Lloyds Bank is one of the leading names in European banking, so it comes as no surprise it provides merchant account services to thousands of firms across the continent and beyond. The merchant services themselves are provided by a firm called Cardnet, a joint venture between Lloyds Banking Group and First Data, which combines the latest technology in payment solutions with flexibility for businesses of all types and sizes.
This starts with simple packages for smaller businesses that only process a low volume of card transactions. Where it ends depends on the size of your business – all the way up to major international brands that process thousands of transactions per week or high-value transactions that leave no room for error.
Products & Services
Face to face payments
- Countertop machines: For static payment points like tills and shop checkouts.
- Wireless machines: So you can take your card machine and accept payments anywhere on the premises.
- Mobile machines: Allow you to take payments from customers at their home or any other location – ideal for deliveries, tradespeople and other mobile businesses.
- Contactless payments: For ultra-fast payments on transactions under £20.
- Flexible payments: Supports every major credit and debit card supplier, plus a number of alternative payments.
- Online reporting tool: Means you can track payments throughout the process from any connected device.
- Flexible payments: Support for all the major credit and debit card providers.
- Note: Lloyds Bank Cardnet doesn’t offer any payment gateway, which means you’ll need to find a separate provider for the actual payment platform on your website.
Over the phone payments
- Virtual terminal: A secure web page where you can accept payments without the customer being present (using their card details).
- Quick setup: To have you accepting payments over the phone in a matter of minutes.
- No hardware: All you need is an internet connection to get started – no separate phone lines, hardware or software to worry about.
- Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC): Means you can offer international customers the choice of paying in their currency at no additional cost to your business.
- Flexibility: Supports more than 35 major currencies from around the world.
- Multi currency transactions: Allows you to accept and convert international payments into 16 different currencies, including GBP, EUR and USD.
As with most of the major merchant account providers you won’t find easy access to any of Cardnet’s fees without getting a quote yourself. We have seen the following fees quotes several although we can’t confirm their accuracy so please only use these as a guide and let us know if you are quoted something different:
- Joining fee: £175
- Minimum monthly charge: £25
- Authorisation fee: 3p per transaction
- Chargeback fee: £15
- Termination: £200
If those fees are accurate then we’re certainly not talking about one of the cheaper providers around. And, while we can’t take those numbers too seriously, it would be a surprise to see a bank like Lloyds offering budget rates on their merchant account services – that’s not the way it works with the banks.
Things are different if you hold a Lloyds Bank Business account, in which case you get a few perks thrown into the mix:
- Fixed rate 1.25% on MasterCard, Visa Credit and Debit cards
- Minimum monthly charge of £15
- Terminal rentals starting at £15
- Terminal rental reduction after 18 months if contract renewed
- No joining fee
- Free online management tool
Those numbers, which came directly from Lloyds, make the previous figures quite believable. And, if that’s the case, those are some pretty good rewards for having a business bank account with Lloyds – something you may want to consider.
Contracts with Lloyds Bank Cardnet start at a minimum 12-month service contract, but we can’t get hold of any information on the terms that define contract length. We certainly imagine contracts could extend to the 18-month period and anywhere up to 36-months – purely on industry standards.
Another piece of information we normally like to get our hands on is the total termination fee for cancelling contracts early or without due notice. Quite often the initial termination fee (£200 according to the source we mentioned earlier) is only one part of the overall bill you face. But we could be doing Cardnet an injustice here – just be sure to know your contract inside out before you agree to anything so you can avoid any nasty surprises.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
While the big banks tend to sit on the expensive side of fees, they’re often the best players when it comes to sales and advertising. Rather than trying to sign up every business they can to their services, the banks are typically more cautious, either turning down high-risk businesses or demanding hefty security fees.
This means you shouldn’t have to deal with third party sales reps bombarding you with Cardnet services. In terms of Cardnet itself, the firm is completely transparent about its rates to any businesses they speak to and we haven’t heard any reports of hidden charges or underhand sales tactics although it would be nice to publish some rates on their website. The truth is these firms don’t really need to operate with aggressive or misleading marketing techniques.
Customer Service and Technical Support
Customer service is always tough for a firm of this size and the legions of customers it has to look after. So, unsurprisingly, there are some complaints about the standard of Cardnet’s customer care to be find. That said, for a firm this big (ie: damn huge) we’d expect to find hundreds of complaints about customer service, but that simply wasn’t the case.
In fact, there isn’t much bad press at all about Cardnet’s customer care – or even talk about technical issues that give customers reason to call up in the first place. That’s a rare thing in the payments game and that suggests Cardnet’s massive base of customers must be pretty happy with the standard of service they receive.
One other factor that could come into play is the likelihood that Cardnet doesn’t have many SME customers. This is where your online complaints typically come from, but we can’t let this assumption affect our score.
Positive Reviews and Testimonials
For positive reviews on Cardnet’s merchant services you’re largely limited to corporate feedback, rather than customer reviews:
“Cardnet is a state-of-the-art card acceptance system that offers customers flexible ways to pay—in person, online, or when they’re not present. It’s a joint venture between the Lloyds Banking Group and First Data that combines the expertise of one of the world’s largest card processors with the resources and backup of a leading bank group.” – Lloyds merchant services review
While we normally prefer to rely on customer reviews for feedback, these are pretty hard to come by for Cardnet. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though – because sometimes no news is good news and it’s not much easier to find negative reviews from customers.
Negative Reviews and Complaints
While there aren’t many negative reviews denting the Cardnet reputation, there are a few worth mentioning. And the reason we want to bring them to your attention is because they largely focus around the same collective complaint.
This is to do with some hefty security deposits the firm demands from merchants that have higher than usual chargeback claims or are deemed high-risk.
“I run a business that has been with LLoyds card net for some 6 years now, I have recieved a letter from them today saying that my business with them is deemed high risk and they want £50,000 cash security.” – jubba, UK Business Forums post.
This isn’t the only customer in that thread alone who has experience similar problems. We can’t comment on Lloyds or Cardnet policies that determine high-risk businesses or the security deposits they necessitate, but it’s something we’d like to bring to your attention and recommend you discuss before signing anything.
Lloyds Bank Cardnet merchant services rack up a fairly average score with all things considered. The first issue we have is the fact it doesn’t provide a payment gateway for online payments – this just means extra hassle for merchants and another firm you have to deal with.
Next we have to knock off some points for the fees you’ll be looking at, although these are fairly typical for merchant services from the big banks. Aside from those concerns, things look largely positive for Cardnet customers, although it won’t be the provider for a number of smaller businesses.
However, if you turn over a high volume of card payments, or need to reach international customers, then this could be a more lucrative option for you – especially if you already hold a Lloyds Bank Business account. And, of course, you can always do your best to negotiate the firm down to a pricing model that sits better with you. After all, it costs nothing to get a quote if you think Cardnet could be the provider for you.