It can be hard to tell who you’re actually dealing with when you sign up for a merchant account. The illusion of ‘independence’ is often used to make customers feel more exclusive, and better looked after.
Take BrainTree for instance. Seems like a small, independent merchant account, right? Nope, owned by PayPal.
Somerset-based company Cardstream however, is one of the few genuinely independent card payment gateway providers.
Why care if they’re independent?
Being independent allows Cardstream to work with an extremely wide range of acquirers. There are fewer boundaries than if they were operated by a big firm who might exclude certain acquirers due to conflicts of interest from their corporate overlords.
We’re going to explain the products and features that Cardstream offer before having a look at online reviews to determine whether Cardstream is the right option for you!
As we mentioned, Cardstream’s independence means that they can accept pretty much any acquirer you can think of.
Here’s the exact list of the vast network of acquirers that Cardstream accepts:
- Apple Pay
- Android Pay
- American Express
- Diners Club International
Being able to accept a wide range of acquirers means that you don’t have to turn away any customers. It’s commonplace for businesses to reject more ‘premium’ cards, like American Express, but this could adversely impact your sales.
A lot of customers like to spend on these cards in order to claim rewards and cashback offers.
You don’t want to put them off by asking them to use an alternative payment method, like a Visa or Mastercard credit/debit card.
So if you accept a particular credit card and your competitors don’t, they’re more likely to buy from you!
So what are the actual features of the Cardstream account?
- Security: Cardstream offers ‘PCI DSS Level 1 Compliant’ anti-fraud features, as well as 3D Secure payments. These are important to keep you and your customers safe.
- Customisable payment page: Lets you integrate your virtual terminal seamlessly into your current website design.
- Customer Service: Cardstream has people manning the phones during normal business hours, and you can get in touch with them via email or social media 24/7.
- Merchant Management system: Helps you manage your eCommerce platform by analysing your transaction trends.
- Flexible payments: Allows you to accept single, one-off payments, or regularly scheduled ones. This makes Cardstream a good shout for subscription-based businesses.
- No hidden fees: Cardstream doesn’t charge a set-up fee, which is a nice change of pace! They also claim to be able to beat any other payment gateway’s fees. Big talk.
It’s worth noting that one of Cardstream’s main business focuses is white-label partners. A white label partnership is where person A is allowed to sell a product made by Person B under person A’s name!
Cardstream allows clients to completely rebrand their payment platform, including the management system, payment forms, modules, shopping cart, and billing receipts.
That being said, if you don’t need this feature, it doesn’t mean that Cardstream won’t work for your business.
Let’s have a look at the most important question of all…
How much does it cost?
Cardstream offers really competitive card processing fees:
£18 per month flat charge, that includes 350 transactions
9p per transaction for every transaction after 350.
12-month contract with a 30-day cancellation notice.
Looks pretty good, but this isn’t for everyone.
For seasonal businesses, or nervous merchants just dipping their toes into the online payment gateway waters, the 12-month contract might be a little bit off-putting.
After all, there’s plenty of competitors, like SumUp and Square, who don’t have any minimum contract terms (or cancellation fees).
However, if you run a business that doesn’t take a whole lot of card transactions, Cardstream seems like a pretty good deal.
350 transactions will be plenty for many merchants and £18 is a bargain – this equates to around 5p per transaction on your first 350! The 9p transaction fee afterwards is still excellent when compared to most competitors.
So it’s looking good on the price front, but what use is that if the service is terrible?
Let’s have a look at the reviews…
What are the reviews like?
Cardstream is currently rated 4/5 on TrustPilot.
However, there are only actually 4 reviews! To get a better feel of customer feedback, we’ve also had a look at the reviews on Cardstream’s Facebook page.
We found that…
- Cardstream’s excellent customer service.
- How easy it is to sign up.
- Competitive pricing and low transaction fees.
Merchant’s weren’t impressed by:
- The customer service response time is too slow.
- Nothing else we could find!
As with all online reviews, sometimes no news is good news, so don’t be put off by the lack of solid reviews online.
People tend to only write reviews online when something’s gone very wrong, so it’s a good sign that there’s next to no negative reviews of Cardstream online!
Cardstream is an excellent option for most businesses, particularly for those that want to make use of Cardstreams white-label payment gateway system.
The reasonable monthly fee and low transaction fees make Cardstream a great option for merchants who need an online payment solution.
However, there’s always a catch – a 12-month contract. If this is a dealbreaker for you and you’re looking for a merchant account that has no minimum contract or cancellation fees, check out SumUp card reader review or Square card reader review.