Overall, Amegy Merchant Account Services is a viable choice if you're already a happy Amegy Bank customer and want to be able to have more of your business with them.
But given that their initial fees are very expensive and much of what they offer is actually just TransFirst Merchant Services rebranded as Amegy, there are better options for most people, especially outside the State of Texas and don't have a bank account with Amegy.
Amegy, a Texas based bank with hundreds of locations throughout that state, offers merchant account services primarily to their existing bank customers. They do so as a means of servicing those clients and generating extra revenue. As of 2015, Amegy doesn't actually process credit cards, but rather outsources the actual processing to TransFirst.
In terms of what they offer, the headliner is that your first contact is your bank relationship manager. Frankly, the fact that you're an existing Amegy bank customer and you might like the idea of running all your business through one bank is the only reason to pick this merchant. Otherwise, they're expensive, the customer service is suspect, and the technology is pedestrian.
Below is a detailed review of Amegy Merchant Services offering. The review is broken down into the following categories.
Depending upon the type of business you own, some of the following features may be very important to you, while others may not matter.
|Microsoft Dynamics GP||No|
|Windows / Blackberry||No|
|iPhone / iPad||Yes|
|Alternative Transaction Types:|
|Snail Mail Orders||Yes|
|American Express (AMEX)||Yes|
|Add Tips to Bills||No|
|eCommerce / Shopping Cart||Yes|
|EMV Chip Cards||Yes|
|Loyalty / Gift Cards||Yes|
|eChecks / Electronic Checks||Yes|
|Welfare Benefits (EBT/SNAP/TANF)||No|
|Security / Fraud Prevention:|
|AVS Fraud Protection||Yes|
|PCI DSS Secure Transactions||Yes|
|HIPAA Compliance (Healthcare)||No|
|Trust Account Debiting (Legal)||No|
|Fleet Cards (Petroleum)||No|
|Online Menu Orders (Restaurants)||Yes|
Almost every merchant account services company uses either Interchange Plus or Tiered Pricing (to learn the differences read here).
Amegy Bank uses Interchange Plus pricing, which basically means they take the base rate that Visa, Mastercard, and other cards charge and mark it up a certain percentage every time, no matter what type of card the customer uses. Some merchants prefer this method, because they then know exactly how much they're paying to their credit card processor every time.
In an effort to let you know what type of terms you can expect, we obtained a secret shopper quote from Amegy:
Interchange + 0.4% + $0.12
Amegy touts their Interchange Plus pricing of Interchange + 0.4% and their low per transaction charge of $0.12. Frankly, these are pretty attractive numbers, and might initially lead you to believe that Amegy is just trying to offer great pricing to their existing bank customers as a perk. But then you look at the total fees, which tell a different story as shown by our "fine print" explanation below.
The devil is in the details when it comes to credit card processing companies, so it pays to read the contracts closely. Here's what we found in terms of fees and freebies for Amegy Merchant Services:
|Fine Print Fees:|
|Setup / Application Fee||$100|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$18.80|
|PCI Inaction Fee||None|
|Online Reporting Fee||$7.00|
|Monthly Minimum Volume Fee||$25.00|
|Accept International Pymt Fee||None|
|Voice Authorization Fee||$2.00 per call|
|Monthly Min. Process Fee||None|
|Daily Batch Fee||None|
|ACH / Direct Deposit Fee||None|
|ACH Charge Fee||$5.00|
|ACH Return Fee||$15.00|
|No Free Equipment|
|No Free Online Reporting|
|Free Customer Service|
The freebies are non-existent. You won't get free equipment or free online access. You won't find anything free here.
If you're considering Amegy Merchant Services, you're probably a pre-existing Amegy banking customer. If so, you might be thinking, "It's a great bank, and they offer Interchange Plus pricing, which this site always touts as very straightforward, so this must be a good deal!"
Not exactly. Amegy does offer Interchange Plus pricing at an attractive price point, which is great; but, they make up for it by gouging you with fine print fees. They have a $100 application fee, they charge a monthly $10.00 gateway fee and an online reporting fee of $7.00 per month (yes, they charge this fee so you can see your statement and transactions online). Add to that all the standard fees that most companies charge such as the PCI Compliance fee, chargeback fees, etc. and you've got a company that can charge you well over what most companies do in terms of fees.
Add to all of that a $25.00 minimum transaction fee, which means that you must generate $25.00 in credit card transaction fees every month (which means a total minimum processing volume of about $1,250 per month to avoid the fee) or you pay the bank instead. In the end, you can end up with a whopper of a "gotcha" bill each month.
As always, we know that merchant account services companies need to make money, and we don't begrudge them for that effort. But we don't like hidden "gotcha" fees. Amegy is certainly a fee-heavy credit card processor.
While your transactions will take place via your merchant electronically, the actual device that you use to swipe a customer's card into is referred to as "the equipment."
Amegy doesn't offer any free equipment, but at least they don't rent it to you. They sell it to you outright. That means more money up front, but at least you get to take the machine with you if you change companies.
In terms of equipment, they offer TransFirst-compatible machines. This list of equipment is extensive, but fairly mainstream. You won't find anything too sexy or exciting. But, given the array of offerings, you can find something that works for you no matter your needs. You can expect to pay a little over $300 for a Verifone Vx520 (we got quoted $312). That's about double what you can find elsewhere online, which means they're heavily marking up their equipment as a profit center item.
Amegy is set up only for U.S. merchants to accept payments only from U.S. customers. That lack of overseas transactions seems short-sighted for a bank based in Texas, since there is so much cross-border business between Texas businesses and businesses in Mexico and Canada.
We generally don't like to see long-term contracts or termination fees in merchant services agreements, because the ability to cancel a contract keeps the credit card processor on its best behavior (and more likely to try to make you happy if there's a dispute). The ability for the merchant to cancel gives you, that merchant, the ability to choose a better deal that might come along down the road before your current contract expires.
Amegy, has outsourced their processing to TransFirst, a company that typically tries to lock customers into a multi-year contract with cancellation charges ranging from $250 to $1,000.
Reports are that for Amegy Customers, these fees are highly negotiable. However, you're not likely to get to the "month to month" with "no cancellation charge" contract that we strongly prefer and that a growing number of credit card processors now offer. So, if you're set on using Amegy, push for the shortest term with the lowest cancellation charge you can get, as the longer term agreements typically only benefit the credit card processor.
The merchant account services industry is multi-layered. Understanding how those layers fit together can be confusing (Read More in this Article). A good thing to know, however, is whether or not your company is a direct processor (good if yes) or, if not, then to know who they process with and whether or not that processor is reliable. The second thing to know is whether or not the service or sales staffs are in-house or outsourced. In-house staffs are preferable for you, as these staff members may have more access to sources that can resolve your issues.
Amegy Merchant Services has outsourced their credit card processing to TransFirst. This is not an uncommon practice among small or mid-sized banks. TransFirst is a very large processor, so in that sense you're in good shape.
The problem, to me, with Amegy outsourcing their processing is: 1) It isn't obvious to the customer that they've done so, and 2) the reason the customer was going to pick Amegy was because they were comfortable with Amegy and its employees, not because it wanted to deal with TransFirst.
Account sales are all in-house through the bank unless you have an issue with your merchant service. Then, the bank transfers you to TransFirst to mitigate the issue.
Amegy claims to offer prompt 24/7 customer support from your Relationship Manager or Amegy Merchant Services Support. This is a great service if you have a business that operates outside of the traditional 9-5 week day time frame.
The problem, as discussed elsewhere, is that Amegy has largely outsourced their merchant account services to TransFirst. So when you call your local branch or banker for help, they're likely going to have to refer you out to a specialist, who works normal business hours.
As part of our review process, we try to test out the claims made by the Merchant Account Services provider by placing a few test calls, and working through the customer service process.
1/28/2015; TIME: 2:06 CST
Call to Customer Support
We called the number on the Amegy merchant services site and received a voicemail. The message was from an individual who promised to return our call as soon as he could. We didn't leave a message, and instead punched "0" to receive immediate help as suggested in the voice mail. That "0" led us to a directional voice mail that wanted us to leave another message. With customer service this bad, it seems obvious that, Amegy's merchant service isn't up to the task for most customers.
We scour the web to find past / current customers' comments / complaints about this processor. Then, we investigate those complaints that seem like they might be legit, and give our verdict on how well the credit card processor handled the issue(s).
For Amegy Merchant Services, we found one complaint about a credit card mix-up that sounded more like the merchant's problem than the bank's issue.
You could interpret that as the company is nearly perfect. We believe, however, that it is because, 1) this is a small volume credit card processor so they don't have a ton of clients, 2) they outsource their service to TransFirst, so some dissatisfied customers end up complaining under that company's name, 3) dissatisfied customers may also complain about Amegy bank generally instead of their merchant services, because the relationship between the bank and the merchant services are intertwined.
Amegy Merchant Services markets their services as a simple solution for any business that does their banking with Amegy Bank. In our opinion, however, they're not a good choice for most merchants.
|PCI Compliance Fee||$18.80|
|Online Reporting Fee||$7.00|
DISCLOSURE: Advertising, Affiliate and Conflicts of Interest: Merchant Negotiators accepts advertising via the Google Adsense platform, directly from advertisers, and has common parent ownership interests with other payments related companies leading to conflicts of interest. Read our Affiliate / Conflicts / Advertising Disclosure for a more detailed disclosure.
About the Reviews: These reviews, and for that matter any reviews, are inherently subjective, and should be regarded as our opinion, not as a statement of fact. Selecting a merchant services provider is an important decision, and we urge you to use no single source of information as the basis of that decision.
About the Pricing: This pricing is an estimate based on limited available information. In some cases, the Processors' pricing information was provided directly by the company, in others, we obtained it from public information, through calls to the company, or through past or current clients of the company. Where, despite these efforts, we were unable to obtain any information about certain fees, we used estimates based on similar providers in the industry. While we're working, in some cases, with the company directly to get more accurate pricing, even in those circumstances, we can't guarantee the pricing's accuracy. Complicating all of this, is that for some companies individual salespeople are given authority to modify terms on a deal by deal basis. In any case, if you know of an error, please let us know and we'll fix it.
About the Calculations: With respect to your estimated savings, this is based on a lot of factors and some hard math. The reason we do it, along with the "Actual Gross Rate" calculation is that every Processor prices their product differently (e.g. interchange v. 3 tier v. 4 tier v. flat v. membership, etc.) and some make it intentionally complicated or opaque. Trying to convert their pricing structure to a consistent "Overall Cost of Processing" is the only way you, the merchant, can do an apples to apples pricing comparison and know whether an offer is actually a good deal. Our system isn't perfect but we're trying.
Conclusion: In sum, these rankings, ratings, and scores are inherently subjective, and should be regarded as our opinion and not as a legal statement of fact. Moreover, use these prices and estimates at your own risk, and make sure to verify the pricing you see here in any formal contract you receive. Finally, if you do find something wrong in our pricing, terms, etc., tell us and we'll try to fix it.
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