Dharma Merchant Services Review 2022: Pricing, Features and Alternatives

Is Dharma Merchant Services the right fit for you? We dive into Dharma's offerings and fees so you can make a decision.

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4.0

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What is Dharma Merchant Services?

Dharma Merchant Services is a merchant services provider that helps retailers process in-person and online credit card transactions. It can integrate 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.

Merchant service providers fill a vital role in the commerce space. Without them, businesses would have to rely on cash or check payments, and could not process all of the credit card transactions that make modern businesses hum. Dharma Merchant Services provides the back-end software to help your small businesses accept credit card payments.

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Deciding factors

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.

Monthly fee

$25.

Hardware cost

  • $149 for Walker 2 chip, swipe and NFC card reader.

  • $295 for FD-150, Verifone Engage V200c or Dejavoo Z11 chip-and-pin card reader with printer.

  • $369 for Ingenico Desk/5000 card reader.

  • $480 for FD-150, or V200c or Z11 card reader with separate pinpad.

  • $599 for Clover Flex mobile card reader with printer.

  • $899 for Clover Mini POS device.

  • $1,649 for Clover Station Solo POS bundle.

  • $1,999 for Clover Station Duo POS bundle.

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.

Contract length

Month to month.

Customer service

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.

Monthly fees

  • $25 per month.

Other fees

  • Account closure: $49.

  • Chargeback fee: $25 each.

  • PCI compliance fee: $0, but $39.95 per month if noncompliant.

Dharma Merchant Services has low transaction fees compared to many of its competitors. The company outlines its fee structure on its website.

Pros

Cost

Dharma Merchant Services provides competitive rates that are clearly disclosed on its site. Plus, it doesn't charge for little things, such as PCI compliance or batch fees.

Flexibility

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, Vend and other POS systems.

Cons

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.

Separate accounts

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

Payment processing fees

  • 2.59% plus 49 cents per transaction credit cards, debit cards and digital wallets.

  • 3.59% plus 49 cents for Venmo (U.S. only), transactions in non-U.S. currency or transactions outside the U.S.

  • 0.75% for ACH (maximum fee of $5). Discounts available for enterprise businesses.

Features

  • Braintree, which is owned by PayPal, offers a virtual sandbox for prospective clients to test out the software before committing.

  • 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.

  • Accepts Venmo, Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal and other regional digital payment systems.

  • 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.

Payment processing fees

  • 2.6% plus 10 cents for in-person transactions (2.5% plus 10 cents with Retail Plus plan).

  • 2.9% plus 30 cents for online transactions or invoices without a card on file (2.6% plus 30 cents with Premium plan).

  • 3.5% plus 15 cents for manually keyed transactions or card-on-file invoices.

Square provides free credit card readers that work with Apple and Android devices.

Features

  • 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.

Square POS

Square
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on Square's website

A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.