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Flagship Review

By
Lori Fairbanks
,
business.com writer
| Updated
Aug 16, 2019
Home
> Finance
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When you're looking for a credit card processing service, one feature you should insist on is a contract with month-to-month terms. Payment processors that offer such favorable terms show confidence in the quality of their services and in the competitiveness of their pricing, since you can easily move on if you find a better deal elsewhere.

Flagship Merchant Services

Flagship Merchant Services

The Best Credit Card Processors of 2019

The Verdict

We selected Flagship Merchant Services as the provider with the best credit card processing contract. This full-service credit card processor offers month-to-month service for both interchange-plus and tiered pricing.

We selected Flagship Merchant Services as the full-service payment processor with the best credit card processing contract because it offers all customers month-to-month service terms and doesn't charge an early termination fee. In addition to its favorable month-to-month contract, Flagship gives you a choice of pricing models, so you can choose the one that saves your business the most money.

Flagship works with businesses of all sizes across many industries, and it can set you up with in-person, online and mobile credit card processing. It's been in business for more than 15 years and provides payment processing for many well-known companies, including Avon, Mac Tools, Subway and Verizon. It's an ISO/MSP of Paysafe.

Visit our best picks page to see all our recommendations for credit card processing companies.

 

Contract

Flagship Merchant Services has the best credit card processing contract because it offers its credit card processing services to all its merchants on a monthly basis and doesn't charge a cancellation fee. This is notable because standard credit card processing contracts lock you in for three years and have short cancellation windows – usually 30 to 90 days – before automatically renewing for additional one- or two-year terms. They have early termination fees to dissuade you from closing your account before the term expires, and some include liquidated damages clauses that make it prohibitively expensive to cancel. A monthly contract with no cancellation fees allows you to exit your account at any time without incurring a termination fee that costs you hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars.

The exception to these terms is if you accept free equipment. Like most processing companies, Flagship Merchant Services has a free equipment program, and you're required to sign a contract if you wish to participate. For instance, if you decide to accept a free Clover Mini credit card processing terminal, you have to sign a three-year contract. Although it's a tempting offer – everyone likes free stuff, right? – we recommend purchasing your equipment so you can keep your month-to-month service terms.

When you're ready to sign up for a merchant account with Flagship, you'll call your sales rep, who will fill out the application with you over the phone. Before providing your Social Security or bank account number or signing the application, you want to request the full contract (the application, the terms and conditions document, and the program guide) so you can read it and verify that you're aware of all fees and terms. Be aware that by signing the application, you're actually signing the contract.

One clause to watch out for is Additional Services. It's mentioned briefly in the application or terms document, referring you to the program guide for information about what it is. You only have 30 days after setting up your account to opt out. You should ask your sales rep what these additional services entail, what fees come with them and if you can opt out before signing up (so you don't forget about it once you begin processing). 

 

Pricing

Most processing services use a single pricing model, but Flagship offers a choice of interchange-plus or tiered rates, allowing you to select the best pricing model for your business.

When we called Flagship Merchant Services posing as a small business owner, the sales rep we spoke with first quoted us tiered rates. After asking some questions about the types of cards our customers use, he suggested that interchange-plus pricing might be a better fit. He explained how this pricing structure works and provided us with a quote. If the rep you speak with only gives you tiered rates, don't be afraid to ask for an interchange-plus rate quote.

Note that custom rates may be available, depending on the amount your business processes monthly, your industry and other factors. If you're already processing, Flagship is willing to negotiate with you to see if it can meet or beat your current pricing.

Interchange-Plus Pricing

Most businesses save money using this pricing model, and industry experts recommend it because it's more transparent than other models. The percentage and per-transaction fee you're quoted are the processor's markup, which will be added to the card networks' published interchange rate for every transaction. Flagship Merchant Services charges 0.3% + $0.10 above interchange.

Tiered Pricing

This pricing model is best for businesses that accept a lot of PIN debit cards and regular debit and credit cards. Tiered rates are more expensive for businesses that accept rewards, corporate and international cards. Here are the rates Flagship quoted us during our testing:

  • PIN debit transactions cost $0.25. This pricing model is a good value if your customers prefer this payment method.
  • Regular debit cards and credit cards are in the qualified tier. Debit card transactions cost 0.35% + $0.19. Credit card transactions cost 1.55% + $0.19.
  • If you manually key in a credit or debit card, the transaction is in the mid-qualified tier, which adds 0.95% to the cost. Debit cards cost 1.3% + $0.19, and credit cards cost 2.5% + $0.19.
  • Rewards, business and international cards are in the non-qualified tier, which adds 1.95% to the cost. Debit card transactions cost 2.3% + $0.19, and credit card transactions cost 3.5% + $0.19.

Fees

Like most full-service credit card processing companies that provide you with a merchant account, Flagship charges several fees in addition to the percentage rate and per-transaction fees. These include the following:

  • Monthly fee: $7.95. This fee is for your statement, access to an online analytics tool, 24/7 tech support and a dedicated agent.
  • Monthly minimum: $25. This is the amount of processing costs (percentage rate plus per-transaction fee) you need to generate each month. If you don't process enough, you pay a fee to make up the difference. For example, if your monthly sales generate $23 in processing costs, you'd pay $2 to meet the minimum.
  • Monthly PCI compliance fee: $5. This fee, which pays for Clover TransArmor, is to help you achieve and maintain PCI compliance. If you fail to comply with PCI data security standards or forget to renew your compliance each year, you may be charged a PCI noncompliance fee each month until you remedy the situation.
  • Chargeback fee: $25. You'll only pay this fee if a customer disputes a charge.

Flagship doesn't charge application or setup fees, and some of the fees listed above may be negotiable.

This provider advertises a low-rate guarantee, offering a $50 American Express gift card if it can't offer you the lowest rates. However, it only applies to overall costs (not just rates), you must present a written competing offer, and the fine print notes that additional terms and conditions may apply. 

 

Features

Flagship Merchant Services provides multiple credit card processing solutions and sells a variety of processing hardware so you can accept credit card payments across every sales channel.

  • Accept credit cards in-store: You have several options for the credit card payments you accept in person at a physical location. You can use a simple credit card terminal with a built-in PIN pad and printer or, if you need a more comprehensive solution, a point-of-sale system. Flagship sells Verifone terminals and the popular Clover line of POS systems. Both options are EMV and NFC compliant, so you can accept chip cards and mobile wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay. You can also add mobile card readers to your system if you want to accept payments anywhere in the store, or tableside if your business is a restaurant.
  • Accept credit cards online: Flagship sets you up with a payment gateway and a shopping cart so you can accept payments on your website. You can also set up automatic recurring billing.
  • Accept credit cards on the go: Mobile processing is ideal for service professionals with mobile businesses, companies that sell products or services at events, and sales teams that work with clients in various locations.
  • Accept credit cards over the phone: Flagship can set you up with a virtual terminal that allows you to process payments from your phone or mail-order sales by manually keying in credit card details on your computer.

Additional Considerations

It's easy to set up an account with this merchant services provider. As soon as you're ready to apply, you call your account rep, who fills out the application with you over the phone. After you submit the application, the underwriting team reviews it, and if you're approved, your account can be set up the next business day. The services provider then ships your equipment, which takes three or four business days to arrive. When you begin processing, the company can clear the account and deposit the money from your transactions into your business bank account within the industry average of one or two business days.

Flagship assigns a dedicated account representative to your business, so when you need customer support, you have one point of contact with the account provider. In our testing, the customer service representatives we contacted were responsive and friendly, and they quickly followed up with us by phone and email with answers to our questions about terms and rates. If you need help with your account after hours, 24/7 technical support is available. Your account also includes an online reporting tool that you can use to analyze your sales data.  

Limitations

Although Flagship's contract has favorable month-to-month terms and no cancellation fee, there are some drawbacks to working with this merchant account provider that you should consider before signing up for an account.

  • This merchant services provider doesn't post much information about its rates and fees on its website. It only displays its starter rates for its tiered pricing plan – and these rates only apply to qualified debit transactions (regular debit cards accepted in person using a card reader). Although it isn't uncommon for service providers to omit this information from their websites, it's inconvenient, as you must call the processor and speak with a sales rep to get interchange-plus pricing and a tiered pricing quote.
  • While the sales rep we spoke with volunteered interchange-plus pricing in our quote, you may need to specifically ask for it. You may also need to ask about the PCI compliance fee.
  • The contract contains a vague clause for "additional services," and you must opt out of it within 30 days of account activation, or else you're charged a monthly fee for services you don't necessarily want or need.

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Flagship Merchant Services

Flagship Merchant Services

The Best Credit Card Processors of 2019

The Verdict

We selected Flagship Merchant Services as the provider with the best credit card processing contract. This full-service credit card processor offers month-to-month service for both interchange-plus and tiered pricing.

Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks
Lori Fairbanks has years of experience writing and editing for both print and online publications. After graduating from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Arts in English, she worked as a magazine editor and then as a freelance writer and editor for a variety of companies, including marketing firms and a medical university. She now writes for Business.com and Business News Daily about financial systems and services for small businesses, such as accounting software, credit card processing and point-of-sale systems.