PROS / It doesn't charge a PCI-compliance fee and has no monthly minimum processing requirement.
CONS / Your company has to process more than $10,000 per month to qualify for an account.
VERDICT / Dharma Merchant Services is a transparent, socially responsible credit card processor that may be a good choice for community-minded businesses.
Dharma Merchant Services is a San Francisco-based credit card processor that offers transparent pricing and doesn't charge a PCI-compliance fee. It offers only interchange-plus pricing, which is quickly becoming the industry standard. Dharma's rates of 0.25% + $0.10 per transaction are slightly better than average compared to the processors we reviewed. The monthly fee of $15 is a little higher than average, but it is offset by the lack of a monthly minimum and PCI-compliance fee. It's a good processor for small businesses that process more than $10,000 per month.
If you process online transactions, Dharma's rates are higher than its retail rates, though still competitive. It charges a hefty gateway setup fee of $99, a monthly gateway fee and an additional gateway transaction fee of $.05 for each online sale. These extra costs make Dharma a less-attractive option if selling online is part of your business plan.
Dharma Merchant Services is another processor that excels at transparency with its costs and fees, and it lists them all on its website. While this may seem to be a minor thing, many other processors don't include that information. Its website contains helpful information explaining interchange-plus pricing and other intricacies of the credit card processing industry.
Applying for Dharma Merchant Services can be completed electronically through its website and only takes about 10 minutes. After you apply, the approval and account setup can take up to two days. Once you've signed up and begin processing, your funds can be deposited as quickly as the next business day or up to two business days. Both the setup time and account clearing time are average for the industry.
Dharma's contract is month to month, so you won't be stuck in a long-term contract. If you choose to stop using Dharma's services, you have to pay a $25 closure fee, which is nominal compared to the early termination fees that some processors charge.
We rated this processor well for the quality of customer service it provides. The customer service representatives we spoke with were well informed and were quick to provide answers to our questions. Dharma does not provide a dedicated account rep, a feature of other processors that we consider important.
Dharma Merchant Services offers better-than-average rates, charges few fees and provides excellent transparency in an industry where it is often lacking. It is a sustainable, community-minded business that may be a good choice for like-minded merchants.