sales team seems to be confusion among many merchants about the company’s cash reserve policies. According to multiple merchant complaints, merchants are consistently signing up for merchant accounts through Payment Alliance International without fully understanding how their “high ticket” and “average ticket” figures should be calculated, and as a result, they are seeing holds placed on large transactions. This appears to especially affect gun vendors. While it is partially the responsibility of merchants to educate themselves on the terms of their agreements, it also seems as if many of these complaints could be avoided with proper education at the point of signing. We have downgraded the company’s rating to a “B” in this section to reflect these reports of confusion.

Our Payment Alliance International (PAI) Review Summary

Our Final Thoughts

Payment Alliance International rates as an average merchant account provider according to all available information. The company’s early termination fee is a major cause for concern, yet it does not appear to impact merchants as severely as it should. Similarly, the company’s hiring practices have a high potential for merchant complaints, but they appear to be yielding very few. The company’s overall rating is buoyed by its high BBB score.

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Which is Most Important for You?

If you had to pick one, which quality would you say will be the most important with your next credit card processor? Tap or click your selection to register your vote:

  1. Low Transaction Fees
  2. No Monthly Fees
  3. No Contract
  4. Reliable Customer Support
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Testimonials & Complaints

How Did Payment Alliance International (PAI) Treat You?

34 User Reviews

  • Tori

    I made one withdrawal from one of PAI’s ATMs and a few days later the transaction charged twice to my account. I disputed with my bank, they did three investigations and PAI kept saying I made 2 withdrawals. There is video evidence from the business where the ATM is located that proves I only went to the ATM once, not twice, but they are still refusing to refund my hard-earned money. They are thieves and liars and only want to steal your money.

  • Vinny

    Fast Cash ATM Scam

    SCAM ATMs that should be removed. None of them are “owned” by any legitimate business. There is no recourse when they “mistakenly” create an error message, faulty transaction, and take your money without providing you cash. SCAM. DO NOT TRUST. FASH CASH atms are scams.

    • Tiffany

      This is astonishing to find out because I got to this website looking up PAI ISO from my bank statements and found that they took hundreds from me over a period of time as well! Looks like I’m joining you in that lawsuit! Class action anyone!?

  • Tina Coffin

    Your machine take my card but give no money! Now I have to file a dispute and wait 90 days to get my $100 returned. That’s if they do It was my go program child support card! Then deny all claims and disputes.

  • sudhakar gundaji

    food mart

    hello this is sam from food mart in cincinnati oh am ur retalier having issues
    i called to so many to custmer care so many times regarding closing of my account they told me talk with ur rep ( LEE) is phone number is 513-520-2486 i told him close my account he was talking rood with me and he said that he wont close account .i think LEE need of money no problem for me but this is not right way to do with ur custmer every one is doing bussiness but donot heart some one for money since 9 months am not using the ATM paying the charges.the TOPICZ people introduced ur company but ur company rep LEE is doing is own rules with clients who is giving bussiness to u .am going write review about ur company and about ur rep LEE in TOPICZ also becuase they should know whats going on

  • Ruth

    Horrible horrible business. Someone fraudulently stole my canard info and withdrew money from the atm they own and they could careless. Fraud don’t verify anything just a big money laundering scam.

  • Regina W Melton

    After reading the complaints from businesses who were unfortunate enough to use PAI, I hate to register my complaint because it does not reach the level of illegal and fraudulent practices PAI employs to systematically steal from hard working, midnight oil burning small businesses across this country. I realized recently that this PAI ISO was showing up on my bank statement whenever I had to use an ATM machine outside of my banking network. I hate accepting and paying the fee charged for using the ATM but at least I get a chance to accept or deny the charge. In the case of PAI, they charge an extra $2 on top of the ATM fee on every out of network ATM withdrawal. I am guilty of not closely examining my transactions on my statement but I was blown away when I did a few quick calculations on what that $2 fee added up to over time. They should be required to disclose the fee and the ATM user should have the “opt out” option on every transaction where the fee will be assessed. Small business is the backbone of this country and one company should not be allowed to wreak such havoc upon such a hard working sector of our economy.

  • josh

    I was told that the rates would be much lower than they ended up being, and the customer service rep was super helpful and friendly while getting set up but once I started calling them on the problems (being told one thing and charged another) it was silence… I am going to have to cancel and go with something else. Ugh what a waste of time!!

  • Steven Make

    Nature of complaint: Billing or Collection Issues
    Problem description:
    I own a small business (Armory Up) in Southlake, TX. Today I received an email from payment alliance telling me funds would be held until I provided invoices for sales including customer’s names, billing addresses and an itemized receipt of the transactions. I told them that I do not keep customers personal information on file but offered them a copy of the receipt with the customer’s name and the total for the transaction but they insisted I needed to provide everything they asked for or I would not have access to MY money for my SMALL BISUNESS. It’s my first Holliday season with a brick and mortar store and it’s hard enough being everything from janitor to owner so I’d at least like to have access to my money before I contact my lawyer.


    Money has been coming off of my bank, child support and credit cards from $40 to $300 causing issues in my life financially!!!!! What the Hell!!!!! I hate thieves and stealing from me is one thing but from my children’s child support money is lower than sewage. I will be looking into filing a lawsuit…I’m fed up

  • Diana Yarbrough

    Our company has been with PAI for 8 months. They hold our funds for sometimes up to a week. They “denied” us 24 hour settlement due to the “nature of our business”. We are a retail business who processes credit card transactions int the six figure range per year. Lesson learned. Next time I will go with Heartland Payment Systems. They have been more help advising us on what to do and we are not even under contract with them.

    Are you with Payment Alliance International? Learn how to resolve this complaint.

  • John Wilkens

    I don’t know how many of you would have reason to deal with Payment Alliance International, a credit card service provider recommended by NRA for gun shop owners. They are SCUM! They have taken fees in ever increasing amounts from me for more than 6 months now, they refuse to get my service up and running (that’s right, I’ve been charged for 6 months for something that has NEVER worked!) and they refuse to talk to me since I’ve complained so many times to their customer service. They are the worst company I have ever had the misfortune to deal with, and I hope everyone I know avoids them and spreads the word that they are absolutely terrible to deal with from beginning to end.

  • Brian Kunick

    We are submitting a report to Congressman Sean Duffy and Senator Marco Rubio stemming from Payment Alliance refusing to remit our card proceeds to us as they have labelled us a high-risk business with a propensity for fraud as we are in the firearms business. Web sites such as label Payment Alliance as “gun friendly” but they are far from being such. Payment Alliance has held these depoits for at least one week and we just found out because our bank account is overdrawn.

    Go to ANYONE else.

    • Brian Kunick

      For everyone who takes time from their busy schedule to voice a complaint, there are 20-50 more.

      3 weeks later, today, and still no money from PAI. We would appreciate information on how you forced PAI to release your funds. Our start now will be the Atty Gen offices in each state in which they do business.

  • Richard Mance

    PAI …started, without my knowledge and without notice, making debits to my bank account.. starting 2/27 till 3/16 when I cut them off …for a total of almost $16k in $2000-$4000 amounts…..Have not to this day.. 3/19… been able to get an explanation for this theft….Steve at PAI says Senior Management is looking into the matter……i’ve been ripped off…stay away from PAI

  • max austin

    Just venting a complaint. When I changed credit card company I had a lot to choose from. I was contacted by payment alliance and went with them because they offered bill pay services for our customers. Well the bill pay didn’t work. I had to stop it because it was embarrassing to have to tell customers half the time that terminal for bill pay was down or whatever other problem was taking place with it. I am ok with the credit card part but would never have gone with you if I had of known the bill pay was never going to be right

  • Richard Boersma

    I don’t have the time to add paragraphs to the many dissatisfied customers of PAI. Suffice it to say my experience was as frustrating as most of those who took time to write. This company is not at all concerned with the individual merchant who uses their services. Phone calls are often handled by nice people who promise follow-up that never occurs.

    Basic problem on my end was that I set up a credit card service with PAI for myself and seven others in the office. I gave me email and mailing address for their communication with me, and promptly got on with my life. Two years later I realized they’d never communicated with me, but had systematically withdrawn funds from my bank account ranging from a minimum of $14 (even in months where I had zero transactions) up to $40 or $50 when my transactions were only $250 to $300. Yes, it was partly my fault because I hadn’t checked my bank account until recently, then discovered their error in not mailing me anything nor communicating by email, but my life is busy and the agreement originally was that they’d do so.

    Once discovered, of course I began calling. This is when the “nice people who promise follow-up that never occurs” comes into the picture. Eventually I discovered that someone on their end had mis-transcribed both my mailing address and my email address, which meant I never got any promised statements for over two years. Think they cared? Not a bit. I lost an estimated $800 this way. They lost a client, big deal.

  • Brian B

    My dealing have been OK.. Their transaction fees are less than the other standards such as as square. It is made up by the $20.00 monthly fees they charge. For a large merchant this would be a saving. For a small one a loss. For me being average it is about the same. Customer service is easy to get on the phone if needed. The will do large charges which I need for some sales. Overall I am satisfied. They are pro gun and can easily set up charges on a website which is a necessity for me.

  • Tiffany Lowyns

    We are having the same problem as other people posting on this board. PAI is holding over $8000 of our money. They have had the money for more than 60 days and will not release the funds. We filed a complaint with the BBB and they were not any help. It sounds like we might have to get a class action lawsuit going. Repeated contact with PAI to get our money ends with an empty promise of “we are releasing the funds today” type of nonsense. DO NOT USE PAI.

  • Kristie

    I recommend never signing up for an account with Payment Alliance International. I have been trying since April 18 to cancel my account and have been completely stonewalled by them. I have called them 5 times and have been told by the Customer Service Reps that they are unable to close my account. I have to speak to someone from the “Retention Department”. The Retention Department never returns calls. One time I spoke to Yolanda in the Retention department and she said she would fax me an account closure form immediately and I have never received it. They will not give me a fax number so I can notify them in writing to close my account. They are continuing to withdraw monthly fees out of my account. I am going to be forced to cancel my checking account to stop this theft of funds. I would NEVER recommend this company to anyone.

  • christy

    I would not reccomend this company to anyone ever!!!!! The left doesn’t know what the right is doing and really they don’t care. They do as they please not as they say. In general they are the worst company I have ever had the misfortune of working with. I will be letting everyone I know, and then some if possible, NEVER use or trust this company. You will regret it! That I can promise you. Horrible service, horrible treatment of customers and just a flat horrible company. I have been lied to on more than one occasion now and never get the response they promise. Guess they can’t even be bothered to return calls they claim they will. Never again!

  • Eric Larson

    Cobra Tactical is a FFL 07 firearms manufacturer and dealer and we have been using PAI for a little over a year, maybe a little longer. Our recent experience, is very similar to above. We learned about them at SHOT Show and was advised by a couple of industry folks that they were good to go. Early on we had some funds held, reportedly due to our newbie status. This corresponded to Cobra experiencing an increase in sales which also included some larger transactions. We learned that funds were being held when our bank contacted regarding “lack of funds.” Seriously? Not good. This resulted in bank fees and us not being able to process refunds in a timely manner, also resulting in a couple of chargebacks. Insanely stupid.

    When we contacted PAI, we were told that HOLDING FUNDS was normal….and funds would be disbursed as soon as some value was accumulated so they could cover any potential chargeabacks. Are you following? Chargebacks that by my account would not occur if we could pay our vendors with the money was available to us.

    Anyway, funds were eventually released and we have not had any thing significant to report and figured we were on the fast track. OOPS. We are going through this yet once again!!! Now they want to know how my business is run, detailed reports on who my customers are, how many orders I am processing, what percentage of orders have shipped. how I am spending my money, who I am paying and how much, what we plan on doing to increase profitability, ed nausea, are many of the questions we got from them. We actually started to play their game by reciprocating with some emails and phone calls to get this resolved. After being advised of their last response, requesting an audit of all open orders, we agreed that we are done with PAI. Look, a payment gateway takes a percentage of our money as part of our business. We get that. But simply holding onto ALL of our money period is wrong. Not telling is doubly insulting and rude. Causing a business financial hardship because we MIGHT have a chargeback is criminal. So our a**orney is now reviewing this.

    Working in California and as a firearms manufacture, I can tell you that we have to deal with more crap than most should have to to earn a living. The last thing we need or will stand for is someone free loading while we are working for our money. You have many choices for payment gateways and PAI is not gun friendly. Stay away from PAI. We are researching new payment process companies. We only receive a couple of calls a week for new ones.

  • Kim

    To everyone that is having issues with PAI – we are currently going through the same issue and they are holding quite possibly 30K of our money – we don’t really know for sure as we don’t really know when it started as there are so many dips in our account for PAI adjustment fees, PAI deposits, PAI this and that … what I want to know is did you ever get your “money in reserve.” This is severely crippling our company and I’m afraid they will put us out of business…. any advice, lawyer expert, etc??? Thanks for the help

  • Steve Pierce

    I set up an account with PAI and was assured it would be setup with 48 hours. It wasn’t. A week later, PAI continued to screw around and finally sent me a notice that my account application was denied unless I changed billing customers for domain name registrations to monthly from yearly. Never mind the rest of the industry bills annually for domain registration.

    I explained this in a lengthy letter and I hear nothing for over a week. So I sign up with Merchants Warehouse and they were great. Several days later I am told my account with PAI and was setup. I said great, but too late, I never heard back from anyone and signed up with another provider.

    They said they understood and admitted it took too long.

    A week later, took out the monthly fee for services from my checking account. Tells me I need to provide merchant number and accoutn number to close the account. I tell them I don’t have that because the account was never setup, I was denied service. says so sad too bad, nothing they can do, and no they won’t refund the money taken.

    Now PAI won’t return emails and calls.

  • Catherine

    This company keeps taking money out of my account, even though I’ve cancelled with them (numberous times) and this last week they took $340.00 out of my account for NO REASON. DO NOT EVER use this company EVER.

  • Ellie

    This sounds pretty darn familiar. As a matter of fact, I found your review, Kristen, because we’re looking for a new provider for the same reason — the only difference being we’ve been doing business with them for years. They took it upon themselves to decide to hold funds. Good luck in your search. Mine’s just beginning. :-)

    • Mike

      Ellie, same thing happened to me. My company had been doing business with PAI for nearly 3 years, a then received several demands for shipping records and invoices. They said they were trying to keep chargebacks to a minimum. I was told the fact that I had no recent or pending and very few total chargebacks was “irrelevant”. My online portal was shut down with no warning, and the funds were witheld. However, the fees were all still withdrawn from my checking account. Nightmare dealing with them still, I get shuffled around, hung up on, etc. I hope we can get it resolved soon.

  • Joan Lovelace

    This company used my merchant account number without my knowledge, never called or notified me of what was going on. Has not returned phone calls, has not emailed documents, and has not faxed documents when they said they would do so. I would stongly caution anyone to do business with this company!!!!

    • Pat Bazley

      Joan, Payment Alliance has been working with our processor as well as the card associations to resolve the problems which occured this fall with your account.
      We have reviewed our process with communication and the lack of notification to our customers. We were working to resovle the issue with all hands on deck.
      We do need to communicate to our customers in a much more timely mannor.
      We have implemented a process with our reps to ensure we communication, return calls and Solve our merchants issues.

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