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Cardstream Review: The Flexible, Powerful Payment Gateway
Things we like:
- Extensive payment gateway features
- Fully customisable
- No setup fee
- No transaction limits
Things we don’t like:
- Fees not publicly disclosed
- 12-month contracts
Cardstream is the only company in the UK to provide a fully independent “white label” payment gateway. This is the system that allows you to accept card payments on your website and it also provides a real-time virtual terminal so you can take payments over the phone or by mail.
The key difference with Cardstream is that it’s entirely independent from acquiring banks and any other payment company that actually processes the card payments. This means you can use Cardstream as your payment gateway, regardless of which bank is handling your card payments and seamlessly integrate a fully customisable gateway into your website.
That said, while Cardstream is an independent company, it has connections with a vast network of global acquirers and payment firms, which it can help you get set up with if you don’t already have one on board.
Cardstream Products & Services
With Cardstream, it’s all about the payment gateway and integrating it into the payment system of your choice. That’s all there really is to it but Cardstream is a true payment gateway specialist and it has developed an extensive range of features into its gateway over the years.
- White label: Create a fully branded gateway page, on your own chosen URL.
- Shopping modules: Makes it easy to integrate with your website, CMS or shopping cart.
- Virtual terminal: Allows you to take payments over the phone and by mail.
- Acquirer independent: Means you’re not tied to any single acquiring bank.
- Updater server: Receive updated cardholder data to prevent failed payments due to cards going out of date, being lost/stolen or other issues.
- Tokenisation: A secure method of setting up and accepting recurring payments.
- Velocity checks: A powerful fraud prevention system that limits the number of card payments accepted over a period of time.
- Alternative payments: Includes PayPal, Apple Pay, Android Pay and MasterPass.
- Security checks: Card Security Code checks and 3D Secure authentication.
- Multi currency: Extensive support for multiple currencies.
- Pay button and QR code: Embed HTML pay buttons onto your website or emails.
- DDoS mitigation: Protection against Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
- Chargeback reporting: Receive alerts about any chargebacks so you can respond to cases faster.
- Cardstream receipts: Branded receipts for both merchant and customers.
Essentially, Cardstream is the payment gateway that integrates into just about any payment system you have/need. Not only that, but it’s also 100% customisable so your brand appears across every online payment interaction, whichever way your customers choose to pay.
Cardstream doesn’t publicly disclose its fees but we’ve managed to get the crucial figures (please double check with them as they are liable to change at any time). As we say, there are no setup fees and pricing is relatively straightforward:
- £18/month subscription fee
- 350 free transactions per month
- 9p per additional transaction
So you won’t be charged any transaction fees by Cardstream for your first 350 card payments each month and then you’re looking at a fixed fee of 9.9p per additional transaction. That free allowance and fixed fee combination will be particularly tempting if your card payments are typically high value/profit.
Cardstream Contracts & Early Termination Fees
With Cardstream you’ll be signing up to a 12-month contract, which is relatively short in this business but we never like to see merchants being tied down to contracts, no matter how long they may be. You’ll need to give Cardstream 30 days notice if you want to terminate your contract early and you’ll be required to pay the remainder of your contract within 15 days.
Be careful about the company auto-renewing your contract after 12 months as well. We haven’t heard any reports about Cardstream doing this but it’s common among payment services companies and it catches out a lot of merchants.
Cardstream Sales & Transparency
Cardstream is relatively transparent although we would like to see its pricing publicly displayed on its websites for merchants to look at. There’s no reason it shouldn’t easier as it’s one of the most competitively priced gateway options on the market.
That aside, the company’s sales team appears to be very honest and this is most evident when they’re connecting you with one of its partner acquiring banks. This is an important role because we know a lot of merchants approach Cardtstream in need of more than a payment gateway and it’s all too easy to get sucked into a deal that doesn’t work for you.
Cardstream Customer Service & Technical Support
As hinted in the previous section, Cardstream’s customer service and technical support teams are a credit to the company. Its friendly and knowledgeable staff are there to help you make sense of what you need from payment services and the technical support team is great at supporting developers when it comes to customising your gateway integration.
Cardstream Reviews & Reputation
You won’t find too many online reviews about Cardstream but the ones you will find are all very positive. Existing customers are happy about the competitive rates and extensive customisation capabilities of Cardstream’s payment gateway while the company’s customer service and technical support teams are regularly praised.
Cardstream is arguably the most flexible payment gateway available today and it’s undoubtedly one of the most competitively priced. This combined with the company’s fantastic customer support system means we’re more than happy to recommend Cardstream to any business that needs a truly independent and fully customisable payment gateway.