Our rating(3.6/5)
Elavon rents out card machines, but are packages beneficial for small businesses?
Elavon is a large, international merchant service provider and acquirer. In the UK, you can rent or lease their card terminals, but costs and contractual commitment may be too much for a small business.
  • Highs: Good card machine selection. 24/7 support. Merchant portal. Online payment options. Next-day payout option.
  • Lows: Contract lock-in. Fees can be high for small businesses. Not transparent about pricing. Customer support issues.
  • Choose if: You want a full card payment package from the same provider and consistently have a high sales volume.

What is Elavon?

Elavon is a decades-old, global merchant service provider and acquirer serving UK merchants. It operates as Elavon for its in-person payment solutions and Opayo for its online payment platform.

The company offers the following products and services catering to any size business in most sectors:

  • Card machines
  • Online payment gateway (Opayo)
  • Payments over the phone (Opayo)
  • Merchant account for card processing

Elavon’s card machines are rented or purchased together with an Elavon merchant account, which includes acceptance of Visa, Mastercard and other cards depending on your contract.

card machines for a small business

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Elavon card machines

Elavon has a good selection of card machines, each with special strengths.

Two of them are Ingenico models (Move 5000 and Desk 5000) with a traditional look and touchscreen above a physical PIN pad. They use a Telium Tetra operating system with options for pre-authorisation of transactions (great for car hires and hotels), Dynamic Currency Conversion and displaying your company logo on the screen.

The two Poynt models don’t have a physical PIN pad, instead showing all functions and keys on large touchscreens. They also allow payments in a foreign currency, gift card acceptance and much more through their app selection on the terminals.

All the card machines accept contactless and chip and PIN cards from all the major card brands.

Tetra Desk 5000 (Ingenico)

  • Fixed-location card machine with separate PIN terminal (optional)

  • POS integration through Smartlink

  • Colour 3.5” touchscreen and physical keypad

  • Built-in receipt printer

  • 3G, WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity

  • 169 x 78 x 57 mm, 302 g

Tetra Desk 5000 comes with a separate PIN terminal. Photo: Elavon

Tetra Move 5000 (Ingenico)

  • Wireless, mobile card machine

  • POS integration through Smartlink

  • Colour 3.5” touchscreen and physical keypad

  • Built-in receipt printer

  • 3G, WiFi or Bluetooth connectivity

  • 187 x 82 x 68 mm, 340 g

Elavon Move 5000 terminal

Tetra Move/5000 in charging cradle. Photo: Elavon

Poynt P5

  • Handheld, portable smart POS terminal

  • Includes Talech POS software and optional apps

  • Colour 5″ touchscreen and built-in receipt printer

  • Rear camera for barcode scanning

  • 3G, LTE and WiFi connectivity

  • 76.3 x 154 x 25.4 mm, 201.6g

Front- and side-facing Poynt P5 terminals. Photo: Elavon

Poynt P61B

  • Portable smart POS terminal for counter and around premises

  • Includes Talech POS software and optional apps

  • 7″ main and 4.3″ customer-facing touchscreen display

  • Built-in receipt printer

  • WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity

  • 120.7, x 250.5 x 91.4 mm, 700 g

Poynt P61B smart terminal

Poynt P61B is a portable POS terminal. Photo: Elavon

MobileMerchant

  • Pocket-sized mobile card reader

  • Works with Android or iOS app on a smartphone or tablet

  • Bluetooth connectivity to mobile device that connects to the internet

  • Small LCD display and physical keypad

  • 69 x 110 x 17 mm, 123 g

  • Cannot print receipts

Elavon MobileMerchant card reader and app

MobileMerchant card reader needs an app. Photo: Elavon

The MobileMerchant card reader is very lightweight and small, but then it only works in conjunction with a payment app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device. It doesn’t have a printer either, in contrast with all the other card machines above – nor can it connect with an external receipt printer. MobileMerchant is therefore better suited for causal payments on the go.

It’s possible to use any of these card machines independently of an EPOS system, but the Ingenico terminals can integrate with POS systems through the Smartlink connector software. The Poynt terminals use Talech POS software, which can be expanded through Elavon’s full point of sale solutions.

Pricing and contract lock-in

Elavon’s pricing is not detailed on its website, except for MobileMerchant’s simple card reader costs and the monthly fee per card machine.

In general, every merchant goes through a negotiation stage where an Elavon sales rep asks about your sales turnover, type of business and the sort of setup you need. A quote will then be provided with transaction charges, monthly and other costs.

The Tetra and Poynt terminals can be rented for a monthly fee of £15-£40 per terminal with a contract of 1-3 years. Elavon processes the debit and credit cards through your own dedicated merchant account with its own monthly fee from £10.

Some websites claim there is no early termination fee despite the guise of a lock-in, but some users complain of a charge of several hundreds of pounds when they try to cancel. Even if you were promised a lack of termination charges, it could still take months to cancel your contract so you end up paying more than expected.

Elavon pricing
Contract 1-3 years
Setup fee From £25
Merchant account From £10/mo
Card machine rental Tetra Desk 5000: £15/mo
Tetra Move 5000: £18/mo
Poynt P5: £24/mo
Poynt P61B: £40/mo
Chip and tap transaction fees 0.99%-3.75% + fixed fee (custom)
Monthly minimum processing fee From £15/mo
Paper statements From £3 each
Early termination fee £0 to several £100s (depends on plan)
Chargebacks From £25 each
PCI-DSS compliance Monthly and annual fees apply
Elavon
pricing
Contract 1-3 years
Setup fee From £25
Merchant account From £10/mo
Card machine rental Tetra Desk 5000: £15/mo
Tetra Move 5000: £18/mo
Poynt P5: £24/mo
Poynt P61B: £40/mo
Chip and tap transaction fees 0.99%-3.75% + fixed fee (custom)
Monthly minimum processing fee From £15/mo
Paper statements From £3 each
Early termination fee £0 to several £100s (depends on plan)
Chargebacks From £25 each
PCI-DSS compliance Monthly and annual fees apply

Transaction fees depend on your estimated business turnover, type of business and card type. Most Elavon card machines advertise fees from 0.99%-1% for chip and PIN or contactless payments, but the reality is more likely between 2%-3.75%, according to some reports. A fixed transaction fee in the region of 10p-20p is also applied to all transactions.

Additional costs apply to American Express acceptance, should you choose this option. Keyed transactions cost more than in-person payments, and then you pay a monthly fee for the online payment method being used.

You can expect many extra fees in your account, which may not all be communicated at sign-up. There will be annual and/or monthly charges for PCI-DSS compliance, SIM card charges for 3G connectivity and a minimum monthly service charge if an agreed minimum in card processing fees was not reached that month.

Monthly paper statements with an account summary cost at least £3 each, but you can opt to view these details for free in an online portal to avoid this. Chargebacks incur an admin fee of at least £25, and there may also be charges for things like card authorisations, terminal installations and refunds.

Standard payouts that take several working days are free, but there is an option to settle card payments in your bank account the following day (probably for an extra cost).

Don’t want a long-term contract? The MobileMerchant reader is purchased upfront for £29 + VAT without subsequent fixed monthly fees. Transaction fees are also fixed from 1.75%. Given the lack of commitment and miscellaneous costs associated with MobileMerchant, it is the least intimidating card payment service from Elavon.

Image: Elavon

Elavon’s card machines can be integrated with a full POS system.

Online payments

Apart from card machines, Elavon offers options for online payments under the name of Opayo (previously Sage Pay). This includes:

  • Online payment gateway (for your ecommerce site)
  • Virtual terminal (for telephone payments)
  • Pay-by-link (for email invoices and other remote payments)
  • Recurring payments (for subscriptions and billing)

These have different costs such as a setup fee from £49, transaction fees from 1.5%, and there’s a pay-as-you-go option if you would rather avoid a monthly fee of £25.

Image: Elavon

Opayo’s merchant portal shows card machine payments too.

Opayo also allows you to accept digital wallets, local payment methods and bank transfers online. You can customise the online checkout page, which can be integrated on select ecommerce platforms like WooCommerce and BigCommerce.

The online portal – where you manage all these features – incorporates your card machine transactions too, allowing you to track these from any browser.

Reviews and customer support

A good thing about Elavon is its 24/7 customer support available to all its merchants. You can contact Elavon by telephone and email, though emails can take some days to get a reply for. You get a dedicated account manager, but this does not guarantee prompt responses.

Elavon reviews from users are a mixed bag. We’ve seen similar complaints from users including:

  • Unexpected fees and billing issues
  • Equipment not turning up
  • Poor customer support when trying to resolve issues
  • Unknowingly getting locked into a contract with a cancellation fee

Given that Elavon is one of the largest payment processors in Europe (with over 1 million businesses signed up), it is normal to receive a fair share of complaints. What we don’t like to see, however, is the reports on lack of customer support. You can sometimes wait a long time to get help for urgent, technological issues.

Verdict: better for stable, high-volume businesses

At a first glance, Elavon looks like a decent provider of high-quality card machines to suit any environment. But a closer look reveals many costs that not all small businesses can afford. Add to that the lack of transparency around early terminations of contracts, and it may be too much hassle.

That being said, it’s unlikely you’ll lack any features relating to payments, whether online or in person. With little extras like an integrated gift card solution, POS software and an online portal to track transactions (something Barclaycard Business doesn’t offer), you’ll probably get it all through Elavon.

Features aside, Elavon is a better choice for high-volume merchants looking for a long-term card payment solution than a new startup with uncertain prospects. Lower transaction fees for small businesses are available through Worldpay and other card machine solutions.