Leaders Merchant Services is a California-based payments processor serving small businesses of all types. Unlike other payment processors, Leaders does not have restrictions on what industries it serves and will work with any company that meets its underwriting standards.
Leaders requires businesses to sign a three-year contract but offers free credit card processing equipment. Leaders will also match or beat your current processing fees if you’re switching from another payment provider, or give you a $200 gift card if it can’t.
Monthly fee: From $10
Per swipe fee: 1%-5% + $0.15-$0.25
Setup fee: $25
Cancellation fee: $250-$350
PCI compliance fee: $129/year
Best for: Merchants in blacklisted industries
Leaders is a reseller for Fiserv and all plans include the Fiserv FD150 credit card reader, which accepts swipes, EMV chips, and tap-to-pay. It features a small touchscreen and an integrated receipt printer. This card reader is included for free with your Leaders contract.
Leaders also offers a MagTek Mini-MICR check reader. This enables your business to accept paper checks for payment.
Finally, Leaders offers two solutions for processing online payments: Authorize.net and Cartmanager. Authorize.net can be used with most custom online shopping carts while Cartmanager provides a simple shopping cart for your website. Authorize.net can also be used to key in credit card transactions over the phone.
Leaders offers Clover point-of-sale (POS) systems, including the Clover Station, Clover Mini, and Clover Flex. The Clover Station includes a 14-inch touchscreen display, a cash register, and a receipt printer. The Clover Mini is a smaller countertop POS while the Clover Flex is a handheld device. All Clover devices offer integrated card readers.
Clover POS systems are add-ons to basic Leaders plans and must be leased rather than purchased outright.
Leaders offers a range of merchant services to help keep your business running smoothly. These include access to cash advances and business loans of up to $500,000 from lending partners. Leaders also supports mobile payments using Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay, as well as gift cards and customer loyalty programs. In addition, Leaders has its own custom accounting software, Instant Access, that integrates with QuickBooks for simplified accounting.
Importantly, Leaders will work with any company that meets its underwriting standards. Unlike other payment processors, Leaders will work with businesses in all industries, including gambling, cannabis, adult content, and firearms.
Leaders isn’t upfront about its pricing and you have to contact the company for a free quote. Pricing can vary widely depending on your business size, average monthly transaction volume, and required POS system type. In addition, contracts can vary between the third-party agents that Leaders relies on to register new customers.
Leaders uses a tiered pricing system that includes qualified, mid-qualified, and unqualified transactions, each with its own rates. Rates for each tier will vary by merchant and contract, but expect to pay around 1% for qualified transactions, around 3% for mid-qualified transactions, and 5% for unqualified transactions.
You should look closely at all three rates, since many transactions will be classified as mid-qualified or unqualified transactions and come with higher fees. To get the lowest-fee qualified rate, you must swipe cards and close out your terminal at the end of every day. Dips and contactless taps are charged mid-qualified rates, and unqualified rates apply for all transactions if you forget to close out your terminal.
In addition to per-transaction fees, Leaders charges a one-time setup fee of $25, a monthly account fee of at least $10, and an annual fee of $99. These fees may be higher for larger businesses. There’s also a $129 annual payment card industry (PCI) compliance fee and a $40 charge for each month your business falls out of PCI compliance.
All Leaders contracts include an FD150 card reader at no additional cost but if you need a Clover POS system you will need to lease this from Leaders.
Leaders currently has an offer to match or beat your current processing fees if your business is switching from another payment provider. If Leaders can’t match your pricing, it’ll offer you a $200 gift card instead. Note that Leaders may only beat your current pricing with its qualified transaction rate, which only applies to a subset of transactions.
You can apply to Leaders and get a free quote by entering basic information about your business on the company’s website. This includes your name, your business’s name, and your average monthly transaction volume. A Leaders agent will contact you by phone shortly after you request a quote.
Leaders requires all merchants to sign up for a three-year contract. It’s free to cancel within the first 30 days but after that there’s an early termination fee. This fee is $350 if you cancel within the first year or $250 if you cancel in the second or third year of your contract.
Once you sign a contract with Leaders, the company will send you a card reader or POS in about three to five days. These are programmed for your business’s merchant account and can be used to start processing transactions immediately.
Leaders Merchant Services was established in 2000 in Camarillo, California by Michael Wolfe, who remains the company’s CEO. Leaders was acquired by iPayment in 2017 but continues to operate independently.
Leaders is accredited with the Better Business Bureau and has an A rating. The company has a 3.6-star rating on Trustpilot.
Leaders offers 24/7 customer support by phone and email. However, it relies on third-party support centers during nights and weekends. The in-house support team is available from 8am-6pm (PT) Monday-Friday. We called during these hours and were connected to a support representative within a few minutes.
Technical questions about payment hardware are typically rerouted to Fiserv or Clover.
Leaders Merchant Services is a payment processor and merchant services provider that will work with almost any US-based business. The company offers a choice of Fiserv credit card reader or Clover POS systems, plus gateway tools for accepting online payments.
Leaders isn’t the most transparent about its pricing and requires a three-year contract. However, this includes 24/7 customer support and a free card reader. Leaders will also match or beat your business’s current processing fees if you’re switching from another payments processor.