10
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 Merchant Services Review

Dharma Merchant Services is the largest provider of merchant services and payment processing accounts for businesses. Read Dharma Merchant Services review to know more.

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

Socially Aware

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 2016 they donated over $100,000 in the form of cash awards and generally select nonprofit organizations from five main categories: Social Change/Social justice, Education, Environment, Health and Welfare, and Animal Welfare. A list of 2016 recipients include: Amazon Watch: Protecting the rainforest and advancing the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research, education and advocacy. David Brower Center: We’re a home for the environmental movement. Green America: Promoting ethical consumerism. Insight Out: Reforming the prison system from the inside out. Mahamevnawa Meditation Monastery of California: Provide a quiet, peaceful refuge for all humanity (both Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike). Mindful Peacebuilding: Engaging societal challenges with the energy of mindfulness. Planting Justice: building permaculture garden, working with schools to develop food justice curriculum, and creating jobs for men transitioning from prison. Prison Mindfulness Institute: Providing prisoners, and those who work with them, with the most effective contemplative tools for self-transformation and rehabilitation. San Francisco Zen Center: A network of affiliated Sōtō Zen practice and retreat centers in the San Francisco Bay area. Sanghapala Foundation: Supporting Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery, a Theravadin Buddhist monastery of the Thai Forest Tradition. Seva Foundation: Working to prevent and cure blindness and visual impairment among impoverished communities in the developing world. Tricycle Magazine: An independent, nonsectarian Buddhist quarterly that publishes Buddhist teachings, practices, and critique. Veteran’s Path: Support returning veterans in their transition home.

Introduction -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; you know 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.

Dharma Merchant Services is the largest sustainable, socially responsible provider of merchant services and payment processing accounts for both businesses and non-profits.

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Certified B Corporation

Dharma Merchant Services is one of the first certified B Corporations (as of January 16, 2012, only 15 days after it came into legal effect), under the California Corporations Code, a law whose ultimate intent was designed towards freeing the directors from the sole pursuit of bottom line financial performance for shareholders.  Additionally B Corporations take into consideration the greater benefit to the public combined with positive material impact on society or the environment.

They are also a Green America Green Business Leader of the Year.  Their mission is to serve with integrity and provide complete transparency. Dharma Merchant Services strives to reduce their ecological footprint and to partner with sustainable business partners.  Naturally you will want to get on board with this progressive company which supports businesses that are trying to make positive changes in the world.

Their proven track record shows that they provide payment processing services emphasizing their fundamental beliefs, which are fairness, respect, and compassion.  Just to drive the point home, Dharma makes it a point to donate a worthy percentage of its net profits every year to worthy charities ($100,000 in 2016).

If that is not enough, their focus on their employees is remarkable, providing staff members (with two years of tenure) a stock incentive ownership program, which will reward employees upon transition of the company.  In addition, all employees participate in company paid full health insurance benefits with maximum annual HSA contributions, paid commuting passes, paid gym memberships, company lunches, and generous annual bonuses.

The list goes on!  They promote the non-profit organizations which they work with to their entire customer base when offering choices for annual beneficiaries; they allow their non-profit merchants to have their fee portion that would be steered to charity go right back into their own pockets;  and all their non-profits get additional discounts over and above their already low rates.

Dharma works closely with many B2B clients to help get the lowest rates possible. We offer the MX Merchant system using the B2B app for easy, simple B2B acceptance and access to low B2B Interchange rates. Our team is trained in helping your business keep costs low, based on your business type, acceptance methods, and more. Let our analysts review your current processing statements to locate potential rate reductions and hidden fees from your current provider. Plus, we’ll provide guidance in finding a solution that will allow your business to streamline your payment acceptance. Many businesses don’t realize that they’re treated differently by Visa/MasterCard when processing B2B payments.

Their prices are calculated with the “Interchange Cost Plus” approach, which means the base rate charged by the card suppliers, such as VISA and MasterCard that everyone must pay, plus a small fixed rate and a transaction fee of a few cents (typically in the 25-30¢ range).  Unlike other merchant service providers there are no classes or categories or artificially low “base rates” (that are seldom applied as fee-after-fee is added).  This tier-less model is perhaps more aptly called tear-less as you’ll never be unhappy like you might be with other less-scrupulous providers.

More importantly, they accept all comers with open arms.  They have a strong bias for green organizations and non-profits, and companies run by women, but there is no reason that you cannot profit (or at least save) by using their facilities.  Approvals take only 48 hours in most cases, but they ask that you phone one of their friendly representatives to help you get all the necessary details right the first time to speed the process as much as possible.

Another terrific benefit is that they credit your gross sale amount in just two business day after a transaction takes place.  They take their fees monthly in a lump sum, which makes monthly reconciliation a breeze.  If you like, you can even have them bill daily instead of monthly, and as a reward for not making them wait until month-end, they’ll give you a further discount.  They even have the OptBlue system for AMEX which allows you to get funded for AMEX transactions with your regular VISA and MasterCard payments, and in the same foreshortened payment window of a mere two days!  And all this without separate statements!

There is no stress involved with your PCI compliance if you’re using future-ready equipment.  Since it will soon be forbidden to use the store-and-forward method, if you haven’t switched yet, it is required within a few months at most.  Dharma can provide you with appropriate equipment at terrific prices ($249-$349) programed and ready-to-go), or if your system is compliant with current regulations, they can reprogram it for you at a reasonable cost. Dharma also includes free iPhone processing with all new accounts, and swipers are only $99 each (here). They also include a free Virtual Terminal with all new accounts as well.

If you use another payment gateway, they can help you set it up, though they recommend Authorize.net as the most flexible system that allows you to process VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and AMEX for the least expense.  And of course their recommended VeriFone Vx520 fully EMV-capable system is set up to process Apple Pay and NFC (Tap-n-Go)

Honors and Awards

Dharma Merchant Services has 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 top-rated provider for CardPaymentOptions.com; 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.

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.

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 Merchant Services 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 stand alone terminals and will be a continued feature for Dharma Merchant Services 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.

Testimonials

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!”

Complaints

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.

Conclusion

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.