10 Rates & Fees Excellent - Transparent Interchange-Plus Pricing
10 BBB Rating & Complaints Excellent - One Complaint in 8 Years
10 Terms & Contract Excellent - Month-to-Month / No Cancel Fee
10 Competitive Advantages Excellent Customer Service / Dedicated Giving Back Program

“Dharma has a dedicated Giving Back program whereby they contribute heavily to the local community”
Altruistic Entrepreneurs set Generosity Standard
By David J. Carter

Not only do they provide Merchant Accounts for those that need to be able to accept credit/debit cards to do business, and do so at remarkably good rates, but they manage to give back to the community that makes it possible for them to exist. Some people talk a good game, but these folks are actually doing it.

In 2013 and 2014 they donated over $70,000 each year in the form of cash awards of $10,000 to Green America, Seva Foundation, Animal Defense League, and Amazon Watch; $5,000 to Little Kids Rock, and Pachamama Alliance; $1,500 to Spirit Rock Center; $1,000 each to Community Workshop Fund; Global Exchange, and KQED; and $500 awards to Slow Food USA, Boys and Girls Club of San Francisco, The Crucible, Falling Whistles, Actera, EarthJustice, Growing Power, CUESA, Ecology Center, World Bicycle Relief, David Brower Center, and the Rainforest Action Network.

Quality Merchant Services

I’m suggesting that if you need a Merchant Account, why not deal with a company that is going to put some of that money to good use? You get what you need, and you get a great feeling about how you’re doing business, knowing that you’re “paying it forward”. Heck, their most loyal customers are the ones just like you that are looking to have a positive impact on the world; to leave the planet just a little bit better than the way they found it.

Honors and Awards

They have certainly started off well with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, having only one complaint filed in the last seven years (since 2007). They are listed as a Preferred Reseller for Authorize.net; they are in the top 10% of all B-Corps for Worker Impact — B Lab, a nonprofit organization, certifies B Corporations, the same way TransFair certifies Fair Trade coffee; Dharma is also a Charter Member of Conscious Capitalism; a Gold Member Certified Business for Green America; and Dharma Merchant Services gets a 5 out of 5 from Merchant Maverick.

Dharma Retail Merchant Account

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Products and Services

As an alternative for billing services there is FLINT. If you’re handling less than $10,000 worth of credit/debit business per month, this system can be up and running in just a few minutes. Fees are as low as 1.95% for debit cards and 2.95% for credit cards. You don’t even need a swipe attachment; just use the built-in camera on your Smartphone and the app can get those encrypted numbers off for approval without ever storing the customer data on your phone. What could be more secure?

Of course they offer everything you need, from systems that can use your own iPad as a Point-of-Sale (POS) device, to wireless terminals, to cash-registers and cash drawers.

Their favored terminal is the new PAX s80, which is fully EMV-capable, which they will program, test and ship to you for about $300. It is Apple Pay and NFC (Tap-n-Go) ready, with an integrated printer for receipts, with a PIN-pad, and compatible with both dial-up & IP connection. If you need the external PIN-pad, that will cost you another $170.

One special promotion Dharma has at the moment is NFC, Free Equipment ($259 Value) offered through ShopKeep that allows customers to pay using information stored on their phones. This allows you to accept mobile payments such as Apple Pay, in addition and more importantly it can also accept the new type of credit card known as the EMV chip cards-that are currently being issued by credit card companies in the U.S. to help reduce fraud. Dharma invites you to take advantage of this special promo while it lasts along with stellar service for your merchant account.

Rates and Fees

Their eCommerce terms are Interchange-plus pricing (interchange plus 0.35% + $0.15 per transaction). They charge a $15 monthly fee that includes PCI compliance, a $20 fee if you need access to Authorize.net (a payment gateway with a $99 one time setup fee, with only a 5¢ fee per transaction), and there is a $25 account closure fee upon termination of service. There are no Early Termination or Application Fees; no Annual fees or Monthly Minimum. You’ll probably never pay that $25 fee unless you close your business and stop accepting credit/debit cards and other financial instruments for a business.

On a sample sale of $100, VISA debit/reward/retail vary between 90¢ and $2.34; MasterCard $2.79; AMEX varies depending on whether it is restaurant, retail, wholesale, healthcare, travel & entertainment, services, or Non-Profit from 2.05% to 3.55% (plus 20¢ per transaction). Very reasonable.

Their Retail Swipe Terms are Interchange-Plus 0.25% + $0.10/transaction.

On a sample sale of $100, VISA debit/reward/retail vary between 75¢ and $2.19; MasterCard $2.64; AMEX varies depending on whether it is restaurant, retail, wholesale, healthcare, travel & entertainment, services, or Non-Profit from 2.05% to 3.55% (plus 20¢ per transaction). As you can see, extraordinarily inexpensive.

Security & EMV

Dharma is EMV and PCI compliant, from their FLINT software for your iOS or Android Smartphone, to the wireless or hardwired terminals for your POS system. Store & Forward technology is still available through standalone terminals and will be a continued feature for Dharma accounts should merchants need this functionality. The PCI risk is too high for this functionality if someone steals your iPad or iPhone with customer data on it and store/forward will not be allowed on mobile devices.  You don’t want to be responsible for monetary loss or identity theft of a customer.

Instead, with their EMV compatibility, you can accept payments even if you don’t have a live connection to the internet for processing.  EMV has relevant information on the card itself from the last time it connected to the internet for any reason (like a recent sale).  That little chip “knows” that it has (for example) $375 worth of daily limit left and can autonomously authorize a sale, for which you get paid up to its limit.  That is so much more convenient when the network is bad, or if you happen to be a retailer at a computer show and your booth is in the basement with a terrible internet connection.  Besides, by requiring the PIN number when using the card, you are reassured that the person with the card is the actual owner, and your client feels reassured that they are secure with the security precaution.

Contract Terms

They are extraordinarily reasonable and have no long-term service agreements or cancellation fees.

Customer Service and Technical Support

There is nothing but praise for the customer service.  People specifically mention that there is no difficulty getting through to kind, understanding people that sincerely care about solving your problems as quickly as humanly possible.  Rather, they seem to be stunned by the high quality service when coming from just about any other provider.  Read the Testimonials below for a sample.


Brigette Z. from San Diego says “After 10+ years [with a different company], we’ve switched to Dharma. We’ve been with them for two months or so and we couldn’t be happier… absolutely stellar customer service… we saved about $1200 last month … Thank you, Nick and Dharma … you couldn’t be any better!

Nate A. from Scottsdale says: “The dream team over at Dharma is just that!  It’s rare you get radical customer service coupled with authentic care and support for your business…but that seems to be the standard with Dharma… A high level of service is extremely valuable, but they also give [to] the charity that I work for, Little Kids Rock… I wish there were 6 stars allowed…they would get ’em all!

Jill Cupcake D. from Oakland says: “We’ve been using Dharma for 18 months now and have had nothing but good service and have saved more than 25% compared to our previous merchant! Trace and the support team are always quick to respond and the merchant program reports make reconciling deposits so much easier! You can tell they really care! They are the best!”

Isabelle G. from Oakland says: “Dharma have now been my c.c. processor for 7 months, and I have nothing but praise for the ease and pleasure it has been to work with them, and for the fees (and grief) they have saved me month after month. I have needed to call Dharma only once since I signed on; the problem I called about was resolved in a matter of a few hours, and with great courtesy. I was… amazed. Let me put it this way: I am very grateful for their absolutely unexpected partnership. Kudos to the entire team, and thank you!”

Lisa T. from Berkeley says: “Completely unlike other merchant services providers–they actually care about their customers.  After being dragged over the coals by several other companies, I feel like I’ve finally found one that can be trusted to do right by me and my business.  They also care about the larger community, which parallels my company’s values.  Nick was a pleasure to work with, although the transition had some challenges.  Thanks Dharma!”


There has been but one single complaint since 2007, when the company started operations.  It stemmed from a customer not abiding by their account agreement, exceeding their permitted monthly amount, and even breaking bills into two parts to bypass the limits agreed to.  The account was closed by a partner responsible for handling payments.  The money on hold by the partner firm was paid and the complaint was closed.


Dharma Merchant Services is the ultimate feel-good service for people that need to use credit tools such as credit or debit cards, checks, prepaid cards, Apple Pay, or NFC products like Tap-n-Go.  They give back to the community by donating directly to non-profit companies; they source all their materials from Green Suppliers and Sustainable Manufacturers; they offer the lowest rates for this essential service; they have fantastic Customer Support.  If you’re having any doubts about your current service provider, start making plans to switch when your contract is up.  Heck, they’re so economical it might be worth paying the escape fees with your current provider just to get on with your business without all the hassles.