Bank of America Merchant Services Review for 2019

Maddie Shepherd

Senior Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is a senior staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!
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As you grow your business and reach more and more customers, you’ll need to begin setting up systems for accepting diverse forms of payments. Whether you simply want to begin accepting credit card payments or you want to update and optimize systems that you already have, you’ll need to look into your merchant services options, one of which is Bank of America Merchant Services.

Of all the providers out there for merchant services, Bank of America is one of the more well-known names. But can this big bank address the merchant services needs of a small but growing business?

That’s for you to decide—once you’ve gathered all of the details you need on Bank of America Merchant Services. Which is why we’ve condensed all of the necessary information—including info on credit card processing, service fees, and account settings—into one resource.

Here’s all you need to know about Bank of America Merchant Services to determine if it’s the right option for your business’s merchant services needs.

Bank of America Merchant Services: The Basics

The first thing to understand about Bank of America Merchant Services is that it is entirely separate from Bank of America. Essentially, Bank of American Merchant Services is a purveyor of First Data products through independent sales organizations and agents. The way it works is that customers will go to their local BofA branch in need of merchant services, at which point they will be referred to a Bank of America Merchant Services sales agent to complete their transaction.

It’s fairly common for large merchant services providers like First Data to sell their products through subsidiaries, so this shouldn’t alarm you. However, note that most sales agents work on commission, which means they might try to up-sell you or lock you into long-term contracts—so tread carefully. There is an early-termination fee with Bank of America Merchant Services.

Now that you know how the organization works, let’s see everything Bank of America Merchant Services can provide to your small business.

Bank of America Merchant Services: Capabilities

Bank of America Merchant Services feature three core services—ecommerce payment gateways, check acceptance, and point of sale devices.

The Bank of America merchant services fees you have to pay will ultimately depend on which—or what combination—of the following services you end up going with, as well as your transaction volume and industry. 

Let’s take a look at each of the individual merchant services Bank of America offers:

Payment Gateways

If you’re looking for credit card processing services for your ecommerce business, then look into the Bank of America Payment Gateway option. This online Bank of America credit card processing service can work for most types of ecommerce businesses as well as small businesses looking to move into the ecommerce space.

If you set up a Bank of America merchant account for their payment gateway services, you’ll be able to easily integrate their secure gateway with your website and mobile app. The Bank of America gateway can work hand in hand with multiple online shopping cart providers. Plus, it will provide reporting based on your online transaction data, all while ensuring your customers’ data is secure.

All that said, there’s little information available online about the Bank of America merchant services fees attached to their payment gateway services, so you’ll likely have to contact a sales representative to get a quote on how much this service will cost your business.

Check Acceptance

Bank of America Merchant Services offers electronic check acceptance services through the POS provider Clover. This is possible because Clover is also a subsidiary of First Data. Through the electronic check acceptance services, your small business will be able to convert paper checks into electronic transactions.

Even more, this capability will allow your customers to make purchases using their checking accounts and to set up recurring payments should they decide to. Customers will also be able to make secure check payments by mail, by Dropbox, or over the phone.

The Bank of America merchant services site doesn’t offer information about the fees attached to their check acceptance services. That said, the same services, secured directly through their provider, Clover, will cost you 1.5% + $0.20 for each in-person check transaction you process.

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POS Services By Clover

The third type of merchant services Bank of America offers—point of sale services—also comes via Clover. When you go through Bank of America Merchant Services for your POS system, you’ll be getting Clover products. So let’s take a closer look at all four Clover POS devices.

Though Bank of America’s website doesn’t clarify the cost of these point of sale devices if you buy them through their merchant services, here are the prices from Clover’s website:

  • Clover Station is a table-top, comprehensive point of sale device that starts at $1,149, not including payment processing fees.
  • Clover Mini is a smaller, portable point of sale device that still offers a user-friendly interface and speedy payment processing. The Clover Mini starts at $599 before any payment processing fees you’ll need to pay.
  • Clover Flex offers payment processing that’s even more portable and will start at $449, without payment processing fees.
  • Clover Go is a Bluetooth point of sale device that relies on a smartphone or tablet, but will also only cost your business $59 before payment processing fees.

To have a fully functional POS, you’ll also need to sign up for Clover’s POS software. Here you get two options:

  • Register Lite allows you to accept all forms of payment, set employees permissions and shifts, track sales and reports, process payments offline, and access Clover App market. It costs $14 per month plus a 2.7% per transaction fee.
  •  Register comes with all Register Lite capabilities, plus inventory management, ability to access customer feedback, and add gratuity to checks. This plan costs $29 per month plus 2.3% per transaction.

Although Clover offers a good service, you’re not restricted to Clover POS if you want to access Bank of America credit card processing. Bank of America Merchant Services also offers a more traditional POS device called the FD130 Terminal for processing credit card transactions. Plus, they encourage you to call in to see if you can connect your own point of sale device with Bank of America Merchant Services.

Aside from these core offerings, Bank of America Merchant Services can also offer currency conversion, gift card services, a customer loyalty program, and next day deposits for those with a Bank of America business checking account.

Bank of America Merchant Services Support

Bank of America Merchant Services offers 24/7 support via phone, live chat, and email. There is also a fairly modest Support Center with FAQs and tutorials on various Bank of America Merchant Services products.

Bank of America Merchant Services: Pros

Given everything we have touched on, here are what we see as the benefits of going with Bank of America Merchant Services:

Next-Day Deposits

The main reason to go with Bank of America Merchant Services is if you are already a BofA customer and getting next day deposits on your credit card transactions matters to you. Most other merchant services providers will take 24-48 hours to process your credit card transactions, so if you want them faster, Bank of America Merchant Services can service your needs.

Bank of America Merchant Services: Cons

There are two reasons to go with another provider over Bank of America Merchant Services.

Rebranded Clover Products

Most of the merchant services Bank of America offers don’t come directly from them, but from Clover. As such, if you’re open to working with a company other than Bank of America, you might want to consider bypassing Bank of America Merchant Services and working directly with Clover.

If you end up using Bank of America Merchant Services, odds are that you’ll end up with mostly Clover devices and services. So, unless you already bank directly with Bank of America and want to keep your business finances consolidated, consider streamlining your search and moving directly to Clover for your merchant services.

Transparency

The other thing we should mention if you decide to work with any merchant services provider that uses sales agents is transparency. As we mentioned earlier, there are no set prices on the Bank of America Merchant Services website. This is deliberate because the price is something you negotiate with your sales agent, and depends on a myriad of factors, including your negotiating skills. We prefer working with a service that is upfront about the prices you will pay, not someone who may or may not be trying to earn a fat commission.

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Top Alternatives to Bank of America Merchant Services

If you’re not convinced that Bank of America merchant services—or Clover merchant services—are the right fit for your small business, then your next step will be to look into your alternatives.

Here’s the rundown on two of your best alternatives to Bank of America merchant services:

Square Point of Sale

If you don’t already use Square POS and merchant services for your small business, then odds are you’ve at least come across it as a consumer. Square offers remarkably straightforward, affordable point of sale solutions to small businesses. And, as a result, you’ll see their characteristically minimalistic point of sale devices anywhere from farmers’ market stands to huge franchises.

Square offers three versions of their POS software: A basic free version, Square for Restaurants, and Square for Retail. You’ll also have access to Square’s marketplace of point of sale hardware:

  • Square Register provides a full point of sale experience for $999 or $49 a month for 24 months. For every non-keyed transaction you run through it, you’ll pay 2.5% + $0.10. (Keyed transactions cost more on every Square point of sale device).
  • Square Stand is a stand you can equip with an iPad to use as your POS terminal. You’ll just have to pay $169 for the stand and 2.75% for every non-keyed transaction you run through it. The Square Stand also comes with a built-in card reader. 
  • The Square Reader for Contactless and Chip transactions is a portable card reader that must be attached to a smart device to run transactions. It costs $49 plus 2.75% for every non-keyed transaction you make with it.
  • The Square Magstripe Reader comes free when you sign up for Square. It attaches to a mobile device to process payments. It also charges a 2.75% fee for each non-keyed transaction you run with it. If you decide to buy more magstripe readers for your business, they’ll just cost $10 each.

Intuit QuickBooks POS Systems

Finally, if you—like many small business owners out there—are keeping track of your business’s finances with QuickBooks accounting software, then consider Intuit QuickBooks POS systems your top alternative to Bank of America Merchant Services. QuickBooks POS systems will work hand in hand with your accounting software to make tracking each step of your business’s revenue remarkably easy.

QuickBooks POS software provides three packages to choose from:

  • The Basic plan starts at a one-off price of $1,200 and allows you to perform basic point of sale capabilities like ring sales, track inventory, and perform reporting.
  • The Pro plan starts at $1,700 and tacks on employee and payroll management, gift card programs, layaway capabilities, and advanced reporting.
  • The Multi-Store, the most capable of all the versions, starts at $1,900 but will also allow you to manage multiple stores, manage and transfer inventory, and perform advanced inventory reporting.

Is Bank of America Merchant Services Right for You?

All in all, it’s hard to recommend Bank of America Merchant Services to business owners who aren’t already Bank of America customers. There are lots of other merchant services providers out there with more transparent pricing who won’t sell you rebranded products. However, if you are a BofA customer, we understand why you’d want the convenience of having your merchant services and banking in one place. We’ve given you all the information you need to make your decision. The only thing left is to do what’s in the best interest of your business.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Maddie Shepherd

Senior Staff Writer at Fundera
Maddie Shepherd is a senior staff writer at Fundera. Beyond her deep knowledge of small business financing, Maddie's specialty is business credit cards—she'd love to help match your business with the credit card that benefits you most!

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