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What is Dharma Merchant Services?
Dharma Merchant Services helps retailers process in-person and online credit card transactions. It integrates with most point-of-sale hardware systems. Dharma offers a good service at a good price, but it’s best for businesses that process at least $10,000 a month in card transactions.
Payment processing fees
Accepted payment methods
Credit and debit cards including Visa, Mastercard, American Express and Discover; digital wallets such as Apple Pay and Google Pay; ACH transfers.
Month to month.
Phone, email and online ticketing system.
Dharma Merchant Services pricing
Payment processing fees
Interchange plus 0.15% + 8 cents for in-person transactions.
Interchange plus 0.20% + 11 cents for online transactions.
Interchange plus 0.25% + 8 cents for in-person AmEx transactions.
Interchange plus 0.30% + 11 cents for online AmEx transactions.
Discounts available for merchants processing over $100,000 per month, over 5,000 transactions per month or restaurants with an average ticket of $25 or less.
$49 for account closure.
$25 chargeback fee.
$39.95 per month if not PCI compliant.
Dharma Merchant Services provides competitive rates that are clearly disclosed on its site.
Dharma Merchant Services doesn’t require merchants to buy custom, proprietary POS machines and terminals. Instead, the software works with several existing POS systems, which allows you to pick the solution that works best for you. Dharma Merchant Services promotes Clover’s hardware on its website, but it also works with Aloha, Lavu, Shopify and other POS systems.
Barrier to entry
If your business conducts less than $10,000 per month in transactions, Dharma is probably too big for you to use. The static monthly fees are relatively expensive at that level, and that threshold can preclude many early-stage small businesses from using the platform. If you’re not conducting most of your transactions via plastic, you might need to look elsewhere.
Dharma may require some merchants to set up different accounts for online transactions and in-person transactions, if the merchant is doing a significant amount of business through both channels. This may be an inconvenience worth navigating, however, because the pricing could work in the merchant’s favor.
Dharma Merchant Services alternatives
If Dharma Merchant Services isn’t for you, there are plenty of alternatives to consider.
For easy integrations: Braintree
2.59% plus 49 cents per transaction for credit cards, debit cards and digital wallets.
3.49% plus 49 cents for Venmo (U.S. only).
0.75% for ACH (maximum fee of $5). Discounts available for enterprise businesses.
Why we like it: Braintree, which is owned by PayPal, offers a virtual sandbox for prospective clients to test out the software before committing. It’s easy to customize services to fit your existing technology stack, meaning you don’t need to completely restructure the rest of your technology in order to use the service. Each user has a unique merchant account; the provider doesn’t pool several payments from various clients into one account. Braintree accepts Venmo, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal and other regional digital payment systems. It supports more than 130 currencies worldwide.
For simple solutions: Square
Square is a well-known brand that offers simple POS solutions; it is ubiquitous among small businesses.
2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions.
2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions.
3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions.
3.3% plus 30 cents for invoices.
Square provides free credit card readers that work with Apple and Android devices.
Why we like it: Square isn’t as cheap as Dharma Merchant Services' fee structure, but Square’s lack of monthly fees (for payment processing) make it an attractive option for small businesses that may not hit Dharma Merchant Services' high minimums. Square is a straightforward option for small business owners who want to get started easily, and for whom simplicity is a must.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.
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