Our Overall Rating:

Cardstream

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Monday, April 8th, 2019
Best Payment Providers

What We Like

Cardstream is a payment gateway that is fully customizable, and it charges no set-up fees and imposes not transaction limits. Its staff is responsive, thorough, thoughtful, and helpful.

What We Didn't Like

Cardstream’s 12-month contracts automatically renew, and it does not publicize its pricing. It can connect merchants with acquiring banks, but it does not provide any merchant services on its own.


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Marketing

Sales

Support

Pricing

Overall

Overview

Established in Taunton, Somerset in 1999, Cardstream is an independent low-cost, white label payment gateway provider that supports many e-commerce shopping carts. It also provides a real-time virtual terminal so businesses can take payments by phone or mail. It also supplies chip and PIN machines for point-of-sale transactions. It works with UK and global bank acquirers, including Barclaycard and AIM, and it has hundreds of reseller partners, making it responsible for processing millions of their merchants’ payments. With customized solutions, Cardstream helps partners successfully integrate.

Most importantly, Cardstream is entirely independent from payment service providers and acquiring banks. Therefore, customers can use its payment gateway, regardless of which bank you contract with for your merchant account. Also, since it works with all types of acquirers, Cardstream can connect businesses with its vast network of global acquirers and payment firms if you don’t already have one.

In February 2018 Cardstream finished infrastructure and platform upgrades, culminating in what the company calls its “most advanced cloud-based, white label payment platform on the market.” The cutting-edge platform provides comprehensive upgrades to its network of independent sales organizations, software companies, acquirers, payment service providers, and value-added resellers. These include increased on-demand capacity, leading-edge security measures, enhanced DDoS prevention, certification to the latest PCI DSS 3.2 standard, hot failover and full live disaster recovery capabilities.

Its partner network includes 3,500 people selling merchant services from over 20 acquirers via their own branded version of the Cardstream platform.

Marketing

Cardstream mostly markets its payment gateway through its many partners, resellers, on its site, and on Twitter. It clearly states what it offers, and it does not use any gimmicks or misleading claims to promote their offerings.

Honesty

Overall, we find Cardstream to be pretty honest, though they could go one step better and include pricing on its site. It is important to note that we did not find any complaints about hidden fees or misleading tactics, and there was nothing deceptive on its site. In general, Cardstream appears very transparent.

Sales

As a white label payment gateway, Cardstream works with many resellers, independent sales organizations (ISOs), and independent sales agents. Every reseller that partners with Cardstream uses a rebranded version of its platform. The reseller’s or ISO’s end merchant does not have any interaction with Cardstream. It is very likely that since the payment page, API, modules, and Merchant Management System are rebranded, the end merchant does not know it is using Cardstream’s platform. Also, this allows resellers to set their own prices for processing. The agent, ISO, or reseller handles the customer service and sets the fees for end merchant. So, in a nutshell, if you sign up through reseller, you likely pay much higher than if you worked with Cardstream directly.

Support

Cardstream can be reached by phone, email, and its social media channels. Representatives only are available by phone between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. It does not offer 24/7 live chat support. Also, it offers a wealth of information in its site, especially in its FAQs section.

Staff Responsiveness

Both our calls and emails were answered promptly. There were no long holds, lost calls, or delays. We even received a fair amount of information in an email, which was not only helpful but made it easier to prepare for a phone calls. When it comes to responsiveness, Cardstream knocked it out of the park. It also jives with what other users have said about it technical support.

Staff Education

During our interactions, we found the staff to be professional, courteous, and knowledgeable without sounding overly confident. They were eager to explain all of its gateway’s features and how it could be customized. They seemed very excited about what they provided and that enthusiasm was infectious. They promptly asked questions and answered ours to the best of our abilities.

Staff Interaction

Our interactions with representatives from Cardstream were nothing short of pleasant. They were positive, upbeat, and eager to help. One representative offered acquiring bank information, but after the call ended, he realized he had given us the wrong number. He immediately sent us a message with an apology and the correct information. Overall, we found this a smart, pleasant departure from the way many others in the industry operate. Based on our experience, we can understand why others have praised its support.

Pricing

Cardstream does not advertise pricing on its site. However, online feedback and reviews from customers report that it charges £18 per month for 350 transactions. Each additional transaction costs 9p. There are no set-up fees, monthly minimums, or transaction limits.

Hardware Costs

Through one of its partners, Cardstream offers PDQ machines. Since it is offered through a third party, the prices for the machines are unknown. In general, it is often a much better deal to buy these machines than rent them.

Early Termination Fees

Cardstream offers a 12-month contract, which must be cancelled in writing 30 days before the agreement expires. The contract also has an automatic renewal clause. If you want to get out of your agreement early, expect to buy out the rest of your contract. Keep in mind this is just a contract for a payment gateway. If Cardstream connects you with one of its acquirers so that you can get a merchant account, you will be subject to the bank’s contract, terms, and conditions.

Complaints

There are very few reviews about Cardstream in the digital space. On Google, it has a few high-star ratings, but no real feedback. It also has three positive reviews on Facebook, including this most recent one, which dates back to 2016, “Simple and easy to follow integration guides, free commerce modules, level 1 PCI security, multi currency, excellent support, cheapest payment gateway!”

Other users applaud its good customer service, competitive rates, and the flexibility and functionality of its technology.

We found no complaints about deceptive sales tactics, hidden fees, or misleading claims, which we find way too often in the payment industry. However, most of those types of complaints originate with acquirers, resellers, and processors. Since Cardstream is the technology behind payment processing, it is not surprising that there are not very many complaints. If Cardstream does connect you with an acquirer, such as WorldPay, Barclaycard, First Data, it is best to check out what merchants are saying about them.

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