PROS / Dharma Merchant Services offers special rates for restaurants and other businesses with small ticket averages.
CONS / You must process $10,000 or more per month to qualify for an account.
VERDICT / Dharma Merchant Services has low rates and high-quality customer service, making it an attractive option for established small business owners.
This San Francisco-based merchant card service offers a special low rate for restaurants, including those that are quick service or bars as well as other businesses with average small tickets. Special rates for nonprofits are also available.
Dharma Merchant Services clearly posts its pricing on its website and doesn't require a long-term contract. It offers interchange-plus pricing, which is the pricing model recommended by experts in the merchant account industry. It also offers a rate-lock guarantee, which means that its markup above interchange won't increase during the life of your account.
The rates for this company's restaurant/small ticket plan are 0.20% and $0.07 per transaction above interchange. The rates for this company's retail plan are 0.25% plus $0.10 per transaction above interchange. Both rate plans are slightly below the merchant service's industry average rates.
The company's $10 recurring monthly fee is lower than average and there's no annual fee. Like most merchant service providers, Dharma Merchant Services charges a PCI-compliance fee, which amounts to $7.95 per month. Although Dharma Merchant Services doesn't have a monthly minimum fee, it requires you to process at least $10,000 per month to qualify for an account. If you don't process this amount each month, it may refer you to another company.
If you need processing equipment, Dharma Merchant Services can set you up with a basic EMV-compliant terminal for $249, which is higher than average, or a Clover Go (which is less expensive upfront) for $99, but there's an ongoing $10 per month fee for the software.
If you require an online merchant services account, Dharma can set you up with a virtual terminal and an Authorize.net or NMI payment gateway. Like many processors, Dharma's online rates are higher than its retail rates. The NMI gateway setup fee is $49, and you're charged a $20 monthly gateway fee and $0.05 per online transaction. In addition to accepting payments on your website with this payment gateway, you can email invoices and set up recurring billing.
In our research, we found Dharma Merchant Services to be extremely transparent. It posts all of its fees and costs for each method of accepting credit cards on its website. Many other merchant services aren't this upfront or detailed with this key information. Dharma earned a Transparency and Consistency score of 100%.
Signup times are about average with this service. Completing the online application takes roughly 10 minutes, and your application is reviewed within two business days. Once you begin processing, funds clear the account and are deposited into your business bank account within one to two business days, which is also an industry average. Next-day funding may be available to certain merchants that accept credit cards in person.
While Dharma Merchant Services allows you to operate on a month-to-month basis, it charges a $25 closure fee if you close your account.
The customer support associated with this service is exceptional; all of our questions and concerns were readily addressed. Dharma Merchant Services has a dedicated support team and noncommissioned account managers. 24/7 phone support is available, with afterhours calls directed to the company's backend processor.
Dharma Merchant Services is a good choice for established merchants that process more than $10,000 per month. It has transparent, competitive interchange-plus pricing, with special rates for small-ticket merchants and discounted rates for nonprofit organizations. Its service terms are fair, with no setup fee and month-to-month service. Two fees it charges that most of its competitors don't are a gateway setup fee and a small account-closure fee.