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.
Below is a detailed review of Soar Payments 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 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.
|Microsoft Dynamics GP||Yes|
|Windows / Blackberry||Yes|
|iPhone / iPad||Yes|
|Alternative Transaction Types:|
|Snail Mail Orders||Yes|
|American Express (AMEX)||Yes|
|Add Tips to Bills||Yes|
|eCommerce / Shopping Cart||Yes|
|EMV Chip 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|
|HIPAA Compliance (Healthcare)||Yes|
|Trust Account Debiting (Legal)||Yes|
|Fleet Cards (Petroleum)||Yes|
|Online Menu Orders (Restaurants)||Yes|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:|
|Setup / Application Fee||None|
|PCI Compliance Fee||Included|
|PCI Inaction Fee||$19.95|
|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|
|Equipment Sold at Cost|
Free Setup / Deployment
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
8/14/2015; TIME: 3:35 pm CST
Call to Main Phone Line
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.
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:
The majority of complaints centered on complaints by high-risk and offshore merchants who were declined by Soar Payments during the underwriting process.
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.
Customer complaints about it taking almost a week to get approval from the offshore bank.
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.
WHO IT'S GOOD FOR:
WHO IT'S NOT GOOD FOR:
|PCI Compliance Fee||$0.00|
|Online Reporting Fee||$0.00|
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.