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Review of Soar Payments Merchant Services

507 N. SH PKWY E, Suite 550, Houston, TX 77060

DISCLOSURE: Ads, Affiliates and Conflicts 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 potential conflicts of interest. Read our Affiliate / Conflicts / Advertising Disclosure for a more detailed disclosure.

Overview

Soar Payments provides offshore and high risk merchant accounts, using straightforward pricing and industry leading customer service.

For low risk US merchants, Soar Payments offers very cheap interchange plus pricing plans for retail and online merchants. On the high risk and offshore side, they work with over 12 acquiring banks and processors, and dozens of gateways. This enables them to write a wider range of high-risk merchants than most other high-risk merchant providers.

Soar Payments, based in Houston Texas, is a global provider of retail and online credit card processing to merchants worldwide. Created with the idea that the high risk payments business could be done better, they built the business on the principles of transparency, simplicity and comprehensiveness. In practical terms, that means that the company publishes their pricing and terms rather than making you call and haggle (transparency), they offer pre-made bundles of chargeback prevention and gateway services designed to serve specific industries (simplicity), and they work with some of the largest range of payment processors so they have a solution for almost every type of business, including offshore and very high risk (comprehensiveness).

What we liked Soar Payments is that they're able to serve a very wide array of high risk businesses, but because they happily disclose their rates and don't haggle, they're a great option for high risk businesses, that frankly don't always have a lot of good options, and at times (rightly) fear getting ripped off. We also really liked their customer service, and the fact that they had a pre-planned package for most high risk businesses, which, while they didn't push it during our test call, made it clear without being condescending why they recommended the additional services such as a specific gateway, chargeback avoidance package, etc. for a given high risk business type.

In a nutshell, after having spoken with a number of high risk credit card processors that either didn't know how to serve a particular industry, or which failed to deliver on their promises, they are high risk experts, known for great customer service, and as a result garnered our #1 rating for high risk merchant accounts.

A few notes, however, while Soar Payments is very clear about the pricing they offer, including the additional services they offer, but it's still important to remember that there are some fixed costs (discussed further below) that you're going to need to pay, regardless of credit card processor. Finally, while there aren't any negative reviews available about the company online, there are also only a handful of positive reviews. That's not entirely uncommon, as unless company's specifically seek out recommendations, clients rarely give them, however, we'd certainly like to see more of them publicly available.

Detailed Review

Below is a detailed review of Soar Payments Merchant Services offering. The review is broken down into the following categories.

Features

Depending upon the type of business you own, some of the following features may or may not be important to you.

Soar Payments offers a fairly wide range of features, and we'll mention them here. However, it's important to note that because Soar Payments accepts both low risk and high-risk businesses, and generally works with different sponsor banks for each category of business, some of these features may not be available for your specific merchant account, so if something is important to you, make sure to ask.

Software Compatibility:
Intuit Quickbooks Yes
Sage 50 No
Microsoft Dynamics GP Yes
Hardware Compatibility:
Windows / Blackberry Yes
iPhone / iPad Yes
Android Yes
Alternative Transaction Types:
Phone Orders Yes
Internet Orders Yes
Wireless Orders Yes
Mobile Orders Yes
Snail Mail Orders Yes
American Express (AMEX) Yes
Add Tips to Bills Yes
eCommerce / Shopping Cart Yes
International Sales Yes
Recurring Payments Yes
EMV Chip Cards Yes
Contactless Cards Yes
Loyalty / Gift Cards Yes
eChecks / Electronic Checks Yes
Welfare Benefits (EBT/SNAP/TANF) Yes
Security / Fraud Prevention:
AVS Fraud Protection Yes
PCI DSS Secure Transactions Yes
Industry Specific:
HIPAA Compliance (Healthcare) Yes
Trust Account Debiting (Legal) Yes
Fleet Cards (Petroleum) Yes
Online Menu Orders (Restaurants) Yes
Countries Served:
U.S. Yes
Other Countries Yes
International Yes

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Pricing

Almost every merchant account services company uses either Interchange Plus or Tiered Pricing (to learn the differences read here). Where companies allow us to disclose pricing information, we show the deals that our secret shoppers were able to achieve. When companies offer both Interchange Plus and Tiered Pricing, we try to get a quote on both options.

Soar Payments is leading the industry in terms of transparency on pricing and fees, and we were encouraged to see that they have eliminated a lot of the "hidden" or add-on fees that other less reputable processors include, such as reprogramming equipment, annual fees, or setup fees. For low risk merchants, they offer straightforward interchange plus pricing. Whereas for high-risk merchants they offer a range, and offshore merchants are offered a single flat rate.

Retail Interchange Plus Plan:

Note: This pricing plan is intended for retail businesses (which includes businesses in which the sale is made in person) where the business processes more than $5,000 per month on average.

  • Swiped Fees: 0.1 - 0.4% Plus Interchange + $0.15 per transaction
  • Monthly Fees: $10 per month 

 

Online Interchange Plus Plan:

Note: This pricing plan is intended for online businesses (which includes any ecommerce, MOTO or other business where the sale is not made in person) where the business processes more than $5,000 per month on average. 

  • Per Sale Fees: 0.2 - 0.6% Plus Interchange + $0.15 per transaction
  • Monthly Fees: $15 per month

 

 

US High-Risk Plan:

Note: This pricing plan is intended for retail and online businesses where the type of business requires it to be treated as high-risk and the ownership includes a US resident. 

  • Per Sale Fees:  1.95% to 4.95% + $0.25 per transaction
  • Monthly Fees: $35 - $85 per month

 

Offshore High-Risk Plan:

Note: This pricing plan is intended for retail and online businesses where the type of business requires it to be treated as high-risk, or the business has no US owners but wishes to sell to US businesses. 

  • Per Sale Fees:  4.95% - 8.0% + $0.25 - $1.00 per transaction
  • Monthly Fees: $55 - $120 per month

Our Experience: We were extremely happy with Soar Payments transparent cost structure for both low risk retail and online / ecommerce businesses. It was straightforward and the quote I received on my test call was entirely consistent with the information they post on their website. It was refreshing to feel like there wasn't any assessment on the sales person's end about how much they felt like they could gouge me for. They stuck to their published pricing, which, in this industry, is rather unique. On the high risk side, there's a range of prices listed, and the prices are in tiered pricing. After a some questioning, apparently the reason for their inexact pricing for high-risk and offshore accounts is that the rates are determined by business category, and often set in part by the accepting sponsor bank. That said, I appreciate the range of pricing, which is significantly more transparency than most high-risk and offshore credit card processors disclose.

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Contract Fine Print

Soar Payments gave me with a detailed pricing breakdown, as well as explanations of all the possible fees that a business might incur during a test call. While some of these presumably stay consistent regardless of the business, because this company writes both low-risk, high-risk, and offshore business, make sure to confirm what fine print applies to your business.

 

Fine Print Fees:
Termination Fee None
Setup / Application Fee None
PCI Compliance Fee Included
PCI Inaction Fee $19.95
Gateway Fee Included
1099-K Fee $3.95
Statement Fee Included
Online Reporting Fee None
Monthly Minimum Volume Fee $25.00
Accept International Pymt Fee Per Transaction
Voice Authorization Fee $0.95 per call
Monthly Min. Process Fee Yes
Daily Batch Fee $0.10
ACH / Direct Deposit Fee None
ACH Charge Fee $10.00
ACH Return Fee $10.00
FANF Fee No Markup
Chargeback Fees $25
Freebies:
Initial Consultation
Equipment Sold at Cost

Free Setup / Deployment

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Equipment

Soar Payments offers 2 refreshingly simple pricing structures making them haggle free.

While your transactions usually take place electronically, the actual device that you use to swipe a customer's card is referred to as "the equipment." This equipment includes hardware and, often, software or apps for that hardware to function properly.

Card Connect provides one of the largest selections equipment for all types of transactions, and some twists on software and service:

HARDWARE

  • Terminals:  Soar Payments provides options that a broad array of terminal options including First Data, VeriFone, Equinox, and Ingenico. Wireless terminals for mobile processing come from First Data, VeriFone and Ingenico. 
  • PIN Pad: About 10 PIN pads are available, including Equinox P1300, VeriFone VX 805, the Ingenico iPP320, and First Data's options. 
  • MagTek Dynamag Swiper: This swiper works with the PC Charge Pro software noted below, and they offer about a dozen different compatible software options.

 

SOFTWARE

  • Soar Pay Gateway: Soar Payments offers a high risk gateway that is a proprietary platform that accepts all major credit cards, signature debit cards, and ACH payments. Shopping cart compatibility is pretty broad, covering 100+ shopping carts. The Soar Payments gateway includes features like card tokenization (a form of encryption), recurring payment options, email payment notification, multiple MID balancing, and integration with nearly all systems or applications that have Internet access.
  • Authorize.net Gateway: If you don't want to use Soar Payment's proprietary gateway (presumably because you're already using another gateway), they also offer the commonly used Authorize.Net gateway, with free setup, and a relatively cheap monthly charge.
  • First Data Global Gateway: Along with about a dozen other third party gateway options, Soar Payments offers the ability to use First Data's Global Gateway. The reason, again, is that merchants who are already familiar with a gateway prefer to stick with it.
  • QuickBooks Payment Terminal: This add-on software works with QuickBooks Pro®, Premier, Enterprise and Accountant versions 2009 - 2015.
  • RoamPay: This is Soar Paymentss mobile processing solution software for mobile phones, specifically iPhones, iPads, and Androids. They also work with most third party providers of mobile processing, and their sales team can recommend your options.
  • Dialpay: Software for telephone processing via mobile phone.
  • PC Charge Pro: Install this software on a laptop with WiFi, Internet Air Card or USB wireless modem. Add the MagTek Mini USB Sqiper for an inexpensive wireless terminal that allows you to swipe credit cards at lower processing rates. Runs on Windows only.
  • Chargeback Armour: Soar Payments offers one of the most robust chargeback prevention packages of any high risk credit card processor. With both chargeback alerts, integrated representments, and a host of other integrated chargeback mitigation tools, Soar is particularly well suited to keeping high risk merchants processing by helping them to maintain a low chargeback ratio. 

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Countries Served

Soar Payments has a vast network of partner banks, and while a significant portion of their business is US low risk retail and online merchants, their relationships with offshore and high-risk banks located throughout the US and internationally enables them to board high-risk and international merchants throughout the globe. They allow payments in Euros, Dollars, Canadian Dollars and a few other currencies.

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Contract Length / Termination

I generally don't like long-term contracts or termination fees in merchant services agreements, because the ability to cancel keeps the credit card processor on its best behavior, including the willingness to make you happy if there's a dispute. Plus, this ability to cancel gives you the ability to move on if you find a better deal.

During our test call to Soar Payments sales, were offered a month-to-month contract, along with no termination fee. If you get free equipment, it's our understanding that there will be a termination fee and contract length plus your batch rate will increase, so that makes sure you don't just accept the free equipment and immediately cancel causing them to lose money on your account.

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About the Company

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.

Processor: Soar Payments has relationships with over two dozen processors and banks both in the US and internationally. Rather than simply use a single sponsor bank, they have pursued numerous relationships so that they can provide the widest range of service and board the widest range of merchants. For low risk US merchants, they primarily use two domestic banks and the First Data platform. Soar Payment's corporate headquarters are in Houston Texas.

Account Sales: The sales team is primarily in-house, and Soar Payments also works with partners and agents to market their services. Because of their published low risk pricing, there are no hidden pricing gimmicks designed to get merchants to sign up. As far as we can tell, they basically just publish their pricing, which is pretty cheap, so it's sort of a take it or leave it approach, which I found refreshing. They will offer free equipment or buy you out of a contract, but they make the costs to doing that pretty transparent, in the form of either a higher batch rate or a year plus contract length. We know that a lot of merchants don't like to buy equipment up front, however, in our opinion having to sign a long-term contract is worse than a free terminal. So while we understand why they'd do this, we don't think you should jump on the offer.

Account Service: Soar Payment offers excellent support services, which is often an underrated feature. For new businesses of folks that aren't terribly savvy about credit card processing, they actually take the time to explain everything and at least on our test call, did so honestly and transparently. For high-risk and international clients, they will talk to you about the options you have, costs, and positives and negatives 

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Customer Service

As part of our review process, we try to test merchant account service companies' claims by placing test calls and working through the customer service process.

When:

8/14/2015; TIME: 3:35 pm CST

Who:

Call to Main Phone Line

Our Experience:

When I called the Soar Payments main line I encountered a live human on the second ring. They immediately asked for my company name, and when it didn't register in their system, I was asked if I'd like to speak to someone in sales. Transferred, I spoke to Kristen in sales. She was helpful, explained the differences between the Basic and Pro plans, and then reiterated the same pricing on their website. I asked a few other questions relating to equipment, interchange plus pricing, PCI compliance, EMV technology, all of which were pretty well explained.

Our Take: Given that it normally takes me ten or so minutes on test calls to actually reach a human, I was pretty impressed with the fact that a company actually picks up the phone instead of putting me through a phone tree. I also liked how non-aggressive the sales pitch was. Basically the company seems to take the approach that they have a good product at a good price, and while they'll happily answer all your questions, they won't try to twist your arm or use gimmicks to get you to sign up. All in all, a good experience.

 

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Common Customer Complaints / Our Verdicts

We scoured the web to find past and current customer complaints about this processor. Then, we investigated those complaints that seemed legit, and provide our verdict on how well the processor handled the issues.

We found no significant complaints about Soar Payments at BBB or on the web. In part, that may be because the company doesn't haggle over prices, or use pricing gimmicks, which is the source of a lot of complaints by customers for other processors. The issues we did find, were almost exclusively on the high-risk and offshore side, and they were exclusively complaints by companies that were unable to get approved through underwriting. Those complaints are discussed in detail below:

 

Problems with Product/Service:
Customer Complaint:

The majority of complaints centered on complaints by high-risk and offshore merchants who were declined by Soar Payments during the underwriting process. 

Our Verdict:

A high risk merchant account provider has to be very careful about signing up fraudulent, illegal, or scammy companies. And because Soar Payments accepts nutraceuticals, continuity, tech support, eCig and a few other very high risk businesses, there are plenty of fraudsters. My sense, in reading the complaints is that these were fraudulent companies who were nonetheless frustrated because they had been rejected after it was discovered. I didn't actually find any complaints in which the merchant felt misled, mostly just annoyed / frustrated.

Boarding Process:
Customer Complaint:

Customer complaints about it taking almost a week to get approval from the offshore bank.

Our Verdict:

We wish every merchant understood that when you apply for a US merchant account, if you're a retail merchant you can expect an answer in 24 hours, if you're an online merchant expect 48-72 hours, and if you're high-risk or offshore, expect a week. That's because for high-risk and offshore, the ultimate decisionmaker is often the bank's underwriting team, instead of the processor. So things just happen slower.

 

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Who Should / Shouldn't Use this Processor

WHO IT'S GOOD FOR:

  • Small Business: The pricing is cheap and transparent and the monthly fees are straightforward and beat every competitor we've reviewed. Small businesses in particular will benefit from this as they're often the ones getting taken advantage of via tiered pricing. Plus the options that this company offers are really broad and their sales / customer service team is really helpful. 
  • Mid-Size Business: They're a good fit for mid-sized businesses. Their rates again are very cheap, equipment and gateways are robust, customer service is good, etc.
  • eCommerce Businesses: Soar Payments is a good option for eCommerce / online businesses of all sizes, because they work with literally every gateway under the sun, offer cheap rates, and can set you up with multiple accounts or high-risk options if you need them.
  • High-Risk Businesses: Soar Payments works with among the largest number of banks and processors we've reviewed, each of which have a different risk profile. That means they can match you with the cheapest bank that will accept you, rather than just placing you with their only high-risk option.
  • International Businesses: If your a business not based in the US that wants to sell to US customers, or if your business has been placed on the MATCH list, sells globally, etc., Soar Payments can offer affordable offshore accounts.

WHO IT'S NOT GOOD FOR:

  • Very Small / Hobby Businesses: If you're doing below $2,000 per month, and you plan to stay at those levels, you'll save the signup hassles by going with an aggregator like Flint or SparkPay. The per transaction costs are higher with those providers, but given that it takes a few hours of your time to complete the application and setup it's not worth it. Plus, the equipment here is going to cost you, whereas it's free with an aggregator.
  • Nationwide Chains: National chains need 1 hour response times for broken machines, and generally are willing to pay for it. Soar Payments, like most processors focusing on businesses with fewer than 10 locations, can offer same-day servicing, but that's not enough for most national businesses. So you're better off going with a processor that focuses on national chains like Vantiv.

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Soar Payments Merchant Services
Ratings
Overall
Price
Customer Service
Customer Reviews
Rates
0.20% - 1.95%
Features
  • No Haggle Pricing
  • Cheap Rates
  • Top Customer Service
Monthly Fees Breakdown
Setup Fee$0.00
Monthly Fee$0.00
PCI Compliance Fee$0.00
Online Reporting Fee$0.00
Batch Fee$0.00
Gateway Fee$0.00
Chargeback Fee$15.00
Termination Fee$0.00
Contract LengthMonth-to-Month
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Disclaimer:

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.