Bank of America Merchant Services Review: Everything You Need to Know About BOFA Credit Card Processing
Bank of America is one of the most well-known names in credit card processing and it’s easy to think that aligning yourself with one of the biggest names in the game means you’re going to benefit from a transparent pricing structure. This is not the case. While there are some benefits to working with a merchant services megalith like Bank of America, a transparent pricing structure is not one of them.
Here’s a quick overview of Bank of America’s merchant services program, with everything you need to know (and beware of) along the way.
Pricing Structure and Fees
Bank of America isn’t very forthcoming about this, but BOFA’s merchant services program is actually a subsidiary for First Data credit card processing––the same company that operates Wells Fargo’s merchant services program and Chase Bank’s merchant services program, along with many others.
Bank of America’s merchant credit card processing is sold through independent sales reps or ISOs. Because BOFA uses sales agents that can alter the pricing structure for each customer, Bank of America’s merchant services fees aren’t posted online. Sales agents provide you with a quote of what they think you’ll be willing to pay, which you can often haggle down a bit if you’re so inclined.
While it’s obviously better for your business for you to try to negotiate the lowest rate if you aren’t the bargaining type you might be better off going with a merchant service provider that offers the same transparent pricing system for all of its customers.
Bank of America credit card processing fees are a form of tiered pricing with hidden surcharges that make it difficult to see what you’re actually paying. BOFA also charges a $500 early termination fee for merchants that want to get out of dodge before their contract is up, which can make it difficult to switch to a more cost-effective credit card processing company once your contract starts.
You’re also on the line for a setup fee, a hardware fee (more on hardware later) and a business checking account, which is about $30 a month.
Advantages of BOFA Merchant Services
Bank of America’s merchant services program isn’t all bad, however. BOFA offers next-day deposits for merchant accounts, which means they can help you get your money faster than most other credit card processing service providers.
BOFA also accepts high-risk accounts, such as gas stations, jewelers selling precious stones, computer stores, and other cash-intensive businesses that may have trouble getting approved for credit card processing elsewhere.
Bank of America acquired the payments startup Clover in 2012, so innovative POS technology with a wide array of functions is just part of the package with BOFA, and they have one of the most diverse integrations and services portfolios on the market.
Disadvantages to BOFA Merchant Services
Now for the other side of the coin. Bank of America is opaque about their pricing and, short of calling and speaking with a BOFA representative––who is a salesperson that can quote something different to each person who calls–– there’s really no way to establish a solid baseline on BOFA’s pricing structure.
Although the Bank of America has allegedly become more transparent about pricing, BOFA’s website still offers to connect you with a sales representative for “special offers” instead of just breaking down prices and surcharges on their website so you can evaluate your options.
Bank of America is also infamous among merchants for schmoozing potential customers into signing very long leases, so even if you pay the termination fee and want to be done with BOFA, you can still be tied into paying for Clover POS equipment for years after the fact. So you’re going to want to take a long hard look at any contract, lease, or rental agreement BOFA asks you to sign.
Customer Service Availability & Effectiveness
Bank of America’s merchant services program doesn’t have a great reputation, despite how widely the payment solution is used. The program has an average of about 2.5 out of 5 stars on customer review sites: hidden charges are a big problem for merchants who do business with BOFA, as is BOFA’s customer service team’s inability to help when they call with issues.
Although the Bank of America has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau’s website, a whopping 284 customer reviews customers give the program a measly 1 star out of 5, with customer service at both the corporate and local level being one of the top complaints.
While it’s true that the Bank of America offers 24/7 customer support over the phone, the quality of that customer service––meaning the ability of support staff to resolve issues, friendliness, troubleshooting ability, etc.–– is widely considered by merchants to be a liability of doing business with BOFA.
Integrations, Software, & Hardware Compatibility
Ready for some good news? BOFA offers a wide range of functions and integrations, such as dynamic currency conversions, gift card services, TransArmor data protection, and more.
However, keep in mind that for some services, such as real-time reporting/analytics software, BOFA charges an added monthly fee that falls between $9.95 and $29.95, depending on what POS functions your business needs. In terms of hardware, Bank of America offers a vast array of Clover POS solutions for merchants. This hardware includes:
- Clover Go– a mobile card reader with Bluetooth and EMV-enabled options.
- Clover Mini LTE and Mini WiFi– a countertop system with a built-in receipt printer.
- Clover Flex– a WiFi-enabled countertop device with a receipt printer and a barcode printer that works offline when it needs to.
- Clover Station– a FD40 PIN pad with a traditional cash drawer and receipt printer.
Bank of America’s lack of transparency surrounding pricing and its ineffective customer service representatives make working with BOFA too much of a liability for us to recommend it.
However, Bank of America merchant services does accept high risk businesses and they offer next day payments, and it may still be a valid option if you have trouble getting accepted with a more beneficial merchant services provider due to the liability risk of your particular business. In that case, be sure to do your due diligence on any contracts that BOFA asks you to sign, so you can get out if you need to.
Payment Depot, on the other hand, offers award-winning 24/7 customer service with in-house agents that know how to resolve issues. Unlike the Bank of America, Payment Depot’s wholesale pricing structure is 100% transparent and you can find it right out in the open on Payment Depot’s website–– which might explain why switching to Payment Depot has been proven to save retailers $400 a month or more on average, time and time again.