LevelUp Review: Fees, Comparisons, Complaints & Lawsuits

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LevelUp

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A New Kind of Credit Card Processor

LevelUp is a one-of-a-kind credit card processing service that entered the merchant services industry in mid-2011. The company is based in Boston, MA and has established itself as a unique alternative in the world of mobile payments.

LevelUp Payment Processing

LevelUp has created an app that allows merchants to accept credit and debit card payments with a method unlike any found with traditional merchant account providers. First, the service is marketed to consumers as a way to securely store payment card information in order to pay merchants using unique QR Codes that display on the screens of their mobile devices. This technology allows consumers to connect with LevelUp merchants for the purpose of earning rewards for loyalty and first-time visits when they pay using the app, all of which is supported directly within the application itself. For merchants, LevelUp touts their service as a better way to engage customers than traditional card acceptance methods because the app gathers data and and offers insights about their customers’ visitation and purchasing patterns. The information can then be used to bring customers back again through LevelUp’s customizable loyalty program and engagement tools. Additionally, this data can be used to attract new customers by tailoring incentives for first-time visitors.

A Secure Supplement

Currently, LevelUp is not intended as a replacement for a traditional merchant account. Instead, the service is more of a marketing supplement that also serves as an electronic payment acceptance method. Merchants who wish to join LevelUp’s program simply download an app for their iPhone or Android device and complete a short setup process. Additionally, LevelUp can supply merchants with an optional countertop docking station and Android smartphone to act as the method for reading the customers’ QR codes. The company takes responsibility for the storage of payment data, so there is little to no risk for the merchant or the consumer.

LevelUp Location & Ownership

LevelUp was acquired by online and mobile food ordering platform GrubHub in September 2018, but the company appears to be maintaining its own branding for the time being. It has yet to be seen how the acquisition will affect LevelUp’s rating on a long term basis, but for now this review will cover the company’s current operations. Seth Priebatsch is listed as the founder and CEO of LevelUp, whose headquarters are 1 Federal St 6th Floor, Boston, MA.

LevelUp Review Table of Contents

  • Costs & Contract: LevelUp charges a variable per-transaction fee and a variable monthly fee on top of initial hardware costs.
  • Complaints & Service: LevelUp has received fewer than 10 public complaints.
  • BBB Rating: LevelUp has a “D-” rating with the Better Business Bureau and has received 16 complaints and 1 review in the past 3 years.
  • Sales & Marketing: LevelUp appears to hire in-house sales representatives and has not received any complaints related to deceptive sales practices.
  • Rates & Fees: How Merchants Got The Best Rates With LevelUp
LevelUp payment processing

LevelUp is an interesting marketing addition for merchants

Should You Trust LevelUp ?

Lawsuits, Reviews & Complaints

Complaint Summary

Total Online Complaints
<10
Live Customer Support
Yes
Most Common Complaint
N/A

Low Complaint Total

We have found fewer than 10 negative LevelUp reviews on the usual online forums, and none of the available complaints accuse the company of being a scam or ripoff. The issues cited in the available complaints include technical issues and poor customer service, but there is no clear theme. The company’s reviews in the App Store and Google Play marketplaces are overwhelmingly positive.

LevelUp Lawsuits

In 2017, LevelUp was sued by CardFree, a rival service. The suit alleges that LevelUp created accounts with access to CardFree’s platform for mobile orders which gave the company access to CardFree’s clients. With that access, the suit alleges that LevelUp falsely advertised that it could offer services comparable to CardFree’s in order to steer business away from its competitor.

LevelUp Customer Service Options

LevelUp also assigns a dedicated account manager to each merchant. This way, merchants have a specific person to contact for questions or service issues. Additionally, the account managers can help merchants set up loyalty and incentive programs as well as give tips on the types of offers that work best for attracting more business. LevelUp’s website lists a customer service phone number and customer service form and these channels appear to perform at a level comparable to top processors for customer service.

Is the BBB Rating for LevelUp Accurate?

Better Business Bureau Profile

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BBB Summary

Product & Service Complaints
8
Billing & Collection Complaints
6
Advertising & Sales Complaints
0
Guarantee & Warranty Complaints
0
Delivery Complaints
2

Low Complaint Total

We have found fewer than 10 negative LevelUp reviews on the usual online forums, and none of the available complaints accuse the company of being a scam or ripoff. The issues cited in the available complaints include technical issues and poor customer service, but there is no clear theme. The company’s reviews in the App Store and Google Play marketplaces are overwhelmingly positive.

LevelUp Lawsuits

In 2017, LevelUp was sued by CardFree, a rival service. The suit alleges that LevelUp created accounts with access to CardFree’s platform for mobile orders which gave the company access to CardFree’s clients. With that access, the suit alleges that LevelUp falsely advertised that it could offer services comparable to CardFree’s in order to steer business away from its competitor.

LevelUp Customer Service Options

LevelUp also assigns a dedicated account manager to each merchant. This way, merchants have a specific person to contact for questions or service issues. Additionally, the account managers can help merchants set up loyalty and incentive programs as well as give tips on the types of offers that work best for attracting more business. LevelUp’s website lists a customer service phone number and customer service form and these channels appear to perform at a level comparable to top processors for customer service.

Over 15 BBB Complaints

LevelUp has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau and is currently showing a rating of “D-” due to 16 complaints filed against it in the last three years. 6 complaints were filed in relation to billing and collection disputes, 2 were delivery issues, and the remaining 8 were due to product or service issues.  Only 9 of these 16 complaints were resolved by the company to the satisfaction of the merchant. The remaining 7 were resolved to the dissatisfaction of the merchant or received no final response.

What Merchants Say

The company also has 1 informal review posted to its BBB profile, which is negative. The review mentions email solicitation:

I got an unsolicited email fro thsi company letting me know about their term of service updates. That would go to members. I have never been a member of their company ever!I can even prove it! ******* is an ******** mobile ordering and mobile payments platformanyone who wpould know me knows I never use mobile payments or mobile ordering. i have a smartphone and never use mobile data or wifi on it!so they found my email somehow and sent me an unsolicited ****** hate that!!!espeically when their email made it look like I was a member. it was just a ploy to try and get me to look at their site!

This is somewhat like slamming, a practice we consider to be deceptive.

An “A” Performance

It is worth noting that the BBB LevelUp complaints are largely from dissatisfied consumers using the app and do not necessarily reflect on the merchant’s experience, so business owners should not solely rely on the BBB to assess the company’s trustworthiness. In light of the company’s complaint total and resolution ratio, we have adjusted the BBB’s rating to an “A”.

How Expensive is LevelUp Service?

Rates, Fees, and Contract Terms

This processor offers the lowest ricing and best service we’ve seen.

Cost Summary

Flat Rate
1.95%
One-Time Hardware Fee
$50
Early Termination Fee
None
PCI Compliance Fee
None
Hardware Cost
$50-$100
Hardware Rental Fee
$250

LevelUp Pricing

LevelUp offers a month-to-month service agreement with a flat rate for transactions of 1.95% and no cancellation fee. There is a one-time hardware cost of $50 for a LevelUp scanner or $100 for a LevelUp tablet. The company also offers free hardware that merchants can rent but deducts a $250 fee from their accounts if the hardware is not returned. We have not found complaints that mention excessive transaction fees or monthly fees from LevelUp. LevelUp’s loyalty programs are promoted through custom campaigns designed by the merchant, and the company makes money by charging 25% of redeemed incentives offered in each loyalty campaign allowing them to keep a low, flat transaction fee. LevelUp also shields merchants from 100% of chargebacks.

Competitive Terms

Overall, these terms seem to be very affordable, even compared to especially cheap merchant account options. Additionally, the loyalty program fees are tied to LevelUp’s performance, which is a much more competitive deal than those found through a standard provider.

Does LevelUp Use Deceptive Marketing?

Advertising & Sales Strategy

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Key Points

Employs Independent Resellers
No
Advertises Deceptive Rates
No
Discloses All Important Terms
No

No Misleading Marketing

LevelUp uses no deceptive advertising or rate quoting tactics that are apparent to this reviewer. The company appears to primarily market its services using its own outside sales agents (as opposed to independent agents) as well as other business development and marketing methods.

No Sales Complaints

In addition, there are no merchant or consumer complaints that mention deception or misrepresentation by either LevelUp or one of the company’s agents. We have assigned the company an “A” rating at this time, but always recommend that merchants seek a third-party statement audit if hidden fees are suspected.

Does LevelUp Deserve Your Business?

Review Summary & Our Thoughts

A Different But High-Performing Option

LevelUp offers an interesting service at a very reasonable cost. The ability to collect data and get insights on customer visitation and buying patterns can be useful to many merchants, especially restaurants. Additionally, the reward and incentive programs potentially offer a competitive advantage over other businesses that do not participate. Some merchants may prefer a traditional mobile credit card processing app, but LevelUp stacks up well as a fully capable one-of-a-kind service.

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Customer & Employee Reviews

What Others Are Saying About Square

19 Responses

  • Rodney Julun

    At the worst possible time, they snag you in a web of lies and deceit. Take your last dollars to complete deals to give you a $750 cash deposit for FREE (not at all) and run commercials and adds that speak to the contrary. Saying you can get the deposit immediately . Only after signing up for deals, realizing you cant get it and looking to make a complaint do they tell you that some deals make take a week to show up (past the deadline for dropping them before they deduct more money, others will show in 72 hrs, etc… They and others like them and the sites that “guide you” to them should all be barred.

  • T

    Is LevelUp legitimate?
    LevelUp has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau and is currently showing a rating of “D-” due to 16 complaints filed against it in the last three years. 6 complaints were filed in relation to billing and collection disputes, 2 were delivery issues, and the remaining 8 were due to product or service issues. I worked for them and was treated poorly even though I was an exemplary employee.

  • thomas

    I was also charged a fee of the same as everyone else never heard of these people or company

    • Suzanne H

      I agree and I’m not willing to pay 50$ to find out whether or not this company will correct the year valid on my card it claims incorrect that is usually Millennial Corporate America behavior. No thanks and who sold you my personal info a**holes?!!

  • Brandy Hickman

    I was charged $37.91 for a purchase I have no knowledge of whatsoever.

  • Gwendolyn E Williams

    I am also a victim of this Levelup fraud. I don’t know how my info was accessed, I have heard of this company nor do I know has stolen my information. I pray that however is the culprit will be exposed, revealed & removed.

  • Donna Hilton

    I just found where $37.97 was taken out of my account and I have NOT ordered ANYTHING from them! THIS IS BS !

  • Danny b.

    I am a victim of this level up fraud BS, someone has gotten hold of my information and has started a account with a merchant and I am very pissed, how can someone start a account and you do not get more info from them.

  • Elizabeth Pflaumer

    I was just hacked, I am a single mother of 4 boys who lives in a very strict budget. Woke up this morning o a charge of $88.28 on my debit card. I have never used your services and the anguish of having to fight to get my money back now is sending me into a panic attack. I cannot pay my bills with that much money illegally removed from my account

  • Wanda C. Thomas

    My account was hacked 3 times with LEVELUPKFC USNY. I live down south never heard of. How can someone just use your card without verification? I want my money put back in my account along with overdraft fees.

  • Stephanie Brown

    I have 2 charges from Level up on my debit card that I did not make! I have no account so I have no idea how someone could possibly get my information. Now I have to wait for my bank to try and get my money back from you people. Maybe you should add more features to make sure that people can not steal your information. I have never and will never use this service

  • Cindy Lorenzo

    I was charged $50. without my knowledge. Never heard of this place before. I hope it gets reversed.

  • Carl H

    I just got a call from Chase that my credit card was used fraudulently. The transaction says LevelUp followed by a restaurant that is not even in our area. Glad Chase caught it, but I have no idea how my card was compromised.(and I have never heard of your company).

  • Joe Andrews

    I use Level Up for Dunn Brothers coffee in Minnesota. While I can pay in store using the app, the order ahead feature and the find-a-store feature have not worked for several months. I made them aware of the problem and they let me knwo it was a “recognized issue,” nothing has happened beyond this. SO, two fo the 4 (?) features for Dunn Bros coffee on the Level Up app don’t work and no fix FOR OVER TWO MONTHS. How is this okay? I have followed up a couple of times and gotten the same response: “Yes, ‘were aware….” Um. So fix it. I waited two months before going online like this to complain…hoping they’d get it fixed. Nope.

  • Lori D Fulton

    Be very careful. This company charges your card simply by the email address you have listed with the company they partner with. I use my email account for many of my bosses purchases and found a load of charges that were not mine simply because they said the same email was on the account. This is very shaky and I will not do business with any company using level up.

  • Kathleen East

    I downloaded the Tropical Smoothie Cafe app that uses Level App payment. Tropical Smoothie had some cash register issues that day. I ended up paying for 2 transactions through the app. I detected the error within a half-hour & spoke with the manager, who said I’d have to contact Level Up. I sent Level Up a website submission explaining the error AS WELL AS a dispute note through email specifying which amount was incorrect. A week later, they credited the SMALLER amount, which was the correct charge. Don’t use them. Their CS sucks…you can’t call them. Only web & email. Bottom line, Level Up gets to decide how much you pay. Uninstalled app.

  • Sophie S.

    I have tried applying to LevelUp for over a month now and have received little to no help regardless of the countless (and I really mean countless) support emails I have sent. They have wasted close to a month and a half of my time before informing me that they do not want to work with my business because I don’t fit their demographic of “restaurants,” even though they have a huge drop down list of vendors they accept (my field included). I have worked with both PayPal, Intuit and Square in the past and have to say I have been treated far better in every aspect by these bigger companies. I am frankly disappointed and frustrated by the way I have been treated so unprofessionally by LevelUp. If I had been contacted within a timely manner I may not feel so strongly, but the fact that I had to reach out on multiple occasions only to be ignored leaves me feeling aghast. To be honest, I am not sure how they run a business dealing solely with restaurants (though we all know that is not the case). I have found the entire process to be a ridiculously time wasting experience, and I can say with confidence that LevelUp has lost a high-grossing customer that will never utilize their business after having realized what little respect they have for their customers’ time or energy.

  • Michael Bancewicz

    I have been one of Levelups biggest fans. Some times the merchants equipment is down. Worse though is i have been unable to use to to an error message showing up with my qr code and levelup fails to respond. I am going to try to reach SCVNGR and see if they can help. Conceptually this is a win win program, but with out customer service I am going to campaign against them.

  • Ash

    I’m curious who their processor is – do they effectively act as a merchant of record?

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Phillip Parker
Phillip Parker
Credit Card Processors
2 min read
19 Comments
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