If you run a small business, Retail Merchant Services might stand out as one of your top options. The company offers international-level merchant services to very small companies who likely wouldn’t qualify for accounts directly with Elavon, offers full-service packages to reduce contract complexity, and attempts to save money for small-businesses over contracting with companies like PayPal who charge fees starting from 3.75%.
However, RMS is not an acquiring bank and does not directly offer merchant account services. Everything you contract through Retail Merchant Service will be through a third-party contract.
- Card machines from £20 per month
- Transaction fees ranging from 2.55-3.75% + 10-19p
- Online payment gateway and virtual terminal
- Discounted card machine supplies
- Same day funds processing through Elavon
While Retail Merchant Services is well-established in the UK with thousands of businesses, the brand is a reseller, uses third-party sales teams, and has a large number of online complaints. The company also doesn’t publish their transaction fees and rates online, so you’ll have to request a custom quote before you can compare their services to your other merchant account options.
What Does Retail Merchant Services Offer?
RMS is an independent service provider and not an acquiring bank. The company does not process funds, but rather connects you to Elavon merchant account services. They provide software and technology including card machines, online payment gateways, and virtual terminals.
Retail Merchant Services offers card machines from Verifone and Ingenico. The Dublin-based branch of the service only offers Verifone machines.
Countertop Card Machines – RMS offers several countertop card machines, which are intended to be installed in a static location, connected over Ethernet. Some include extendable pin pads.
- Ingenico iCT250
- Ingenico iCT220
- Verifone Vx520
- Ingenico iPP 320
- Verifone VX 820
Portable Card Machines – Portable card machines connect to a base station over WIFI or Bluetooth, allowing you to take the pin pad to the customer. These are most commonly used in hospitality and service industries, or in areas to prevent queuing.
- Verifone VX680G
- Ingenico iWL250G
- Ingenico iWL250G
- Ingenico iWL220B
- VeriFone VX680B
Mobile Card Machines – Mobile card machines connect and process transactions over GPRS/3G, allowing you to accept transactions from nearly anywhere.
- Verifone Vx680M
- Verifone Vx675
- Ingenico IWL250
While Retail Merchant Services offers card machine rental from £20 per month, you will receive a completely custom quote and price range based on the model and features you choose, as well as the number of machines you need, the length of your contract, and other details. So, prices can vary a great deal, even for the same machines.
Online Payment Gateway
Retail Merchant Services offers an online payment gateway with either hosted checkout pages or an integrated solution with developer API. The software connects you to Elavon’s acquiring bank service, but processes payments and offers PCI compliance for online checkouts. The service is compatible with 20+ online shopping carts, includes Pay by Link, Pay Now buttons, e-invoicing, and recurring payments, and full fraud protection with 3D security.
While RMS does not list their pricing, the company offers Elavon’s service, which starts from £10 per solution, including Payment Gateway, Virtual Terminal, and merchant account.
RMS offers a virtual terminal for enabling card not present/customer not present transactions over phone, email, and mail order.
Card Machine Supply
Retail Merchant Services offers technical support and help, PCI compliance assistance, and card machine supplies including printer rolls and ink. These services are not part of a standard package and must be purchased separately.
Retail Merchant Services Costs and Fees
RMS does not offer standard or flat rate pricing, but instead negotiates a rate for your company with Elavon Merchant Services. Elavon charges the following rates:
|In Person||2.65% + 19p||3.5% + 19p||£10+|
|Mobile||2.65% + 19p||3.5% + 19p||£10+|
Small businesses may pay up to 3.65% + 19p per transaction. However, because this rate is more expensive than alternatives like PayPal and Sagepay which also offer small business merchant accounts, you shouldn’t sign a contract if you’re quoted that high.
Elavon charges the following rates:
|PCI Compliance||£30 (yearly)|
|Monthly Fee (per service)||£10+|
|Minimum Merchant Service Charge||£20|
|Minimum Monthly Processing Fee||Up to £25|
|Monthly Statement Fee||£4.95|
|Early Termination Fee||£0 (but you may have to buy out your contract)|
Retail Merchant Services charges different fees, which you should compare.
|Terminal Refurbishment Fee||£80-£160|
|Minimum Monthly Charge||£30|
|PCI Compliance||£17 per month|
|Faster Payment Fee (for 1-day instead of 7-day processing)||£3 per payment + 30p per item|
|Monthly Paper Statements||£3 per month|
|Authorisation Fee||3.5p per|
While rates vary a great deal depending on your contract, some customers received the following rates on card and transaction processing:
|Card Type||Transaction Fee|
|Non-Secure Debit||41p + 0.06%|
|Visa Debit||29.5p + 0.06^|
|Visa Credit||2.85% – 3.1%|
|Mastercard Debit||32p + 0.06%|
The exact rates you are charged may differ depending on your contract. However, there are multiple complaints of contract rates changing dramatically from rates quoted over the phone by sales representatives. For example, many callers are quoted as low as 1% transaction costs for credit cards through in-person sales. This rate is not offered by anyone except to enterprise level businesses. So, if the quote sounds too good to be true, it definitely is.
Retail Merchant Services Contract Length
Retail Merchant Services offers a standard 36-month contract with auto-renewal, meaning that if you do not submit a letter of intent to cancel within 30-90 days of the contract’s end, you will be automatically enrolled for an additional 36 months.
Unfortunately, RMS also charges steep early termination fees, requiring you to buy your way out of the contract if you cancel within the first 36 months. Cancellation fees after your initial contract are up are much lower, with an average of £100-£180 + terminal refurbishment or liquidation fees. This can still add up to a hefty fee, and most small businesses cannot absorb it easily.
36-month contracts are standard for similar companies offering third-party merchant services, including Payzone, Paymentsense, Intelligent Merchant Services, and Handepay. However, many large merchant account services like Worldpay now offer monthly contract solutions, which come with a higher start-up fee, but no termination fee, because there is no contract.
Retail Merchant Services Sales Team
Retail Merchant Services primarily advertises its services by cold calling and walking in without an appointment to attempt sales to businesses. Many salespeople are third-party or contractors, paid on commission for making sales. Therefore, many of the sales practices are unethical, high-pressure, and sometimes misrepresent the rates or costs you will pay.
Many are also promised a minimum monthly charge of £10, without the sales representative disclosing that you will also have to pay a £20 per month minimum charge to Elavon for your merchant account.
This is a huge a problem, especially if you’re looking for a very discounted offering. Based on the rates we’ve seen, RMS will not save you money over any other offering, and may actually be more expensive than partnering directly with Elavon. However, because Retail Merchant Services specialises in offering solutions to micro businesses, many of the businesses qualifying for accounts with RMS might be unable to contract directly with Elavon.
Customer Service and Support
Retail Merchant Services has numerous complaints surrounding their customer service and support, with issues regarding timely responses, technical support, setup time, and resolving problems.
Timely Responses – RMS may not respond to email or letter quickly, frequently takes up to 4 hours to resolve issues on the phone, and does not typically resolve issues quickly. Many customers state that it takes up to two weeks to hear back via email.
Technical Support – Retail Merchant Services does not provide timely technical support, even when machines go down. You may have to wait up to 2 weeks to have machines fixed.
Setup Time – While you will likely be promised a 7-10-day setup time, it may take considerably longer. If you have to switch providers first, RMS may also be slow to offer promised support or to handle paperwork for you.
Overall, Retail Merchant Services does not score high in terms of customer support. You can definitely get better service by going directly to Elavon or choosing one of the company’s many competitors.
Comparing Retail Merchant Services
Retail Merchant Services is an independent service provider, not an acquiring bank. They are one of a dozen companies offering similar services in the UK, and they all typically have similar standards, rates, and contract terms.
|Merchant Account||Retail Merchant Services||Handepay||Intelligent Merchant Services||Paymentsense||Payzone|
|Transaction Fee||2.55-3.55%||From 2.5%||From 25p per transaction||Bespoke||0.6-2.5% + fees|
|Monthly Fee||£10+||£15.95 +||£19||£8.30+||£20+|
|Payment Processing Time||1-7 Days||1-7 Days||NA||3 days||3 days|
|Set Up Fee||None||None||£35||None||None|
|Termination Fee||£100-£180 or contract buyout||Contract Buyout||Yes (varies)||Remainder on Contract||None|
|Contract Length||36 Months||36 Months||12-36 Months||3-60 months||12 Months|
On the other hand, competitors like SagePay offer rates starting from 1.9% for small business. PayPal offers rates at 3.5% for small business, but with no contract or additional fees, this may pay off if you have a low transaction volume.
Retail Merchant Services Review
Retail Merchant Services offers extremely low rates by contracting out to Elavon, but rarely manages to deliver on these promises because of higher fees. The one benefit of the company is that it offers merchant services to very small businesses, bringing Elavon banking and technology to companies that might otherwise not qualify.
However, with high monthly fees and long contracts, the company is also risky for these same micro businesses. Without the ability to cancel contracts easily, and with high flat rate payments, RMS makes more sense for business with higher cash flow. Combined with high-pressure sales practices and poor customer support, and most businesses would likely be better off choosing a competitor or going to Elavon directly.
If you choose to use Retail Merchant Services, be sure to request a physical copy of your contract before signing, read the fine print, and compare all prices in your quote to make sure you’re getting a good deal.