Ellen Cibula
Written by Ellen Cibula Payments, Finance, and AI Expert: Learn More

Are you looking for a payment processor that shares your belief in sustainability practices? Are you tired of not understanding your processing fees?

Dharma Merchant Services is one such option known for its transparent pricing and ethical practices. I used my extensive payments experience to review the benefits, potential customers, costs, and alternatives of Dharma Merchant Services.

In this Dharma Merchant Services review, I highlight the benefits of working with Dharma to accept payments and how they can help your business succeed.

Keep reading to learn more!

Dharma Merchant Services Summary

Dharma logo

Dharma Merchant Services, renowned for its ethical and transparent approach, offers versatile payment processing solutions, including credit card processing and mobile payments. With a straightforward pricing structure with no hidden fees, it caters to diverse businesses, from high-volume merchants to small enterprises. Additionally, their commitment to social responsibility makes them an attractive choice for socially-conscious entrepreneurs.

Dharma MX Merchant

All accounts come with a Dharma MX Merchant account.

Large Choice of Terminals

Dharma offers many card readers to meet your needs.

Surcharging Option

Surcharging to pass credit card processing fees on to your customers.

Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems Integration

Dharma can integrate with POS systems that run on TSYS and First Data systems.

Dharma, Authorize.net, and NMI Gateways

Dharma has their own gateway and integrates with Authorize.net and NMI.

Commitment to Sustainability

Dharma is committed to social responsibility and sustainability.

Overall Rating:
5 / 5

Dharma Pros

  • Transparent pricing
  • No long-term agreements
  • 2-business day funding guarantee
  • Sustainable practices
  • No early termination fee

Dharma Cons

  • US-based and operating businesses only
  • No high-risk merchants

Starts at $20/month

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What is Dharma Merchant Services?

Dharma Merchant Services has made a name for itself by providing fair credit card processing solutions. Founded in 2007 and based out of San Francisco, California, it’s become known as an ethical player offering transparent payment processing solutions.

The company adheres to principles of honesty and integrity inspired by Buddhist virtues encapsulated within their name, “Dharma.” This ethos guides how they conduct business – prioritizing customer satisfaction over profit margins.

In the world of merchant services providers, Dharma Merchant Services has made a name for itself.

All accounts come with a free virtual terminal, online reporting, mobile phone processing (Apple/Android), online payment links, a customer database with credit card storage, no long-term agreements, and next-day funding for card-present merchants.

A Closer Look at Their Philosophy

“Honesty pays off” – This isn’t just another saying but forms the backbone of Dharma’s business model. The company prides itself on its straightforward pricing structure devoid of hidden fees, unlike many other traditional merchant account providers who often hide incidental fees within contracts.

This transparency extends beyond clients to society too. According to their website, a significant portion of profits each year goes toward non-profit organizations. This philanthropy makes them an appealing choice for socially conscious entrepreneurs looking not only at transaction fee structures when choosing a provider.

Dharma serves many different business categories, including high-volume merchants as well as small business owners.

What People Are Saying About Dharma Merchant Services

What Customers are Saying…
  • Customer support is top-notch, prompt, courteous, and transparent
  • Faster funding compared to the former provider, no batch failures
  • Competitive rates that don’t go up unexpectedly
  • Ridiculously easy to work with, honest, friendly, and responsive
  • Delivers on promised great processing rates with no hidden fees
  • Second-cheapest option with responsible business practices and charity donations
  • Billing practices are transparent and easy to reconcile
  • Mishandling of accounts and fraudulent terminal creation
  • Lack of transparency and explanation for terminal reprogramming and merchant ID reissuing

88% Dharma Merchant Services reviews on Trustpilot are 5-star, 3% are 4-star, 3% are 3-star, and 6% are 1-star reviews. This gives them a 4.3-star total, which is high for a payment provider. Like other providers, the negative reviews appear to be of people who don’t understand payment processing, chargebacks, fund holds, and the nature of a high-risk merchant (which Dharma does not support). There are a few negative reviews about ? but these reviews are overwhelmingly positive.

Better Business Bureau reviews for Dharma Merchant Services

Dharma is not BBB accredited, but the Better business bureau gives them an A+ rating. There are 0 reviews, 2 complaints closed in the last 3 years, and 1 complaint in the last 12 months. None of these complaints are available for viewing.

Dharma Merchant Services, Dharma Merchant Services

Who is Dharma Merchant Services for?

Diving into the world of merchant services, you might find yourself wondering if Dharma Merchant Services could be a good fit. Here are the businesses that could benefit from using Dharma.

Small Businesses and Retail

The small business landscape often requires cost-effective solutions that don’t compromise on quality or service. This is where Dharma steps in with its competitive transaction fee rates and transparent pricing model, making it an attractive option for businesses processing lower volumes but still needing comprehensive payment options, including credit card processing and online payments.

Quick-Service and Fine Dining Restaurants

Dharma Merchant Services understands restaurants. They can help any size food service merchant get the right pricing. They also offer discounts for high-volume and low-average ticket sales. Do you process over $100,000 per month? Or have an average ticket of less than $25? You can get discounted rates.

ECommerce Businesses

In today’s digital age, eCommerce businesses need reliable partners like Dharma Merchant Services, which offer efficient online payment gateways allowing secure transactions over the internet. The ability to provide mobile payments and online payment links also enhances customer convenience while shopping on your website or app.

Healthcare and Medical Merchants

These merchants need a processor who can handle the specific requirements needed: HIPAA, medical records systems, and patient billing systems. Dharma Merchant Services is well-versed in these requirements, so you can rest easy knowing you are compliant and your patients can pay you effectively.

Business-to-Business Merchants

Dharma works with B2B merchants to ensure they get the lowest possible credit card processing rates. With their B2B app connected to the MX Merchant system, you can keep your costs low and accept many types of payments. They also offer Level 2 and Level 3 interchange rates (which are lower than Level 1 (standard) rates). They have analysts that will review your processing statements to ensure that you are getting the best rates.


Are you a registered non-profit? As part of Dharma’s commitment to social responsibility, they offer reduced rates to registered non-profits.

High-Volume Merchants

If we shift our focus towards high-volume merchants, they too stand to gain significantly from what Dharma has up its sleeve – MX merchant Insights app offers detailed sales trend reports helping these types of enterprises make informed decisions about operations based on data-driven insights rather than gut feelings alone.

pro Tip

While there are many benefits associated with using this traditional merchant services provider, some exceptions do exist.

  • Brief Operating Seasons: The monthly fee structure may not sit well with seasonal business owners operating only part-time during specific months.
  • Risky Business Types: Due to factors such as chargebacks or customer disputes, certain high-risk merchants may require specialized providers instead.
  • Cash-Based Enterprises: If cash forms most of your transactions, then opting for a full-fledged electronic-based system like the one offered by Dharma might lead to unnecessary expenses due to unused features. You should always consider your business before deciding upon any solution.

What Benefits Does Dharma Merchant Services provide?

The moment you choose to partner with Dharma Merchant Services, a traditional merchant services provider, you unlock access to an array of benefits that streamline your business operations. Here’s what sets them apart.

Dharma MX Merchant

All accounts come with the following features:

  • Virtual terminal
  • Online reporting
  • Mobile (iOS/Android) Processing
  • Online payment links (“Pay Now” or “Donate Now” buttons for your website)
  • Customer Database with credit card storage


Dharma offers Verifone, Ingenico, First Data, Dejavoo, and Clover terminals; all accounts get a free virtual terminal.

Dharma terminal pricing

The hardware terminals allow you to accept credit card payments in person. These devices usually include a card reader (swipe, chip) and a printer. These devices are recommended for merchants who:

  • Have a majority of low-average-ticket sales (like quick-service retail)
  • Physically swipe the card most of the time
  • Have customers who require a paper receipt (like non-profits)

Virtual terminals are appropriate for merchants who key in most of their transactions. A virtual terminal allows you to input card data from almost any device. However, keyed-in transactions will process as card-not-present, with slightly higher processing fees. You can add a USB swiper for desktops or a Bluetooth swipe/EMV device for mobile devices.

Not all merchants need a full point-of-sale device because they do not need all of the associated software that comes with POS systems. If you do not have a lot of inventory or are not customer-facing, you may get away with just the card reader hardware or a virtual terminal.

Dharma does offer the Clover Flex POS system if you need more functionality that comes with a mobile POS system.


Surcharging allows you to pass 100% of the credit card processing fees to credit card-paying customers. This is done by adding an optional checkout fee to the customer’s bill when they pay with credit cards.

This surcharge is available to merchants in the U.S. and its territories, subject to certain limitations. You must follow consumer disclosure and other requirements.

This could benefit you by saving thousands in credit card transactions.

However, before you jump on these savings, you need to consider if this is the best route for your business and your customers. You also need to determine how to correctly disclose this info to your customers. Depending on your business and what your competitors are doing, your customers may not appreciate this practice.

Point-of-Sale Integrations

If you decide you do need a POS system and not just simpler hardware or virtual terminal, Dharma offers integration with many POS systems. Dharma operates within the TSYS and First Data processing networks, so if your POS works with these systems, chances are it will integrate with Dharma.

Dharma recommends the Clover POS system, so if you use the Clover POS system, you are good to go. Clover runs on the First Data system, making it a good fit with Dharma.

Payment Gateway

Payment gateways allow you to process credit cards online. With a gateway, you get security (like PCI-DSS compliance), fraud detection, and transmission encryption (via HTTPS and TLS protocols).

Dharma offers their MX Merchant gateway with the above features and more.

However, they can also integrate with almost any gateway, including Authorize.net, the largest gateway in the world, and NMI, which will allow you to use dynamic descriptors or multiple merchant IDs.

Comparison of Authorize.net and Dharma MX Merchant

Commitment to Sustainability and Giving Back

Dharma Merchant Services is committed to sustainability. Even though they don’t produce a product, they operate with conscious choices. They show this commitment in their choices of vendors and suppliers, their bank, and their shipping policies.

Helping those in need is also a core tenet at Dharma. They have donated almost $7.5 million supporting various charitable non-profit organizations from these categories:

  • Social change/social justice
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Health and Welfare
  • Animal Welfare

Innovative MX Merchant Insights App

As a business proprietor, gaining knowledge of consumer buying behaviors is essential. That’s exactly what the MX Merchant Insights app provides users: real-time sales trends data facilitating informed decision-making processes.

Beyond just reporting, this feature also lets you manage your customer database efficiently, making recurring billing processes smoother than ever before while handling customer disputes effectively through comprehensive reports available right at your fingertips.

Dharma Merchant Services Pricing – How Much Does it Cost?

When selecting a merchant services provider, pricing is always top of mind for any entrepreneur. Dharma Merchant Services stands out in this regard with its clear and competitive pricing structure.

Dharma’s pricing options are designed with transparency and competitiveness at their core. They offer low fees on credit card processing, which can significantly lower overhead costs for businesses – especially high-volume merchants. Their fees are true interchange plus pricing, which is the best and most transparent model.

This model allows high-volume merchants to save significantly on transaction costs compared to flat-rate providers, who typically charge around 2-3%.

Understanding credit card processing fees can significantly impact the profitability of both physical and virtual stores. With Dharma, these costs are simple: 0.15% + $0.08 above interchange rates for Visa/MasterCard transactions from physical stores (card-present transactions); 0.20% + $0.11 over interchange rates for virtual sales (card-not-present transactions).

Here is a break-down of the fee schedule for the different businesses supported:

  • Small Business and Retail Rates: 0.15% + $0.08 above interchange
  • Restaurant Rates: 0.15% + $0.08 above interchange
  • Online (eCommerce) rates: 0.20% + $0.11 above interchange
  • Healthcare Rates: 0.15% + $0.08 above interchange
  • B2B businesses: 0.15% + $0.08 above interchange (card-present) and 0.20% + $0.11 above interchange (card-not-present)
  • Nonprofits: 0.10% + $0.08 (store-front) and 0.10% + $0.11 (virtual)
  • Lodging and Hospitality Rates: 0.15% + $0.08 above interchange
  • High-volume Merchants: 0.10% + $0.08 above interchange

Beyond credit cards, ACH (Automated Clearing House) payment processing is another service Dharma offers – particularly beneficial if recurring billing plays a big role in your operations like subscription-based services do.

  • $25 monthly fee
  • Transaction Fees:
    • Transactions less than $100: $0.40
    • Transactions from $100 – $1000: 0.10% + $0.40
    • Transactions greater than $1000: 0.20% + $0.40
  • $2.00 ACH return fee
  • $5.00 reversal fee

What if you want to accept payments by paper checks? The Clover POS system uses the Telecheck system to process checks. With a 12-month commitment, you can start accepting checks.

  • Telecheck Monthly Fee: $20
  • Telecheck Monthly Minimum: 0
  • Processing Fee: 1.50% + $0.20/per trans

Using the NMI gateway with Dharma, you can accept eChecks (or ACH payments) through your virtual terminal.

  • eCheck Monthly Fee: $20
  • eCheck Monthly Minimum: 0
  • Processing Fee: $0.35/per trans
  • Returned Item Fee: $3.00 each
  • Chargeback Fee: $25.00 each

To accept in-person checks at your credit card terminal, you need to use a specific check reader that connects to a Dharma-supplied terminal.

  • Magtek Mini MCR Imager (required): $549.00
  • Vx520 Terminal (required): $179.00
  • Monthly Fee: $15/month
  • Monthly Minimum: $12.50/month
  • Transaction Fee: $0.30/per trans
  • Guarantee Services (optional): 1.50% of transaction amount

Dharma’s standard monthly fee starts at $25 ($20 for non-profits and high-volume merchants).

The MX Merchant platform comes with every Dharma account. But the MX Advantage option (that allows surcharging) costs $25/month.

The B2B app is $20/month.

Unlike some competitors, Dharma does not lease equipment, instead preferring outright sale. This model eliminates long-term commitments and early termination fees. Dharma has various packages available, so you can choose what suits you best according to your individual requirements.

  • Full-Featured FD-150 Terminal (First Data): $295
    • Chip+PIN with tip adjustment (restaurants or quick service retail)
  • Full-Featured Ingenico Desk 3500: $295
    • Multiple payment options (2500 payment apps)
  • Verifone Engage V200c Terminal: $295
    • Reliable, well-known terminal
  • Ingenico Desk/5000 for B2B: $369
    • Similar to the Ingenico Desk 3500, plus B2B card present transactions (Level 2)
  • Dejavoo Z11: $295
    • Easy to use EMV with direct integration with MX Advantage for transaction surcharging

Here are the fees that Dharma doesn’t charge:

  • Annual Fee = $0
  • PCI Compliance Fee = $0
  • Early Termination Fee = $0
  • Batch Fee = $0
  • AVS Fee = $0
  • IRS/Regulatory Fee = $0
  • Gross Funding Fee = $0
  • Bank Change Fee = $0
  • Account Update Fee = $0
  • Virtual Terminal Fee = $0

Dharma Merchant Services Alternatives

When discussing merchant services, it’s clear that while Dharma Merchant Services is a strong contender with its array of offerings, such as credit card processing and ACH transactions, other players are worth considering. These alternatives may present different pricing models or features that better align with your business needs.

Conclusion – Is Dharma Merchant Services Worth It?

Yes, I can recommend Dharma Merchant Services as a merchant service provider. Their fair pricing models are transparent, with no hidden fees or long-term contracts.

They offer merchant services to many different types of merchants.

Their commitment to social responsibility and sustainability means they share the same values as you.

If you’re considering your options for merchant services providers, this review should have given you valuable insights about what Dharma can bring to your business.


Dharma offers competitive pricing, transparent fees, and excellent customer service. They also support a variety of payment methods and provide robust reporting tools.

Dharma uses advanced security measures, including PCI compliance, encryption technology, and fraud detection, to ensure transactions are safe.

Dharma accepts all major credit cards as well as ACH transfers. It also supports mobile payments like Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

No. One of the highlights of Dharma is their transparency in pricing. All costs are clearly outlined upfront without hidden charges.

Yes, they do. Customers can reach out to their dedicated team via phone or email for assistance during business hours on weekdays.

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