It’s time to forget the punch cards that most people associate with food truck rewards programs. If you want the attention of customers and to promote true brand loyalty, there is a new electronic alternative that offers greater results.


LevelUp is a new credit card processing service that entered the merchant services industry in 2011. They have combined several online mobile business trends such as game dynamics, social media, and location-based services. The company is based in Cambridge, MA and is gaining a lot of praise on the subject of mobile payments.

LevelUp has created an app that allows food truck operators to accept credit and debit card payments with a method unlike any other merchant account provider. First, the service is marketed to consumers as a way to securely store payment cards in order to pay for their food truck purchases using unique QR Codes that display on the screens of their mobile devices. This technology allows consumers to connect with LevelUp food truck businesses for the purpose of earning rewards for loyalty.

For food truck owners, LevelUp touts that their service is a better way to engage customers than traditional card acceptance methods because their app gathers data 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.

LevelUp is something like a hybrid of Groupon, and Foursquare. LevelUp offers users a deal per day as well as rewards customers with additional, even bigger discounts when they revisit a truck.

LevelUp lets customers pay with their phone at more than 2500 participating merchants across the U.S. (including many food trucks) and has a built-in loyalty program. So, the first time a customer pays with LevelUp at a food truck, they’ll save money (typically merchants offer a credit of up to $10). Then, the more they return to the food truck and pay with LevelUp, the more credit they will earn towards future purchases. LevelUp users save on cash, and food truck merchants save on payment processing fees as LevelUp charges a flat 2%.

“Loyalty is about more than repeat visits and repeat purchases,” Priebatsch says. LevelUp encourages users to check in at the promoted business once they’re there, and offers additional rewards for users who recruit friends and bring them along.

LevelUp Saves


Customers who download the LevelUp mobile app are encouraged to link up a debit or credit card so that they can begin paying for their food truck purchases with their smartphones. Registered users receive notifications about nearby trucks that are offering discounts to people with LevelUp—usually $5, $10, or $20 credits, which are automatically applied to customers’ purchases when they pay with the mobile app. Customers who return to your truck can earn even more rewards, which accumulate over time.

To encourage return visits to your food truck, you can create your own “loyalty constructs” that work similarly to punch cards. Each purchase made through the LevelUp application is tracked, and customers are automatically rewarded with credits each time they return to their favorite establishments.

One of the biggest complaints about daily deal companies is that they bring new customers through the door without offering any incentive to drive repeat business. LevelUp has solved this issue by using immediate credits to help businesses acquire new customers, and then rewarding loyalty with additional credits that accumulate over time.

Mobile vendors that wish to join LevelUp’s program simply download the app for their iPhone or Android device and complete the setup process.  Additionally, LevelUp can supply these vendors with an optional counter-top 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 food truck operator or the consumer.

LevelUp offers a zero cost setup and a month-to-month service agreement with no cancellation fee (likely subject to the return of the equipment upon cancellation). The only cost involved is a flat processing rate of 2% per transaction, which is a remarkably low rate. In fact, a flat 2% fee is lower than most merchant accounts. LevelUp’s pricing along with its feature set is a very good value.  Vendors who need equipment can lease a smartphone and docking station for $25 per month, or $250 per year.  The equipment lease is month-to-month and can be cancelled anything without penalty.

The only downside we found with LevelUp is the lack of availability in many areas of the country. As of this article the only cities that food truck owners can sign up in are Atlanta, Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, NYC, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and St. Louis.