Heartland Payment Systems Review 2021: Features, Top Alternatives

Industry-specific solutions and add-ons are big selling points, but a few drawbacks are worth consideration, too.
Tina OremSep 17, 2021

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Heartland Payment Systems offers a variety of services that can let small businesses accept credit and debit cards, online payments, contactless payments and other kinds of payments. The company also has several add-on financial services, such as payroll, that can help small businesses manage and expand their payment options.

Due to the company’s selection of industry-specific packages and its menu of integrations and add-ons, Heartland Payment Systems may make sense for small-business owners who want to really tailor their payment setups. But if you want upfront pricing, it may be worthwhile to look around some more.

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What is Heartland Payment Systems?

Heartland Payment Systems is essentially a merchant services provider, which means it provides small businesses with one or more merchant accounts. Merchant accounts are a special type of bank account where money from processed transactions goes before moving to the business’s bank account.

Heartland also sells hardware (such as payment terminals) and software (such as online ordering for restaurants) solutions. The company, which started in 1997 and was acquired by Global Payments in 2016, says it has more than 750,000 customers.

How Heartland Payment Systems works

Heartland’s card processing functionality enables small businesses to accept a variety of payments, including:

  • Credit cards.

  • Debit cards.

  • EMV chip cards.

  • Digital wallets, including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

  • ACH payments from customer bank accounts.

  • Gift cards.

The platform also allows small businesses to receive and process payments through a variety of channels, including mobile (via the Heartland Mobile Pay app and attachable card reader), tablet, desktop, handheld terminal and point-of-sale systems.

The company also puts together packages of POS, time tracking and payment processing systems for restaurants and bars, retail shops, convenience stores, clothing and apparel sellers, liquor stores, groceries and other specific types of businesses.

Pros

  • Interchange-plus pricing.

  • Integrations and add-ons.

Cons

  • Zero price transparency.

  • Negative BBB reviews.

Heartland Payment Systems notable features and capabilities

In addition to its payment processing capabilities, Heartland Payment Systems has some other prominent features worth mentioning.

Heartland Secure

Heartland Secure is additional security technology that uses EMV, encryption and tokenization to protect card data and help small businesses avoid fraud and data breaches.

EMV technology helps authenticate a customer’s credit or debit card via chips embedded in the cards. Encryption technology (called Heartland E3) basically encrypts credit and debit card data when it’s entered into the system so nobody else can see it. Tokenization uses electronic tokens to mask card information so that criminals can’t see it.

Analytics

Heartland offers a Customer Intelligence Suite that provides data reporting and analytics using your customer data. This could be helpful if you’re looking for a tool to analyze what customers spend per visit on average, for example, as well as what impact your marketing campaigns are having on customer behavior or how your business compares to competitors in certain areas.

Integrations and plug-ins

How well a payments system can work with other systems is an important question for many small-business owners who want to keep things streamlined and simple. That can make Heartland’s own integrated offerings for payroll, human resources, recruiting, subscription service and bill pay very alluring.

There are also several dozen plug-ins and integrations that may help your existing systems talk to the Heartland platform, including popular ones such as:

The company says it maintains pre-built plug-ins for more than 550 major technology platforms and 80% of popular shopping carts (though Shopify isn’t listed). Additionally, Heartland sells a variety of different terminals that the Heartland Software Development Kit and the manufacturers’ native programming interfaces support.

Customer service

Heartland has a dedicated 24/7 phone line for its payment processing customers. The customer service agents are based in the United States and answer calls in less than 30 seconds on average, according to Heartland.

The company also has an online portal where you can submit a question, as well as a variety of documentation available on its website for IT staff or developers.

Pricing

Heartland Payment Systems uses an interchange-plus pricing model, which means businesses pay the card interchange fees Heartland incurs, plus a markup. (Learn more about payment processors and their fees here.)

That structure can make it easier for small-business owners to compare pricing — if you can get it.

Heartland provides virtually no information about its fees or pricing to prospective customers on its website; instead, you have to contact the company for a quote. That may not be uncommon for a customized payment solution, but Heartland also boasts of “fair and transparent rates” on its website and “the right to know the fee for every card transaction” in its Merchant Bill of Rights — making the lack of any actual dollar amount or fees on its site a potentially cringeworthy omission.

Heartland Payment Systems customer reviews

Heartland Payment Systems isn’t accredited by the Better Business Bureau. Businesses can get BBB accreditation by undergoing a thorough evaluation and meeting certain BBB standards. Although the company generally carries an A+ to A- rating (there are various ratings for different company locations and offices), customers have filed several complaints, many about the company’s fees.

Heartland Payment Systems alternatives

There’s no one provider that works best for all businesses; the best solution will be the one that fits your particular needs. Here are some other providers that stand out as good, affordable options for small businesses.

Credit card processing company

Merchant account provider or payment service provider

Pricing structure

Processing fees

Monthly fee

Merchant account provider.

Interchange-plus.

0.3% plus 8 cents plus interchange for in-person payments.

N/A.

Square

Payment service provider.

Flat rate.

Starts at 2.6% plus 10 cents per transaction for in-person payments.

N/A, unless using specialty software.

Merchant account provider.

Interchange-plus and a monthly subscription fee.

Interchange fees.

Starts at $99 per month for a subscription.

Payline Data

Merchant account provider.

Interchange-plus and a monthly subscription fee.

Starts at 0.2% plus 10 cents plus interchange for in-person payments.

Starts at $10 per month for a subscription. Must meet a monthly minimum of $25 in processing fees.

Payment Depot

Merchant account provider.

Interchange-plus and a monthly subscription fee.

Starts at 15 cents plus interchange per transaction.

Starts at $79 per month for a subscription.

Payment service provider.

Flat rate.

2.9% plus 30 cents for online payments.

N/A.

Merchant account provider.

Interchange-plus.

0.15% plus 8 cents plus interchange.

$25 monthly fee.

National Processing

Merchant account provider.

Interchange-plus and a monthly subscription fee.

Percentage markups vary from plan to plan.

Starts at $9.95 per month for a subscription.