Elavon is a large credit card processing company that offers every option under the sun. If you sign up with them directly, they offer a wide variety of options with flat rate pricing and no hidden fees. However, a lot of their sales come through resellers, which have mixed reviews. They're a good choice for companies with international sales, or who need a custom setup. Their lack of transparency in terms of pricing is scary, especially for small businesses.
Elavon, a subsidiary of U.S. Bancorp, is one of the largest credit card processing companies in the United States, with about 1.2 million merchants. They are based out of Atlanta, Georgia and have been in the credit card processing business since 1991. They also provide e-commerce solutions, hosted gateways, gift and pre-paid card services, and PCI compliance programs. Elavon is a top provider for specific industries, including airlines, restaurants, hospitality, retail, healthcare, and education.
They've been in business for over 20 years, and they've managed to keep their good reputation. That's not to say they haven't had plenty of customer complaints, but in general, they've listened to complaints and recently switched some things around to better serve their customers. They also launched a website called "3 Big Things," which better explains the "real" cost of processing cards. We'll get into more detail on these later.
As you'll see in the remainder of this review, they offer every array of service that a merchant could want with decent pricing. However, they aren't transparent with their fees, their customer service is at times lacking, and there's not much in terms of sexy or interesting technology here.
Below is a detailed review of Elavon Merchant Services offering. The review is broken down into the following categories.
Depending upon the type of business you own, some of the following features may or may not be important to you.
|Microsoft Dynamics GP||No|
|Windows / Blackberry||No|
|iPhone / iPad||Yes|
|Alternative Transaction Types:|
|Snail Mail Orders||Yes|
|American Express (AMEX)||Yes|
|Add Tips to Bills||Yes|
|eCommerce / Shopping Cart||Yes|
|EMV Chip Cards||Yes|
|Loyalty / Gift Cards||Yes|
|eChecks / Electronic Checks||Yes|
|Welfare Benefits (EBT/SNAP/TANF)||Yes|
|Security / Fraud Prevention:|
|AVS Fraud Protection||Yes|
|PCI DSS Secure Transactions||Yes|
|HIPAA Compliance (Healthcare)||Yes|
|Trust Account Debiting (Legal)||No|
|Fleet Cards (Petroleum)||Yes|
|Online Menu Orders (Restaurants)||Yes|
Almost every merchant account services company uses either Interchange Plus or Tiered Pricing (to learn the differences read here). Where companies allow us to disclose pricing information, we show the deals that our secret shoppers were able to achieve. When companies offer both Interchange Plus and Tiered Pricing, we try to get a quote on both options.
In 2014, Elavon launched their website called "3 Big Things," which better explains the "real" cost of processing cards. This has helped them promote their new approach to transparent pricing. After reading the brochure, the message Elavon wants you to take from this site is that there are three main factors that go into credit card processing prices. Elavon has the resources to help you lower your prices, which are: 1. Interchange Advisory and Optimization Solutions; 2. Advanced Fraud and Chargeback Management Tools, and; 3.Advanced Security Solutions.
Elavon uses tiered pricing, which is quoted as a percentage and a flat transaction fee. These are the prices that are listed online:
According to their website, there is no cancellation fee.
|Fine Print Fees:|
|Setup / Application Fee||$25.00|
|PCI Compliance Fee||None|
|PCI Inaction Fee||None|
|Online Reporting Fee||None|
|Monthly Minimum Volume Fee||$20.00|
|Accept International Pymt Fee||Yes, variable|
|Voice Authorization Fee||$.65 minimum per transaction|
|Monthly Min. Process Fee||$25 maximum|
|Daily Batch Fee||None|
|ACH / Direct Deposit Fee||Yes|
|ACH Charge Fee||Yes|
|ACH Return Fee||Yes|
|Online Reporting through MerchantConnect|
|Free Support 24/7 via Phone & Email|
According to Elavon, several fees are monthly (including ACH). They don't, however, break those fees down for the merchant on their "Getting Paid" page.
While your transactions usually take place electronically, the actual device that you use to swipe a customer's card is referred to as "the equipment." This equipment includes hardware and, often, software or apps for that hardware to function properly.
Elavon recently started selling their equipment instead of leasing in response to an overwhelming amount of customer complaints due to messy leases (hidden fees, etc). This is a great improvement because you can pay once to purchase the terminal and not worry about another contract, monthly payment, termination fee, damage fee, etc. Also, if you decide to switch credit card processing companies, you can keep the terminal and use it. Usually, when companies offer free equipment, it can only be used or activated with their specific software programs. In my opinion, this is the best situation because you might have to put up $600 for the terminal, but no strings attached. That said, the price of their equipment is marked up a lot, so they're still making tons of money on the equipment side of things.
In an effort to keep up with the latest technological advances, Elavon offers a wide variety of hardware options with easy to use software.
This is convenient for users because it can be accessed from any computer, wherever you are. You don't have to worry about any special equipment, downloads, upgrades, etc. It also features high security, with the option to flag transactions according to your own "out of the norm" standards.
Converge also offers an app for mobile transactions. You can use the app to key in card numbers or purchase a plug-in card reader to save time with quicker transactions.
Elavon is a U.S. based merchant account services company that serves U.S. businesses that conduct business in the U.S. and abroad. They target specific industries such as airlines, restaurants, hospitality, retail, healthcare, and education.
I generally don't like long-term contracts or termination fees in merchant services agreements, because the ability to cancel keeps the credit card processor on its best behavior, including the willingness to make you happy if there's a dispute. Plus, this ability to cancel gives you the ability to move on if you find a better deal.
Elavon offers contracts with no early termination fees, so you can be on a more month-to-month basis. You will just have to take the required steps to cancel your account when you want, or else you'll continue to get billed. There is also an auto-renew after two years, so you should be sure to keep an eye on that complication.
The merchant account services industry is multi-layered. Understanding how those layers fit together can be confusing (Read More in this Article). A good thing to know, however, is whether or not your company is a direct processor (good if yes) or, if not, then to know who they process with and whether or not that processor is reliable. The second thing to know is whether or not the service or sales staffs are in-house or outsourced. In-house staffs are preferable for you, as these staff members may have more access to sources that can resolve your issues.
Processor: Elavon is the 4th largest credit card processor in the US, and they take care of everything here, which is great. Cutting out the middleman where ever you can is always a good idea because it gets rid of unnecessary confusion and can possibly save you money.
Account Sales: Elavon's account sales are all conducted with a corporate sales department. Of course, you should make sure you are talking with a good sales rep because that makes a huge difference. If you choose to go through one of Elavon's many resellers, your sales experience might not be great. Most customer complaints are about customer service through resellers such as CostCo, not Elavon directly.
Account Service: Elavon offers 24/7 customer support either by phone or e-mail. They offer customer service support in 9 different languages. They also have a nice welcome center page for new and existing customer support. It has great resources as well as phone numbers and e-mail addresses for reference. There's also a training assistance number open for calls Monday-Friday 8:30am-9pm EST.
As part of our review process, we try to test merchant account service companies' claims by placing test calls and working through the customer service process.
3/17/2015; TIME: 1:10 pm EST
Call to Customer Support
We tried calling Elavon's customer service number first, but they cut us off at the pass - callers must enter their merchant account number to access that line. So, we called sales and Danielle picked up on the second ring. We asked about a few of the fine print fees, and Danielle wanted to know how we heard about Elavon. She wondered out loud if we heard about them through CostCo (CostCo is a reseller for Elavon's merchant services). Danielle answered all our questions, and she also stated that most of the costs we asked about also depended upon the type of service we wanted to use.
Our Take: As soon as Danielle learned that I conducted less than $5,000 per month in sales, she was ready to hang up with me. We all found it interesting that she mentioned CostCo - unless we were familiar with merchant services (which we are), we probably would have no clue what she was talking about. Maybe her remark was a lead-in to learn about the reseller so Danielle wouldn't have to work with us?
We scoured the web to find past and current customer complaints about Elavon's services.Then, we investigated those complaints that seem legit, and give our verdict on how well the credit card processor handled the issues.
We found several complaints overall for Elavon, but since they are such a big company, it's completely normal to see a high complain volume. More than half of them are in billing/collection and there are also quite a few in problems with the product/service.
Most of these complaints were from customers who were charged fees after cancelling their account or were charged for fees they shouldn't have been. About 9/10 of these complaints were from companies that were using Elavon through a third party (an ISO or MSP) or leasing their equipment from Ladco.
Like I said, almost all of these complaints were from customers who were using Elavon through a reseller. Elavon responded to each complaint and couldn't do anything about the issue because of the agreement the merchant had with the reseller. Some of these complaints were also from customers leasing their equipment through LADCO leasing. In 2014, Elavon has started selling their equipment to get rid of the nasty baggage that comes with leases, as well as decrease customer complaints. I think this is just another reason why you should use a processing company directly instead of someone who is just selling someone else's services. As for the complaints that were for Elavon, I was impressed with how well they handled the issue. They were very good about fixing the problem and making the customer happy. Only thing is it seems like the customers had a hard time getting the problem fixed with Elavon until they filed a BBB complaint.
There are a good amount of these complaints, mostly about customers not getting the support they needed with using the software.
Many of these complaints were from small business owners. This doesn't surprise me. Since Elavon is such a huge company, they don't give everyone the same amount of support. Once again, it seems like it was very hard for the customer to get help over the phone the first time they tried, but once filing a complaint with BBB, the problem was resolved quickly. This is something Elavon can improve on. If you're a small business owner, there are definitely better processing companies who will be able to better cater to you.
|PCI Compliance Fee||$0.00|
|Online Reporting Fee||$0.00|
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About the Reviews: These reviews, and for that matter any reviews, are inherently subjective, and should be regarded as our opinion, not as a statement of fact. Selecting a merchant services provider is an important decision, and we urge you to use no single source of information as the basis of that decision.
About the Pricing: This pricing is an estimate based on limited available information. In some cases, the Processors' pricing information was provided directly by the company, in others, we obtained it from public information, through calls to the company, or through past or current clients of the company. Where, despite these efforts, we were unable to obtain any information about certain fees, we used estimates based on similar providers in the industry. While we're working, in some cases, with the company directly to get more accurate pricing, even in those circumstances, we can't guarantee the pricing's accuracy. Complicating all of this, is that for some companies individual salespeople are given authority to modify terms on a deal by deal basis. In any case, if you know of an error, please let us know and we'll fix it.
About the Calculations: With respect to your estimated savings, this is based on a lot of factors and some hard math. The reason we do it, along with the "Actual Gross Rate" calculation is that every Processor prices their product differently (e.g. interchange v. 3 tier v. 4 tier v. flat v. membership, etc.) and some make it intentionally complicated or opaque. Trying to convert their pricing structure to a consistent "Overall Cost of Processing" is the only way you, the merchant, can do an apples to apples pricing comparison and know whether an offer is actually a good deal. Our system isn't perfect but we're trying.
Conclusion: In sum, these rankings, ratings, and scores are inherently subjective, and should be regarded as our opinion and not as a legal statement of fact. Moreover, use these prices and estimates at your own risk, and make sure to verify the pricing you see here in any formal contract you receive. Finally, if you do find something wrong in our pricing, terms, etc., tell us and we'll try to fix it.
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