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- Date Established
- Atlanta, GA
- Full range of products and services
- Interchange-plus pricing available upon request
- No early termination fees
- Expensive terminal leases through Ladco Global Leasing Solutions
- Three-year contract with automatic renewal clause
- Most account fees not disclosed
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Elavon is one of the largest merchant account providers in the United States. Launched in 1991 as NOVA Information Systems, the company merged with euroConex in 2008 and re-branded itself as Elavon. As part of U.S. Bank’s Payment Services division, the company currently serves about 1.3 million merchants in over 30 countries and processes more than 3 billion transactions in over 100 currencies yearly, with a total annual processing volume that exceeds $300 billion.
Of course, bigger isn’t always better, especially in the merchant services industry. Elavon’s size gives it several advantages, including the ability to process all transactions in-house without the need to use a third-party processor. The company is also able to offer a full range of proprietary products and services, and most of them are quite good.
However, there are also some notable disadvantages to dealing with an organization of Elavon’s size. The company has a rather high volume of complaints filed against it, although considering the number of merchants it serves, this really isn’t all that unusual. More disturbing is that so many of the complaints cite poor to non-existent customer service and support after the sale. While this is a common issue in the processing industry, customer service seems to be an afterthought at Elavon. Given the company’s vast resources, there’s no excuse for this.
There are hundreds of independent agents and organizations that resell Elavon’s processing services. We’ve reviewed a few of them, and some are clearly better than others. They go by a myriad of different brand names, but at the end of the day, your account is being underwritten and boarded under the Elavon platform. One of the most well-known resellers of Elavon’s merchant services is Costco Merchant Services. Unfortunately, it doesn’t provide the kind of significant savings for which the Costco brand is best known. If you’re thinking about signing on with Elavon, I would highly recommend that you do so through Helcim (see our review). They do a fantastic job, giving you all the resources that Elavon has to offer in the most cost-effective and predictable package.
Elavon has responded positively to developing trends in the processing industry, eliminating its early termination fee (but not providing true month-to-month contracts), and offering a low-cost, flat-rate pricing plan that’s geared towards small businesses. The company’s marketing still has room for improvement – there’s no mention of interchange-plus pricing on their website, for example.
Your experience with Elavon – or any other big provider – will depend mostly on the sales representative who sets up your account. Even when going directly with a large processor, there are still some sales agents who are more educated and ethical than others. Finding an agent within Elavon that you feel comfortable with should be your primary goal. By doing that, you can ensure you’ll get the best experience possible. Because you’re reading this site, you should already know more than most other business owners, so you’ll understand what to look out for and what questions to ask. If you’re comfortable with doing so, feel free to negotiate your contract yourself. If not, let us know.
Overall, Elavon’s positive features outweigh the negatives – but not by much. Considering all the good and not-so-good aspects of the company’s services, Elavon earns a 3.5 out of 5 stars rating. The company offers fair and honest advertising, although it doesn’t disclose much specific information about rates and fees beyond its standardized pricing plans for small businesses. Its elimination of early termination fees is also highly commendable, although it falls short of a true month-to-month billing arrangement. At the same time, its use of overpriced equipment leases, reliance on independent sales agents, and high complaint volume lowered its overall score significantly.
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Table of Contents
Products & Services
Elavon offers a full range of products and services for businesses of all sizes, including the following:
- Merchant Accounts: As we’ve noted, Elavon is large enough and has the resources to handle all transaction processing in-house. You won’t have to worry about having to deal with a backend processor.
- Credit Card Terminals: Elavon offers the Ingenico Desk/3500 terminal for $270 as part of its small business-focused Countertop Terminal Offer pricing plan. This modern terminal has a color display and can handle magstripe, EMV, and NFC-based payment methods. It should be “future-proof” for quite a long time. Unfortunately, Elavon also continues to set up terminal leases through Ladco Global Leasing Solutions, a company we’ve named as one of the worst credit card terminal leasing companies in the industry. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to buy your equipment outright instead of getting trapped in a four-year, noncancelable lease.
- Wireless Terminals: The company also offers the Poynt Mobile Terminal, a slick piece of equipment that combines a tablet display with all the payment processing features of a credit card terminal. It can accept magstripe, EMV, or NFC-based payments and includes many features usually only found in a full-blown Point-of-Sale (POS) system. The Poynt terminal is available in the United States, Canada, and Europe.
- Payment Gateway: Elavon offers a proprietary gateway as part of their Converge integrated ecommerce platform. If you’d prefer to use a different gateway, such as Authorize.Net (see our review), they can help you integrate it. Pricing is not disclosed for this feature.
- Virtual Terminal: While the company doesn’t offer a standalone virtual terminal, you can use the Converge platform on your desktop or laptop to achieve the same functionality. Another option still being advertised is Elavon’s older VirtualMerchant Mobile app for iOS and Android devices.
- Mobile Processing: Elavon supports mobile processing with its Converge Mobile app, which is available for both iOS and Android. The app works with either the Ingenico iCMP Bluetooth-enabled PIN pad or the Ingenico RP457c card reader, which can connect through either the headphone jack or Bluetooth. Both readers support EMV and NFC payments. Converge Mobile is only available in the United States.
- Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems: Elavon now offers the Poynt smart terminal as its primary POS system. You can also choose between talech, Elavon’s proprietary POS system, and the popular NCR Silver system. These products offer both a retail version and a specialized restaurant version.
- Online Shopping Carts: The Converge system integrates with most of the popular online shopping carts, including 3dcart (see our review), BigCommerce (see our review), and UltraCart (see our review). If you have a different cart that you’d like to use, check on their Developer Portal for compatibility.
- Online Customer Portal: Online reporting is a pretty standard feature these days, and Elavon offers a proprietary portal called Payments Insider. While they don’t disclose too much information about it, it appears to cover all the basic features you’d expect. These include showing all transactions, as well as chargeback and funding activity. You can also export reports in PDF, CSV, or Excel formats.
- Gift/Loyalty Card Programs: Called Fanfare, this loyalty program helps you provide incentives to clients. It’s free for your customers, and they can join with as little as a phone number. It also includes advanced reporting tools for you.
While Elavon offers a complete lineup of high-quality products and services for your business, we’re only awarding them a Good rating in this category due to their continued use of equipment leases through Ladco Global Leasing Solutions.
Rates & Fees
Before diving into the numbers, let’s clear up a possible point of confusion. Elavon provides merchant accounts for businesses of all sizes, but unlike many providers, they’ve split their pricing options into two separate categories. One category, designed for small businesses, offers flat-rate pricing and low fees. This category is fully disclosed on their website. The other category is intended for larger enterprises. Unfortunately, this isn’t explained very well on their website, and they don’t disclose any contract terms or pricing for the large business category.
If you’re not sure which pricing category will be most economical for your business, you’ll have to crunch the numbers and talk with an Elavon agent to see what specific rates and terms he or she can offer you. Like most providers that offer flat-rate pricing, Elavon’s small business plans feature low monthly fees, but high, fixed processing rates. These plans also allow you to buy your equipment outright, which is a big plus. Although the large business plans aren’t disclosed, you can expect to pay higher monthly and annual fees, but have much lower processing rates. There’s no indication of whether Elavon uses tiered or interchange-plus pricing, or a combination of both. Be sure to request interchange-plus pricing. With the large business plans, you’ll have to either buy your own terminals or lease them from Elavon. You’ll definitely want to buy your own equipment, as Elavon provides their terminals through a partnership with Ladco Global Leasing Solutions, a company whose leases cannot be canceled without buying out the remaining months on your contract.
Elavon’s small business packages include a choice between a Countertop Terminal Offer and a Mobile Terminal Offer. Here are the disclosed terms for both options:
Countertop Terminal Offer
- One Ingenico Tetra Desk/3500 terminal ($270.00)
- Card-present transactions: 2.65% + $0.19 per transaction
- Card-not-present transactions: 3.5% + $0.19 per transaction
- $10.00 monthly account fee
Mobile Terminal Offer
- One Ingenico RP457c mobile card reader ($89.00)
- Card-present transactions: 2.65% + $0.19 per transaction
- Card-not-present transactions: 3.5% + $0.19 per transaction
- $10.00 monthly account fee
Either one of these offers will provide everything a small business needs to start accepting credit cards quickly. Note that for the Mobile Terminal Offer, the Ingenico RP457c mobile card reader supports both EMV and NFC-based payment methods, and is about as state-of-the-art as you can get today. While you could buy this terminal online for less than what Elavon is charging, you’d still have to pay to have it re-programmed to work with the company’s processing system.
Both offers claim that there are no cancellation fees and no “hidden” fees included with these accounts. While that’s probably true in a general sense, you’ll still want to examine your contract very carefully before signing up.
If you need more information on how credit card processing fees work, check out our article The Complete Guide to Credit Card Processing Rates & Fees or our infographic.
Although we believe that Elavon’s standardized pricing offers represent a fair bargain for small businesses, we’re only awarding them a Good rating in this category due to the absence of pricing information for larger businesses who don’t want to use the standard packages. If your business is large enough that you’ll want to negotiate your own rates, we recommend that you avoid tiered pricing and ask specifically for an interchange-plus pricing plan. Also, be sure to review your contract documents thoroughly before signing up so you’ll understand all of the possible monthly, annual, and incidental fees you might have to pay.
Contract Length & Early Termination Fee
Up until a few years ago, Elavon offered a standard contract that ran for three years and included an early termination fee. Unlike most merchant account providers, there was some proration of the ETF. If a merchant canceled their account within the first year, they would be charged the full early cancellation fee of $295. Cancellations within the second or third year of the contract were “only” charged $195.
Today, Elavon offers contracts with no early termination fee. However, they still include a standard three-year term. In other words, these are not genuinely month-to-month contracts. A true month-to-month contract essentially runs for 30 days at a time, and you’re free to close your account at any time, with no penalty. That’s not quite the case with Elavon. We’ve found numerous reports from merchants who closed their accounts, only to continue to be charged monthly fees long after they thought their accounts had been closed. If you decide to close your account before your contract term runs out, be sure to follow the procedures outlined in your contract very carefully and monitor your account afterward to catch any unauthorized payments.
Also note that, unlike true month-to-month contracts, Elavon also includes an automatic renewal clause for one to two years in their contracts. This clause makes it even more difficult to close your account, as your contract might renew for a new term if you don’t provide adequate notice.
While it’s good to see that Elavon is following the growing trend in the processing industry by eliminating their early termination fees, I’d like to see them remove the three-year terms as well and offer true month-to-month contracts. If you’ve been with Elavon for a long time, you might want to review your contract, as it might still have the old ETF clause in it. Re-negotiating your contract to eliminate this clause would be a good idea, just in case you ever need to close your account. Also, note that terminal leases through Ladco Leasing are under a separate contract – one which usually runs for four years and cannot be canceled without buying out the remaining months of the agreement.
Elavon earns a Good rating in this category because the elimination of their early termination fees puts them well above the industry average in this area. However, their continued use of three-year initial contract terms and automatic renewal clauses prevents them from scoring any higher.
Sales & Advertising Transparency
Elavon’s elimination of their early termination fee and the introduction of flat-rate pricing for small merchants indicates that they are responding in a positive way to some of the emerging trends within the processing industry. At the same time, the company seems to be continuing some other disliked practices that have given the industry such a bad reputation.
Advertising transparency, or rather the lack thereof, is one area where the company still needs to catch up. On the one hand, Elavon deserves credit for disclosing their flat-rate pricing plans for small businesses. Flat-rate pricing isn’t for everyone, though. For a large business, the relatively high processing rates of the flat-rate plans would cost you much more in the long run than whatever you would save with the lower account fees. Elavon offers other pricing models, but they don’t mention anything about them on their website. Even a simple blurb indicating that they offer interchange-plus pricing would be an improvement.
The company also scores a few points for not using any of the misleading sales gimmicks that so many other processors use on their websites. Their “no hidden fees” claim is a little suspect, though. There are always going to be occasional extra fees for things like chargebacks, for example.
One thing to be aware of is that Elavon uses independent sales agents to market its products and services. Independent agents have a well-deserved bad reputation for failing to disclose important contract terms and using a high-pressure sales approach to close a deal. Naturally, this has led to a lot of complaints from merchants. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into signing a contract until you’ve had a chance to review it thoroughly. If you feel you’re being unduly pressured by a sales agent, don’t do business with them. Not all independent agents are dishonest, but you may have to shop around a little to find a good one.
For a company as large as Elavon, it’s surprising to see how limited their social media presence is. They don’t have an official Facebook page, although you will find a very unofficial page where people have left (mostly negative) reviews of the company. Elavon is on Twitter and LinkedIn, and these accounts appear to be frequently updated. They also have a YouTube channel that features testimonials and educational videos about the company’s products.
Elavon earns a Fair rating in this category because, while they offer some disclosures regarding pricing and contract terms, they’re pretty limited and insufficient for a prospective customer to make an informed choice. We’d particularly like to see the company be a little more forthcoming about things such as the availability of interchange-plus pricing. Also, their continued reliance on independent sales agents hurt their score in this category.
Customer Service & Technical Support
Elavon offers 24/7/365 US-based customer support (assuming you’re a US-based merchant, that is) via telephone and email. Altogether, the company has support in 13 countries. Be aware that if you sign up through a reseller, you’ll get customer support from that ISO and not through Elavon directly. In some cases, this can be an advantage.
If you’ve signed up with Elavon directly, you should also be assigned a dedicated account manager. Note that this isn’t necessarily your sales agent. That’s a good thing because turnover among independent sales agents is very high. While it’s generally an advantage to have a dedicated point of contact for your account, be aware that your account manager won’t be available 24/7 (they have to sleep, too). Outside of regular business hours, you’ll be talking to a customer support representative.
For self-help, Elavon offers an extensive knowledgebase in the Welcome Center section of their website. Here, you’ll find equipment manuals and brief articles explaining how credit card processing works. It’s an excellent resource, and something many processors don’t provide at all.
Many merchants in both our Comments section and on consumer protection sites like the BBB have expressed dissatisfaction with Elavon’s customer support. Many of these complaints refer to resellers like Costco Merchant Services. However, there are also a large number of complaints directed at Elavon itself, mostly from small business owners.
Elavon earns a Fair rating in this category despite its use of dedicated account managers and the availability of true 24/7/365 customer support. There are simply too many complaints from small business owners regarding the quality of support offered to ignore.
Negative Reviews & Complaints
Elavon has been accredited by the BBB since 2009, and currently has an A+ rating. The company presently shows 130 complaints filed against it within the past three years, 37 of which were filed within the past twelve months. This complaint volume has slowly but steadily gone down since our last few review updates. While this might seem like a lot of complaints, remember that Elavon serves 1.3 million merchants. With that large of a customer base, complaints are inevitable. Elavon has responded to every complaint, which is part of why it has an A+ rating.
Ripoff Report also has 64 complaints filed against Elavon, mostly alleging the same issues as the BBB complaints. Interestingly, only one of these complaints was filed within the last year. Many of the complaints appear to be directed at resellers rather than Elavon itself. Also, there are many complaints filed against Ladco Global Leasing Solutions due to the horrible leasing terms that the company imposes on its merchants.
These are the most common issues you’ll see in complaints against Elavon:
- Withholding Of Funds/Termination Of Accounts: This is a trend in payment processing, especially among companies that offer instant approval. These companies accept a certain amount of risk for taking on a merchant. If that merchant starts conducting business outside of the agreed-upon terms, then the company has a right to investigate. That said, there is a big difference between protecting the company and arbitrarily freezing accounts for even the slightest suspicion, and it’s something we give a lot of weight to in our ratings. You can learn how to avoid this situation by checking out our article How to Avoid Merchant Account Holds, Freezes, and Terminations. If you are a high-risk merchant, you’ll need to look for a specialist in high-risk accounts, like Durango Merchant Services (see our review) or Soar Payments (see our review).
- Overpriced Equipment Leases: While Elavon’s Terminal Offer and Mobile Offer pricing plans for small businesses allow you to buy your equipment outright, the company continues to partner with Ladco Global Leasing Solutions to lease terminals to larger businesses. Ladco has a terrible reputation in the industry, with noncancelable four-year leasing terms that will cost you thousands of dollars over the life of the lease. Many merchants complain about having to buy out the remaining months of their lease, even after returning their terminals and closing their accounts.
- PCI Compliance Fees: There are still several older complaints regarding Elavon’s PCI compliance fee. While the amount seemed to vary from one merchant to another, it was much higher than the industry average of about $99 per year. These complaints have dwindled in frequency now that Elavon apparently no longer charges for PCI compliance (at least under their Countertop Terminal and Mobile Terminal Offer plans).
Positive Reviews & Testimonials
Testimonials from Elavon aren’t nearly as numerous as complaints, but they do come up occasionally. There are seven testimonials on Elavon’s Customer Stories page, all of which appear authentic. Positive feedback that isn’t offered by the company itself is, unsurprisingly, more difficult to find. If you’ve had a good experience with Elavon, please let us know about it in the Comments section below.
According to merchants, positive aspects of Elavon’s service include the following:
- Website Design And Online Sales Copy: Elavon’s website is clean, professional looking, and includes a lot of useful information for both prospective and existing customers.
- Disclosure Of Some Fees And Rates: Flat-rate pricing doesn’t make sense for everyone, but it can be a good deal for a small or newly-established business. A large company like Elavon doesn’t have to cater to small businesses. The fact that they do sets them apart from many other processors, who clearly have no idea how to market to small businesses.
- No Early Termination Fees: While Elavon doesn’t provide true month-to-month contracts, dropping their early termination fee puts them ahead of other traditional processors who still charge an ETF. Note that not all merchants will be offered a contract with no early termination fee. Insist on this condition when negotiating your account and make sure it’s included in your contract before signing up.
If you’re a small business owner and you’ve been shopping around, reading merchant account reviews, you’ve probably noticed that Elavon’s flat-rate Mobile Terminal Offer is pretty similar to Square (see our review). The processing rates are nearly identical, although the Mobile Terminal Offer is more expensive due to the $10.00 monthly account fee and the fact that you’ll pay more for an EMV- and NFC-compliant card reader. The most significant advantage Elavon’s Mobile Terminal Offer has is that you’ll have a full-service merchant account right off the bat, making it easier to transition to interchange-plus pricing when your business grows enough that flat-rate pricing doesn’t make sense for you anymore. With Square, if you outgrow their service, you’ll have to switch processors to get a full-service merchant account and interchange-plus pricing.
If working with a large, direct processor is important to you, Elavon ranks as better than average, and we have no problem recommending them for mid-sized and larger businesses. Small business owners, however, should approach the company with caution. You’re likely to pay more for Elavon’s services than you would with many of their competitors, and you’re less likely to receive the kind of top-notch customer service that larger businesses will enjoy.
For such a large, traditional processor, Elavon offers a few advantages. They deserve credit for eliminating their early termination fees and disclosing their flat-rate pricing plans. While they still generate a fair number of complaints from merchants, their overall complaint volume continues to decrease gradually. At the same time, they lose a few points for not disclosing the availability of interchange-plus pricing and for inconsistent customer service and support. Heavy reliance on independent sales agents and their continuing partnership with Ladco Global Leasing Solutions for terminal leases also lowers their score significantly. Overall, Elavon gets 3.5 out of 5 stars. While this isn’t a bad score, it’s not great, either.
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