Updated March 7, 2024

Costco Merchant Services Review

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Before applying, get all the information about Costco Merchant Services' rates, features, benefits, and drawbacks.

5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Works with third-party terminals
  • Industry-specific payment solutions
  • Significant potential savings
  • Long-term contract
  • Monthly minimums

Bottom Line

Payment processing solution offered through Elavon

Costco Merchant Services may sound like the right fit if you're a Costco member. However, there are a lot of downsides with this service, especially compared to other payment processors.

One of the biggest downsides is you could get really expensive rates. And when it comes to features, Costco Merchant Services doesn't offer anything unique.

So before you click that apply button, keep reading to learn about everything this merchant account has to offer.

About Costco Credit Card Processing Services

Costco uses Elavon for its payment processing services. Elavon is a third-party payment processor with over 30 years of experience. They've been working with Costco for over 25 years.

You can get features for mobile, online, and in-person payment processing. This, in turn, lets you accept credit cards, debit cards, and mobile wallet payments.

You'll also get suitable features if you're a retail, restaurant, healthcare, or service business. For example, you can view restaurant floor plans, track inventory, and set up memberships.

There's a variety of point-of-sale (POS) equipment to choose from. But you can also just use the virtual terminal or mobile app to accept payments. Elavon offers various payment gateway options as well.

Costco Merchant Services is Best for Costco Executive Members
According to Costco, executive members can save an average of $1,417 per year with their payment processing service.[1]

Costco Payment Processing Solutions

Costco partners with Elavon for your payment processing needs. Here are the solutions you can access through Elavon:

Elavon Mobile Credit Card Processing

Elavon offers talech Mobile, a customizable software compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows.

It's a free mobile app that lets you accept all types of card payments, including contactless payments. You can also generate invoices within the app.

Elavon Online Payment Processing

Elavon offers a virtual terminal that lets you accept credit card payments without POS hardware. It lets you send invoices to customers through email. And your customers can pay that invoice right away through a "buy" button or hyperlink.

Customers can pay with their preferred payment option, including digital wallets.

Elavon In-person Payment Processing & POS

Elavon offers smart terminals, POS software, register, and wireless card readers so you can accept card payments in person.

Poynt with talech, the smart terminal that Elavon offers, is a wireless, cloud-based terminal. Its battery life can last for up to 8 hours.

The talech POS software varies depending on your business type. You can get talech for retail, restaurants, and service. These come with varying features like support for refunds, menu customization, online bookings, etc.

Elavon Payment Gateways

There are 3 payment gateways offered by Elavon: Converge, Fusebox, and CenPOS payment gateways. Converge is a hosted payment solution that accepts a full range of payment types.

Fusebox, on the other hand, is a payment gateway best for hospitality businesses. CenPOS payment gateway is more suited for automotive and manufacturing businesses.

Hosted Payment Gateway vs. Integrated Payment Gateway
A hosted payment gateway redirects your customers to your payment processor's website during checkout. This page is where your customers input their payment details. Integrated payment gateways, on the other hand, are connected to your website, so your website is where customers input their details.

Pros and Cons of Costco Merchant Services

Costco Merchant Services offers a range of benefits and some drawbacks that businesses should consider. The advantages include industry-specific payment processing options, compatibility with third-party terminals, an A+ rating from the BBB, and fee waivers for executive members.

Unfortunately, the service also presents challenges such as an underwriting process, long-term contracts, and potential additional fees for non-executive members.

Pros:

  • Industry-specific solutions: Get tailored payment processing services for your industry.

  • Flexible hardware: Use your existing equipment or choose from Elavon's advanced terminals.

  • Trusted provider: Enjoy peace of mind with Elavon's A+ BBB rating.[2]

  • Executive member benefits: Skip application & statement fees, plus potential savings.

  • Transparent pricing: No hidden charges like batch or reporting fees.

  • No cancellation fee or early termination fee: You will not be charged if you cancel your merchant account before the end of the contract term.

About Costco Executive Members
"Executive Member" is a type of Costco membership that gets you an annual 2% reward (for up to $1,000) on your Costco purchases. You may also earn a 2% reward on Costco Travel purchases with this account.[3]

Which Costco Merchant Services perk appeals to you the most?

Cons:

  • Application process: Be prepared for a lengthy underwriting process.

  • Long contracts: You'll lock into longer contracts compared to competitors.

  • Monthly minimums: Inactive accounts can be suspended.

  • Non-executive fees: Regular members pay application & statement fees.

  • Variable rates & fees: Rates and fees are subject to change.

Fees and Rates of Costco Merchant Services

Costco Merchant Services offers different pricing models, but you may primarily be offered tiered pricing. There are also plenty of other fees aside from per-transaction fees.

Credit Card Processing Fees

Swipe Rate:[4]

  • Tiered Pricing: 1.10% + 12¢ per transaction
  • Flat-rate Pricing: 2.30% + $0.10 per transaction

Online Rate:

  • Tiered Pricing: 1.90% + 25¢ per transaction
  • Flat-rate Pricing: 2.60% + $0.10 per transaction

Surcharge Rates:

Customized pricing is available if you're a business that processes $1M per year. This is a significantly much higher volume requirement compared to Elavon/Costco's competitors.

Stax, for example, can get you custom pricing if you process over $500,000 per year. Payment Depot, on the other hand, offers custom pricing if you process over $250,000 annually.

You can consult with Costco or Elavon regarding these rates. You may also check if you're eligible for interchange-plus pricing.

How transparent is Costco about their pricing?
While Costco and Elavon websites display basic processing rates, several additional fees might be associated with your merchant account. Carefully review the fine print before signing up to avoid any surprises.

Additional Costs to Consider

Other fees may sneak up on you, so be sure to inquire about ALL of Elavon's fees. For example, Elavon may charge a PCI non-compliance fee.

Plus, you have the option to purchase POS equipment outright. But you can also lease them, starting at $8/mo for a countertop unit. The price depends on the model you choose.

To avoid paying for equipment, you can work with a terminal you already own. You just have to inquire with Elavon if they support the device. Elavon can set it up for you.

If your total monthly transaction fees and per-item charges are less than $20, you'll be charged $20 as the monthly minimum fee.

There may also be installation fees and taxes to watch out for. Non-executive members will be charged a $25 application fee and $4.95 monthly statement fees.[4]

What if I end my contract early with Elavon?
If you end your contract with Elavon early, you have to send back any leased terminal (like a card reader) to Elavon. They will provide a return box for any rented equipment.

Contract Length and Early Termination Fee

Costco Merchant Services may require you to sign a long-term contract, which can range from 12 months to 3 years. Your contract will automatically renew until you terminate it.

This long-term contract can be a potential drawback since many other payment processors now offer month-to-month contracts. Short-term contracts can help you switch processors easily if you find that a processor no longer serves your needs.

Costco's Policy on Early Termination
Since Elavon is the payment processor used by Costco, you'll need to consider Elavon's policy.

Elavon requires you to provide a notice of termination at least 1 month before you plan to end your contract. There is no cancellation fee or early termination fee but you must return any leased equipment. Keeping the equipment will result in your account remaining active, and you will continue to receive bills.

Total Termination Fee
Your termination fee is the sum of the remaining terminal rental fees (if applicable), fees for the solution, and PCI non-compliance fees (if applicable).

Customer Service and Technical Support

Customer service is crucial for any payment processing company. Unfortunately, Elavon has fallen short in this area, with numerous complaints highlighting poor customer service experiences.

Consider alternative providers like Helcim, which enjoys a positive reputation for providing prompt and effective customer support.

Quality of Customer Service & User Reviews

Elavon currently has a 1.4-star rating (out of 5) with Trustpilot.[5] Many former clients claim that support has been unresponsive and that there have been significant problems with their accounts.

Here's what some of them have to say about Elavon:

My hired tech support team struggled with the platform on top of staff not following up when asked. Then you have the nerve to delete my account, telling me I do have the privilege of filling out the same paperwork I labored through weeks earlier. The automated email announcing my account was closed had the nerve to tell me they hoped we could do business again.
— John Brown from Trustpilot

Terrible experience as a business owner. We were only with Elavon for 14 months. We switched, thinking it would be an upgrade from a prior merchant service company. However, it was a bad move, and we had to switch again.

Money was lost/missing. "Approved" transactions were not reaching our account. Our accountant and business manager were baffled. Ultimately, the problem was identified as being with Elevon card processing, and it took MONTHS to get it resolved, and they were non-responsive at multiple levels of the company.
— Joel Abbott from Trustpilot

If you ever find yourself having issues, you can contact Costco or Elavon at their available schedule.

Costco & Elavon Available Support Channels

  • Costco member customer service: 1-877-807-6239; available 24/7
  • Costco sales contact: apply online or call 1-877-240-3317; available from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 8 pm, Eastern Time
  • Elavon's dedicated support team: 1-800-377-3962; available 24/7
  • Elavon's sales team: 1-888-949-2257; available from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 7 pm EST

Does Costco Merchant Services live up to its reputation?
Client reviews suggest that Costco Merchant Services has plenty of room for improvement. Although Costco Executive Members can save on processing fees, other processors can offer similar competitive rates minus the awful service. Some of the best credit card companies you can check out include Helcim and Square.

Factors to Consider Before Choosing Costco Merchant Services

When choosing a merchant services provider, take note of:

  • Payment processing fees
    Costco Merchant Services does offer competitive pricing. However, this can get expensive and confusing if you're offered the tiered pricing model.

  • Accepted payment types
    You can accept card payments from major card brands through Costco Merchant Services. You can also process in-person and online payments. Or take keyed-in payments with the virtual terminal.

  • POS System
    There are various talech software to consider, from retail, to restaurants, to services. Make sure that the POS software you're getting caters to your needs.

  • Integrations
    Elavon integrates with many business tools, so you may find one you already work with. Some of this software includes Shopify, Wix, and Oracle.

  • Security and fraud prevention tools
    Elavon uses encryption and tokenization with its payment processing solution.

  • Customer support
    Customer support is essential since you'll be dealing with payments, and you'll likely want help and answers right away. Unfortunately, Elavon, as Costco's payment processor, doesn't offer the best customer support.

Is Costco Merchant Services the right choice for your business?
Costco Merchant Services might not be the best idea for a processor. There are plenty of other credit card processing companies that may be more suitable, whether you're a retail, restaurant, or professional service business. You can check out the best payment processors instead.

Considering everything you've read so far, it may be better to check out Costco's alternatives.

What factor is most important to you when choosing a merchant services provider?

Alternatives to Costco Merchant Services

Helcim, PaymentCloud, and Stax are some of the best merchant account providers in the industry.

Helcim: for Interchange-plus Pricing
Helcim is a merchant account provider, like Elavon. But you get more transparent pricing with their interchange-plus model.

You also get no contracts, no monthly fees, or hidden fees. Plus, your free account comes with essential features like a virtual terminal, invoicing, POS, recurring billing, and online checkout.

Unlike Elavon, Helcim offers amazing customer service. The processor currently has a 4.4 out of 5-star rating on Trustpilot.[6]

PaymentCloud: for High-risk Businesses
PaymentCloud is another merchant account provider like Elavon, and it supports low-risk to high-risk businesses.

It offers online, mobile, ACH, eChecks, cryptocurrency processing, and more. You'll also get customized pricing depending on your business type.

When you need help with your account, you can count on your dedicated account manager. The processing company has also received numerous positive reviews regarding its customer service, with a 4.5 rating in Trustpilot.[7]

Stax: for Large and Established Businesses
Stax is a merchant account provider that offers subscription pricing, which is why it's better suited for larger businesses.

You only need to pay the monthly fee starting at $99/month plus the direct-cost interchange per transaction.[8] Your account will come with essential features like digital invoicing, reporting, website-hosted payment links, scheduled payments, etc.

Stax has also garnered good reviews from its clients, just like Helcim and PaymentCloud. It has an average rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars from Trustpilot.[9]

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Costco merchant?
A Costco merchant is a business owner who utilizes Costco's merchant services to handle credit and debit card transactions.

These services are offered through Elavon, a global payment processor. To become a Costco merchant, one must be a member of Costco and apply for Elavon's services through the company.

What payment system does Costco use?
Costco utilizes Elavon as its chosen payment processing partner. It's a processor that works with over 1.5 million customers and processes billions of transactions around the world. It's even backed by its parent company, which is U.S. Bank.

What point of sale system does Costco use?
Costco works with Elavon, and Elavon offers a variety of processing software and hardware. talech, for example, is a POS software you can use with your mobile or smart terminals. As for your payment gateways, you can choose from Converge, Fusebox, or CenPOS.

Bottom Line

Costco Merchant Services can be a suitable option for Costco Executive Members or Costco members in general.

But it's not the best option if you're thinking of getting a Costco membership just for the sake of opting for Elavon's payment processing solution.

There are plenty of other credit card processors out there that offer competitive and customized pricing according to your needs.

References

  1. ^ Costco. Payment Processing Solution, Retrieved 11/26/23
  2. ^ Better Business Bureau. Costco, Retrieved 11/02/2023
  3. ^ Costco. Executive Rewards, Retrieved 12/31/2023
  4. ^ Costco. Payment Processing Solutions, Retrieved 12/31/2023
  5. ^ Trustpilot. Elavon U.S., Retrieved 11/02/2023
  6. ^ Trustpilot. Helcim, Retrieved 11/02/2023
  7. ^ Trustpilot. PaymentCloud, Retrieved 11/02/2023
  8. ^ Stax. Pricing, Retrieved 12/31/2023
  9. ^ Trustpilot. Stax, Retrieved 11/02/2023
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