Appstar Financial Review
AppStar is an ISO/MSP of Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati, Ohio.
CEO Mark Leibowitz founded the company in 2002 in San Diego, CA. The company offers Interchange-plus pricing and offers competitive rates.
|Swipe Rate||1.59% + $0.10|
|Keyed-in Rate||2.19% + $0.10|
|Early Termination Fee||$495|
|Contract Terms||3 Years|
Appstar Financial Overview
AppStar has been in business for nearly two decades, offering payment processing solutions along with POS software and equipment solutions. The company was founded by its CEO, Mark Leibowitz, in 2002 and is currently headquartered in San Diego, CA. According to the company’s website, the company was initially founded as Amazon Processing, LLC but has since become AppStar Financial.
AppStar offers an Interchange Plus pricing option, which is more transparent than tiered pricing. Depending on merchant sales volumes, it may be more cost-effective than the tiered pricing programs offered by many merchant processors.
AppStar has a Better Business Bureau (BBB) profile and has been accredited since 2002. There has been a litany of complaints about the company’s customer service and sales practices. Over the past 36 months, the BBB has received 51 complaints against the company, and nine in the previous 12 months.
Appstar Financial Pros & Cons
Appstar Financial Products & Services
Payment Processing: AppStar offers debit and credit card payment processing and EBT processing, a common request from convenient store merchants that often need to process payments from state welfare recipients using a magstripe card to pay for approved groceries.
Point of Sale: The company resells traditional POS equipment and mobile card readers from Dejavoo, Ingenico, PAX, and SwipeSimple, allowing merchants to accept magstripe, EMV, and contactless payments (NFC, ApplePay).
Tertiary Services: AppStar offers merchants the ability to set up online shopping carts, virtual terminals, and Internet Gateways solutions. Additional services include merchant cash advances to fulfill working capital needs of up to $150,000 per location in just three business days.
Along with check and ACH processing, the company also offers a gift card program and reporting tools to get updated merchant transaction activity accounting.
Appstar Financial Advertising & Sales
Various web platforms such as Google Reviews, Yelp, and BBB are littered with negative reviews against the company. Most complaints stem from AppStar’s sales tactics that manifest into customer service complaints and billing and collections issues. AppStar hires outside sales teams, and based on the company’s website; it allocates almost as much website space to recruiting sales staff as it does to attract new merchant clients. Independent sales teams are usually less trained and often more aggressive in their sales tactics.
There is no disclosure of the company’s pricing model other than that it offers Interchange Plus on its website, a common tactic to get customers on the phone with their sales agents. Although AppStar provides competitive rates, the complaint volume leads us to believe that the company does not effectively capitalize on its pricing structure as merchants complain about misled about rates or surprise hidden charges.
Truth in Marketing
|Advertises Deceptive Rates||No|
|Discloses All Important Terms||No|
|Public Pricing Available||No|
Appstar Financial Pricing, Rates & Fees
AppStar has an Interchange Plus pricing model, but there are no disclosures of its pricing structure and additional fees on its website. We have researched the following details;
Swiped rate: 1.59% + $0.10
Keyed rate: 2.19% + $0.10
Monthly PCI Compliance Fee: $3.42
Monthly Statement Fee: $5.95
Annual Fee: $95.00
Early Termination Fee: $495.00
Monthly Minimum: $15.00
Pricing At A Glance
|Pricing Model||Interchange Plus, Tiered Pricing|
|Swiped Rate||1.59% + $0.10|
|Keyed-in Rate||2.19% + $0.10|
|Mobile Payment Rate|
|Virtual Terminal Rate||2.19% + $0.10|
|Payment Gateway Fee||Undisclosed|
|Early Termination Fee||$495|
|PCI Compliance Fee||$125 Per Year|
|Equipment Lease Terms||48 Month (locked)|
|Address Verification Service (AVS)|
|Account Setup Fee||$0|
|Gateway Setup Fee||Undisclosed|
Appstar Financial Contract & Terms
AppStar offers a standard 3-year contract that auto-renews for one year. There is a small window to cancel the auto-renewal; usually, three months before the contract ends. Canceling the contract outside of that window carries an early termination fee of $495.
Furthermore, merchants should be mindful of long-term locked-in equipment lease agreements for POS equipment and mobile card readers since AppStar does not clarify if the equipment is sold or leased. Leased equipment is a much more expensive option than an outright purchase.
Merchants must also be aware that if they procure e-commerce or online/mobile processing services from AppStar, they may incur Terminal and Gateway fees, batch and technical support fees no disclosure from the company.
Appstar Financial Setup & Support
AppStar does not offer a specific number for support and lists office hours between 9:00 AM – 6:30 PM (EST).
The company’s website pays lip service to merchant education via its blogs, however, the blog lacks the substance to help merchants on the vast majority of topics discussed.
Appstar Financial Complaints, Ratings & Reviews
AppStar has a BBB profile and is accredited with the bureau since its inception in 2002. Although the company has an A+ rating, there have been 51 complaints about the company on BBB’s website in the last three years and nine in the past year. We found numerous complaints on various online forums such as Google Review and Yelp.
The complaints stem from aggressive salespersons that signed merchants with inaccurate offers and disclosures of hidden fees, i.e., early termination fees. Those complaints have often resulted in customer support queries about charges appearing on merchants’ bank accounts that could not be adequately addressed; thereby, more complaints ensued for the customer support teams and the billing and collections team.
|2.1 Stars / 163 Reviews|
|1 Star / Based on the opinion of 3 people|
|Yelp||2 Stars / 66 Reviews|
|Total Online Reviews||260+|
|Total Online Complaints||100+|