Heartland Payment Systems: Processor Spot Light

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Heartland Payment Systems is a payment processing giant founded in 1997. And despite its merger with Global Payments in 2016, Heartland is still headquartered in Oklahoma and operating under the Heartland brand. (At the time of the merger, Heartland was valued between $3 billion and $4 billion.) Now considered one of the largest financial technology providers in the country, Heartland partners with over 400,000 businesses and institutions to process millions of transactions every day.

Heartland works with small retailers, large corporations, restaurants, nonprofits, local governments, schools, hospitals, and more to ensure that their businesses run seamlessly and accommodate future change and growth. In addition to processing financial transactions, Heartland offers HR and payroll solutions, campus ID cards, gift cards, POS systems, network management, billing, and lending services.

Heartland Products & Services

Dedicated Merchant Accounts: Merchants who sign up with Heartland get dedicated merchant accounts. In addition to accepting card payments, business owners and managers can accept ACH transfers.

Niche Markets: In addition to serving standard retail and eCommerce businesses, Heartland has made a name for itself in specific niche markets like the hospitality industry and educational institutions. For example, Heartland provides payment solutions for school lunches and campus student IDs. They also offer unique features to restaurants, bars, and food trucks to simplify their patron’s payment experience. No more waiting for a server to deliver your check when they can pay right at the table.

Tools for Nonprofits: Registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits can get a range of tools to accept donations and sell merchandise online. And though Heartland provides nonprofit discounts, it’s not clear what they are and when they will be administered.

Payment Security: Heartland provides secure PCI-compliant payment processing through Heartland E3 end-to-end encryption, EMV, and tokenization technologies to reduce fraud and future data breaches.

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Heartland Payment Systems Pros and Cons


  • PCI-compliant solutions
  • Frequent security updates
  • Tools for hospitality, schools, and other niche industries
  • Nonprofit services and discounts available


  • Early termination fee (ETF) is $295 per location
  • 3-year contracts
  • Less-than-transparent, tiered pricing
  • Questionable sales tactics

Who is Global Payments Inc.?

Heartland’s Atlanta-based parent company, Global Payments Inc., is a member of the S&P 500 and provides payment technology, specialized software and, business solutions to customers and partners in 32 countries throughout North America, South America, Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region. At least for now, it appears that Global Payments has chosen to let Heartland continue to operate their business while they continue acquiring more merchant services. Global Payments and TSYS merged in 2019, making Global Payments, Inc. an even bigger giant in the merchant services industry. 

One of the benefits of Heartland Payment Systems’ size is that it has had the resources to build a secure and robust payment processing infrastructure. The Heartland platform enables multichannel selling for various industries while still offering customized services for smaller retail markets.

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Data Security

Heartland made national headlines in 2008 when their computer systems were breached by an infamous computer hacker named Albert Gonzalez. Along with his Russian accomplices, they stole the data from more than 130 million credit cards. Heartland responded quickly to repair the damages and took measures to prevent additional security compromises. After paying millions of dollars in fines and settlements, Heartland now regularly updates its security systems and even created the “Merchant Bill of Rights” to educate and protect its customers.

What is the Merchant Bill of Rights?

Written by Bill Carr, former CEO and co-founder of Heartland, the “Merchant Bill of Rights” promotes fair credit, debit, and prepaid card processing practices on behalf of the owners of small and mid-sized businesses. Ten years after it was first published, Heartland’s advocacy stance has been emulated by similar companies. 


Heartland Payment Systems Pricing

The pricing structure of Heartland merchant accounts appears to be somewhat vague and based on a variety of factors negotiated with sales reps that work on commissions. The standard Heartland contract requires a 3-year service agreement that includes an early termination fee of $295 per location! Many fees and service terms appear to be negotiable.

Heartland’s website claims that the company offers interchange-plus pricing, which is the most transparent pricing model available. The company does not appear to charge an annual PCI Compliance fee, but it does charge a $25 monthly “service and regulatory mandate fee.” Apparently, agents have the option to drop certain fees and revise terms to close a deal. Merchants can also expect additional charges if they request monthly billing.

According to the company’s merchant agreement, businesses can lease or purchase payment processing hardware from Heartland. Some merchants have complained that equipment leases lasting the term of a contract often result in fees that exceed the equipment’s original price.

Cost Summary 

Swiped Rate Interchange-Plus
Keyed-in Rate Interchange-Plus
Virtual Terminal Rate 1.00% – 4.99% per transaction
Payment Gateway Fee Undisclosed
Service and regulatory mandate Fee $25
Early Termination Fee $295 per location
PCI Compliance Fee None
Equipment Lease Terms Variable

In addition to brick-and-mortar payment processing, Heartland Payment Systems also advertises virtual terminal and payment gateway services, though no pricing structure is provided on their website. 

Heartland Lawsuits

In 2017, a judge gave preliminary approval for a $2.5 million settlement in a proposed class-action lawsuit against Heartland. The plaintiffs in the case alleged that Heartland failed to keep their promise to merchants that they would not charge them higher rates to process transactions with American Express by assessing an “American Express Fee Adjustment.”

In 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed a lawsuit against Heartland’s former CEO and his romantic partner for engaging in insider trading at the time of Heartland Payment Systems’ sale to Global Payments. Both were required to return the funds and pay a civil penalty. The SEC also banned Carr from serving as an officer in a public company for two years.

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Heartland Payment Systems Merchant Reviews

For a company the size of Heartland Payment Systems, there are relatively few customer complaints. Since Heartland sales agents work primarily on commission, there are situations where agents, eager to close a sale, make promises they can’t keep. Nearly all merchant complaints revolve around undisclosed fees and contract language that is not clear.

The Payline Data Advantage 

Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to payment processing. Payline offers a true month-to-month contract plan for most of their merchants, with no early termination fees.

With guaranteed transparent pricing and a dedicated customer representative, Payline customers will know exactly what to expect when it comes to costs. Your payment expert will stay with you through equipment setup and offer training to you and your employees. Talk to a payment expert now for detailed information about services and benefits.


Payline offers the security you need to keep your customers’ data safe from data breaches. And with fraud protection services, we’ll help secure your card payments and reduce chargebacks.


Regardless of which company you select to be your credit card processing provider, your ultimate experience will depend on the relationship you have with the account representative who sets up your account. You want a partner who understands your industry and your specific business needs. The more knowledgeable about products and services they are, and the more accessible they make themselves, the better. Payline pairs you with a dedicated customer service agent who will take the time to explain the terms and conditions of your contract carefully. We have nothing to hide.

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Payline Credit Card Processing

Payline offers all the features you need to take care of all your payment processing needs: 

  • Complete POS Systems
  • Simple, transparent pricing with no long-term contracts
  • A dedicated account manager
  • Seamless Integration with your existing systems 
  • Your Software, Our Hardware
  • A virtual terminal and reporting dashboard that syncs in real-time. 
  • A retail POS system connects your products and schedule on the frontend, your accounting on the backend, and much more. All are included in your suite of tools.
  • From startup to enterprise, our devices allow you to own your client experience while taking care of the compliance, updates, and support.

Payline Pricing

Payline is committed to offering the lowest pricing plans while providing you with software that performs functions such as invoicing, recurring billing, ACH payments, and a payments page. Easy plugins connect to Point-Of-Sale (POS) systems, shopping carts, Quickbooks, and the card reader of your choice. 

Swiping in-person costs 0.2% plus 10 cents and a monthly flat fee of $10. The credit card not present or online purchase costs 0.4% plus 20 cents and a monthly fee of $20.

Interchange refers to the fee collected, per transaction, by the customer’s credit card bank (Visa, MasterCard, Amex, etc.) These rates are set by credit card companies and are standard in the payment processing industry. Interchange rates are part of Payline’s interchange-plus pricing plans. We pass on the wholesale cost from the card issuer and then add on a small disclosed fee. 

Your first month with Payline is FREE. No risk, no upfront fees, and no cancelation fees. No hidden fees, no contract double-speak, and no surprises! Click here to calculate what you’ll pay using our payment calculator.

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