This article is part of a larger series on Payments.
When to Use Fiserv
In my many years researching and reviewing merchant services, I have come across Fiserv (formerly First Data) often but seldom recommend it because of its high fees and limited transparency. It’s best for high-volume merchants and larger businesses, although many Fiserv resellers cater to smaller businesses. It is widespread and integrates with many payment systems and software. Thus, I often mention it in reviews of other products and services.
In particular, Fiserv is best for:
- Large businesses needing omnichannel tools: Fiserv offers a suite of solutions and technical expertise to eliminate complicated coding and make unlimited customization possible. This allows users to develop a seamless checkout experience from any sales channel.
- B2B businesses with a trusted reseller: With a reliable reseller, B2B businesses can get the best rates and sign up for Fiserv’s award-winning, customizable, real-time payment solution, Enterprise Payments.
- Businesses with high-volume sales: SMBs with high-volume sales, such as for luxury automobiles or expensive jewelry, may be able to negotiate better pricing.
- Well-established businesses: Fiserv requires a long-term contract and has early termination fees, making it better suited for businesses that have stable sales.
- Veteran-owned businesses: Fiserv Salutes offers resources and free equipment to veterans.
When Fiserv May Not Be a Good Fit
- New and startup businesses: Fiserv’s fees and pricing schedules are widely unpredictable as it relies mostly on third-party resellers. Many business owners raised concerns over excessive and unwarranted increase in fees and being tied to long-term contracts. A free merchant account would be a more viable option for those starting a new business.
- Most small and medium businesses: If you are not processing millions in sales annually, Fiserv is likely not a good fit. Payment Depot comes with low, straightforward pricing, and Square would be a better alternative if you also need free POS software.
- Businesses with infrequent or seasonal sales: Fiserv may have monthly fees and minimums that can eat into your profits during slow months. It also requires long-term contracts, which are not ideal for occasional or seasonal sales. For occasional sales, I recommend either PayPal or Square.
Why Small Businesses Shouldn’t Use Fiserv
Fiserv offers almost every merchant processing and banking solution you need to run your business. However, it is one of the few providers that we do not recommend. Apart from hefty fees, it lacks the transparency that small merchants need to safely grow their business. There are also hundreds of complaints around platform issues and sudden increases in a number of its fees.
According to an article by CardPaymentOptions.com, First Data agreed to pay a settlement of $40 million in July 2019 for processing payments from First Pay Solutions LLC, which First Data allegedly knew were used for money laundering. Another lawsuit was filed against Fiserv in April 2019 for failing to resolve weaknesses within its online payment processing platform.
An ongoing lawsuit was filed in 2021 against Fiserv for its Bank of America merchant services arm, which had purportedly been charging excessive fees not included in the merchant contracts. Before the merger, Fiserv also faced lawsuits for reportedly raising authorization fees, excessive equipment lease, and early termination fees.
Overall, most of Fiserv’s issues stem from unregulated third-party resellers, making fees unpredictable so new and small business owners will struggle to find fair, competitive rates. Larger companies and established businesses that know what to look for in contracts would work better with companies like Fiserv.
|Strong omnichannel features||Unpredictable contracts and fees|
|Integrated POS solution||Complaints of excessive service fees|
|Fast access to funds||Reports of poor customer support|
|Perks for veterans and military spouses||Pricing not on the website|
|260 currencies accepted||Works through resellers|
If you need a Clover POS program (Fiserv’s point-of-sale software), simply go to the website and sign up. If you are looking for a merchant account, contact sales and fill out a pre-application. You may need to show payment processing history—especially if you are interested in negotiating rates and fees. Once you sign, a representative will work with you to get you set up and trained. You can also get a Fiserv merchant account through one of its third-party resellers or sub independent sales organizations (ISOs).
Fiserv Deciding Factors
- Processing fee: From 2.3% + 10 cents to 3.5% + 10 cents
- Monthly fee: Varies
- Contract length: Three years, with one-year automatic renewal
- Payment types: Card-present, card-not-present, online, ACH, invoice, and recurring payments
- Cancellation/ early termination fee: Varies
- Deposit speed: Same day
- Hardware options: Clover POS hardware
Fiserv Alternatives & Fees Comparison
Businesses processing $10,000+ monthly
High-volume sales ($20,000+ monthly)
Small businesses, especially those with low sales
Transparent pricing, small businesses processing over $10,000 monthly
Card-present transaction fee
+ 8 cents
Interchange + 8 cents
2.6% + 10 cents
+ 0.15% + 8 cents
Keyed transaction fee
+ 15 cents
Interchange + 15 cents
3.5% + 15 cents
Interchange + + 0.15% + 8 cents
Ecommerce transaction fee
+ 15 cents
Interchange + 15 cents
2.9% + 30 cents
+ 0.2% + 11 cents
Looking for the lowest rates? Leading merchant service providers offer custom payment processing rates based on your business size, type, and average order value. To find the most affordable option for you and compare multiple processing rates, read our guide on the cheapest credit card processing companies.
Since Our Last Update: We go into more detail on Fiserv’s merchant services solutions and offer insight on what pricing and contract terms may look like for those wanting to work with this provider directly.
Fiserv does not list its payment processing fees or rates on its website. A rep will give you a customized quote based on your industry, products, average monthly sales volume, and other factors. The higher your sales volume, the more negotiating power you have. However, you should expect to find other fees that may be associated with a Fiserv merchant account.
- PCI non-compliance fee: $19.95 per month
- Monthly minimum: $25 per month
- Maintenance fee: $50 per month
- Early termination fee: Prorated average monthly fees during the period expired multiplied by the number of months remaining in the term
Fiserv may not reveal all its pricing until you have given it a processing statement and are presented with a final contract. Be sure to review carefully before signing anything.
Acquiring a Fiserv merchant account though Clover will incur the following fees:
Add a device
In-person transaction fee
2.6% + 10 cents
2.3% + 10 cents
Keyed-in transaction fee
3.5% + 10 cents
3.5% + 10 cents
Fiserv & Third-party Resellers
Fiserv works with thousands of resellers, and they often have their own terms of service, fees, and software. Many complaints about hidden fees and being locked into long-term contracts are from deals with resellers but are attributed to Fiserv. Nonetheless, Fiserv will uphold its contracts. If you are interested in working with Fiserv, consider contacting it directly and comparing its offer with that of a reseller.
Fiserv owns the Clover POS system, which is among the best mobile card processors. It also includes payment processing terminals if you don’t need a complete system. Clover has its own program, or you can lease or purchase equipment from Fiserv when you sign up for payment processing.
Clover Station (solo/duo)
Accepts swipe, dip, and tap payments using the mobile app
Handheld POS that accepts payments and tracks sales
Compact POS terminal designed for restaurants or retail
Includes terminal, cash drawer, and receipt printer (plus customer facing terminal for station duo)
Clover stations cannot be reprogrammed. If you purchase a Clover device from Fiserv, it will only work with Fiserv payment processing. Fiserv also offers standalone credit card machines, most by Verifone. You can lease these with no up-front fees.
Contract & Merchant Agreement Terms
The wide variety of financial service products plus the sheer number of third-party resellers and ISOs mean that Fiserv merchant agreements will vary. Merchant agreements will depend on the type of service you need and your business profile, but expect a long-term contract (three years with one-year auto renewal) and hefty early termination fees.
It’s also important to note that most of the complaints against Fiserv are over unexpected fees. This may indicate that the contracts are not as easy to understand, so be sure you examine them carefully and get clarifications before signing. You need to fill out a pre-application before getting the final contract and may need to submit information about your processing history.
Fiserv provides PCI compliance and tokenization to help keep payments and information secure. It also gives you a dedicated merchant account, offering an additional level of security compared to other payment providers (such as Square or PayPal) that aggregate customers’ funds to a single merchant account.
On top of standard payment security services, Fiserv also offers additional card risk management features:
- Card Risk Office Essentials: Evaluates transactions in real time, combines high performance and user-configured rules for setting acceptable risk and raising alerts for suspicious transactions.
- Card Risk Office Advisor: Connects you with Fiserv’s risk management experts to provide consultation and advisory services through conducting research and preparing periodic reports on your business’s risk management performance.
Fiserv’s FraudNetTM program uses machine learning to evaluate transactions for fraud and score transactions in real time to help prevent bad charges before they happen. It features real-time transaction monitoring using advanced algorithms and proprietary negative file history collected from Fiserv’s partner network.
In cases of disputes, Fiserv also has a dispute management service. This application offers three types of dispute management solutions: Dispute Expert Toolkit (for self-managed dispute resolution), Dispute Expert (for working with a Fiserv dispute expert in handling disputes), and Dispute Expert Select (for end-to-end handling by a Fiserv’s dispute expert). They include features such as a dashboard and user interface for responding to disputes, advanced reporting tools, and integration with your online payment platform.
Fiserv offers two payment gateways: First Data and Payeezy. First Data offers processing for major credit cards and local payment providers, while Payeezy is an alternative for those needing an ecommerce solution. Fiserv also provides international payment processing, working in over 50 global markets, and can process payments in 240 currencies.
B2B Payment Processing
SnapPay is Fiserv’s solution for streamlining your B2B business’ accounts receivable and accounts payable process to improve your cash flow. It provides tools to make it easier to invoice businesses, handle surcharges, and reconcile payments. You can integrate SnapPay to your payment gateway, accept card and ACH payments securely, send out digital invoices, and handle disputes online.
Fiserv’s Carat program is a single-source commerce engine that lets you accept payments from over 30 integrations from social apps to voice apps. One of Carat’s most notable features is its omnichannel tools. It allows your customers to order and pay ahead and pick up their items, make hands-free purchases so that your customers can pay using Alexa, and complete purchases through self-checkout. It also seamlessly integrates with existing EBT programs.
Fiserv offers veterans and military who own businesses special opportunities through its Fiserv Salutes program. As a founder of the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business, it provides access to entrepreneurial education and training, small business resources and solutions, and commerce and supplier opportunities.
It has a partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University and sponsors the Entrepreneurs Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities. Finally, it provides its payment processing customers who are veterans or military with a free Clover Mini or Clover Mobile.
Fiserv Ease of Use
Real-world users said Fiserv software is easy to navigate and the program simple to implement. In our POS guides, I give Clover devices high marks for ease of use. New customers say that the service representatives do a great job helping them set up the processor and teaching them how to use it.
Fiserv integrates with over 60 ecommerce providers, including shopping carts (such as 3dcart and Shopify), software (like Freshop, PayItSimple, and Network Solutions), and app developers (such as eGrove, Chargify, and Semba Mobile). Meanwhile, Clover integrates with third-party software like QuickBooks.
If you need specific integrations, Fiserv’s Custom and Integration Service can create customized technology to integrate Fiserv with third-party or proprietary applications as needed.
- Online support center
- Clover guides
- Live phone support
The online support center is not on the website menu and takes a few steps to find, but it does offer a straightforward how-to section that answers the most common questions. The Clover guides are PDF copies, and other topics are answered with text rather than illustrations or videos.
There are multiple phone numbers for different departments on the contact page, or you can use the contact form. It does not list customer support hours on the website, but other sources said that it’s 24/7.
What Users Think of Fiserv
Fiserv/First Data has more than 700 complaints with the Better Business Bureau, 168 of which have been closed in the past 12 months. While small compared to its customer base of 6 million, it’s still significant compared to other large payment processors. However, looking over the replies, I believe Fiserv tried to address the concerns. Complaints generally involve funds being held, fees being charged even after contracts are canceled, and unexpected fees.
- Trustpilot: Fiserv UK has 4.7 out of 5 stars (over 2,000 reviews).
- Capterra: Fiserv/First Data has 4.2 out of 5 stars (around 20 reviews)
- G2: Fiserv has 4.3 out of 5 stars (around 15 reviews)
They generally praise the software and the customer support when starting out, and complaints involve fees and charges.
Fiserv (formerly First Data) is the largest payment processor in the nation and is good for high-volume sales. It offers the Clover POS system with transparent pricing—which Fiserv itself does not have. And while users are overall satisfied with the ease of use, there are significant complaints about fees. If you are an established and growing business with high-volume sales, it’s worth considering, but you may need to share your processing information. Contact Fiserv to learn more.