Fiserv (formerly First Data Merchant Solutions) Review: Is it Right for You?

First Data rebranded as Fiserv logo

By Rob Binns | Senior Writer | Updated: 25 February 2021

Fiserv is a payments industry goliath. But does bigger always mean better?


Fiserv logo large

Pros:

  • 24/7 phone-based support available with all card readers
  • Offers several stylish POS (point of sale) solutions, via renowned provider Clover
  • Well-suited to businesses in the hospitality industry
  • Strong customer approval ratings online
  • 36 accepted currencies

X Cons:

  • Upfront fees and transaction rates aren’t advertised, so Fiserv's hard to budget for...
  • ...reviews, however, suggest that it’s expensive!
  • Early termination fees may apply
  • No round-the-clock live chat service
At a glance: There’s a reason Fiserv processes trillions in card payments every year. Its help and support is excellent, its card machines clever, cool, and compact, and its product is highly rated online. Fees are on the pricey side, sure – but at least there’s room to negotiate!

What is Fiserv?

Fiserv wears many hats.

As well as providing financial services technology to some of the world’s leading banks, Fiserv also equips merchants of all sizes with the ability to accept credit and debit card payments – anywhere, anytime.

To understand what Fiserv can offer you, though, you’ll first need to understand a bit about the company’s history.

It started out in 1971 as First Data (the name you may still know it as), before American Express bought an 80% stake in 1980. The company was incorporated in 1989, went public in 1992, and in 2013, it acquired well-known EPOS (electronic point of sale) equipment provider Clover.

In 2019, First Data was acquired by Fiserv.

In 2021, Fiserv serves a staggering six million merchants worldwide – easily the largest in the payments industry. And, across the pond, it processes almost half of all US credit and debit card transactions. The numbers, quite frankly, are incredible.

But does bigger always mean better? And what can Fiserv do for your growing, UK-based business? Let’s find out.


What are Fiserv’s features and benefits?

Firstly – since the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have forced you to move some (if not all!) of your selling online – let's explore how Fiserv can enable you to take payments through your website or app, as well as over the phone.

Fiserv payment gateway

Take payments through your website or app

Fiserv’s payment gateway allows you to accept credit and debit card payments through your business’s website. For added flexibility, there are two ways you can go about this:

1. Fiserv’s hosted payment gateway

First is Fiserv’s hosted payment gateway, which it dubs ‘Connect’. Here, when your online customer wants to check out, they’ll be redirected to a payments page hosted by Fiserv to complete the transaction.

This isn’t the best for your site’s UX (user experience), but you can compensate for the disruption by customising Fiserv’s page to fit the look and feel of your own branding.

Fiserv’s hosted payment gateway also comes with its fair share of handy benefits. These include:

Acceptance of all major card brands and payment types, including PayPal and mobile wallets

The ability to process sales and refunds with ease

Recurring payment automation

Real-time reporting

Built-in fraud prevention features

2. Fiserv’s API (Application Programming Interface) integrated payment gateway

Alternatively, you can choose to use one of Fiserv’s APIs to slot a payment gateway straight into your website.

This is a much more clever, customisable approach to taking payments online, but it comes with a catch. Unlike with a hosted payment gateway – which is usually fully PCI compliant – the API option shifts the burden of this particular responsibility to sit squarely onto the shoulders of your business.

Despite this, opting for an API integrated payment gateway from Fiserv offers plenty of drawcards, such as:

Mobile wallet compatibility

International acceptance

Tokenisation (a form of data encryption that helps secure cardholder data in a transaction)

Recurring payment automation

Complete control over your customer’s payment journey

To learn more about what a payment gateway can offer your business, head to our guide to the best payment gateway providers in 2021. We compare the leading 15 payment gateway suppliers in the UK, and offer a range of tips to help you choose the right one.

Fiserv virtual terminal

Take payments over the phone

Fiserv’s virtual terminal is a secure, web-based portal that you can access from any of your devices. Handily, it allows you to take payments over the phone – ideal for when certain things (global pandemics, for instance) put the brakes on in-person transactions.

You just log in, enter some details about what your customer is purchasing – and how much it costs – and grab their card and billing deals over the phone.

Then, simply hit that ‘Accept’ button and hey presto – you’re done!

Want to know more? Explore the best virtual terminals in the UK, and compare and contrast top suppliers with us.

Fiserv payment links

Take payments through social media, email, or SMS

Fiserv’s payment links do exactly what they say on the tin.

Through Fiserv’s virtual terminal, you can generate links, and then send them instantly to your customer, via whichever social media or instant messaging platform they’re most comfortable with.

All they have to do is click the link, and they’ll be directed to a secure Fiserv payment page to enter their card details.

Fiserv’s range of online services make it one of our top merchant accounts for ecommerce.

Next, let’s take a look at the various pieces of card payment technology – available courtesy of Fiserv’s astute acquisition of EPOS provider Clover – that your business can benefit from.

Clover Flex

Take payments anywhere

Merging the flexibility of traditional merchant services with the portability and dynamism of a payment facilitator (such as Zettle, or SumUp), the Clover Flex is a versatile, hand-held POS system.
Clover Flex

The Clover Flex empowers you to accept payments and track your sales from a single device. Better still, you can take payments directly to the customer – wherever you are in the world. The Flex connects to mobile networks via 4G, meaning you don’t need a wifi connection to sell.

The battery lasts all day, too – so the only ‘charging’ you’ll have to think about is the kind that makes you money!

Fiserv’s Clover Flex – Benefits

Herculean battery life

Highly customisable to your personal preferences

5-inch, high resolution touch screen

Comes equipped with an in-built receipt printer

Combines with a kitchen printer that’s ideal for gastropub environments

24/7 support

Clover Mini

Take payments from your restaurant

Also wifi and 4G-enabled, the Mini – as the name suggests – boasts just as much portability as its sibling.

Yet where the Mini excels is in its enhanced reporting features. On top of sales tracking, you’ll also receive detailed, real-time insights into your stock, payroll, and refunds.
Clover Mini

Handily, the Mini also integrates with a range of other POS equipment (such as barcode scanners, receipt printers, and cash drawers) to boost your countertop.

On top of all that, the Clover Mini is perfect for restaurants. With Fiserv’s ‘Mini for full-service restaurants’ option, you’ll be able to build dynamic floor plans and manage staff, straight from your device. The Clover Mini also allows you to pre-authorise bar tabs with ease, and includes a handy table-splitting feature to boot.

Fiserv’s Clover Mini – Benefits

Pre-authorise bar tabs for security, and to reduce extra work on the night

Split bills

Accept a variety of online payment methods, and take money in advance for in-store bookings or takeaway orders

7-inch HD touch screen display for visibility

Compatible with the Clover Mini and Clover Station Pro, as well as a sublime set of other POS equipment

24/7 support

Clover Station Pro

Take payments from your countertop

For a less mobile – but far more feature-rich – solution for your countertop, our research suggests that the Clover Station Pro is a top choice.

It’s an impressive ‘all in one’ POS system that combines payment processing with… well, just about everything you need to grow your business!
Clover Station Pro

You can take orders – and get paid for them – online, and process tips, discounts, and refunds from your bricks and mortar premises. It’s easy to run reports per revenue class, or filter by stock type. Plus, the Clover Station Pro comes with stellar employee management facilities, which enable you to set up secure staff logins and access permissions.

Plus, you can access customer support for free, 24/7.

Fiserv’s Clover Station Pro – Benefits

Compatible with the Clover Mini and Flex

Includes a receipt printer and cash drawer

Also works with a barcode scanner, weight scale, and kitchen printer, for restaurant environments

A 14-inch HD merchant-facing screen – complete with a 7-inch customer-facing touch screen – makes the whole system a breeze to use

Utilises fingerprint login technology for safe, quick access to your POS

For more information around what an EPOS system can do for your business – and to browse the UK’s top suppliers – head to our guide to the best EPOS suppliers in the UK.

Did You Know?

Fiserv processes around 2,800 transactions per second, at a total value of $2.2 trillion per year.


How much does Fiserv cost?

Fiserv’s rates are entirely bespoke, meaning that you’ll have to enquire to get a rate for your business.

What you’ll pay depends largely on your sales volume, but also on your business’s size, and the amount of time you’ve been in business. Your upfront fees and card machine rental costs will, of course, vary with the type of plan or device you select.

We believe Fiserv’s monthly charges to cost at least £15.

Fiserv’s transaction fees will vary on a case-by-case basis, and depend on the type of cards you’re accepting (debit or credit), as well as the method – payments at the till, for instance, are cheaper than those made online, or through a virtual terminal.

That said, you can expect to pay between 1 and 2% per each in-person or online transaction you make with Fiserv. There’s no such thing as a free payment gateway, after all!

Fiserv also charges an early termination fee of £200, should you wish to break your contract within six months of signing up.

Remember, though, a less than transparent fee structure usually means there’s room for negotiation – particularly when it comes to signup and monthly fees. Don’t be afraid to haggle!

Credit card processing fees. Confusing, right? Well, if you’re ready to start comparing quotes from Fiserv and other leading merchant service suppliers in the UK, we can help.

Simply provide us with some details about your business’s requirements. We’ll ask for a bit of info about your industry and how long you’ve been trading for, as well as how much you plan to accept in card payments per month.

It takes just 30 seconds, and when you’re done, we’ll match you with leading merchant account providers – but only if they fit with what you’re looking for. They’ll then be in touch with quotes and advice to help you choose the right card payments solution for you.

Compare Quotes From Leading Merchant Account Providers and Save
It takes just 30 seconds...
1. Do you currently have a merchant account provider? YES NO

Is Fiserv right for my business?

“My current card machine is clunky, and I need an upgrade”.

We hear you! After a while, that countertop card machine that’s been with you since you started out in business stops being faithful, and starts being downright cumbersome.

If this sounds like you, you can’t go wrong with Fiserv. According to Fiserv, its card machines are a result of years of innovation in the labs of highly regarded EPOS provider Clover, and we can tell – they're light, portable, and extremely user-friendly. 

In our opinion, they’re among the best credit card machines for small businesses – and that’s saying something!

“I run a market stall.”

In this case, Fiserv may not be the best option for you – particularly given the restrictions COVID-19 has placed on face-to-face commerce in the UK. Fiserv levies monthly fees for account maintenance and POS rental, so if you’re not able to physically get out there and man your stall, you’re likely to lose more money than you’re making.

For micro-merchants and solopreneurs of the market variety, we’d recommend steering clear of a dedicated merchant account, and opting instead for a payment facilitator.

These providers – such as SumUp, Zettle, and Square – charge only small, per transaction costs, and can sell you all the equipment you need to get going, for a single nominal fee.

For more info about what payment facilitators are – and which one is best-suited to your stall – check out our guide to the best mobile card readers in 2021.

“My business is classified as high risk.”

Fiserv does not offer merchant account services for businesses deemed high risk.

For a breakdown of the UK’s leading high risk merchant accounts, head to our 2021 guide instead.

“I want a merchant account, but not a lengthy deal.”

Fiserv offers contracts of between 12 and 48 months. If your business is less well-established, it’s likely that you’ll have to settle for longer, less flexible terms – which is annoying, to say the least!

Worse still is that there isn’t a huge amount of wriggle room if you want to get out of your agreement. Fiserv charges a £200 fee if you choose to tear up your contract within half a year of signing it.

For the shortest merchant services contracts around, try takepayments. To learn more about what it can do for your business, explore our takepayments review, updated for 2021.


What do Fiserv’s customer reviews say?

Old name, new reviews – as ‘First Data’, the company’s feedback is consistently positive across the board.

Sporting an ‘Excellent’ Trustpilot rating of 4.7/5, 83% of reviews at the time of writing are five-star. Here are a couple of recent examples that demonstrate what Fiserv – despite receiving these reviews under its old moniker – is doing well.

Firstly, a surprisingly creative take on Fiserv’s customer support:

Testimonial
Testimonial user photo
Steve First Data customer
2021-22-02

“I received very efficient and responsive communication from [Fiserv customer support agent] Joseph, and his colleagues. They were actual human beings, rather than it being a semi-automated process where you often feel that the corporate machine has dropped you into a black hole. It made setting up my card services a breeze.”

Next, a ringing endorsement of Fiserv’s Clover POS systems and card machines…

Testimonial
Testimonial user photo
Tammy First Data customer
2021-19-02

“Our Clover Flex is lightning fast, and integrates with our till – and the rates are unbeatable. Fiserv has recently arranged for three more [card] terminals for us, as well as an online account. I can’t recommend Fiserv’s professionalism enough. Thank you!”

…not to mention the ease of setup and use!

Testimonial
Testimonial user photo
Rob First Data customer
2021-16-02

“I am now the proud owner of a funky, white, all singing, all dancing card machine. It has so much more functionality than its predecessors, and is easy to use and set up. Fiserv was very efficient, and organised the whole thing with me – from order to setup – in just a few days. It’s hassle-free, and it works!”

Of course, Fiserv has its detractors. With 3% of Trustpilot reviewers opting for four stars, and less than 1% rating it either three or two stars, a total of 13% of Fiserv’s reviews are one-star.

We should also note that a second Trustpilot page – this one under Fiserv, rather than First Data – also exists. Overall opinion here, while by no means terrible, isn’t quite as favourable as it’s pre-rebrand counterpart. Of 12 reviews, just 17% are five-star, with 75% of customers handing down single star condemnation.

Some complaints, such as this one, criticise the same things other reviews laud – namely, Fiserv’s EPOS equipment and customer support:

“Avoid using Clover. The till systems look smart, but the customer service is poor, with many hidden fees. Compared to other EPOS systems, they are seriously expensive. Our business has been under contract with them for 48 months, and we couldn’t wait to leave.”

  • Christian, Fiserv customer, 9th February 2021

The hidden fees mentioned here do crop up in other Fiserv reviews, as do charges made in error. The company has also been criticised for not being “proactive” during COVID-19, in terms of offering discounts or support to struggling businesses.

We can’t be too harsh on Fiserv, though, because there is one mitigating factor.

Fiserv is a direct processor. This means that, as well as providing merchants with the ability to accept card payments, Fiserv also works with ISOs (Independent Service Organisations).

ISOs – which include names such as Paymentsense – are companies that act as ‘middlemen’: connecting Fiserv’s processing services to merchants, but adding that extra level of customer support (and potentially cheaper rates, too).

How does this relate to Fiserv’s reviews, then? Well, it’s clear from reading the feedback that some merchants aren’t happy with their ISO, rather than Fiserv itself. Yet, because Fiserv (or, if we’re splitting hairs, First Data) is the name on the merchant’s bills, the customer’s review ends up in the wrong place.

Ultimately, Fiserv’s reviews are overwhelmingly more positive than they are negative, and we’re sure that you can trust this company.


What other merchant account providers should I consider?

Because of the way its contracts and fees are structured, we’d recommend Fiserv only for businesses that can expect a regular, reliable monthly volume of card payments.

If this doesn’t sound like you, scroll on to browse the best Fiserv alternatives.

For small businesses

Fiserv is not for small businesses. Popup stores, market stalls, micro-merchants, solopreneurs, and anyone else new to the game should look elsewhere.

Better still are the transaction fees, which are as low as 1.69% per face-to-face card payment you take. Basically, you’ll pay only for the sales you make, and not for arbitrary ongoing costs for the service.

Specifically, that ‘elsewhere’ should be something like Zettle, SumUp, or Square. These providers, rather than charging monthly and hefty upfront fees like Fiserv, charge a one-off cost, which buys you your card reader outright. This can be as low as £19, and typically won’t ever be more than £29 (excl. VAT).

Better still are the transaction fees, which are as low as 1.69% per face-to-face card payment you take. Basically, you’ll pay only for the sales you make, and not for arbitrary ongoing costs for the service.

For more established businesses

If you are a larger business – but Fiserv still hasn’t quite done enough to convince you – you could opt to set up a merchant account with a bank. Popular services include:

Alternatively, we’d recommend choosing an ISO (and if you’re not sure what they are, be sure to skip back a section!). Our research indicates that the best ISO is takepayments, primarily for its short contracts and lack of setup or exit fees. Handepay and Retail Merchant Services, however, both offer UK-based customer support, and excellent value for money to boot.

To compare which merchant services provider is best for your business, we recommend utilising our free, quote-finding service. 

Hit one of the buttons below to tell us a bit more about your requirements, and we’ll match you with the right supplier for your business’s unique needs.

It takes less than a minute to do, and it’s free for UK merchants. If we’re successful in pairing you with one or more payment providers, they’ll be in touch with you directly to offer personalised quotes. It’s that simple!

Compare Quotes From Leading Merchant Account Providers and Save
It takes just 30 seconds...
1. Do you currently have a merchant account provider? YES NO
Rob Binns Expert Market
Rob Binns Senior Writer

Rob writes mainly about the payments industry, but also brings to the table industry-specific knowledge of CRM software, business loans, fulfilment, and invoice finance. When not exasperating his editor with bad puns, he can be found relaxing in a sunny (socially-distanced) corner, with a beer and a battered copy of Dostoevsky.

Now Read