TSYS is a top-to-bottom payment solutions provider whose products and services enable businesses of any size, and in any industry, to accept credit card payments in almost every conceivable way. It's an excellent option for merchants who are seeking a one-stop shop for all their credit card processing needs. Your business will receive its own, unique merchant account, rather than the aggregate account that many payment processors offer their customers. And as it's a direct service provider, you won’t need to work with a third-party merchant account provider. It’s also a great option for businesses that need to accept credit card payments via several points-of-sale, including in-person, online and on the go.
But TSYS lacks readily available information regarding payment processing rates and additional account fees. If you’re a new business, or if you simply process a relatively low volume of credit card transactions, then it may not be worth the hassle of contacting a representative and negotiating your way through a contract.
TSYS is one of the largest payment processors in the world: In 2017 alone, the company processed $27.8 billion in transactions, and it currently handles credit card transactions for 787,000 merchants.
TSYS is composed of four channels: TSYS Acquiring Solutions, which acts as the credit card processor for third-party companies that provide payment processing technology; TSYS Issuing Services; TSYS Prepaid Card Services and TSYS Merchant Services, which is the focus of this TSYS review.
Through TSYS Merchant Services, the company works with businesses directly to provide virtually every credit card processing service or product they may need, including a payment gateway, merchant account, mobile and physical POS terminals and more. These solutions enable businesses of any size and in any industry, to process several payment types, including most major credit and debit cards, ACH payments, checks, prepaid cards, EBT payments and electronic wallet payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
As a direct credit card processor, TSYS provides businesses with their own, individual merchant accounts. Merchant accounts are simply a type of bank account into which funds obtained through your business’s credit card transactions are held, and they’re necessary tools for businesses to be able to accept credit cards. The merchant account provider fronts you the majority of those transactions, minus their fees — that way, you can receive those funds ASAP, without needing to wait until your customer settles their credit card bill.
TSYS also offers a proprietary payment gateway, a software plugin that businesses need in order to accept credit card and ACH payments online, both in card-present and card-not-present transactions. TSYS’s payment gateway is loaded with features and capabilities, including recurring billing, shopping cart integrations, automatic account updates and detailed transaction reports. It can also be used by multiple merchants, which is a must-have if you own several locations. Alternately, you can choose to use Authorize.Net as your payment gateway if you’d prefer not to use TSYS’s proprietary service.
TSYS also offers a variety of POS terminals by Ingencio and Verifone that allow business owners to accept credit cards in person. Included among these physical terminals are countertop terminals, mobile and wireless terminals, PIN pads, credit card swipers and a printer. Most of these terminals are equipped to process all types of credit cards, including swipe cards, EMV cards and NFC payments.
Other payment processing solutions
In addition to its countertop payment solutions, TSYS can also provide the appropriate technology, hardware and support for businesses that need to process payments via mobile devices; over the phone through DIALPAY and online through its virtual terminal, which turns your computer into a credit card terminal.
Although it does offer plenty of information about its products, TSYS doesn’t disclose processing rates and account fees online. That means you’ll need to negotiate your pricing plan with your TSYS point of contact and thoroughly review your contract for any additional fees.
As you’re negotiating, the company might offer you either an interchange-plus pricing or a tiered pricing plan. Interchange-plus pricing means that the vendor charges a standard markup in addition to the interchange rate. With tiered pricing, on the other hand, the vendor charges a different rate for different cards, and it may not disclose to you exactly which rate a certain type of card falls under. For that reason, many merchants prefer interchange-plus plan, as these rates are predictable and consistent.
According to the TSYS Merchant Card Processing contract (which can be viewed online), TSYS merchant accounts are bound to a three-year term. After those first three years, the contract will automatically renew every year. You’ll be subject to a $250 early cancellation fee if you decide to cancel your account before the term is up and don’t follow the proper early cancellation procedure. However, you might be able to negotiate your way out of an early cancellation fee as you’re defining the terms of your contract with TSYS before signing.
TSYS is certainly worth your consideration, especially if you’re looking for a comprehensive payment processing solution that encompasses all aspects of the credit card transaction process. However, some merchants simply may not need all the bells and whistles that TSYS offers and might prefer a simpler, perhaps more user-friendly payment processing solution.
With PayPal as your payment processor, you can accept credit card payments online, via invoice with PayPal Invoicing or in-person with PayPal Here, its range of external card readers. PayPal is an especially good option for businesses seeking an easy solution to process payments online, as PayPal Checkout is a simple checkout button you can integrate into your existing business website. In comparison to its e-commerce solutions, PayPal Here is a bit lacking, as the company currently only offers mobile card readers.
On the plus side, all PayPal merchant fees are standard for all businesses, and they’re outlined on the PayPal website — so you don’t need to worry about getting hit with unexpected processing fees.
As it's especially focused on small-business owners, Square’s range of hardware and software makes it easy for businesses to accept credit card payments in-person, online or on the go. This should be an especially appealing option for online-only businesses, since Square’s e-commerce tools are among the best in the industry. And as a major bonus, Square pricing is transparent and straightforward; you can find all relevant Square fees, both for payment processing rates and hardware costs, right on its website.
Like PayPal and Square, Stripe pricing and fees are remarkably straightforward: Unless you opt for a customized package, you’ll simply pay 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction, which is aligned with the industry standard.
However, keep in mind that Square, Stripe and PayPal don’t offer individual merchant accounts; rather, they aggregate all of their customers into a single, large merchant account. Although that means you don’t need to worry about an application and underwriting process to be approved for a merchant account, the level of risk is heightened. And as the processor is more sensitive to unusual behavior in your account, you’ll also be at a greater risk of held funds and account freezes.
A version of this article was first published on Fundera, a subsidiary of NerdWallet.