PROS / Leaders Merchant Services offers a very good tiered rate on qualified debit cards.
CONS / This processor dissuades small businesses from interchange-plus pricing.
VERDICT / Leaders offers good tiered pricing and decent processing fees, but it rates low on transparency and requires a lengthy contract.
Leaders Merchant Services is a credit card processor based in California. It offers interchange-plus pricing and tiered rates for small businesses. Leaders is an ISO/MSP of iPayment and First Data. This processor has reasonable fees but lacks transparency and requires a long-term commitment.
This credit card processor gave our reviewers quotes for tiered pricing. Tiered rates can range from 0.38% to 0.49% for debit cards and start at 1.58% for qualified credit cards. It adds an additional surcharge of 2.39% to the processing cost if a rewards card is used for a transaction. When our testers inquired about interchange-plus pricing, the reps provided it, albeit reluctantly. The interchange-plus rates are on the higher end of the spectrum, with markup rates ranging between 0.30% and 0.50%.
Leaders charges a monthly fee of $5.95 as well as an annual $89 fee for PCI compliance, both of which are lower than average. This processor requires you to generate a $25 monthly minimum of processing costs.
Leaders earned the lowest transparency and consistency score in our review for several reasons. It does not post any information about its pricing or its fees on its website, and it did not follow up with our testers by email with the rates it quoted us over the phone. Perhaps the biggest issue was the lack of consistency, as our reviewers received different estimates and were given entirely different reasons why interchange-plus was not a good option for small businesses, which is contrary to expert advice and the recommendations from many other companies.
Leaders' service terms are more restrictive than most of the processors we reviewed. It requires you to sign a three-year contract that automatically renews yearly after the initial term. The contract includes an early termination fee; it charges you $350 if you cancel during the first year and $250 after that. Leaders is also slower at setting up accounts and clearing them. We look for processors that can set up accounts within two days; Leaders can take up to four. Likewise, the ideal processor takes up to two business days to clear an account and deposit your funds, but Leaders takes up to three business days.
Leaders has courteous customer service reps who take the time to answer your questions. However, the reps our testers spoke with seemed more interested in making a sale than other processors we contacted. Leaders offers a dedicated account rep as well as responsive live chat and 24/7 phone support.
Leaders Merchant Services offers good rates for tiered-pricing plans as well as lower-than-average fees. It lacks the transparency in pricing that we look for and requires you to sign a long-term contract with an early termination fee.