CDGcommerce is a purveyor of merchant accounts, payment gateways, virtual terminals, and point of sale solutions for retail and ecommerce businesses. Their value proposition comes from their strong security features and transparent pricing. You can get started with CDGcommerce for as little as $10 per month plus 1.70% + $0.25 per transaction.
CDGcommerce is a merchant services provider that works with over 20,000 businesses in the U.S. The company has over 20 years of experience offering merchant services to business owners—mainly in the ecommerce and retail sectors. CDGcommerce CEO Chris West lays out his company’s promise to business owners on their website:
“Accepting payments safely and reliably is a mission critical business need. We stand behind each and every one of our merchants. Nothing is more important than your success and that is the philosophy that has driven our business since day one.”
Talk may be cheap—but signing up with a bad merchant services provider is not. Therefore, in this CDGcommerce review we’ll break down what CDGcommerce offers and what they charge for it, as well as pros and cons, customer reviews, and alternatives so you can make an informed decision about whether CDGcommerce is the right merchant services provider for your small business.
CDGcommerce: The Basics
CDGcommerce is primarily a merchant account provider, meaning they provide you with a special type of account needed to accept credit and debit card payments. CDGcommerce is what is known as a “front-end” processor, meaning they don’t process payments themselves. Instead, they send the payments to a back-end processor that then completes the transaction.
In terms of their business model, CDGcommerce is a direct vendor, but also partners with resellers. This means you can purchase payment technology directly from CDGcommerce, or go through one of over 1,500 third-party companies authorized to sell CDGcommerce products. We recommend dealing directly with CDGcommerce, as they offer transparent pricing (not all resellers do).
Aside from merchant accounts, CDGcommerce offers a wide range of other payment products and services, including payment gateways, virtual terminals, credit card machines, and POS hardware. Let’s get a better understanding of everything CDGcommerce offers, and what these products and services can do for your business.
CDGcommerce has thought of everything when it comes to accepting payments. Here is what you can get from this one-stop-shop merchant services provider.
We’ve already explained that CDGcommerce provides small business owners with merchant accounts, and that they are a front-end processor. The back-end processor you will work with is determined by CDGcommerce, and will be identified in your contract. It’s also important to note that CDGcommerce does not work with high-risk merchants. CDGcommerce does not charge anything outside of the payment processing fee for their merchant accounts (more on this later).
CDGcommerce provides all merchants with a free payment gateway. The two gateway options you have to choose from are Quantum and Authorize.Net. Both options come with free setup and no additional monthly or per-transaction fee (aside from the previously established payment-processing rate). Both Quantum and Authorize.Net are compatible with most major ecommerce platforms.
Along with payment gateways, CDGcommerce also provides a free virtual terminal. A virtual terminal is a software application that allows a merchant to process a payment when a physical credit card is not present. CDGcommerce’s virtual terminal can be accessed from any internet-enabled device.
Credit Card Terminal
CDGcommerce offers merchants one “free” Verifone VX520 credit card terminal when they open their account. We put “free” in quotes because you still have to pay an annual insurance fee of $79 to cover loss, damages, or upgrades. You also have to return the credit card terminal if and when you close your account.
The Verifone VX520 can accept magstripe, EMV (chip card), and contactless payment methods. It also has a PCI-compliant integrated PIN pad for debit cards and keyed-in sales. What’s more, merchants also get a free USB magstripe credit card reader that is compatible with PCs and Macs. Finally, if you already have a credit card terminal, CDGcommerce will reprogram it for you to work with their services at no additional cost.
Point of Sale
For retail merchants, CDGcommerce offers a complete POS hardware kit called CDG POS+, which comes with a 13.3-inch Harbortouch POS terminal, cash drawer, and thermal receipt printer. For all of this hardware you’ll pay a monthly fee of $39, plus a one-time annual fee of $79 for replacement protection. If and when you close your account, you’ll have to return your hardware.
In terms of POS software, here is what you get with Harbortouch:
- Apply discounts
- Place items on layaway
- Inventory management
- Unlimited item categories
- Unlimited item modifiers
- Universal search function
- Stock counts update in real time
- Employee management
- Job-based permissions
- Time clock
- Customer relationship management
- Customer database
- Loyalty program
- Reporting suite
- Financial overviews
- Transaction summaries
- Sales and labor summaries
- Employee performance
- Discount summary
- Remote access to POS via Lighthouse
CDG POS+ comes with free setup and a 30-day risk-free trial.
For merchants that need to accept payments on the go, CDGcommerce offers the ProcessNow app. The ProcessNow app works with a mobile magstripe credit card reader that CDGcommerce provides account holders for free. With ProcessNow, merchants get automatic tip calculation, inventory management, Bluetooth printer capability, and the option to email receipts.
The ProcessNow application is compatible with Apple and Android devices and can be downloaded for free in the AppStore or Google Play Store.
All CDGcommerce account holders receive access to a merchant portal where they can access reports that provide them with greater insight into their business. The merchant portal features a variety of reports on transactions, batches, and banking activity. You can also view sales charts, graphs, and statements; access risk-management tools; and create alerts to track suspicious activity, account changes, and transaction thresholds. CDGcommerce also integrates with QuickBooks, allowing you to export your data.
CDGcommerce offers a proprietary fraud suite for $15 per month that allows your business to accept legitimate sales while more effectively screening out bad ones. This service comes with fraud protection, phone order verification, cardholder authentication, and chargeback management. You also get data breach protection up to $100,000, PCI DSS staff security awareness training, vulnerability scanning on internet-connected payment devices, and customized security alerts.
CDGcommerce offers 24/7 phone support and live chat support during regular business hours. You can also email and expect a response within one business day. Their website also features a Resources tab with some guides and articles on how to use the various CDGcommerce products and services.
CDGcommerce offers simple and transparent pricing. Merchants will pay 1.95% + $0.30 per transaction to accept qualified online payments and 2.95% + $0.30 for non-qualified transactions (international, virtual terminal, corporate cards, and premium cards). For transactions made via a credit card terminal, POS terminal, or mobile credit card reader, merchants will pay 1.70% + $0.25 for qualified transactions and 2.9% + $0.30 for non-qualified transactions.
All CDGcommerce contracts are month-to-month, and can be cancelled at any time for no additional fee. There is also no monthly minimum fee and no PCI compliance fee. There is, however, a $10 monthly support fee.
Overall, the CDGcommerce fees you can expect to pay are a payment processing fee, credit card terminal and POS hardware insurance fee, a fee for their security suite, and the aforementioned support fee.
Given everything we have covered, here are what we see as the benefits of CDGcommerce:
Relative to other merchant account providers, the savings with CDGcommerce are significant. Compared to Square (2.75%) and PayPal (2.7%), CDGcommerce has significantly cheaper payment processing rates. Many businesses also charge a monthly fee for using their payment gateway, while CDGcommerce allows you to use one for free. You also pay low monthly fees for POS hardware with CDGcommerce—other POS providers can charge several hundreds if not thousands of dollars for the same products (although you own them outright).
On top of all that, CDGcommerce is upfront about their pricing, which is often the exception in the merchant services industry. Having month-to-month contracts and no fees for early termination, PCI compliance, or your virtual terminal is generous.
CDGcommerce has developed a comprehensive suite of security features that are among the best we’ve seen from a merchant account provider. For just $15 per month you’ll receive advanced features like phone verification, vulnerability scanning, and cardholder authentication. Looking at how strong CDGcommerce’s security is, it’s no surprise their customer retention rate is 97%.
There is one major area of concern with CDGcommerce, and it is in regards to payment processing.
As a front-end processor, CDGcommerce doesn’t actually have a say when funding holds or account freezes happen. That is at the discretion of the back-end processor. Customers have expressed frustration at how CDGcommerce can’t help them when these kinds of issues occur. Before you sign up with CDGcommerce, you should make sure they are pairing your account with a back-end processor that won’t hold your funds at the first sign of trouble.
In the future, we’d like to see CDGcommerce offer in-house payment processing so that customers can go directly to them, rather than having to deal with another vendor. Until that day comes, it’s important merchants are aware of this potential issue.
CDGcommerce is not widely reviewed across the web but does have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. The CDGcommerce website also features a testimonials page where customers provide their feedback on the product.
Merchant account providers come in all different shapes and sizes. Some, like CDGcommerce, offer you a range of options related to payments, while others simply offer a way to accept credit cards. Let’s go over two alternatives to CDGcommerce that vary in their offerings:
European-based SumUp is a payment processor and mobile POS provider that allows merchants to accept credit card payments on the cheap. When you sign up, you’ll pay $19 for a Bluetooth-enabled credit card reader that can accept magstripe, EMV, and NFC payments at a rate of 2.65%. While the processing rate is higher than CDG’s, you can purchase your credit card terminal outright for less than it costs to rent from CDG. SumUp’s free mPOS app also comes with a virtual terminal, inventory- and employee-management features, and a reporting suite.
If you want a merchant account provider that will provide you with everything you will ever need to accept and manage payments, Square is the most small business-friendly option out there. When you sign up you get a merchant account, free mobile credit card reader, and the ability to accept in-person payments at a rate of 2.6%, plus $0.10. You also get a free virtual terminal, payment gateway, point of sale software, and access to powerful POS hardware options like the Square Register or the Square Terminal. Square also boasts POS software designed specifically for restaurants and retail businesses. Through the Square app marketplace, you can further extend the functionality of your payments solution to fit your business needs.
Is CDGcommerce Right for Your Business?
After looking at CDGcommerce inside and out, we are happy to report that we do feel they live up to their promise to small business owners. CDGcommerce provides small business owners with the ability to accept credit card payments in an affordable and secure way. They also provide a variety of additional services and products that can help small businesses as they scale. Overall, this is a strong merchant account provider and an option you should definitely consider.