Total Merchant Services vs Stax: Which Payments Processor is Better?

Whether you accept payments in-person, online, or over the phone, both Total Merchant Services (a North American Bancard Subsidiary) and Stax offer the tools and services necessary for your card processing needs.

However, it’s important that you evaluate the offerings of both providers to select the payment processor that offers the right combination of relevant features and affordable pricing for your small business.

To provide you with all the information you need to make your choice, we will evaluate both companies by the following factors:

  • Features
  • Integrations
  • Pricing
  • Customer support

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Total Merchant Services vs Stax: Features

Both Total Merchant Services (TMS) and Stax offer a broad selection of credit card processing equipment, software, and services for businesses of all sizes. The tools and services offered by both companies include the following.

Total Merchant Services features

TMS will provide you with a merchant account as soon as you sign up, and the account lets you accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express credit and debit card payments. TMS also provides fraud protection on all transactions, and it is PCI compliant.

Signing up for a TMS account gets you access to the following tools and services:

Free Point of Sale (POS) Systems: TMS offers a range of PayAnywhere POS systems that are available as a “free placement.” This is a free lease system where the hardware will be returned to TMS upon the termination of your processing agreement with the company. You will have to accept a three-year contract with a $300 early termination fee to be qualified for free hardware.

Integrated Payment System: You get features and tools for managing inventory, employees, and customers. You can also access the same functions from any internet-connected device using the PayAnywhere app.

Mobile Processing: There are two mPOS (mobile point of sale) card reader options for processing payments on the go. There is a 2-in-1 Bluetooth card reader that accepts EMV or magstripe payments, and a 2-in-1 Bluetooth mobile reader that adds support for NFC-based payment methods like Apple Pay.

Virtual Terminal: You can take payments over the phone or manually key in credit card transactions using the virtual terminal built into all the PayAnywhere POS systems and card readers.

Reporting and Analytics: Platform users get access to Payments Hub, a reporting and analytics platform that monitors your business and lets you track key metrics like your revenues, products generating the biggest returns, transaction volumes, the impact of discount campaigns, and more.

Developer Support: Developers can use the APIs and SDKs on the company’s platform to integrate the custom software tools of your business.

Stax features

Signing up for a Stax membership subscription will get you a full-service merchant account and any payment terminal of your choice. Each payment terminal comes with the company’s integrated payment platform.

The payment processor’s ecosystem includes a variety of tools and features including:

Stax Pay: The all-in-one integrated payment platform lets you accept all the major credit and debit cards across different devices, along with a wide range of alternate payment types including ACH payments, Text2Pay, and all forms of contactless payments.

Support for Third-Party POS Systems: The cloud-based Stax Pay will integrate seamlessly with most of the popular POS and card reader systems on the market. Stax will reprogram your existing terminal to work with its platform for free.

Countertop Terminals: Stax also offers a wide range of countertop terminals to business owners that need a new POS device. Unlike TMS, the company sells its credit card terminals outright to customers instead of leasing them.

Virtual Terminal: Use the virtual terminal to process phone orders and key in manual payments. The terminal also connects to Stax’s card readers to let you take advantage of cheaper in-person rates.

Mobile Processing: Stax offers the BBPOS and Chipper 2X BT Bluetooth card readers for mPOS transactions. Both card readers support EMV and NFC-based payment methods.

eCommerce: Easily add Stax customizable shopping carts and checkout pages to your site. The platform can also be used to build an online store using pre-designed templates.

Analytics and Reporting: Access actionable data about your business directly from the Stax Pay dashboard. Track sales trends, payment trends, refunds, and more to keep abreast of the health of your business.

Stax API: Your developers can use the Stax Developer API for easy integration of your custom software tools.

Total Merchant Services vs Stax: Integrations

Support for third-party apps and software tools becomes very important when you need your payment processing platform to share data seamlessly with your existing ecosystem of software tools.

Total Merchant Services integrations

According to the company’s website, TMS seamlessly integrates with various third-party services including Quickbooks and Homebase. It doesn’t have a full list of integrations, so you may want to bring this up with the TMS team if you’re considering the company.

Stax integrations

Stax integrates seamlessly with the vast majority of third-party apps used by small businesses including:

  • Quickbooks
  • MailChimp
  • Salesforce
  • WordPress
  • Microsoft Dynamics

Total Merchant Services vs Stax: Pricing

There is a vast difference in the pricing systems of both companies. There is total transparency in Stax’s monthly subscription-based model, while there is little publicly available information on TMS’ pricing plans.

Total Merchant Services pricing

Information on the company’s website directs visitors to provide contact details in a pop-up form, and a “credit card processing expert” will get in touch within a day.

From there, the company’s sales agents will get in touch to guide prospective customers during negotiations to select a pricing plan that offers the most optimal value for money.

However, there are numerous complaints from customers about signing up for contracts that include terms and additional fees they weren’t aware of.

This happens because TMS uses independent sales agents who stand to earn higher commissions when they persuade customers to sign up for long-term contracts and more expensive pricing plans.

The little information that we gathered from customer feedback shows that the company offers both tiered and interchange-plus pricing plans. There are also several miscellaneous fees including a PCI compliance fee, chargeback fee, monthly minimums, and more.

Stax pricing

Stax charges zero markup on interchange fees, and processing fees only amount to a few cents per transaction. It is roughly 8 cents for in-person transactions and 15 cents for transactions where the card is keyed in manually.

Stax’s monthly subscription comes with no hidden fees. You don’t have to pay early termination fees, batch fees, statement fees, PCI compliance fees, or any other sort of miscellaneous charges.

Subscription plans include:

Growth: the $99 per month plan is designed for businesses that only need one payment processing method.

Pro: the $159 per month plan is for businesses that need multiple payment methods

Ultimate: $199 per month gets you Stax eCommerce tools and other advanced reporting.

Stax’s flat subscription model will save you money overall because, unlike other payment processors, you are not charged a percentage for your transactions. The monthly fee will be balanced out when you cross the $5,000 threshold in a month. The higher the monthly volume of your transactions, the more you will save.

Total Merchant Services vs Stax: Customer Support

Both companies provide customer support that is available 24/7 to users. Let’s explore both companies’ offerings below.

Total Merchant Services customer support

The company offers the following customer support services:

  • Online Knowledge Base
  • Video tutorials
  • 24/7 phone and email support

Stax customer support

The Stax customer service ecosystem includes:

  • Stax Online Knowledge Base
  • 24/7 phone and email support
  • Live chat support
  • Dedicated account managers for Pro and Ultimate plan subscribers

Which Should You Choose?

Stax is an excellent choice for most businesses. You get a platform that is powerful and flexible enough for all your payment processing needs, markup-free interchange pricing, zero hidden fees, and transparent monthly subscription plans.

The difficult pricing model of Total Merchant Services makes it an inadequate choice for small businesses. However, large businesses that have the leverage to negotiate lower rates may be able to take advantage of the company’s flexible pricing plans.

The one thing to note about Stax’s flat subscription model is that it may not be ideal for low-volume businesses that only process a few transactions per month. You need to be making above $5,000 per month to truly take advantage of the cost-savings provided by the Stax subscription model.

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