Accepting card payments is a must for small to medium businesses today. Whether you’re a freelance service provider, a cafe owner, or a retailer, card payments are king, and your credit card processing account is where you hold power to manage and control your fees.
Debit and credit card processing all come at a cost for merchants. You may not be able to control the rates set by the banks and card providers, but what you can do is manage those fees through your payment processor.
There are many processors out there that claim to save you money, and in this post we’ll take a look at two of them: Riverside Payments and Stax. Read on to discover how these solutions stack up against each other.Learn More
Headquartered in Washington State, Riverside Payments is a Wells Fargo company that specializes in restaurants and bars. It has labeled itself as “the world’s best merchant service provider” and CEO Brandon Skinner is a Portland, Oregon local who won the Portland Business Journal’s 40 under 40.
Naturally, when you see “the world’s best,” it strikes a chord and sets some high expectations. Marketing aside, though, we’re here to see how Riverside really stacks up for small business payment processing.
Riverside comes with all the standard payment processing services, including:
Riverside lets merchants accept credit, debit, and gift cards in-store through their payment gateway, and they provide hardware for those that need it. The company has EMV enabled point of sale systems to accept digital wallet payments as well as cards. For POS systems, they have partnerships with Clover, Revel, Ovvi, or TouchBistro.
eCommerce businesses can set up payment processing with Authorize.Net, First Data Global Gateway, or eProcessing Network. The Riverside online solution comes with a virtual terminal, QuickBooks plug-in, recurring billing, and fraud detection.
Riverside offers a free mobile card reader to all customers, which connects through an app, available on both iPhone and Android devices.
Outside of their basic services, Riverside also offers:
- Gift cards, including online reporting and real-time transaction tracking.
- Check processing, which converts checks to electronic transactions before depositing.
- ATM services, including equipment, installation, cash replenishment, and processing.
- Cash advances from anywhere between $5,000 and $1 million to be used for almost any type of business expenses.
Note: It’s rarely advisable to accept cash advances as they are often expensive, will lock you in with the provider, and can be against your best interests.
Riverside Payments does not integrate with any services outside of Authorize.Net for eCommerce processing.
Riverside doesn’t share their pricing publically, and there looks to be a lot of inconsistency when reviewing their complaints registered through the Better Business Bureau.
It seems Riverside charges the following:
- Early termination fee to the tune of $695
- Reg product fee of $9.95
- Annual comp svc fee of $99
- Minimum monthly fee of $25
- Monthly statement fee of $5.
Equipment leases come on top of the aforementioned and may have separate contracts and cancellation fees.
Riverside heavily promotes its 24/7 customer service. The company promises a Relationship Manager for every customer and 24/7/365 customer support. They do have a phone number on their website, but it’s not clear if this is for the sales manager or service.
Riverside Pros and Cons
Pro: Riverside is a specialist in the restaurant and bar industries with software solutions exclusively for the niche needs of this space.
Cons: Riverside makes a lot of bold claims, but there is no evidence to back any of them up. It claims to be #1 for restaurants and bars but doesn’t clarify how that was determined, nor does the company clarify how it is “the world’s best merchant service provider.”
There is a total lack of transparency for anyone wanting to research and compare Riverside against other providers. This makes it hard to verify any of their claims and leaves us to deduce information solely through their complaints.
Riverside Payments Reviews
A quick online search of Riverside will bring up news stories or legal cases and complaints to the Better Business Bureau. Despite this, they have an A rating (which runs from A+ to F). Of their 40 reviews on there, there are 17 complaints.
Riverside’s happy customers cite cutting-edge technology, customer service, and support as pros.
Complaints are mostly about issues canceling, unattainable promises, misleading sales tactics, and generally unethical behavior. There are also complaints about the $695 termination fee to get out of these contracts.
“If we could do less star, we would do it. They are dishonest! At the beginning, the lady named Caitlyn promised me there was no cancellation fee and I could cancel anytime! But everything changed after you sign the paper! Never trust what they tell you, just read the agreement carefully!” – Lisa C
“They are supposed to save my company around $178 a month. The equipment lease is kind of ridiculous. By the end of the lease, the equipment will cost in thousands and they won’t tell you a buy out price for the equipment until you sign the lease.” – Nathen E
Stax is an Orlando-based merchant services provider that is best known for membership-based pricing, eliminating markups on interchange rates.
Stax is suited to established businesses with good sales volume that benefit from a set monthly fee. Micro businesses and startups may prefer a provider with interchange-plus pricing so that there are no charges during periods where there are no sales. However, for those with high sales volume, there are real savings to be had through subscription-based pricing.
Covering all the basics of credit card payment processing, Stax offers:
Stax facilitates in-store processing through its payment gateway. For those in need of a POS system, Stax has solutions available or can connect with other credit card terminals, including EMV readers and mobile readers.
eCommerce businesses can connect with Stax through almost all platforms thanks to Stax’s virtual terminal, along with its wide range of integrations and an open API.
The Stax mobile app can connect with any Bluetooth-mobile reader so merchants can accept payments wherever they need from credit cards and contactless payment methods, including Apple and Google Pay.
Outside of their basic services, Stax offers a host of other features that meet the needs of businesses from small to large, including invoicing and industry-specific services.
Stax integrates with QuickBooks Online, Acuity Scheduling, GoDaddy, Wix, WooCommerce, JotForm, WooCommerce, Magento, BigCommerce, Shift4Shop, Salesforce, and more.
Stax offers a month-to-month contract allowing merchants to cancel at any time with no termination fees, statement fees, PCI compliance fees, annual fees, batch fees, or monthly minimum fees. 24/7 technical support is available with all subscriptions.
Depending on the size of the business, there are three subscription levels:
- Growth: $99 per month
- Pro: $159 per month
- Ultimate: $199 per month.
In addition to the monthly fee, there are the unavoidable bank and card provider fees:
- Swiped and chipped transactions: Interchange + 8¢
- Keyed transactions: Interchange + 15¢
- Online transactions: Interchange + 15¢.
Stax Pros and Cons
Pro: Stax membership pricing makes for consistency and transparency. No additional fees or contracts and no markups on interchange rates make Stax a particularly popular solution.
All subscriptions come with a comprehensive list of features, including a centralized portal to access customer data, inventory, invoicing, and more. Plus, the range of integrations makes Stax adaptable to different business needs.
Con: Monthly subscriptions don’t tend to suit small or micro-businesses with a small monthly sales volume.
Stax has 24/7 customer support through its website in the form of live chat with real people who can help solve issues and answer questions whenever business owners need it.
According to the Trust Pilot rankings, Stax has 602 reviews, with an average rating of 4.3, making it “excellent.”
Negative reviews are minimal, some referring to undesirable pricing or poor customer service but not consistent enough to suggest this is a common occurrence.
Positive reviews tend to reference the ease of setup, strong customer service, and fee transparency.
“You speak with a dedicated person who is an expert at each stage of the process from starting up to using and managing your money. They are very knowledgeable and patient in answering all your questions.” – Amber
“I truthfully had a fantastic onboarding experience. Everyone I talked to during the process was very good at getting me up and running with no issues. I am fully operational within just a few days of starting the process. I look forward to saving a ton of money compared to my previous credit card processing!” – Michael
Which is Best for Your Business?
Choosing the right payment processor is an important step for any business. Before making any decisions, it’s critical that you thoroughly read all paperwork to check for cancellations, monthly minimums, PCI compliance, batch fees, statement fees, and other costs. It’s also a good idea to align your business with a processor that offers superb customer support and has products and services that can help you grow.
To that end, Stax provides powerful solutions for all business sizes. Get in touch with our team today to learn.